Saturday, March 5, 2011

Day 4 - ANTARCTICA TRIP - Buenos Aires

4 March 2011

Lovely dinner last night at a restaurant across the road from the hotel.  It was recommended to us by our waitress the night before.  She told us it has been around for forty or more years, the food hasn't changed but captures what real Argentian food is like.  So we went there.  What an interesting place.  Decor old style but did not look tired.  All the waiters were men over 60.  Good service but they didn't hurry.  Food was good.

Today we met up with the rest of the group we will be travelling with to Antartica.  Our trip to Antartica is organised by the Lithuanian World Amateur Alpine Ski Association.  It is the first Lithuanian expedition to Antartica and they hope to hold a downhill skiing race Antartica.

An official web site has been set up by the association for this trip: 

I felt sorry for the rest of the group as a decision was made to go on the city tour straight after disembarkation.  Some of them looked tired.  We got a call to tell us that we would be picked up at the hotel.  We were expecting the tour to be in the afternoon.    Luckily we were in when they called as we had been out walking around and posting the postcards to the grandkids.

So today we got a good overview of Buenos Aires.

We drove through all the major areas of the city - the Ricoleta,  Palermo, San Telmo, La Boca.  It highlighted for me again the stark difference between the have and have nots.  The south is not as pretty as the north of the city and the buildings show the hardships being experienced by the locals.

It is mainly the immigrants who live in the south.  I was surprised that they were also referring to it as an area of immigrants from 1800s implying their families have continued to live a hard life in the same area.

However, this is the area of town where people have a sense of humor as seen by some of the street art in place.

The Floris Generica sculpture is impressive.  It opens up due, to the hydraulics system integral to the sculpture's structure, every morning from the sun's rays and closes as the sun sets.  It is a 13 meter tall sculpture at the intersection of two major roads.

The Ricoleta Cemetery was not quite what I expected in that it was so crowded.

We visited Evita's musoleum/crypt.

As we walked through it it was difficult to really appreciate the scuptures as everything is so crowded particularly in the paths off the main paths.  Very few sculptures were able to be viewed fully

In this area we saw a dog walker at work.  Apparently many people have dogs but no time to walk them.  So a dog walker is hired to take the dog out for three hours each day.  A walker will walk up to 15 dogs at one time and be paid 200 pesos per dog per month. That is 3000 pesos per month or $750 per month.  Most dog walkers do two shifts a day - three hours in the morning and then three hours in the afternoon with another group of dogs.  That is considered very good money here.  We were surprised how well behaved the dogs were during their walk.

We revisited Plaza de Mayo after driving past Teatro Colon.  A highlight for me today was seeing Caminiti in La Boce.

The literature describes it as the only part of the city that does not resemble anything European.  It was created by Italian immigrants.  Caminito - a street museum - was exactly as I imagined except on a much smaller scale than I thought it would be.  It is just so colourful and full of humour.

After the tour we returned to the hotel and had a large lunch with the group.  It will take some time to get to know them all.    It was great to catch up with those we knew over lunch.

We did get a shock when we heard we had to leave at 3:45am for our flight to Ushuaia tomorrow morning.  No late night tonight.

During our stay here we have been quite amused by the sight of this pool on a building top across from the hotel.

In the evening a meeting was organised for the group with representatives of the Lithuanian Brazilian community.

It was interesting to here about the community and its endeavours to keep the community going for the last 100 years here.  Some of the issues paralleled those we have in Australia within the communities.
After a group photo most of us retired for the night.

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