Impressions of Buenos Aires

Snow and ice and plummeting temperatures prevailed at home, but Argentinians were approaching their longest day of the year and at 6 p.m. on a December evening the sun was still high, the air was still warm, and the streets were bustling, noisy and at times congested, but also bright and green.

My first impression is of a relatively pretty city as cities go. Not particularly keen on cities, we prided ourselves on the fact that during our last excursions to Europe we had succeeded in avoiding all contact with large cities, except for the necessity of arrival and departure at a major airport.  Buenos Aires though presented an abundance of bloom  – purple blossoms hanging in great profusion from the many trees, yellow and rose-coloured blossoms, and gorgeous blue bulbs.
Argentinians, we found,

love their trees.  Large mature trees lined many city streets,  from rich Recoleta to the La Boca barrio, shading the sidewalks and providing relief from the heat.

As far as I have been able to determine, this is a floss silk tree … deciduous, native to South America and commonly called ‘palo borrachio’ which means ‘drunken tree’.  Thick conical prickles store water.

However, the Greater Buenos Aires area is huge, sprawling 1,500 square miles; the City area alone covers 78 square miles and once past the greenery into those areas less frequented by visitors  the usual flaws become noticeable – away from the plazas and parks the city blocks run grey and unbroken forever, devoid of nature, canyons where the sun’s rays rarely seem to permeate.

Argentinians also love their underwear—numerous stalls and sidewalk displays of bras and undies in different colours stacked curb side on the busy street by our hotel, which, you may recall from my previous post, was in an area frequented by ladies of the evening.

A curiosity for we who are accustomed to seeing snow fencing and individual plug-ins at each space in a parking lot (for the block heater necessary to get cars started in frigid weather) – in Buenos Aires we saw sun shelters to shade cars and their paint jobs from blistering heat …
And I must give a word to the sidewalks, a danger zone of loose tiles, uneven surfaces, gouges, and craters big enough to disappear into, or at least, turn an ankle, and all without so much as a ‘watch your step’.

In Buenos Aires, where Italian and German names outnumber Spanish, we found the Portenos, the multinational people of Buenos Aires, very polite and helpful—waiters assisting us with the menus and dispensing advice, the young lady in the subway who asked if we needed help, our taxi driver acting as tour guide.

Additional photos, including several showing the interesting architecture of Buenos Aires, can be seen at Beyond the Brush Photography

For other posts on South America read my posts about
The Ombu tree
Tierra del Fuego National Park
Rounding the Horn
Sailing the Beagle Channel

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