15 Nov 2011

Buenos Aires

It is abundantly clear from the colour, light and architecture of BA that Argentina enjoyed immense wealth in the first half of the 20th Century, when it was the fourth biggest economy on the planet.

Many buildings were influenced (if not completely designed) by European architects and having more space to work with than your average European piazza there is something very appealing about the scale of BA's public spaces.

Today there is a slight shabbiness to the place but to ensure you don't spend too much time looking at the almost past-their-best buildings there is more dog poop on the pavements than has ever been seen anywhere in modern times - all part of the local charm.

That could be due to the amount of meat that is consumed in Argentina, reputedly 70 kilos per capita per annum which means someone is eating an awful lot of carne (no doubt assisted by their canine companions...)

To wash all that meat down (and any other great food variety you can think of from Mexican to Mongolian) there is of course some of the best wine on the planet - we have yet to visit Mendoza, very much looking forward to that, but it isn't far away - a bottle of decent Malbec can be had for about 4 British pounds, thank you Bacchus.

As for the people, the Porteños (BAians) we have met (and all Argentinians for that matter) have been charming and generous with the usual warmth that South Americans just seem to have as an innate quality, which isn't what we were led to believe before we arrived so that is another preconception that has been pleasantly revised.

And if you like coffee, cake and all things nice then BA is the city for you! In Palermo (the district we stayed in) and Recoleta  next door (the traditionally posh bit) where we did most of our wandering, there are at least 2 coffee/cake/bakery shops per block (approx 100 metres)- absolutely fabulous! And that isn't including the ice cream parlours, wow, thank you Italian influence, dulce de leche ice creameo rocks!

Culturally there is loads going on, 24 hours a day if you can keep up. We visited the Modern Art, Arts and Crafts, Art, Decorative Arts and National museums.. 

rocked a Monday night away at La Bomba de Tiempo (check out the videothere was an international Jazz festival all week and numerous world class night clubs that will happily occupy you until dawn (remember to take your sun glasses) - to name but a few.

There are huge and beautiful parks..

couple of impressive cemeteries (most expensive real estate in BA right now apparently - recent sale of a 2 up 3 down mausoleum went for $5million, ok it had its own lift but that is serious cash for a box even with the marble inlay)

and great street markets at the weekend that the whole city seems to frequent along with tango oficionados.

and of course music wherever you go...

And the weather was fab, we encountered one cloudy day out of the eight we were there, the rest being sharp-clear-blue beauties. 

Some would say that we are in a 3rd world country (interesting article) which certainly looks like a harsh judgement at the moment bearing in mind the toxic news of the western world's political, economic and social failures being transmitted on a daily basis.

There can be no doubt that the Argentines have suffered their fair share of economic and social crises over the past century. Not least a military dictatorship in the 1970's that made Argentina the 2nd country (Chile being the first) to implement the Hayek inspired, Friedman (Milton) school of Chicago concocted neo-liberal economic and social policies that Reagan and Thatcher would later deal to the West (see Naomi Klein's 'The Shock Doctrine' for more detail of this fascinating account).

As we watch this 35 year experiment implode before our eyes, maybe BA is an example of what the future holds for cities of the so called developed world, a bygone age of extreme affluence but a more realistic, slightly shabby way of life has now set in.

In many ways that wouldn't be a bad thing if the cake is as good,  but let's make sure that there are firm pooper scooping laws in place please.

1 comment:

  1. Another wicked post guys, seriously missing you both but itsounds like you're on the adventure of a lifetime! x ed, helen and millie