Today we took the Buque Bus or ferry boat from Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay to Buenos Aires, Argentina. The trip is short and pleasant and if you buy the ticket ahead of time, inexpensive. It’s one of those trips that where you arrive earlier than when you left due to time zone difference. As for the crew, we’re thankful for the extra hour of sleep Buenos Aires will provide (though we are still much farther ahead than NYC or the crew’s home base of Bogota).
It was raining when we arrived but when the skies cleared we set out to take a few shots of the this amazing city.
We visited Casa Rosada (Pink House) in Plaza Mayor, which is sort of like the U.S. White House. If you go on the weekend you can usually get a free tour that is pretty fascinating. If you do the tour be sure and get a photo from the famous balcony where the leader Evita Peron addressed her mostly adoring throngs.
From Casa Rosada, we took the metro (subway) to meet up with Michael Luongo, a North American travel writer and expert on all things Buenos Aires who had graciously agreed to show us around his adopted city. If you take the A Line, many of the trains are the old school wooden cars like they had when the metro first debuted as the first subway in Latin America around the turn of the last century; complete with a car attendant to open and shut the doors manually.
We met Michael at the famous Buenos Aires landmark the Obelisco. We then headed to Calle Florida, the equally famed pedestrian street packed with, you guessed it, pedestrians. Calle Florida is indeed crowded and chaotic but it’s a great place to people watch and catch some interesting street performers ranging from jugglers, tango dancers and musicians to just about anything you can think of. Just remember to watch your belongings as a tourist carelessly flaunting cameras or a backpack would make an easy target in the crowd.
After Calle Florida, we visited the memorial to the Falklands War with Britain, which took place in the early 1980s. Several hundred Argentines died in that crazy war for the Falkland Islands and the memorial’s flames burn 24/7 as a constant reminder of those killed and wounded in action.
Next we made our way to the famed Cemeterio de la Recoleta where the aforementioned former leader Evita and several other rich and famous Argentines are buried. The hundreds of tombs are incredible works of art and despite the throngs of tourists, it’s still a very active cemetery.
After saying our adieu to Michael we headed over to Galeria Bond Street, which is a very interesting little shopping center that caters to underground sub cultures. There are cool tattoo parlors and clothing stores for the punk, rockabilly, goth crowd of Buenos Aires.
We stopped by this cool little store called “Faith” owned by a really nice cat named Sebastian. Sebastian says he designs everything himself and I really fell in love with some of the clothes, so despite not having much room in my luggage, I bought some cool shirts and a pair of shorts which you’ll see me sport in the show. If you’re into punk or rockabilly or tattoo culture, you need to seek out Galleria Bond Street and if you do, stop by Faith and say hello to our good buddy Sebastian, the clothes were really outstanding.
After Galeria Bond Street we headed back to the apartment for a short rest before heading to Complejo Tango (Complex Tango), one of the many tango schools and shows in Buenos Aires. Michael had recommended Complejo Tango as one of the finest in the city where you can not only take in a first class tango show and dinner, but if you so desire, you can learn to tango yourself. Michael was right, Complejo Tango was first rate. I heartily recommend visitors interested in learning a few tango steps to sign up for the complimentary lessons before the dinner and show. I did it and I’m happy to say, though I have two left feet, I was able to showcase a couple of major moves for the camera.
After the delicious dinner at Complejo Tango we headed off the beaten path a little to Mundo Bizarro (Bizarre World) one of my favorite bars in all of Buenos Aires. Walking into Mundo Bizarro is like walking into another world. It’s got red tinged lighting all over the place that gives it this dreamlike quality (especially after a drink or two). There are rockabilly memorabilia and posters on the wall and you could easily forget your in South America. Pignatta (pronounced “piñata” like the birthday toy), the manager, is as cool as they come and can mix a mean martini. People come from all over the world to sample Pignatta’s world famous martinis and listen to some rockabilly tunes.
Continuing our underground subculture theme, we headed over to another famous music spot called Salon Pueyrredon, where you can catch some good live punk, alternative or rock music and rub elbows with some of Buenos Aires’ underground artists. If the music is too loud, then no worries, there is a cool little patio/porch like area where people sit by the open air window chill and socialize.
What a day? We had been in two countries and combined visiting the touristy sites with more of the underground nightspots of Buenos Aires. Argentina is one of my favorite places on the planet. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!