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What’s new Buenos Aires?

Our Antarctica cruise ended in the port of Buenos Aires and we looked forward to a few days on land, exploring the city before returning to Florida. We had booked a tour guide to take us to drop our bags at the hotel, and from there he was going to take us on a city tour for the rest of the day.

We started off by visiting the Plaza Naciones Unidas, in the centre of which is ‘Floralis Génerica’, a gargantuan 23m high metal flower revolving sculpture created in 2002 by Argentinian sculptor Eduardo Catalano. This flower blooms daily as its petals slowly open throughout the day and then close up again at sunset.

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From there, we did a general tour through the city, ending up at the Recoleta Cemetery which is perhaps Buenos Aires top attraction, if you can think of a cemetery as an attraction. It is actually an astounding place filled with row upon row of impressive statues and marble mausoleums,

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each one vying to be the biggest and the most ornate.

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Strolling down the ‘streets’, one can occasionally take a peek through a begrimed glass door or window into the crypts and check out the dust-covered, cobweb-festooned coffins.

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Here is the last resting place of past Argentinian Presidents, military heroes, Nobel Prize winners, influential politicians and other rich and famous people, the most notable and frequently visited of which is the tomb of  Eva Perón, Argentine’s First Lady from 1946-1952.

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My favourite and the most touching was a memorial to a young woman who died when an avalanche struck her hotel in Austria. The tomb was designed by her mother, and the life-size bronze statue of Liliana Crociati in her wedding gown stands outside, above a plaque containing a poem written by her father. When her dog Sabú died, a statue of him standing next to her was added.

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So far so good, and we were thoroughly enjoying our tour. We wandered with our guide through the antique district and stopped for lunch at a very old and authentic eating house with an interesting bar.

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Then it was back into the car to visit La Boca, a touristy and very colourful neighbourhood.

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Our guide stopped the car at the busy taxi drop-off to let hubby and I get out so that he could drive down the road to the car park. As we alighted and hubby was closing the car door, a motorbike screeched to a halt and a young man jumped off the back and attacked hubby from behind, grabbing him by the neck. Hubby managed to pull free and turned around to grab him back; I started screaming ‘blue murder’; our driver jumped out of the car and he and a couple of taxi drivers went for the guy, who lashed out at me, bruising my arm, before escaping empty-handed on the motorbike. It was a very traumatic experience indeed and for the rest of the day, as you can imagine, I was continually looking over my shoulder, not trusting any strangers to be near me. We’re not sure why he grabbed hubby round the neck, but maybe he was feeling for a gold chain. Some people carry their money purse on a cord hidden under their shirt so it could have been that. Anyway, after the mugging incident in Chile at Puerto Monte, and now this one in Buenos Aires, we have decided that South America is a ‘no go’ for us in future. We lived in South Africa for over forty years and have traveled the world, but have never had anything like this happen to us before. It’s very sad that there are such criminals who can ruin their country’s reputation as a great tourist destination. There wasn’t a policeman in sight, and when our guide drove down the road to the carpark, he spotted a police car parked in the shade, away from all the action. He walked over to report to them what had just happened to two of his clients and found them playing on their iPhones. He reprimanded them and told them that their main concern should be to watch out for the safety of visitors to their city.

We still had two more days in Buenos Aires, and thankfully there were no more unpleasant incidents, but as you can imagine, I felt uneasy walking the streets and we were extra vigilant. I do have some more photos which I’ll share with you very soon.

Hope your week is going well. We had a really stunning sunset here last night.

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