What's new, Buenos Aires?

We’re new!!!

It was a relatively painless flight overnight from Houston to Buenos Aires. They fed us dinner about an hour after takeoff, and two hours later we were asleep. There was a lot of turbulence, though, so sleep for me was restive. That lucky Wayne can sleep through EVERYTHING!

When we landed, going through immigration and customs was fairly easy. They didn’t give us any hassles, the bags were on the conveyor belt as we walked through, and (although it took a little time) we got our ride into town. The airport is pretty far from city central, though, I must say. There were some neat sights coming in to the main city, to include a statue of Don Quixote, and a man in the middle of traffic playing with a glass orb. There’s also quite a large obelisk reminiscent of the Washington Monument commemorating the formation of the republic.

Once we checked in and cleaned up, we went out on a two hour walking tour of Recoleta, primarily to the Cementario, where the Duarte family (yes, including Eva) is buried. No iPhone photo of that, but we both have shots on our cameras, so we’ll post it to the photo pages when we get home. Oh, and we got back to the hotel tonight and ran into Don McAllister of the Screen Casts Online podcast (one of Wayne’s faves), who remembered us from our 2006 cruise.

Tomorrow we visit the Botanical Gardens (where they have lots of cats!), and the adjacent zoo. We plan on eating at a cafe right by the gardens for lunch, taking the metro to the Casa Rosada (Juan Perón’s seat of the Presidency) and then we will meet up with some of our fellow Mac Geeks for a pre cruise party following that.

A little about Buenos Aires:

is the capital and largest city of Argentina and the second largest metropolitan area in South America, after Sao Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Rio de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent.  The city of Buenos Aires was first established as Ciudad de Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Ayre on 2 February 1536 by a Spanish expedition led by Pedro de Mendoza. Attacks by the indigenous peoples forced the settlers away, and in 1541 the site was abandoned. A second settlement was established in 1580 by Juan de Garay. He dubbed the settlement “Santisima Trinidad” and its port became "Puerto de Santa María de los Buenos Aires."

Buenos Aires became a thriving contraband industry developed, instilling a deep resentment towards the Spanish authorities. Sensing these feelings, King Charles III progressively eased the trade restrictions and finally declared Buenos Aires an open port in the late 18th century. However, Charles’s actions did not have the desired effect, and the porteños, some of them versed in the ideology of the French Revolution, became even more convinced of the need for Independence from Spain.

During the British invasions of Rio de la Plata, British forces attacked Buenos Aires twice. In 1806 the British successfully invaded Buenos Aires, but an army from Montevideo defeated them. Santiago de Liniers, chosen as new viceroy, armed the city to be prepared against a possible new British attack, defeating the invasion attempt of 1807. The militarization generated in society changed the balance of power favorably for the criollo peoples, as well as the development of the Peninsular War in Spain. An attempt by Martin de Alzaga to remove Liniers and replace him with a junta was defeated by the criollo armies. However, by 1810 it would be those same armies who would support a new revolutionary attempt, the May Revolution, successfully removing the new viceroy Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros. This started the Argentine War of Independence, and many armies left Buenos Aires to fight the diverse strongholds of royalist resistance, with varying levels of success.

In the 19th century the city was blockaded twice by naval forces: by the French from 1838 to 1840, and later by a joint Anglo-French expedition from 1845 to 1848. Both blockades failed to force the city into submission, and the foreign powers eventually desisted from their demands.

During most of the 19th century, the political status of the city remained a sensitive subject. It was already capital of Buenos Aires Province, and between 1853 and 1860 it was the capital of the seceded State of Buenos Aires. The issue was fought out more than once in war until the matter was finally settled in 1880 when the city was federalized and became the seat of government, with its Mayor appointed by the President. The Casa Rosada became the seat of the President.

Buenos Aires was the cradle of Peronism: the pivotal demonstration of 17 October 1945 took place in Plaza de Mayo. Industrial workers of the Greater Buenos Aires industrial belt have been Peronism's main support base ever since, and Plaza de Mayo became the site for demonstrations and many of the country's political events; on 16 June 1955, however, a splinter faction of the Navy bombed the Plaza de Mayo area, killing 364 civilians. This was the only time the city was attacked from the air, and the event was followed by a military uprising which deposed President Perón, three months later. In the 1970s the city suffered from the fighting between left-wing revolutionary movements (Montoneros, E.R.P. and F.A.R.) and the right-wing paramilitary group Triple A, supported by Isabel Perón, who became president of Argentina in 1974 after Juan Perón's death.

A few military juntas later, the city was visited by Pope John Paul II twice: in 1982, because of the outbreak of the Falklands War, and a second visit in 1987, which gathered some of the largest crowds in the city's history. The return of democracy in 1983 coincided with a cultural revival, and the 1990s saw an economic revival, particularly in the construction and financial sectors. Following a 1993 agreement, the Argentine Constitution was amended to give Buenos Aires autonomy and rescinding, among other things, the president’s right to appoint the city's mayor. On 30 June 1996, voters in Buenos Aires chose their first elected mayor.

Now off to bed!