Tag Archives: Buenos Aires

Fogón Conclusion. Well, sort of.

Saturday 16 March 2024 – or, in another way of looking at it, Thursday 28 March 2024 .  It’s actually nearly a fortnight after our return home as I write, a lacuna caused by a couple of health-related items, but mainly the Worst Cold In The Known Universe, which basically laid both Jane and me low from the day we arrived home (Monday 18th) until today, some 10 days later.

Also, “sort of” in that the first thing I’m going to write about, Fogón, is a conclusion only in the sense that it was the last thing we did in Buenos Aires, it wasn’t the last thing I’m going to write about for the trip as a whole; but I just couldn’t resist the pun.  Below, I also write about something we did on our first night here; well, the first evening of the first full day of the three we had on our second visit to BA, that is, this being the hub we travelled through.  Come on, keep up at the back.


OK, it’s a restaurant, in the up-market Palermo neighbourhood, and the word “asado” tells the foodie cognoscenti among you that it’s a barbecue-style meal.  It being in Buenos Aires, one can reasonably expect it to involve much very high quality meat.  The other key word on the sign is “experience”.  This is not just some guys chucking burgers onto a barbie; this is Food Preparation As Theatre.

There will be pictures of food in the following.  Many people will mutter and make rude remarks about me posting photos of food.  To them, I say two things:

  1. it’s a piece of theatre and it involves food. Conveying the experience photographically without showing a scrap of food here and there is a nonsensical ambition. I’ve minimised, but not eliminated, the actual food content in the pics.
  2. Actually, what I object to is people sharing a photo of the plate of food they’re about to eat, to show the viewer what cool, cultured cats they are and what posh places they’ve managed to get into. I really object to that, and so you don’t see it on these pages. Also,
  3. It’s my blog. I make the rules and I can break ’em if I want. So, there.

Sorry, got carried away a bit there….back to the evening at Fogón.

It’s very, very well managed theatre that provides very, very good food.  You are shown, with a flourish, into the “auditorium”

where you take your seat and have the idea of the evening, and some of the rules, explained. For example, if you want something refreshed (e.g. the soda siphon below, or your wine glass), you put it up on the counter. When delivered, you take it down and use it.

The setup shown above is a bit of audience participation – making a chimichurri sauce. They’ve made it pretty idiot-proof, with the ingredients nicely parceled up and a little recipe to follow.  This will be used, we are told, with the main course.

A big part of the theatre involves the central barbecue apparatus which is large, complicated and hot.

It has many moving parts and every so often someone, normally this chap (who is wearing a gaucho cap and is therefore a chef)

would pick up a shovel and wander around in the confined space on his side of the counter with a shovel full of glowing coals to put them where they were needed, often without injuring anyone.

The meal has nine courses, and they are all explained in some detail,

so above was the talk about what meat we would be eating.  The pine cones were not just decoration, by the way. They were used to smoke some of the meat.

Each course is carefully assembled in front of you before being passed over.

For the main course, in possibly the most pretentious part of the evening, you are asked to make the reverent selection of Your Knife from a box of them.

The main chunks of meat were mainly prepared, cut and cooked by this chap,

who, Jane reckons, is actually a moonlighting James Anderson (if you don’t know who Jimmy is, you should be slightly ashamed of yourself, but telling you will make no difference to your life).

It was a great evening – very entertaining, brilliantly choreographed and engagingly presented.  By the time my main course came around I was so full I could only manage a token mouthful, and, as usual, I passed on dessert, but all the other courses were very good indeed.  I have, of course, plenty of video, but I won’t be sharing that with you at any stage, oh no.

So, Fogón was the finale of our time in Buenos Aires, but it’s not the end of this story, because I wanted to finish the BA part with an even more dramatic piece of theatre, which we saw on the evening of our first of three days here.  Argentina is known for its meat (which is all originally from imported British stock several hundred years ago, by the way); it is also known as the home of The Tango.

Yes, we went to a tango show.  It was at a place called Aljibe, over by Puerto Madero.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. On one of our drives, we passed a great glittering place with “TANGO” writ large in lightbulbs outside, and I wondered if the experience there would be like an Argentinian version of Moulin Rouge (the Paris show, not the film).  This place, however, was clearly a lot smaller, with a charming foyer

where we were greeted and taken to our seats in a compact, but nonetheless attractively decked-out auditorium.

At the far end was the stage, where the entertainment would presumably happen,

and where one could get one’s photo taken in relevant fancy dress as a memento of the evening. At a charge, of course.

As well as the dancing, there is eating. The menu is brought, followed by one’s food, in pretty brisk succession, carried in towers of plates in order to get it out to the punters quickly.

Yes yes, I know it’s more pictures of food… get over it.

We were there for one of three shows they were staging that day, and they had about an hour to get our orders (only made slightly more intricate by our habit of not drinking wine and therefore demanding G&T), deliver them and clear away before the entertainment started. It’s very obviously a production-line, but it’s done with assured efficiency and the food was pretty good.

After a short while, the musicians ambled on to the stage and looked like they were debating which pieces to play

and the place filled up nicely, in time for the show to begin.

and we were off!

As one would expect for something as flamboyant and exciting as the tango, the evening’s show was eye-catching and engaging. It started with an ensemble piece involving six dancers,

who managed to whizz all over what was quite a confined space without actually stabbing anyone with stilettos, or whatever. There was the occasional song break

much individual skill and flair displayed among the cast

not all of whom were in the first flush of youth,

but who all danced with great skill, athleticism and passion.

In a departure from raw tango, the show featured a middle section of gaucho-style entertainment, with a very theatrical couple

who didn’t just dance, either.

These two also provided the most left-field piece of theatre of the evening when they got their balls out.

Not only did they whirl their bolas around with great skill and energy and without breaking any lightbulbs or knocking each other unconscious, but they also used them as percussion instruments!

It really was a spectacular centrepiece to a great evening of Argentinian theatre.  Most of the photos above are from Jane, because I was busy videoing bits of the show. If you have five minutes to spare, you can watch this video that I cobbled together from some of the snippets.

Fogón and Aljibe were two very different pieces of theatre that conclude the story of our three days based in Buenos Aires and so (if you’re still awake) you’re pretty much up to date with the story of our travels to South America and the Southern Ocean.

Despite the “conclusion” in the title, I think I have one more piece to write.  Over the course of three weeks on Hondius, we collected a fair bit of video footage.  Because the internet aboard was slow, but much more importantly, metered, uploading video would have been ridiculously expensive.  So I will go through what we have and try to weave a few stories from those pieces of footage.  Give me a couple of days, though, won’t you?

A Colonial Visit

Friday 15 March 2024 – One very rewarding thing one can do when visiting Buenos Aires is actually to leave it – and, indeed, leave the country. Just across the River Plata from Puerto Madero is Colonia del Sacramento, which is in the tiny country of Uruguay.

In theory, it’s a short journey on a fast ferry. As ever with these things (and, dare I add, particularly in Argentina), the reality differs somewhat.

I started this blog almost exactly six years ago when we toured Chile, Patagonia, Ecuador and Peru. I remember writing that our arrival into Chile was marked out by a succession of queues. Our departure from BA was similar.

I had fondly imagined that our transport would be one of those streamlined wavecutter catamarans, with maybe a few dozen passengers aboard popping over for a day in Uruguay.


This began to be borne in on me as we queued to check in. There were lots of people and many of them had large suitcases with them, hinting at major travel intentions.

After checking in and getting boarding passes, we then queued for emigration (no photos allowed!), which for punters like me involved queuing for a desk to be free, getting the thumbs-up from the official and then – having to go to another identical booth to get passport stamped.  I still don’t know why.

Then we got into the departure area, which was worryingly short of information screens telling us where we should go.  There was nothing on our boarding passes to guide us except the name of the boat we’d take – Sylvia Ana L. There was board up with that name on it, but no indication of what its significance was. A bunch of people started moving off in the direction of, well, somewhere else, we had no idea, and we wondered if we should join that rush, but hadn’t the nerve.  We met a couple of ladies who Jane had chatted to earlier and they assured us that if we simply sat down and waited, we’d be fine. But there appeared to be a gigantic queue, and no actual way of knowing whether it was one we should join. Announcements were either incomprehensible or clearly pre-recorded.  So we caved in and joined this queue.

It goes, in the picture above, all the way on the left of the terminal building, to the far end, crosses over and comes all the way back – that’s a looong queue.

A nice lady behind us in the queue helpfully told us that she thought there had been some issue with the jettyway that passengers should normally use to get aboard, and so we had to go via the drivers route.

This gives further clues as to the size of the boat; it’s a car ferry.

The queue to our right started shuffling forward, but for an age no-one moved in our queue, which further stoked fears that They were getting on board but We were in the wrong queue. But after a while we slowly plodded along until we passed, going back, the place from where I took the above photo.

Yup.  Still a queue.  We shuffled along and down some stairs and emerged, blinking into daylight as we were shepherded towards the back entrance of Sylvia Ana, which you can now see is a hefty old piece of transport infrastructure,

and along through eerily empty and highly industrial spaces, up stairs and into the passenger area.

I suppose they must have  boarded all the foot passengers before letting vehicles on; I wonder what the drivers thought. Anyway, we ended up wandering around what is really quite a large ship, which has two floors of passenger accommodation, multiple lounges, several cafeterias and  many shops, looking for somewhere to sit.

I’d fondly imagined going up on deck to take photos of departure and arrival, but that was simply not an option, so we sat down, with no clear idea as to how long the crossing would take, to await entry into Uruguay.

It took about an hour and a half to get over the water – less time than I’d imagined – and then we disembarked into

another queue. Which went round a corner to

another queue.  An official carefully kettled us up for a while until he judged we non-natives were getting restless, then let us through. To a final queue, where everyone’s backpacks were scanned (this seems to be A Thing in South America).

At last, we were free to explore!

Colonia’s not a big place

and the bit that attracts so many tourists, the UNESCO World Heritage Site, is tiny – about half a kilometre from top to bottom, and 300 metres from left to right.

However tiny, it has an interesting story, and to have it explained to us we were met by a nice lady called Lourdes, who was to be our guide for the day.  And a very pleasant day it turned out to be, as well.  We had about an hour with her before some free time to walk round and explore, and then a final hour or so with her and a driver to explore further afield.

It was clear, as we walked out, that the ferry terminal at Colonia used to be a railway station.

The main destination of the railway was Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, some 180km away.

Lourdes explained a little of the background of Colonia.  It’s an outlier, in that its heritage is Portuguese, rather than Spanish like all of South America that isn’t Brazil. The Portuguese got here first (among the Europeans, that is) in 1680, and realised the strategic value of Colonia’s location. This pissed the Spanish off no little and they captured the site a couple of years later. However a treaty in 1683 returned the site to Portuguese control.  For the next  150 years, possession shuttled back and forth between Spain and Portugal, Fortifications were built (along the dotted line shown in the second map), to try to make it possible to keep control of this strategic place

but most have been demolished.  It is possible in some places to see areas where the walls stood and also foundations of the original buildings.  Because the old town is now a UNESCO heritage site, the relatively few inhabitants have a duty to maintain and if possible improve the old town area.

We passed a mural which shows some of the historical dress and dance of the town.

It’s an attractive place to walk around

although one has to be careful over the uneven footing.  Wherever we went, we came across scenes like this, where Portuguese traditional buildings (the red one above) sat beside newer buildings which were constructed in a Spanish style (like the white one).  The road itself is traditional Portuguese – the edges slope towards the middle so that water can wash down towards the river, which is behind as you look long this street.  As well as rain water, domestic washing water and sewage would be emptied into the street, so it must have been pretty unpleasant at times.

Today, the houses sell for in the order of a million US dollars and come with the obligation to maintain them in the traditional style. Looking at them, however, tells a great deal about the financial situation of the original owners.  If the roof tiles were one deep

they were poor.  If two deep,

better off. Wealthy families would have tiles three deep.

I think we were quite lucky to have arrived reasonably early, as it was quiet as we first walked around;

it got busier later, but never oppressively so.

A pedestrian area in the middle is the Plaza Mayor, the main square

and there are some retail opportunities for those seeking ethnic wosnames.

There’s a largish church

(not the original one, but a newer, Spanish styled one) with a lovely calm and plain interior.

Many of the houses originally built in Portuguese style have been extended in Spanish style

and the two cultures come together at one road junction

where you see a Portuguese road on the left, with its characteristic channel, but on the right the Spanish road is (what passed in those days for) level.

An old convent’s remains is used as the basis for a lighthouse

which is still active.  Many of the major roads are lined fetchingly with London plane trees,

and there are splashes of colour in courtyards or painted on walls in several places.

It’s an attractive place, with its engaging history of conflict between the Portuguese and the dastardly Spanish and we enjoyed walking around the small area of the old town.  But our brains were now utterly full, having been overloaded the day before during our tour of BA and today from all the information that Lourdes gave us. So it was Time For A Nice Lunch.

We sat for a couple of hours outside ¡Qué Tupé!, which as far as I can see means, literally, “What a wig!” We think it might colloquially translate to something like “what a cheek!” but that’s just guesswork – our waitress couldn’t help us with more info.

It has a similarly lovely interior

including one of those beguiling mobiles which I find so attractive.


There was some live entertainment.

I think the woman was of Welsh extraction, because she sang far too loud, far too often and flat.

We had a little more time to look around at some of the quirks of the place

before meeting up with Lourdes and her driver and heading out of the old town. The main site she took us to was a bullring.

It has quite an amazing story behind it.  It was built in 1908 and a Moorish style, as part of a larger Real de San Carlos Tourist Complex and opened for locals in 1910. The ring itself was huge –  50m in diameter with seating for over 8,000 spectators. The Real de San Carlos complex included not only the bull ring, but a ferry dock (for carrying tourists from nearby Buenos Aires), and a huge “pelote basque” building – a major enterprise.

Which was closed down two years later, after only eight bullfights were staged, because the government banned the practice.  I mean, good for them, but it must have been a bit of a blow for the operators.

A casino was also built and began operating after the bullfights were forbidden, and the whole complex only operated until 1917. Today only a racetrack from the complex is still in use.  Renovation work is being done, and the site is partially used for events these days.

Above you can see old and new brick together, as well as foundations from other original buildings.

Our final stop, on the way back to the ferry, was a football ground which had been delightfully decorated around its perimeter

and then we were taken back to the ferry to return to Buenos Aires and Argentina.  The return journey took just an hour and the distance is 45km, so it’s not really a surprise that passengers weren’t allowed outside during transit.

We had the evening and most of the following day to ourselves before our Southern Ocean and South America trip ended.  As I say, the narrative is a bit non-linear; we used some of the day to visit El Ateneo, which you’ve already seen, and an evening event, which you haven’t;  and there’s a bit of our first day here that I haven’t told you about yet..

That’ll be in the next post, then.  See you there?




Overwhelmed by Buenos Aires

Thursday 14 March 2024 – Bloody hell, Buenos Aires!  We’ve had a whistle stop tour which took five hours and done a couple of other things and I am completely overwhelmed by the place, and not always in a good way.  We’ve seen a huge amount in a very short space of time and I’m struggling to piece together a coherent story, so please bear with me as I flit from topic to topic in a disorganised way.  For a city which has only been in existence for 200 years, there’s an awful lot of history and culture to take in, and I’m not sure my brain’s up to it.  This will be a loooong post, with lots of pictures. Be warned.

By the way, this is just the city tour.  We also did Other Stuff, which I shall expatiate upon, probably at length, in at least one separate post.

Our guide for our whistle-stop tour was Mariana, who (you remember, of course) had greeted us on our first arrival three weeks ago and who was looking after us for our time here.  We discussed our overall schedule for a few minutes and then went out – in the rain, which still hadn’t really abated after several days of persistent pissing down – to get in to our car with driver Eduardo.

The car had seen many, many better days. There was a crack from left to right across the windscreen, the fuel filler flap was missing, and the SERVICE light was illuminated on the dashboard. Every so often the car would make the special Citroën alarm noises with which I’m so familiar, since I own one at home.  However, mine only complains when there’s something legit to complain about; Eduardo’s would bleep away and he would fiddle with door locks and other controls to try to make it shut up.  However, it got us to where we needed to go, which felt like it was was all over the bloody place but was actually only in about four areas, while Mariana pointed out government buildings, university buildings, churches, embassies and other points of interest while maintaining a stream of comments about Buenos Aires’s history and culture which was very difficult to keep up with.  But now, for example, I know that most citizens in Buenos Aires are into psychoanalysis and most go to a therapist, to the point where if you don’t, people think you’re a bit odd.


The basic geography:  BA is divided into 48 neighbourhoods, or barrios.

Our hotel is in Recoleta, a nice neighbourhood.  We also spent a lot of time in Palermo, which is also nice – most countries appear to have their embassies there. We also visited San Telmo (there was no fire there) and La Boca, the last of which is jolly fun during the day but, we are told, is not a place to visit in the evenings. There is also a downtown area, around Retiro and San Nicolas, also Not Safe After Dark, reportedly.

The city is one of contrasts – fine buildings in Nice Areas and clearly griding poverty and homelessness in others. With the ridiculous levels of inflation that the country is undergoing it was never clear to me how to get any local currency (it’s best, apparently, to go to a money changer recommended by someone you respect) and so whenever I was Out And About I felt exposed. I had no clue about the geography or distances and would have been exceedingly reluctant to take a taxi anywhere for fear of being ripped off or worse. It’s a shame that I never really felt relaxed here, and that contributed to the overall sense of being overwhelmed by the place.

Our first stop, which kind of summed up my image of Buenos Aires and Argentina, was “Floralis Genérica“, a gift to the city by the Argentine architect Eduardo Catalano. Catalano once said that the flower “is a synthesis of all the flowers and, at the same time, a hope reborn every day at opening.” It was created in 2002. The aluminium sculpture, a thing of beauty, was designed to move, closing its petals in the evening and opening them in the morning.

Sadly, it’s fucked.

The electronics employed in opening and closing the flower were disabled in 2010 to prevent damaging the sculpture, and it remained permanently open until 2015. One of the petals was incorrectly installed during its assembly, as noted by Catalano himself. The company responsible for its construction, Lockheed Martin Aircraft Argentina, provided a 25-year warranty, but as the company was nationalised in 2009, its repair was delayed. The mechanism was functional again by June 2015. In the early hours of December 17, 2023, parts of the sculpture (including a main petal) fell due to a strong storm. And now there’s (a) no money, expertise or political will to repair it and (b) because of the parlous state of the area’s economy, people keep stealing bits of it to sell illegally. Such a shame; it must have been a thing of joy in its time – something once rich and fine, now in decline, matching my view of the city and country.

Our next stop was at a statue of General San Martin, who is regarded as a national hero of Argentina, Chile and Peru and one of the liberators of Spanish South America.  He (and a couple of his mates) liberated Argentina from Spanish rule in a war from 1810 to 1816. The British were involved in fighting around this time, too and I haven’t quite understood who was fighting whom and for what.  I think the French were probably angling for a fight, too, but I can’t honestly be sure.  The history of Argentina and Buenos Aires is hideously complicated.

Suffice it to say, though, that the practical upshot of all this buggering about is a city that is just 200 years old and with a rich heritage of European architecture.  As Jane and I noted in our first visit here before we went south, there are vast numbers of elegant 19th century European buildings here.  The embassies of foreign countries tend to be palaces, like the British Embassy

and many neighbourhoods (particularly Recoleta, where our hotel is), have a lot of buildings which would not look out of place in Paris.

So when someone wanted to build an art deco house

it was not welcomed among the neighbours.  But it got built anyway.

It could not possibly have been long before the name of Eva Perón cropped up; and we passed the Plaza Evita, where there is a monument to her.

Having never been to see the show or the film about her, I didn’t really know much about her except for the “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina” thing.  Apparently, actresses in her day (1930s) were held in lowly regard, with most people lumping them in with prostitutes and other low-lifes.  So her and Juan becoming an item was pretty scandalous, but one has to admit she made a pretty good fist of things despite this. More on her later.

Next stop was the cultural centre of Recoleta, which included the Basilica Nuestra Senora del Pilar

which we popped into for a quiet moment to admire, among other things, the lovely tiling work there.

I was amused, as we walked out, to see the longest feather duster ever in my experience.

Nearby is a huge, and very old, fig tree.

It is so old that its branches reach out a considerable distance.  Someone had the bright idea of including one of them in an art installation.

Also nearby is a building which used to be a convent but its frontage been gussied up a little.

I think it’s wonderful, but apparently people are a bit sniffy about it.

We called in at a café in the area, called La Biela.

At one of its tables there’s another art installation; wax models of two famous writers and intellectuals who spent much time in La Biela,

Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares. Next, we visited the cemetery in Recoleta. I begin to wonder if you, my loyal reader, are worried about our preoccupation with cemeteries, which figure not infrequently in these pages.  This one, morbid fixation or not, is an SSSI – a site of significant sightseeing interest. It is vast,


covering 5.5 hectares, or 14 acres in old money, and packed – 4,691vaults, all topped with statuary and other mausoleum-type materials, You can see from the above shot that there is a central spot from which avenues radiate out.

and there are some astonishing mausolea there.  To spare you an endless litany of photos, I’ve put a set on Flickr for you to look at if your pro-cemetery inclinations match ours. Click below to view them, if you like.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina

I will share one photo, though, which is the main reason for people to flock to this place.

“Duarte?” I hear you cry. “Who the actual?”.

Evita. Her full name was María Eva Duarte de Perón – Duarte was her maiden name. That’s why people come here.  Frankly, I’m buggered if I know how to find it, but Mariana led is there deftly, via some of the 94 other figures of national importance who are also buried there – and pointing out that some mausolea are abandoned, disused and in a poor state.  It’s not possible to cram any new sites in, and existing sites that are for sale fetch huge amounts of money; but the ownership of some of the abandoned sites has been lost and so they moulder away.

After the cemetery, the cathedral.  From the front, it doesn’t look much like a church.

but if you look carefully, you can see a dome just above the pediment, which is a clue. It looks large, and it is.

You can see the beautiful tiling in the photos above, and there’s lots  of it.

and it’s encouraging to note that there’s some restoration work going on in places which need it. There are many, many chapels (I lost count after six) but the main, suitably impressive, one is dedicated to that chap San Martin.

It’s guarded. By guards. Two of them.

but it’s utterly impossible to get a decent photo of the area because of the photographic feeding frenzy going on around it.

At least they weren’t taking selfies, which is the only redeeming feature of the scene.

One of the reasons for the vibrant and varied cultural scene in BA is the amount of immigrations that’s happened over the years – Russians, Polish, French, Italians and more.  A significant aspect of the Italian influence is visible in the bakeries.  We visited a posh one

which has a counter-intuitive name despite its very clear Italian heritage.

(We visited another, less posh, one later, so stay tuned.)

Just nearby is Plaza Mayo. This is nothing to do with a spread, a clinic or an ageing radio DJ, but a place of much significance to the Argentinians; its name come from week-long series of events that took place from May 18 to 25, 1810, in Buenos Aires, The result was the removal of Viceroy Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros and the establishment of a local government, the Primera Junta  on May 25. The May Revolution began the Argentine War of Independence. As similar events occurred in many other cities of the continent, the May Revolution is also considered one of the early events of the Spanish American wars of independence.

Several of the city’s major landmarks are located around the Plaza: the Casa Rosada (home of the executive branch of the federal government)

which features the famous balcony from where Evita gave her “don’t cry for me, Argentina” speech*;

the Cathedral, which you’ve already seen; the May Pyramid, the oldest national monument in the city, celebrating the first anniversary of the May Revolution.;

and the Equestrian monument to General Manuel Belgrano.

The stones surrounding the statue were placed in commemoration of Covid victims during the pandemic, as the people were dissatisfied with the government’s response to the pandemic.

Since 1977, the plaza is where the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo have congregated with signs and pictures of desaparecidos, their menfolk (husbands, children, sometimes fathers), who were subject to forced disappearance by the Argentine military in the Dirty War, during the National Reorganization Process.  Their protest is permanently marked by the images of white headscarves in the black mosaic.

There’s  a lot of street art in Buenos Aires.  I took a photo of some

whose relevance will be revealed in due course – and lots and lots and lots later – stay with it.

Argentinians love their markets; that’s where they buy most of their food – there are no big supermarkets in BA. Mariana took us through the very considerable San Telmo market, where you can buy produce and also eat at the many establishments there.

Neighbouring San Telmo is La Boca, “The Mouth”, where the port is.

It’s also a place where the buildings become the street art.

It’s an extraordinary outpouring of colour. To save you having to scroll through dozens of photos, I’ve put them in a separate Flickr album, or you can click the image below.

Street Scenes at La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina

One building is a popular attraction; Caminito.

On (queueing up and) payment of the requisite sum, you can go upstairs and have your photo taken beside Lionel Messi.

(It’s not the real Messi; just another fine Messi you can get into.)

Other street art in La Boca is plentiful – it even extends to the sides of buildings

and a local football stadium.  When the builders were choosing the decor, they decided to use the colours of the next ship to arrive.  It was


La Boca is also where we visited the non-posh Italian bakery.

Among other things they offer “amarchistic” baked goods.  I’d show you them, but that would be a picture of food and therefore Not Allowed; but bakers slyly created items that mocked the police, education, church and other elements of society – pastries called “facturas”, the word means “bill”, so emphasising the need for crafts such as baking to be recognised at their full value.

The above hits the highlights of our five hours of touring Buenos Aires.  It’s not exhaustive, but I hope it gives an impression of how varied it is; we only covered a few areas, and there would be much more to see had we the time.

We did do a few other things in the city, and the narrative at this point turns non-linear; a couple of days later, we visited one of Buenos Aires’s most famous buildings – El Ateneo. It was only a 10-minute stroll from our hotel and on the way I took some snaps of a couple of the street kiosks which are everywhere in Recoleta

and one of the rather stylish poster stands that dot the place as well,

reminiscent of the sort of art nouveau street décor one might find in Paris.

El Ateneo is a remarkable place – a theatre which has been repurposed as a book shop – an enormous, enormously stylish bookshop.

Just entering it shows what a stylish place it is.

Then you go through to the main area and get hit by a simply awesome sight.

This is the view from the second floor over the main part of the building as you look towards the stage.

Isn’t that just – fantastic?

It is.

And yet people can’t set eyes on this vision of wonderfulness without thinking that it would look better with them in it.

Bloody hell, it annoys me. Not only is it vapid but it delays people who just want to capture the scene for its awesomeness.

The stage

is a café

where we had coffee and alfajores, served by a nice local lass called, counterintuitively, Brenda. The ceiling above is a thing of joy

and other theatreish areas are used for other bookshopish things.

The place is simply stunning, and a decent way to end a post about what we’d seen in touring around this remarkable, scruffy, stylish, imposing, disorganised city.

We also did a couple of evening things in BA, since we had three days here. I will write about them in my valedictory post from this trip. But the middle day of our three in the area held the prospect of another Thing To Do in Buenos Aires, which is – to leave it.

Come back later and find out what that means, eh?


  • No, she didn’t.  That speech is a fiction from the show and the film, based upon the fact that in her latter days, before she dies very young from cancer, her speeches ran high in emotional content.  I found it very educational to read her Wiki entry. The balcony of the Casa Rosada was used for a powerful speech in front of a quarter of a million people; but the appearance was by Juan Perón, being released after 6 days in prison, in front of the gathered throng, who had demanded his freedom.