Buenos Aires is a wonderful city full of culture, entertainment and history and it requires a number of days in order to do it justice.
A NIGHT OUT IN BUENOS AIRES
On the evening we arrived in Buenos Aires, we went to see a tango show, which included dancing, singing, panpipes and drums, along with a three-course meal and as much wine as we could get through. At the end, we had our first reminder that Evita was still living strong in the memories of the capital’s residents. One of the performers stood on a small balcony to sing ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’, and the crowd erupted into a huge round of applause.
AVENIDA DE MAYO
On our first day sightseeing, we left our hostel on Avenida de Mayo and checked out the Buenos Aires congress building. On our walk along Avenida de Mayo, we passed some stalls selling leather bags and friendship bracelets and succumbed to a spot of shopping. Just a little further along the street, we came to the massive 16 lanes of Avenida 9 de Julio – one of the widest avenues in the world.
Ten minutes later, we’d reached the Plaza de Mayo and its Casa Rosada – the official seat of the executive branch of the Argentine government. This recently renovated pastel pink building makes for an interesting free tour – if you have the patience to wait around in the foyer in a big queue of tourists. As we waited, we saw many paintings of famous influential South Americans, including, of course, Evita, looking the most down to earth and likeable of all. It was easy to see why the people of Argentina loved her so much.
After queueing for abut half an hour, we were summoned to join a large tour group, which the guide separated into smaller groups so he could deliver separate talks in various languages.
The Casa Rosada is one of the most spectacular buildings in Buenos Aires. We saw the balcony from which Evita gave her infamous speech to a crowd of 300,000 following the release of her husband Juan Peron from prison.
Our guide told us that Madonna had filmed there for the movie ‘Evita’, and you could tell this had had some impact on the locals too. Not only were there posters of Madonna throughout town listing concerts that had long passed, but they were actually blaring out ‘Papa Don’t Preach’ when we first entered the foyer. It seemed a little inappropriate for a government building, but no one was complaining!
Since we were lucky enough to have visited when the current president was away, we were permitted to take a tour of the presidential office. As well as this heavily-guarded room, we passed through corridors depicting famous Argentinian sports and music personalities, and a room full of information about the country’s most influential scientists.
We also took a tour of Evita’s old office, which has been preserved as she left it. It includes a glass cabinet containing one of her dresses.
Once the tour was complete, we wandered through Buenos Aires, taking in other famous spots, including the pedestrianised shopping haven, Florida Street, Avenida Corrientes, which is dotted with Tango halls, the obelisk statues, where football fans gather to celebrate their teams’ victories, and of course, Teatro Colon – an internationally renowned opera house, where I’m certain ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ has been performed thousands of times.
On our second day in Buenos Aires, we set off for a long stroll along the tree-lined streets of Palermo to visit La Recoleta Cemetery. It is here that many notable Argentinians have been laid to rest, including past presidents, Nobel Prize winners, and, of course, Evita herself.
Oddly, the 4691 vaults are all above ground, and you can see inside many of the elaborate marble mausoleums to catch a glimpse of stacked coffins. It’s easy to track down Evita’s resting place. Just follow the crowds and queue in line for your chance to snap a quick photograph. True to style, Evita’s vault is much less decorated than most of the others.
THE VAULT OF EVITA
Interestingly, when Evita died, her body was first flown to Spain, where Juan Peron and his third wife, Isabel, kept her body on a platform near their dining room table! When Juan died, Isabel had Evita’s body flown back to Argentina, where it was briefly displayed alongside her ex-husband’s, before finally coming to rest in La Recoleta. Evita’s tomb is now said to be so secure it could survive a nuclear explosion.