We started day 2 in Buenos Aires with a continental breakfast in the hotel and then boarded a bus for a half day city tour, which included some of the historical and cultural sites of Buenos Aires. The group on the bus was bigger on Sunday than it had been the night before. Several people hadn’t made it out for the tango show and the time between our different destinations allowed us the opportunity to get to know some people we hadn’t spoken with the night before. There were probably 20-30 of us now, including Mike, a guy from Seattle who was visiting all 7 continents in a 3-month period, and Mona, a girl from DC who had recently spent time working in remote areas of Africa.
Our first stop on the tour was La Recoleta Cemetery, a burial ground located in the Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires. It is known as one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world, characterized by its large mausoleums and statues (over 90 of which are national historic monuments) and for being the resting place for Argentinian elite, including Eva Peron. While she passed away in 1952, her body was not placed in the Duarte family mausoleum for 20 years. Her remains have been placed in a heavily fortified crypt several meters underground to protect her remains.
The sun shown brightly on that summer day and what could have be an eerie place with shadows cast by the tombs was quite tranquil and quiet, despite the number of visitors. A few cats wandered the pathways, seeming to be tenants of the area.
As we walked around, we paused to appreciate the mausoleums – some ornate and well attended to while others were draped with cobwebs, a symbol of the end of a family line or a nod to how expensive the upkeep is. We had been told the mausoleums are often more expensive than apartments in the city. The tombs were surely something to behold and we could have spent much more time at the cemetery than the hour or so that we did.
La Recoleta Cemetery was followed by a stop near La Casa Rosada (the Pink House), the President of Argentina’s mansion and home to the balcony that Evita often used to address the Argentinian people. While unable to visit the building, we spent some time nearby in the Plaza de Mayo walking through an outdoor market.
From there, the bus took us to La Boca, a barrio of Buenos Aires and a port (the mouth of the Riachuelo River). Sports fans may know the area as home to the futbol club, Boca Juniors. However, it is also a popular tourist destination because of the colorful houses that align Caminito, a pedestrian street. Immigrants from Italy who settled in La Boca brought their traditions with them, painting their homes with the leftover paint from the shipyard. While the area was small, only a few blocks, it was an inviting and a sharp contrast to the cemetery we visited earlier in the day.
At the end of the tour, Melisa and I opted to be dropped off so we could explore a bit more on our own before returning to the hotel. We walked along the water and had lunch outdoors. Despite the shade, the heat was overwhelming and we were happy to have ordered frozen lemonade to sip on. After the busy morning, we returned to the hotel for a short nap and to plan for the rest of our time in Buenos Aires. The remainder of the day, and our time in the city, was at our leisure.