This morning saw the earliest start in a while, with us taking advantage of not having gone out the night before in order to see some more of the sights. Our first stop was the obelisk which stands prominently in the middle of Avenue 9th July. The road itself is named after the date of independence here and is highly noteworthy, given it is one of the widest in the world - we counted nine lanes on each side on one stretch! The obelisk is set in a small park area, with a number of metal plaques around it, with one representing each of the country’s states/provinces. It’s very tall, though not as big or impressive as the obelisk in Washington DC. It has windows at the top, so I assume it is possible to go up it.
From the obelisk we walked to the Theatre Colon, which is the main historic theatre here in Buenos Aires. Apparently the city is considered to be the theatrical capital of South America, with some calling it ‘the Paris of the south’. There were signs up outside advertising an Argentine Tango show, and I’m guessing this theatre is probably the best place to see it.
After the theatre, we met up with a friend of Marc’s called Oscar, who lives and works here in the city. He took us to a very nice Italian restaurant for lunch before walking us round the best sights in the area. We started by walking south of Florida to a newly developed part of town called Puerto Madero. It features a number of manmade marinas, lined with expensive restaurants and bars, and surrounded by high-rise apartment and office blocks. Strangely, the marinas have a number of ‘ornamental cranes’ around them, which I wasn’t particularly impressed with. The most interesting aspect of the area was a historic sailing boat, which sails on a three month around the world tour every year. When it needs to get out of the marina it, a nearby bridge is swung 90 degrees to make room for it – this must be a strange sight to see.
The Puerto Madero area links nicely round to the Plaza De Mayo, which we had seen the day before. Oscar gave us a bit more of the history, explaining how the buildings were all built at different times, and hence have completely different architectures. A whole block of the presidential palace was removed a number of years ago in order to make way for a road through the plaza; this unusual move has left the palace unsymmetrical, though I suppose that is the price to pay for improved traffic flow! Apparently the current president is extremely charismatic and popular with the lower classes as a result of reform promises she makes. However, she is slow to act on them and Oscar isn’t impressed with her – a feeling I’m sure he shares with David Cameron.
The last stop on our walking tour took us down Avenue de Mayo, which connects the Plaza De Mayo with the Plaza Congreso. Unsurprisingly, the main feature of the Plaza Congreso is Argentina’s congress building, and it was an impressive domed building, reminiscent of Washington DC’s senate building (though a lot dirtier). There is also a park in the square, and its centrepiece is a grand fountain where hundreds of pigeons flock. In typical Venetian style there was a man handing out breadcrumbs, and a number of people using them to lure the pigeons over.
In the evening we just relaxed at the hostel, before heading down to the bar with some Brazilians we met on Saturday night. The bar has a football table, and we had an exciting doubles match of England vs. Brazil, which I’m pleased to say we won comfortably – if only the England Team’s World Cup performances could match our display.
Photos of the day: the obelisk with a rather distorted Marc in the foreground, a typically wide stretch of the Avenue 9th July with a picture of Evita visible, the Argentinian Congress.