BA, Buenos Aires, Big Apple. Borrowing the words of Sir Tim Rice, written for Evita, I have to say the city is all of them and more.
Florida Street, in my opinion would have to be in the category of more – much more. It is a long pedestrian mall which houses a wonderful variety of shops and people.
There are the usual sales men and women outside their leather or jewellers shops, touting for business. But the big difference to other cities is, when you offer a polite no thank you, you get an equally polite reply with a friendly smile.
During our first, of many, walks down Florida Street we witnessed a very noisy protest outside the Banque de France. The doors of the building appear to be clad in thick and heavy brass, as are the door jambs. The protesters were using hammers to loudly bang on the doors and jambs, while verbalising their protest slogans. Police were on hand, but were not needed. When the protest was over the group moved away, and the bank reopened for business as if nothing untoward had happened.
As a post script, we saw the same group of protesters outside another bank which was obviously no longer in use. While one of them pushed lighted newspapers through a grill, another member of the group stood by with a fire extinguisher.
My observations of this very vocal group, proved to me that protests can get their point across in a civilised manner- and no one gets hurt – apart from the damage to the building which the Banque de France appeared to accept with alacrity.
Further along Florida Street we chanced upon a group of musicians who were playing the haunting sounds of South America on the pan pipes. They are known as Kusillajta, and their music ability was excellent. We bought a CD, but now regret not purchasing all of their available CDs.
Buenos Aires is the home of the tango. And Florida Street is the home of some superb tango dancers. We were privileged to witness the sensuous movements of the dance, which so typifies the Latin blood of Argentina, outside the Galerias Pacifico, a major department store.
Like any major city, Buenos Aires has more than its fair share of the poor. But similar to the sales people outside the shops, the beggars are not pushy. If you give, they politely thank you.
From the southern end of Florida Street it is only a short walk east to the Plaza de Mayo which houses the Casa Rosada – The Pink House. Where Evita lived and died. And where, in more recent times, Madonna stood on the balcony to sing Don’t Cry For Me Argentina.
A short walk to the west of Florida Street brings you to the Avenue of the 9th of July, the central point of this twenty lane road – the widest metropolitan street in the world – is the Obelisk, which was erected in the thirties to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the city’s founding. The name of the Avenue commemorates Argentina independence Day. And, as they say in the guide books – The act of crossing this avenue can become a real adventure.
BA, Big Apple, Buenos Aires. A city to remember.
Florida Street – A place never to be forgotten!
© Peter Ryan 15/09/2005