Evita’s “Permanent” Home: The Recoleta Cemetery

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In my visit to Buenos Aires last year, our hotel was directly across one of BB.AA.’s most famous sites:  the Recoleta Cemetery.  Why is it famous?  Well, that crazy woman, Evita, is buried there.  Hence, tons of tourists and Evita lovers (domestic or international) flock to the cemetery to see her tomb.  I am one of those tourists.  (Admitting one has a problem is the first step to recovery…)  In any case, I first visited that cemetery as a young pup in 1991 and returned last year, not because I had to see it, but because, well, it was there… right across my hotel room window!

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The Recoleta Cemetery with the church to the right

The Recoleta Cemetery is next to the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Pilar and its history is tied to the church back when it had a convent associated with it.  The church dates from 1732 but the cemetery is a century younger.  Evita is not the only notable buried there but, likely, the most famous of them; others include Presidents, poets, Nobel laureates, etc.  Now, if you want to look for Evita’s tomb in the cemetery ‘guide,’ do not look under Perón (her married last name) – look for Duarte, her maiden name…

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SPOILER ALERT:  The family mausoleum where Evita’s remains rest

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I’d recommend walking around aimlessly and absorbing the different mausoleum styles.  It is artwork for sure.

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Typical scene at the Recoleta cemetery

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One thing I will say is that staying so close to it allowed me to see the area at different times and what seemed just like a cemetery with star power became a part of town with a healthy dose of local life.  Of course, I may be swayed by the Freddo‘s located a few storefronts down from my hotel but their gelato is just so good that I can’t have just one (my fellow trekkers quickly realized how crazy I was about Freddo’s gelato!).

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Freddo’s – I could not wait to take a bite…

 

Buenos Aires Re-Visited (Again)

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When I sat down to write this post, my first thought was:  “What can I possibly write about Buenos Aires that has not been written before?”  Good question.

My visit there was triggered by its being the location of two children’s homes we were going to help via a trek to Patagonia with Trekking for Kids.  I was not disappointed in that being the location as my prior visits to Buenos Aires, even the overnight trip one, were always good:  good city, good vibe, good food, and good wine.

I decided to go two days ahead of the official start of the group trip so that I would have some time to tool around some.  Tooling around soon turned out to include a day trip to nearby Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay, across the river from Buenos Aires.

So, I turned my attention to determining where to stay.  I had already paid a good bit to be able to trek in Patagonia after the time in Buenos Aires so I was looking for a good alternative to just paying a hotel room.  Two others from the trek decided to come early too so, immediately, I decided that an apartment rental was the best option.  Using FlipKey, I found a great 2 bedroom apartment in Palermo on a high floor and with some good views.  Mercifully, it had A/C as it was summer in Buenos Aires.  (FlipKey did a great job of showing me apartments based on my criteria which included not only location and price point but availability of A/C and wifi!)

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My room at the apartment: nice corner and a balcony!

The landlord was very friendly and flexible but was spot on on restaurant recommendations – bonus!  And when I looked out of the balcony, I recognized the small square by the building as one I had seen on HGTV’s House Hunters International a couple of years ago.

After the couple of days on our own, we moved to the hotel were the group was going to stay while we worked with the children’s homes outside of Buenos Aires in Moreno.  The hotel was located in Recoleta, another nice neighborhood in Buenos Aires.  The hotel was located across from the Recoleta cemetery where Evita is buried.  I lucked out with the room assignment and had a great view of the cemetery and could even see the ocean, er, the river.

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The Recoleta Cemetery

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Typical scene at the Recoleta cemetery

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Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Pilar right at the cemetery’s entrance

I had visited the cemetery in 1991 but still went back in to look for Evita.  Of course, there is a sign indicating where the famous’ tombs are but if you look for Evita under “P” for Perón, you will not find her.  You must look under Duarte, her maiden name.

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The family mausoleum where Evita’s remains rest

Eva looms large in the Argentine psyche – and on the side of buildings too…

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That’s Evita up there

The other plus for the hotel -and another thing that loomed large for me- is that it was a few storefronts down from my favorite ice cream place in Argentina: Freddos, first discovered by me in 1991!

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I could not even wait to snap a photo before taking a bite (or 3)

Oh, the food in Buenos Aires…

Maybe the city should be renamed “Buena Comida”, instead of “Buenos Aires”…  In my time in Buenos Aires, I probably gained weight.  The likely contributors certainly included my almost daily Freddo’s ice cream cup but it also included the incredible beef, pastries, desserts, and wines enjoyed at places like Cabaña Las Lilas (which serves some of the highest quality of beef I have ever had as well as an incredible appetizer plate), Campo Bravo (where we enjoyed a highly diverse plate of cow components…), El Trapiche (a locals place with not only great beef but amazing pasta), and even Biking Buenos Aires (a bike tour that provided delicious pastries during our break)!

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The appetizer plate at Cabaña Las Lilas was a home run!

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The parrillada at Campo Bravo:  name that part

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Butternut squash stuffed pasta with an outstanding blue cheese sauce

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Pastries served as a snack during the bike ride

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Mate cups

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Don’t forget dessert: this beauty courtesy of Cabaña Las Lilas

A place to stroll around – and bike around!

Buenos Aires is such a walkable city.  Trees and parks everywhere and, as I shared before, PLENTY-O monuments in this South American metropolis.  Walking down Ave. Libertador, which is bordered by a park between it and the river, is a good way to stretch the legs after an overnight flight – or after a massive lunch on beef and wine…  #justsayin

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Ave. Libertador is good for walking, jogging or riding!

One thing I had not contemplated to do is in Buenos Aires is to ride bicycles.  I mean, ride a bicycle in a large metropolis in Latin America?  Nuts, right??  Well, let me tell you, it was so much fun and, actually, safe!  I did not realize it but Buenos Aires has built bike lanes in some parts of town which meant that about 80% of the bike tour I did with Biking Buenos Aires was on bike lanes.  For about 13 of us, we had the main guide who shared a lot of great information about the sights, and two additional guides who supported the group, handled crossing intersections, and were just great guys.

I had never visited La Boca (more on it later) and got to re-visit the Plaza de Mayo and ride around the Casa Rosada.  We rode around Puerto Madero were we had a snack.  And then we hung out at the bike tour office to eat delicious empanadas that we had bought.  Enjoy these final pictures of what we saw during my bike tour and don’t forget to eat and explore to your hearts’ content in incredible Buenos Aires!

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The Buenos Aires Cathedral in the back and the old Cabildo on the left

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The Women’s Bridge by Calatrava in Puerto Madero

 

Visiting Buenos Aires

I have had the opportunity to visit Buenos Aires, Argentina three times: in 1991, 2000, and 2010 (I don’t like the spacing between visits…).  The first time was a weekend trip when I was living in Santiago, Chile and the second sent do co-deliver a training session for my company’s office there.  The third visit was for a short business trip when I got work -again- in Santiago, Chile (yes, I am blessed!).  I will write here about the trip in 1991.

Exploring Buenos Aires

Though we were entitled to be flown back to the U.S. from Santiago for Thanksgiving in 1991, we made a small “business case” to our manager that it would be way cheaper if they paid for us to go to BB.AA. (airfare, hotel and airport transportation).  We worked with some Argentines in Chile who flew home every weekend (abt a 2 hr flight) so they encouraged us to go and hang out with them.

We booked a hotel in Recoleta which was a nice part of town.  With our friends, we got to explore fantastic food.  The well-known area of La Costanera [good eats] did deliver a fantastic steak meal.  I remember that I wasn’t very hungry so I ordered half a steak.  The steak was as big as the large plate it was served on – of course, to see it I had to work through the pile of French fries on top of the steak.

obelisco-bbaa1BB.AA. is a great city to walk around.  The architecture (reminiscent of Paris) and the diversity of the people provide a lot of things to look at as you make your way between places to visit.  We had to make the ¨obligatory¨visit to the cemetery where Eva Perón is buried, see the Casa Rosada (the president’s house), watch the mothers still marching many years after military left power in front of the Casa Rosada, walk down Calle Florida (a great pedestrian shopping street).  Perhaps the most exciting thing we did was take a local bus to go to a colleague’s house.  The bus (or ¨colectivo¨) never really stops to let you in nor to let you out so with coaching from our local friend, my other American colleague and I managed to be successful in these 2 maneuvers…  A real adventure!

The thing we enjoyed the most though was a gelato chain called Fredo’s [good eats].  The gelato was superb and my personal favorite was the wine cream gelato.  I think we stopped at a Fredo’s whenever we saw one. 

Asado at a Friend’s

We enjoyed going around town with our friends and glad they were doing the driving.  I recall the Ave. Libertador having about 5 to 7 lanes of traffic with no lanes painted on the road surface.  I met chaos that night.  The best part of the trip was the time we were invited to one of our friend’s parents’ house for a traditional Argentine ¨asado¨ (read, BBQ) [good eats].  True Argentine hospitality!  When it came time for the main course, they brought a huge round piece of wood loaded with all the meat that had benn grilled.  All the meat meant all of the cow.  We were asked to choose a non-¨traditional¨piece of meat.  I went for the kidney as I didn’t fancy some of the other crazier parts…  Not impressed with the texture of the kidneys.

I flew Pan Am between Santiago and BB.AA.  Flying over the high peaks of the Andes on my first ride ever on a 747 was exhilarating and unnerving.  It looked as if the mountaintops were going to scrape the underbelly of the airplane.  And yet, looking at the cabin of the airplane, I couldn’t fully comprehend how such an airplane managed to fly.  On a semi-historical note, my flight back to Santiago was the last day Pan Am flew.

BB.AA. is definitely a town made to be explored and enjoyed.  Back in 1991, the country was just enjoying economic stability after the hyperinflationary period and everyone’s mood was great.   BB.AA. has changed tons since that first visit as I discovered in later visits – it has become even more exciting and interesting – an Argentines are still a heck of a lot of fun!

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