| Travel, Buenos Aires,

Old School Buenos Aires

Beatrice Lessi

A melting pot with a population of 15 million, eclectic architecture and global spirit, Buenos Aires is everything and the opposite of everything, and features very modern parts indeed. However, during my second visit there, when I stayed in the city before flying to Ushuaia to run Antarctica Marathon, I was particularly charmed by some facts that gave me a smile, and also felt strong emotions while hearing some episodes of Argentinian history.

Here are the 9 facts that struck me.

1. Casinos are illegal in Buenos Aires. However, there is a big one right in the city centre, because it’s on a boat, so officially not in the city.

2. Buenos Aires is known affectionately as the Paris of South America for its European, sophisticated architecture, and because  of the big French community that used to spend half of the year in it.

3.Tango is melancholic because it became a craze among the immigrant families at the beginning for the twentieth century. People missed their lands, and this is reflected in the melancholy of the music.

4. The famous steel flower – a monument that resembles the Bean in Chicago, is supposed to be even better than its American counterpart, because it opens and closes at different times of the day thanks to a sensor. However, it’s broken at the moment, our guide warned us. The Government said they’ll fix it, but our Government sometimes lies.

5. All the streets in Puerto Madero (the most elegant area in the city, where the famous Calatrava bridge, Puente de la Mujer, also is) are named after women.

6. Evita did give her last speech from the terrace of Casa Rosada, the office of the President in Argentina. But she never sang Don’t cry for me Argentina.


7. At Casa Rosada, every week there is a demonstration. Luckily the day we visited it was a rare day without any protest!

8. About 30, 000 children  – the desaparecidos – disappeared in Argentina in the 70’s and 80’s, starting the movement Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. If you are an Argentinian child born those years and have doubts about your biological parents, you can do a free DNA test. However, this can be very difficult because it might lead you to find out that your “new” parents are involved in the killing of your biological parents.

9. When the main Avenue in Buenos Aires – the 9 July Avenue – was built, 22 streets had to be destroyed. The French Embassy was right in the middle of them, and technically a piece of France (not Argentinian land), so it couldn’t be destroyed. Luckily, we finally destroyed them at football! Our guide told us.

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