Journey to the South-Part 1 (Buenos Aires)

Since my last post on 26 January, I have been traveling without benefit of Internet connectivity.  Our principal destination was Antarctica but there also were brief stops in Argentina and Brazil.  But now I’m back and this is the first of several posts describing what happened.

Antarctica 01

Plaza San Martin, Buenos Aires

After a harrowing pair of flights (snowstorm, flight cancellations, etc.),  we arrived more or less on time and unscathed in Buenos Aires.  The fate of our luggage was another matter, apparently missing the connection from Miami.  But I had my camera gear in my carry-on pack and the view across the street from our hotel was inviting (see image above).

Antarctica 02Jose de San Martin Memorial, Buenos Aires

Our short stay made it difficult to see many sights in the city, but a few forays were made between periodic investigations on the status of our baggage. It turned out that the immediate neighborhood featured several touchstones of the city’s former glory, troubled political history, and present economic troubles.  The park across the street is part of the Plaza San Martin named after the 19th century military leader who led the fight for Argentina’s independence from Spain. A massive equestrian statue in his honor dominates the southwest entrance plaza to the park (image above).  A less positive event is memorialized nearby.  The Monument to the Fallen in Malvinas honors the Argentines killed in the 1982 war with Great Britain over the Malvinas Islands (called the Falklands in England).

Antarctica 07

Former Mansion of the Paz Family

The former home of one of the most powerful families of 20th century Argentina is directly across the street from Plaza San Martin.  Now known as the Circulo Militar, it originally was the opulent residence of the Paz family, owners of then influential newspaper, La Prensa.  Today it is a historical museum, but tours were not available while we were in the city.

Antarctica 03

The Centro Naval Building

A walk down nearby Avenida Florida takes one past numerous tourist traps and the ubiquitous “Cambio” hawkers enticing passersby with offers of bodacious exchange rates, a reminder of the country’s enduring economic problems. Nostalgic reminders of the city’s glory days in the late 19th and early 20th centuries are also here such as the now empty Harrod’s Department store, the first and only foreign venture by London’s famed shopping establishment. Originally established in 1914, it was known as the gathering place for the city’s elite in the decadent tea salon and the place to buy Italian suits, expensive perfume and imported jewelry. A few hundred feet away is the intimidating entrance to the Centro Naval (image above), an ornate beaux art structure also built in 1914 as the home of the Argentine Navy’s sports and cultural club.   The majestic building and the club’s exclusivity reflect the important place the Argentine navy has historically held.  Unless you are a member, don’t bother trying to get in.

Antarctica 04

Central Court of Galerias Pacifico

Another magnificent building is right across the street. The Galerias Pacifico was built in the 1890s as a high end department store.  Since then, it has undergone a decidedly mixed history of transformations that included tenants of the National Museum of Fine Arts, a luxury hotel, and offices of the Buenos Aires and Pacific Railway.  In 1947, five of Argentina’s top artists painted ceiling murals (see image above) which are considered national treasures.  The building also has a darker side; in the mid-1970s, its basements were used as torture chambers for political prisoners.  Today, it evokes its original purpose as an upscale shopping mall.

Antarctica 05

Puerto Madero, with Former Warehouses on Right

A 15-minute walk from the Galerias Pacifico will take you to Puerto Madero, a shipping port constructed in the 1890s that became obsolete ten years later because it was too small for newer, larger ships (see image above). For nearly a century, the area remained essentially unused until a massive revitalization effort was launched , transforming the old warehouses into elegant apartments, offices, hotels, cinemas, and restaurants (including the top rated Cabana las Lilas which we had intended to try but the airlines’ holding all our decent clothing hostage made that inadvisable). Every street in Puerto Madero is named after a woman, highlighted by the Puente de la Mujer, a pedestrian bridge by the architect Santiago Calatrava (see image below).

Antarctica 06

Calatrava Bridge in Distance (Slanted White Pylon)

Unfortunately, our time in Buenos Aires was too short and we had a plane to catch, a 4-hour flight to Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in South America and the embarkation port for our voyage to the White Continent. Our missing luggage had arrived at our hotel just in time and we were hoping that our bad travel luck was behind us……..

25 thoughts on “Journey to the South-Part 1 (Buenos Aires)

  1. You got some fabulous shots of Buenos Aires. I’ve never been but my in-laws were there a couple of years ago and said the architecture of the city was incredible. I’m glad your luggage turned up relatively quickly. That’s always stressful.

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    • Thanks very much. The rain on our one full day made it a little difficult, but it was great to get be able to get around a little bit. Yes, having the luggage show up made thgings a lot easier; we feared we would be doing some last minute shopping at the Patagonia store in Ushuaia before boarding the ship. But it all turned out OK.

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    • Thanks very much for visiting and for your comments. This was my first visit to B.A. The closest I’ve come in the past was Montevideo. Buenos Aires is a great city, but unfortunately its economic and political troubles have brought a steady decline from its former glory.

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  2. Welcome back in the world with Internet! I hope you had a fabulous trip and I am really looking forward to the following few posts! Great images already from Buenos Aires and another proof of why every Photographer should always take the gear in the hand luggage.

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    • Thanks! It’s good to be back. The trip was truly memorable and I am still hard at work going through the many images. You are right about taking your camera gear as carry on. I can’t imagine not having it on a trip like this.

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  3. I really enjoyed the glimpse of Buenos Aires through your eyes of the beautiful architecture. Looking forward to more. M

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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    • Thanks, Laura. It was quite a building with a lot of history. I saw a detail of one of the murals in our hotel, which led to the obvious question of where this place might be located and to my surprise it was only two blocks away. And you’re right about having the camera stuff. It proved the righteousness of the traveling rule to always have your gear under your control.

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  4. Welcome back Robin! What an adventure you had. I am really glad that you brought with you your camera, so that you were able to take these beautiful shots. I have never been to this city, so it is very interesting (and warm too, considering the temperature in New York) to look at these photos and read a little about the history of Buenos Aires. The architecture really impresses me. And to write with these many details, did you by any chance take notes along the way?

    Thanks for sharing Robin!

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    • Thanks very much for your comments and questions. Yes, B.A. was warmer than here, but not oppressively so. I think the cloudy weather and rain keep the temps down a bit. But, as you will see in upcoming installments, we ran into some serious warm weather in Brazil. I did take notes along the way but some information came from pre-trip research and the rest came from some follow-up checking when I returned. The best example of the latter was the Centro Naval, which I found totally by accident when I was walking down Avenida Florida. The doors were shut, there was no explanatory sign, and so I was very curious to find out what might be in there.

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  5. For being in BA for just a short while, you sure made the most of it! Never having been, it was wonderful to see your photos AND to read about the backgrounds of each. And of course, so glad your luggage turned up, but the way you’ve ended your post has me thinking there might have been some other unplanned experiences along the way?? I’m off to read installment two 😀

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    • Thanks, Stacy. As you have guessed by now, I am replying to these in reverse chronological order. To answer your question, which you probably are starting to see by now, it wasn’t so much unplanned experiences as whether our bad luck would continue. Fortunately–at least up through Post Number 4 which will appear Monday morning–Mother Nature decided to smile upon us after our luggage showed up.

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