Thursday, February 24, 2011

First Impressions of Buenos Aires

After settling in, I spent several hours walking around Buenos Aires, with no specific plan. I went the length of Calle Florida, a mile long pedestrian shopping center (like a big Times Square), wandered around a few side streets, and then set off in the opposite direction throught the Retiro district. The sun didn't really come out until about 5:30 pm. Most of the time there was a slight drizzle.
The elegant: The Gallerias Pacifico is a large multi-story shopping mall with several upscale stores and a variety of restaurants. There is a gallery of ceiling and wall murals that reminds me of a major museum.
Ceiling murals at Gallerias Pacifico
The mundane: Lots of McDonalds and Burger Kings as well as a few Starbucks.
The depressing:  I saw lots of poverty. There were whole families sleeping in doorways even in the better shopping areas. Interestingly, I didn't see any one obviously begging.
The security: Many governement buildings had large contingents of police guarding them, almost all of them wearing bulletproof vests. Even store security guards had the vests.

Election Graffiti

The graffiti:  This seems to be a universal phenomenon. Buenos Aires is no exception.
The impressive: Just off the Plaza San Martin (near my hotel) is a monument to the fallen in the battle of the Maldive [Falkand] Islands and the South Atlantic, with guards like we have at the tomb of the unknown soldier. I just happened by at the changingof the guard.

Guard at monument to the fallen in the Maldives

Tomorrow I will take the City Bus Tour in the morning for a more organized approach.

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