Our last day in Buenos Aires was a relatively calm one. Our flight to Iguassu didn’t leave until 7:05 in the evening so we had most of the day free to explore a bit more.
It turns out that the sculpture is a little more in sync with mother nature and opens each morning at dawn. Unfortunately for us, dawn is a little earlier than 8:00 these days in Buenos Aires. So, by the time we had dragged ourselves out of bed and hurried over by 7:55, including a little run, the flower was fully open and looked like it had been for sometime.
One of the benefits of being there relatively early was that we had the area all to ourselves. While not the exciting show we had come to see, the Floralis Genérica was still pretty impressive.You can see for yourself below.
The other benefit of going to see the flower so early was that we stumbled upon an artisan market being set-up in the park outside the Cemeterio de la Recoleta on our way back to the hotel for breakfast. We made a note to come back and have a look after our morning wander.
After breakfast we went across the street to visit the cemetery. After all, nothing gets you going in the morning like coffee and time with some dead people. I should admit that I was a bit skeptical abut the idea of touring a cemetery, but it felt like something we should do while in town. Besides, one simply doesn’t come to Buenos Aires without at least saying hello to Eva Duarté de Peron, a.k.a. Evita.
Built in 1822, on what was then the northern limit of the city, the cemetery is now in the middle of the wealthier Recoleta neighbourhood. As we entered the cemetery through the main gate, with large Doric columns that were added in 1881, we were greeted by what can only be described as a gang of cats. We counted 11. All of them just sitting, staring, judging. I’m not superstitious in the least, but it was strange to see that many cats just staring at you – most had moved on by the time we left and the tourist hoards were streaming in.
Creepy, but interesting, is probably an apt description for both the furry greeters and the cemetery as a whole. The burial place of many of Buenos Aires’ elite, the cemetery includes a wide range of ostentatious mausoleums and cenotaphs. The most famous, at least for a foreigner, being Eva Peron. (if you’re visiting, look for her under “Duarte”.)
The creepy side of things comes from the mausoleums of families that seem to have fallen on hard times or whose subsequent generations have either moved away or simply lost interest. You see, if you’re thinking about setting yourself or your family up with a mausoleum, you really need to take the long-term view. A crypt isn’t the same status symbol when it’s falling apart leaving the coffins exposed to the air. If you’re particularly unlucky, some less than respectful people might decide that your mausoleum would make a good trash bin.
After leaving the cemetery we decided to stroll around the northern neighborhoods of Recoleta, Barrio Norte, and Microcentro. Microcentro is the finacial centre of the city, while Recoleta and Barrio Norte are home to some of the wealthier Porteños (Buenos Aires inhabitants). We strolled along Avenida Callao and over to Avenida de Mayo. Arguably the centre of the city, if not the geographical one, Av. De Mayo is modelled on a grand Parisien boulevard and is home to many of the city’s oldest cafés and hotels. You could easily spend a few days visiting these neighborhoods if you went down every street and visited many of the sites in detail.
With limited time we kept moving and took the pedestrian street, Calle Florida, back towards our hotel, with a few stops along the way for shopping and some empanadas.
Back at the hotel we had just enough time to check out the artisan market we had seen earlier that morning before it was time to catch our cab to the airport for our flight to Iguassu.
Fortunately, rather than flying out of the international airport (EZE), our flight left from Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (AEP) which is 10 minutes from downtown and handles most of the domestic flights. While the proximity was great, the organization for checking-in left something to be desired. kind of a semi-organized mayhem.
We flew Aerolineas Argentinas who clearly use the new planes before they are handed down to United. What’s more, without even asking we were given the emergency exit seats, so we had room to stretch out, and a snack to boot.
About three quarters of the way through the flight, things got a little more exciting. At first it was a little turbulence while they were serving snacks and drinks. No big deal. We’ve been through our share of turbulence and the biggest risk was a spilled drink. The turbulence didn’t go away though, and before long I noticed some lightening out the window, actually a lot of lightening. Then the turbulence got a lot worse. I don’t think there was anyone on then plane who wasn’t white knuckling their arm rest at least a little. Well, except for the 4 year old sitting nearby who thought this was the best ride ever.
The rest of us were busy trying to remember the emergency procedures that nobody listens to. The rough ride didn’t stop until the wheels were on the ground at which point there was a big round of applause. Normally I don’t agree with applauding a landing, it is what the pilot does. Maybe it’s just jealousy because I don’t get applause at work. Either way, in this case I didn’t begrudge the pilot his applause, even if I couldn’t bring myself to join in.
Safely on the ground we found our transfer and headed across the border to our hotel in Foz de Iguassu, Brazil.