Monday, 10 August 2009

Exploring Buenos Aires, 23 July 2009

I consider this day to be my first real day exploring Buenos Aires. I mean, I had been to La Boca, but other than that I hadn´t really seen a great deal of Buenos Aires other than a shopping mall, a restaurant, and a night club. But Rich and Rhiannon had headed off to Mendoza and the city of Buenos Aires was mine to explore at my leisure. I knew I was going to be staying here for a while so I didn´t want to rush around and do everything straight away, so tody was going to be a day for getting my bearings.

It was a beautiful blue sky day and so, with my map in hand I created one of my extensive city walking tours.

My hostel was in the Micro Centro of Buenos Aires and was just a short walk from the Plaza de Mayo which was surrounded by the Casa Rosada (the one where Evita sang from), the Cathdral, the old Town Hall and all the big banks. From here, I then wandered along Calle Florida, which I guess is the equivalent of London´s Oxford Street. It was hell and I was constantly harrassed for Tango Shows and Leather Jackets... NO GRACIAS! I hated it. I took in the Galerias Pacificas which was a a really nice shopping mall with all the fancy shops, and then carried on to the Plaza de San Martin where they have the Argentine equivalent of Big Ben... hmmmm, maybe not!

From here I made my way to the Congress building taking in all the pretty Parisian style buildings with wrought iron balconies on my way... As I wandered along the streets towards the Congress building I could here lots of noise and bangs. I carried on walking and came to the Congreess building... Ah! A riot! Tere was a massive crowd outside the congress building... so incredibly big and there were fire crackers going off. An ambulance with its sirens whizzed passed me. I though to myself that this was the sort of thing that the FCO website warns you to keep away from. But this was action... and I wanted an awesome action shot. I didn´t get too close as I snapped away with my camera, at first anyway. Despite the fire crackers it all seemed quite tame, there was lots of smoke and noise, but these protestors were aiming all their abuse at the Congress building. Most people on the street just wandered by without batting an eyelid. I almost felt like I was the only person who could see the riot because people were so unfazed by it all!

I got a bit closer, and as I walked closer i realised that even the pigeons that filled the square didn´t flinch at the fire crackers. I got closer and closer, and then i decided that I had gotten close enough and I turned around and made my way away. After i ahd walked about 10 paces away there was an almighty crack... i must have jumped three foot in the air... as did everyone else around... even the pigeons scarpered! My heart was in my mouth and i carried on walking and picked up the pace.

I walked on and on and with no real direction i just followed random streets that looked interesting and soaked up all of my surroundings. I loved it.

Then, I came across another protest. This was a marching protest and they walked and banged drums as they went. Although therre were no fire crackers, this was a little more scary, the protestors had their faces covered by scarved so that only their eyes showed... and in their hands they carried clubs. I skipped back a block, but most people just carried on as normal.

By the end of my day walking around I must have come across 5 different protests! When i got back to the hostel i enquired about the protests... I was told that people protest about anything... money, poverty, communism, anti-Peronism. No one really knew what any of the protests were about because they were so common place. When i mentioned the firecrackers the hostel receptionist told me that it was normal.

I was totally in love with Buenos Aires. I had seen some incredible sights, some beautiful architecture, soaked up an incredible vibe and had a couple of run-ins with riots. I loved it.

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