Well, I’m finally getting to know my way around Buenos Aires. The Palermo neighbourhood where I’m staying is fantastic. It’s close to everything, with a great transit system for getting around, and it’s got a terrific walking culture. And really, the best way to get to know a place is to walk it. I’ve been putting many kilometres on my shoes – may have to buy new ones! What a hardship :). My spanish improves by small increments each day, and now I have two roommates where I’m staying who are helping me with that. Two sisters in their early twenties from Honduras arrived on Monday evening, one of whom speaks English very fluently. They are so lovely. We went for a long walk around the neighbourhood last night so they could get their bearings. Because I’ve been here a few more days than they have, I acted as the tour guide! How’s that for irony? It was a lovely evening for a stroll, with lots of people out and about in the cafes.
So, after visiting the Caminito area the other day, I explored the incredibly massive Cemeneterio de la Recoleta. It’s the oldest cemetery in BA, first opened in 1732. On 14 acres of land in the middle of the Recoleta neighbourhood, it contains nearly 5,000 above-ground vaults. Some are very old, of course, and have fallen to decay, while others are still maintained by area families. It’s like a small city within the city. I walked through it on my own, but there are tours in both Spanish and English. The famous and the not so famous can be found here. Most tourists are routinely directed to the grave of Evita (Eva Peron), and people here still come to pay their respects and lay flowers. For anyone interested in the history of this place, it’s a must-see. Here are just a few of the many photos I took.
This gives a bit of an idea of the scale of the cemeneterio.
Some of the tombs are quite grand and ornate; this one is modest compared to some. Others have been left derelict…
After visiting the cementerio, I met up with my new friend Maria Luisa, who I met at the English Group of Buenos Aires (TEGOBA), and we went on a tour of la Casa Rosada, the presidential palace that stands at the apex of the Plaza de Mayo. There are tours in both Spanish and English. We took the Spanish tour, and while it was a real test of my Spanish, I was able to understand enough to get a feel for the history of the place. You can see where it gets its name by the colour of the building:
From the front balcony, it’s easy to imagine Juan and Eva Peron addressing the thousands of people gathered in the plaza.
The palace is still used for state functions, and boasts a beautiful inner courtyard and is, of course, very grand in all aspects. This is one place that continued to be preserved throughout the difficult political and economic crises the country has endured.
Well, it’s time to head off into another day. Next time I’ll post some photos of my trip to the Sunday flea market in San Telmo. Until then…