Thursday, January 28, 2010

Observations of a Great City!

As we near the end of this adventure I think of one of our family's great travelers Mel Foreman. The memories I have of my father in law, Mel are sweet. He was a sociologist and he loved to study and observe people. He would strike up a conversation with a total stranger in Jerusalem, New York or Hong Kong just to try to understand the mysteries inside another person's head.  He would have loved the complexity and vibrancy of Buenos Aires. While I do not purport to know the fifty different neighborhoods in this city, I too have enjoyed observing the "Portaneos" or "people of the port". Today Dale and I finally completed five different walking tours laid out by Frommers which guided us through several different neighborhoods of the city. I am not talking only about the downtown, busy streets jostling with people and traffic, but the streets where people simply live their lives. There are elegant and sophisticated areas in Retiro and Recoleta that have streets that are chic and blend elegance, history and art. Window shopping is fun and there is an aristocratic feel in the store fronts, buildings and people who live here. There is also life in the open spaces as people and families spend time jogging, walking and picnicing in the parks. Children play, people read the newspaper or even nap on a bench. It is common for wealthy families, living in apartments to hire a professional dog walker. These paseadores will often walk between 10 and 25 dogs at a time! The numerous plazas scattered throughout the city contain sculptures, fountains, green spaces and century old trees. The Plaza de Mayo represents one of the oldest areas of the city and is the corridor of business power and the political and legislative center. Local architects are decendents of immigrants from Italy, Spain and France. So it follows they have long borrowed and even copied all things European. The cafe scene is strong and is an excellent place to meet friends and sip coffee. Locals love theater, tango, sports, especially football, music and just about any other activity that bring people together. Tomorrow we board a LAN Chile flight and begin our long journey home. I carry home images of the beautiful sights we have seen, people we have met and memories of the pleasant places of this grand city.

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