After a LONG plane flight from San Francisco to Lima to Sao Paolo to Buenos Aires, I finally arrived at the Reina del Plata Hotel, a boutique hotel close to the Plaza de Mayo. The city tour that afternoon took us to the highlights of this beautiful Europeanesque city. Our first stop was the Plaza de Mayo, the political heart of the Buenos Aires. The buildings surrounding the plaza are the Casa Rosada (Pink House) where the Argentine president works, the Piramide de Mayo, the Cabildo which was the colonial seat of the government, and the Metropolitan Cathedral, where lies the remains of General Jose de San Martin, the South American liberator known as the 'Father of the Nation'. Since it was Sunday, there was a street market near the Plaza, providing an excellent opportunity to search for local crafts.
As the tour wound through the neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, we learned about the political history, the architecture, and the culture of the Portenos. Our next stop was the Caminito, a pedestrian walkway in La Boca, where we hopped off the minibus and had time to explore the little shops, look at menus, stop and observe local dancing and singing. It is a colorful neighborhood, albeit touristy, but if you have never been there before, a worthwhile stop. We ended our tour in the exclusive neighborhood of La Recoleta, stopping along the way to see the famous statue of Eva Peron, and the silver friendship flower. It was my good fortune that it was the weekend for the Recoleta Fair, the city's largest street fair. After ambling amongst the booths, I walked back to my hotel, past glitzy shops, beautiful buildings and along the Avenida 9 de Julio, the world's widest street. Boca Juniors, the famous soccer team, had won their game and there was plenty of spirit in the local bars and restaurants. But I was tired by now, so I popped into a small restaurant and got some empanadas to take back to my hotel.