With the soundtrack to the musical, “Evita”, running through my head, I stepped out into the myriad, colorful world of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The porteños, the residents of Buenos Aires, were approachable and good-natured. (Well, with the exception of a couple of taxi drivers.) They even humored my pathetic “Spanglish”, which kept sounding a lot like Italian because of my recent time in Italy.
Three generations of this family posed cheerfully together in a doorway for me.
This antique shop owner showed off Hugo, her new spaniel puppy.
I bought a cup of sweetened hot maté (pronounced mah-teh), a typical Argentinian drink, poured from a thermos on this gentleman’s cart.
These women were knitting, while enjoying the sunshine, and the company. They thought it was funny that I would want to take their picture, but they happily obliged.
Dulce de leche is a classic Argentinian treat, and the ice cream was my favorite version.
Particularly colorful, in character and substance, is the Sunday flea market in the San Telmo neighborhood, the largest I’ve ever been to. It literally went on for miles.
There were hundreds of artisans selling their crafts and artwork. Here’s a couple of particularly captivating examples. (In one case the art, in another the artisan.)
Antiques were sold alongside the crafts. I found that most glass and porcelain was European.
These heavy glass vintage seltzer bottles, however, are Argentinian, and they were in mint condition. Gorgeous.
In the middle of the crowd, empanadas, pan relleno (stuffed bread), and tacos were being sold out of baskets.
(You wouldn’t know it from his expression, but this man actually posed graciously for my photo.)
Musicians on corners played relaxing jazz . . .
. . . or raucous Latin rock, for onlookers.
Where there’s people, there’s asada . . . meat on the grill. This grill was set up in a sort of empty garage space. (He gave me a taste of the sausages. Delicious.)
I ate empanadas and asada with the locals in the hustle and bustle of a restaurant called Desnivel. That was an experience.
Down the road from San Telmo is La Boca, and the famously multicolored street of Caminto.
On a cold morning, I was happy to have a cup of hot cortada (espresso “cut” with a little milk) and a churro from this gentleman’s bicycle food stand.
And there’s tango. Everywhere. There’s tango on stage (this show was at Café de los Angelitos) and tango on the street, like the couple in the first photo of the post . . . one of my favorite photos of the entire trip.
There’s also tango lessons for tourists. (No, I did not partake.)
One of the most famous figures of Buenos Aires is the controversial former first lady, Eva Perón. Evita. Her face is ten stories high on the side of the Ministry of Health Building in the center of the city.
Protesters still gather at the Plaza de Mayo, facing the rose-colored Casa Rosada, the site of the famous balcony from which Evita addressed her devoted followers.
Buenos Aires is often referred to as the “Paris of South America” due to the influence of European settlers in the 19th century. This label is unmistakable in the posh neighborhood of Recoleta.
High tea at the elegant Alvear Palace Hotel, built in the 1930’s to accomodate the European clientele, is a stark contrast to lunch in San Telmo.
Then there’s Palermo Soho . . . the hip side of town.
Funky shops, cozy cafés, and fabulous restaurants line the streets, not unlike New York’s Soho, but with a distinctly Latin American vibe.
The vibrant spirit of Buenos Aires is blatantly evident in the art on the streets.
In contrast is the sophisticated sculpture, Floralis Generica. Set in a pool of reflective water, it has solar power that allows it to open and close at dawn and dusk like a real flower.
I feel that this photo perfectly illustrates the character of Buenos Aires . . . the European influence in the midst of an urban metropolis, with a splash of brilliant, glorious color.