Buenos Aires: Balcony Views into the "Paris of South America"

Jackie Steves is guest-hosting her Dad’s blog with 17 posts in 17 days. Follow the adventures of Andy and Jackie Steves as they — the first Steves to venture into South America — report on their experience.

La Boca.
Mausoleums at Recoleta Cemetery.

Upon arrival in Buenos Aires, we learned it was a historically cold day. Great, just what I did NOT pack for.

As in Machu Picchu, we met up with a local guide arranged through Wildland Adventure. This time it was the “Four Balconies Tour,” a metaphor for “balcony” views into four major neighborhoods of Buenos Aires.

The tour began in the heart of the city, Plaza de Mayo. Bank employees marching in a protest and setting off deafening firecrackers gave us a characteristic impression of this square where most historic events happen. Around it is situated the executive government building, the city government building, the national bank, as well as the national cathedral.

We visited La Boca, a historical port neighborhood of bright candy-color houses. It used to be tenements housing families crammed into single rooms and cooking on their balconies. Now it’s commercial and touristically tacky, with dressed-up tango couples asking to take a picture with you.

We perused the famous cemetery in Recoleta, a cemetery unlike any other I’ve seen before. The deceased are not buried beneath the ground, but housed in stone and marble mausoleums, big enough to walk inside. The mausoleums are decorated with classical statues, labeled with family names from a gamut of countries representing the diverse immigration to this city. Those buried here are wealthy, important, famous, or all of the above. The corpse of Argentina’s most loved and most hated first lady, Evita Perón, calls this cemetery home.

What struck me as most impressive about this city were the green spaces and the skyscrapers. The city’s lungs are a plethora of sizeable parks with grand old trees. The city’s complex skyline is punctuated by a pleasing variety of architectural feats, from classical echoing London or Paris, to gleaming modern cubic towers.