Travels with Bob
Argentina Beckons Me
I first became fascinated by Argentina more than 40 years ago when the Broadway musical, and later the movie, “Evita” debuted. It was a story about a fascist dictator and his near death second wife, who had captured the heart and mind of the country. Since that perilous time, Argentina has evolved into one of my favorite destinations, and the Andrew Lloyd Webber song “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” has become one of the world’s most performed ballads.
Today Buenos Aires, the capital and Argentina’s largest city, is a dynamic world-class destination. BA annually beckons millions of visitors seeking romance, culture, history and adventure, while exploring a country known for tango dancing, great wines, gauchos and much more.
The city’s 9 de Julio Avenue, commemorating Argentina’s independence from Spain in 1816, is the widest avenue in the world replete with seven lanes in both directions and flanked by dual-lane frontage streets on both sides. It’s almost as wide as it is long (half a mile) and offers visitors a real architectural treat.
Exploring the city will take you into several vastly different neighborhoods, each offering special appeal and cultural flavor. My favorite is La Boca where many of the streets are lined with colorful shanty houses constructed from scrap materials. There you will find a daily outdoor celebration of art, music and South American life. You must visit the famous alley walkway museum known as Caminito.
Moving to the Recoleta neighborhood, known for its excellent restaurants, cafes, nightclubs and high-end shopping, allow time to explore the Recoleta Cemetery full of architectural richness, the final resting place of many noteworthy social and political personalities, and dozens of feral cats. Be sure to look for the crypt of Eva Peron (Evita), although her remains were likely removed decades ago, according to local lore.
When the sun goes down, enjoy dinner and a traditional tango show at the 100-year-old El Querandí, or at any of the many other noteworthy tango clubs. It will be a dinner show you will long remember. I also enjoy simply wandering into almost any neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon to enjoy a few of the residents competing in an amateur tango contest.
Time permitting, venture into the wild pampas to experience the life of gauchos (cowboys), who will demonstrate their skills and share their music and tales of life on the ranch. You also will enjoy an excellent barbecue lunch. Alternatively, treat yourself to a great steakhouse dinner back in the city; there are numerous options where the locals dine on excellent Argentine beef.
If you are cruising to or from Buenos Aires, include extra time on your itinerary pre- or post-cruise to experience everything the city offers. Instead, consider a land-based vacation that begins in Buenos Aires and includes a side trip to Mendoza in the heart of Argentina’s north central wine country.
However you visit Buenos Aires, you undoubtedly will return home yearning to try tango lessons.
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