We were up early for our flight from Mendoza t o Buenos Aires. After coffee and were driven by Alexandro to the airport some forty five minutes away. Born and raised in the city of some 100,000 people he is very proud of the area. When we asked if he had been to the U.S. he told us he had traveled to Minnesota in his youth to visit a friend in the dead of winter. He forgot about the reverse seasons and left during their summer but arrived in a Minnesota winter. He had to buy warm clothes which he did not need in Florida which was his next stop to stay with another relative. His father was an Italian immigrant from Sicily who married a Spanish immigrant he met in Mendoza. A nice young man who we enjoyed talking to.
At the small airport we met other people from home who were attending the same seminar we were going to. The two hour flight was without incident and our baggage arrived.
It was in 1810 that Buneos Aires led the regions push for independence from Spain. General Jose de San Martin led t he war which ended in 1816 with Independence. This is the place where the Tango started in the city's slums and then became main line music. It was in 1946 that Juan Domingo Peron led the revolution to power. His second wife Eva Maria Durate de Peron "Evita" became the saint of the poor. She died in 1952. The 1976 – 1983 military dictatorship brutalized Argentina.With the defeat of the Falklands War in 1983 Democracy returned to the country. In 2001 there were riots in December over the economic meltdown of the country. Stability slowly returned.
There are some twelve million people living in the city and surrounding area. It is the largest city in Argentina. In the La Cava neighborhood north of the city more then 10,000 people live in shacks without running water or sanitation. But, in a city of this size that is not uncharacteristic of similar situations elsewhere in the world.
Our destination was the Alvear Palace Hotel,one of the most beautiful hotels in the city which looks like something one might find in Paris or Rome. the huge lobby has gold trimming, large pillars and marble halls with very high ceilings. Employees are dressed in uniforms of different kinds. The long hallway on or floor has rich colored rugs that are very European in appearance. Our room has a large entry area with beautiful inlaid wooden floors. Ceilings are twenty plus feet high and lead to a living room with a wonderful chandelier, beautiful furniture which looks Louis 15th. The furniture is very classic and ornate with gold trim. The large bedroom is equally elegant. There is a "butler" on the floor who looks twenty one years old and is an attractive woman who offered to unpack our luggage – I quickly declined as I don't anyone to see my kind of packing efforts.
We went down to the dining area for brunch in a room that should be in a movie. A long rectangular room with ceilings forty feet high or more. Everything very ornate and beautiful. Waiters wearing red coats and white gloves deliver food and clear plates. Young women in blue coats pour wine and young men with in dark suits supervise. There is a small army of people are assisting an enormous room full of people eating. Most of the diners are dressed in coats and ties with women dressed to match. The spread of food for the buffet is unlike anything I've seen. Bowls of caviar, every variety of fresh fish, shrimp and seafood on one side with a large variety of meats and other food on the other side of a long table of food. This is not Las Vegas cardboard food. This is very fresh gourmet food which you would expect in a five star restaurant. I think I know what heaven will be like. Better yet, with the exchange the prices are more then reasonable. My first impression is that we need to investigate moving to Buenos Aires.
After unpacking we took a cab to the hotel about fifteen minutes away where the seminar is being held that we are here to attend. Taxi's here are the bargain of the century. $5.00 is an average charge to get around the city. There was a cocktail party for the people attending the seminar. Two young people demonstrate the Tango. The man is perhaps twenty seven and the woman looks twenty two. He has slicked down black hair and looks like a tango dancer. She looks like a movie star as well with a black dress laced up the front exposing a narrow row skin from waist up. They look very dramatic. They put on a great demonstration and then invite the people to learn to dance the Tango. After watching awhile we slipped out to our hotel where we had a sandwich in the bar and went to bed because I had to be up early. By, the way, the bar has thirty foot ceilings, ornate dark wood and a beautiful wood bar and liquor cabinet behind it. It looks so very European I could have been in Italy or France.
My talk the next day was the first one, at 8:30 am so we caught a cab to arrive at 7:30 in order for me to set up my computer. Of course, there were computer problems and the hotel tech struggled to get my small Acer computer working. I had already been introduced when he was able to get my Powerpoint on the screen. My plan was to have given the ttalk without Powerpoint. We attended the seminar until noon and returned to our hotel from where we walked to an Italian restaurant only two blocks away. The food was excellent and the prices very reasonable.
After lunch we walked to the Cementerio de la Recoleta.This wonderful and large cemetery is where Eva Peron is buried. It is a large cemetery with many mausoleums. Some are very large and magnificent. Some are not well cared for. All have glass doors and you can look inside these structures to see coffins stacked on shelves. Many have narrow staircases which arch down stairs to a lower burial area. Today is a holiday for Columbus and the stores are mostly closed. There are many people in the parks with music playing and people relaxing. Fortunately the shops are all closed except Lita managed to find one that was open so she now has a leather coat.
Tonight we eat in the hotel's five star restaurant. Tomorrow we will get a driver and tour the city. We need to pack after that as we leave Thursday for home. My impression is that this is a very beautiful city, with excellent food and the exchange rate makes it a reasonable place to visit.