This post is a continuation of Buenos Aires, Argentina – Part I. Here we get a chance to step outside our neighbourhood of San Telmo.
What to See and Do Outside of San Telmo
Walking into the Recoleta Cemetery is quite an experience. You enter from a busy street, filled with the noise of everyday city life, and are suddenly enveloped in a quiet, tree-lined space with statues, crypts, mausoleums and tombs. And cats.
The cemetery was created in 1822 and spans 4 city blocks. Plots are reserved for the country’s historical figures and for the rich and famous. The most popular site is that of Eva Perón (who you may know as Evita/Madonna/Don’t Cry For Me Argentina), which was covered in large wreaths of flowers when we visited. She lies 5 metres underground, well protected, to prevent her body from being stolen. This may sound strange, but yes, she was carried off on more than one occasion by the Argentinian military. You can learn more about ‘The 20-year Odyssey of Eva Perón’s body’ by reading this BBC article.
Another must see in Buenos Aires is the world’s third best opera house (as ranked by National Geographic), Teatro Colon. We partook in an excellent tour of the theatre and were wowed by the incredible Italian, Viennese and French architecture, beautiful sculptures and immense leg work involved in hand-placing each of the hundreds of decorative tiles found throughout the theatre.
The theatre is considered to be amongst the top five performance venues in the world, due to the excellent acoustics. Luciano Pavarotti was quoted saying that the acoustics were so perfect that it made him nervous to perform as any mistake would be amplified.
If you wish to watch a performance at the theatre, many options are available, including ballet, opera and classical music performances. For $12 USD per person we purchased standing room only tickets in the nosebleed section and watched Beethoven’s opera Fidelio. Even from the heavens the opera was outstanding.
We visited a few museums but the most notable was the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes . The nice thing about museums in Buenos Aires is most of them offer free entrance or have a half-price entry fee once a week. Bellas Artes was huge with a good variety of international and local art pieces.
La Casa Rosada (or The Pink House)
La Casa Rosada is the government house and office of the President of Argentina.
Argentinians love a good demonstration, and gather frequently to protest a variety of issues. The closest we came to witnessing such an event was when a massive crowd of screaming girls ran across the intersection in front of us one day when we were out walking with our moms. We asked a police man what was going on and he replied, “A Justin Bieber concert.”
Formerly a port area, Puerto Madero is a very modern neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. It is a good place to go for a walk along the water and check out a few floating ships and interesting bridges. If you continue through the neighbourhood there is a nice ecological reserve with wide gravel walking trails. Beyond that, you won’t see too much there other than a large brick Catholic university, North American chain restaurants and large glass buildings.
This English book store was near our apartment in San Telmo. It was one of my favourite places to visit as they always had relaxing music playing and there was a huge variety of used books.
El Ateneo Grand Splendid Book Store
Built in 1919, this bookstore was originally a performing arts theatre hosted many of the tango greats. In 1929 the theatre was transformed into a cinema, boasting the first in Buenos Aires to show film with sound. Silent films were accompanied by live tango orchestras. In 2000 the theatre became under threat of demolition due to poor economy but was saved and turned into the bookstore it is today.
There is a tiny selection of English books, but who cares! The place is indeed so splendid that you will just wander around appreciating the view.
And that’s a wrap, folks! See you on the flip side. ‘Merica, here we come.