Don’t Cry For Me Argentina

4th Dec. 2016

Casa RosadaDiscovering there were free tours inside the Casa Rosada (of Eva Peron fame and still the Presidential Palace) every weekend and that they included the Presidential Offices, we just had to sign up. Unfortunately, we were a bit slow and the only English tour of the day was fully booked. Undeterred, we signed up for a Spanish tour at 11:30am and queued up with mostly Brazilians, a German couple, a Dutch couple and lone Japanese lady. Clutching our passports for ID and we were soon all standing inside waiting for the tour to begin.

Archway architectureThe tour guide was an enthusiastic Spanish chap who spoke rapidly in Spanish to the group. I kept up mostly with the introduction until there was silence and he was looking at me. It then clicked he was asking everyone where they came from and I was first in line! As there were so many non Spanish speakers he repeated the safety and photographing instructions in English, then Portuguese. We could take pictures (without flash) everywhere except the President and Vice President offices, which was understandable as this is a working building during the week.

Looking through the arched windowThe building was constructed in two parts in 1850 to 1875, firstly a customs house then a Postal HQ was built next door and in time they were joined by the central archway to become one large building suitable for governing the country (or that is what I understand anyway). There were guards in military uniforms and security men in suits everywhere making sure we did as we were told. There are two majestic staircases leading to the first floor. We were led outside to see the central courtyard complete with fountain.

Salon BlancoWe were ushered through plush rooms and found ourselves on the very balcony that Madonna (but not Evita)  sang “Don’t cry for me Argentina” which overlooks the Plaza de Mayo, the oldest Plaza in BA. The room I liked best was the Salon Blanco, which used mirrors and ornate white decoration very effectively to create a large bright opulent room. On either side were functional rooms furnished with enormous long tables with dozens of chairs surrounding them.The rooms were imaginatively called North and South Meeting rooms.

Stain glassed windows in pinkWe were also told why it was painted Pink and called Casa Rosada but my brain was overloaded with Spanish by then and I was not able to catch enough Spanish words which I knew to follow. I also got distracted photographing the pink stain glassed windows. After lining up single file and being checked to confirm cameras and phones were firmly put into pockets we filed past the Vice President’s office and later the President’s office, which were quite plain after the Salon Blanco used for official occasions.

Room of Presidential BustsWe then descended the second grand staircase to the Room of Busts which included most Presidents (who served for 8 years), but not those who came to power following a coup. This room has a red carpet leading through it from the Palace side entrance where official visitors enter, through the room of busts and up the staircase. The tour was well worth doing and we were over an hour going around.

Street MusicSadly my camera battery then died, and as Dave’s camera is poorly we needed to return to the hotel to restock. As the next place we wanted to visit was San Telmo the far side of Plaza de Mayo from our hotel the easiest way from A to B was on the SUBTE, the Metro, which was cheap and easy for which we needed our SUBE card we bought in Bariloche.

Antique or Junk?We were heading for the second oldest Plaza in BA, Plaza Dorrego as every Sunday there is an antiques market which fills the square and surrounding streets. We thought we might pick up some interesting items as prezzies as we had failed in Bariloche but instead we ended up discussing what is the difference between an antique and junk. The only interesting stalls were those of local artists selling their creations, but many were too delicate to survive the journey back to the UK. There was also the expected street entertainers including the man pretending to be walking through a gale, with his tie and coat tails wired behind him and there were also bands playing.

Russian Orthodox churchOnce we had our fill of the market stalls and got over the disappointment of the square being all dug up and being renovated we turned our attention to the history. Telmo was the patron saint of sailors and the area originally extended to the port a few blocks away. We were also distracted by the Russian Orthodox Church with its distinct architecture of blue domes, on our way to Puerto Madero, the new dock lands area.

Puerto MaderoUnlike the UK, the temperature was in the low 30’s with high humidity and we were beginning to wilt so it was a slow two mile stroll along the dockside dodging into the shade for some relief from the sun. We will miss this weather when we head home later this week. Half way along the dockside is the Puente de la Mujer (The Woman’s Bridge – supposedly the synthesis of an image of a couple dancing the tango), which is just impossible to photograph with its weird shape. The yellow cranes were more appealing through the camera lens.

Street ArtThere was an annual street art fair in progress with many artists painting the wall. I particularly liked the parrot with the shades of blue and green, and the abandoned paint pots on the ground. As ever we had crammed a lot into our day and so turned down the trip around the ship, Sarmiento, which is now a permanent museum and headed back to the hotel to cool down.  As we have three full days in Buenos Aires we had thought of a day trip out of the city tomorrow but in view of how much more there is to see and juggle the itinerary around to get to visit those places which are shut on a Monday, we think this is now unlikely.

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One Response to Don’t Cry For Me Argentina

  1. Carole and Peter Sergeant says:

    So enjoyed following yr travels
    Welcome home

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