We haven’t left Europe at all. That’s what we thought about the architecture and monuments around the city, strongly influenced by its European immigrants. Buenos Aires looks so much like an old European city. It is also a predominantly a Roman Catholic country (Spanish influence), birthplace of the current pope, Pope Francis. Churches in Buenos Aires are still in use so we heard mass in Spanish, the widely spoken language in the city.
Cafe in the city center
Stroll in the city
Monument of General San Martin, Argentina’s national hero
We wandered the streets and checked out the markets as our cab driver suggested it’s ‘mas barato’ to shop. The streets of Buenos Aires are alive with colors – from the subway, to the street markets, to the shops and the graffittis on the sidewalks. We bought woolen sweaters as souvenirs from their yarn district.
We haven’t had any luck witnessing Tango on the streets so we decided to watch a Tango show instead at the Piazzola theater at the Guemes Gallery. The Piazzola theater was named after Astor Piazzolla, a revered Tango composer in Buenos Aires. The theater, with its antique balconies was a grand, old and elegant setting for the Tango show.
Tango exhibit at the Guemes Gallery
The show featured talented artists – from the dancers, to the singers and the musicians. I have seen people dance tango elsewhere but I haven’t seen it danced with as much intensity and passion. It was like an opera, an emotional roller coaster. From the slow build up where I held my breath from suspense interspersed with the bursts and the climactic ending. The show also came with a dinner where we had a taste of Argentina’s premium beef from the Pampas cattles. I thought I had already tasted the best beef when I was in Australia but Argentine beef tastes even better in my opinion. Even the BigMac there tastes like gourmet burger to me. No wonder why Argentina is considered the beef capital of the world. Even their national dish, asado, is beef cooked in a parilla (grill) in an open fire.
Tango evening at Piazzolla theater
We also had a chance to go to the Tigre delta, about 45 minutes by train from the city center. The delta is vast and the river’s water flows into the Rio de la Plata, the river separating Argentina and Uruguay. Aside from the occasional wakeboarder, the river was quiet. We came in the middle of the winter in Argentina, a low season for tourists. We boarded the passenger boat ferrying locals living in the delta. Some locals drank some concoction on board which I later learned was called mate, an infused drink from dried leaves of yerba mate. The boat made several stops along the delta and passengers were picked up and dropped off as in a conventional bus. The main river ‘highway’ was wide enough but when an oncoming boat passes by, waves are big enough to make me hold on to my seat. Along the main ‘highway’ there were restaurants, hotels and spas – closed for the season.
Along the Tigre delta
Views from the river ‘highway’
Tigre delta main ‘highway’
We chose to stay in the delta in a small pension house, somewhere in the inner delta. The rooms were on stilts. The watermarks on the stilts showed how far the water level can rise in the area. Our host prepared traditional food for dinner and breakfast during our stay in the delta. We spent our time in the delta strolling the inner ‘maze’. It was very much an ordinary village, where the houses are separated by fences. Locals go about their daily routines. The ‘streets’ however weren’t that wide, it was just like walking along a rice paddy. The river, with its murky waters, provided perfect contrast to the occasional bright yellows and blues.
Buenos Aires has a rich cultural heritage and history. The streets are filled with the vibrant colors by its young people (street art,etc.).
It is an old city that has so much future to look forward to.