It would have been extremely rude of us to make it halfway across Argentina and not go that extra mile to reach Buenos Aires. Plus, we had become sick of everybody telling us what an amazing place it was, so we needed to see for ourselves what all the fuss was about. Perhaps the whole experience would be underwhelming and we could swan about forevermore, snootily proclaiming that ‘Buenos Aires is overrated.’
Unfortunately Argentina’s capital had clearly been tipped-off that we were approaching. It rather unfairly marshalled all of its Franco-Italian-Spanish architectural might and we quickly surrendered as many millions have done before us.
Despite being home to some 14 million people Buenos Aires’ wide boulevards, large plazas and spirit-lifting architecture make it a pleasure to walk around. These factors also create an atmosphere which seems closer to Paris, Rome or Madrid than Lima, La Paz or even Santiago.
Like many of the world’s great capitals, if there is something worth doing then it can be done in Buenos Aires. Aside from the simple joy of wondering the avenues and boulevards, our time there can be neatly if somewhat bizarrely divided into tango, art, football and the Beatles.
To experience some authentic tango we took in a show at Cafe Tortoni, the oldest establishment of its kind in Argentina. Here we were not only treated to some fine demonstrations of the one-step but also virtuoso accordion playing. Until then we didn’t know such a thing existed.
Unsurprisingly Buenos Aires is home to some fine art galleries and museums and we nourished our souls with visits to the Museo del Cabildo, which charts the events surrounding Argentina’s independence from 1810; the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, a modernist building housing a fine collection of South American modern art; and the Coleccion de Arte Fortabat, a stunning exhibition of works owned by multimillionaireness Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat which includes works from Turner, the Brueghels, Rodin and Dali.
Any River Plate fans among you may bristle at the news that we visited Boca Juniors’ stadium rather than their bitter rivals. But in our defence it was nearer our hostel and is the home of Diego Maradona – a particular favourite of Scotland supporters on two counts. Firstly, for being the greatest footballer of the modern-era. Secondly, for ‘single-handedly’ beating England in the 1986 World Cup.
And so with this in mind we bowed at the gates of Argentinian football, walked in the footsteps of Juan Roman Riquelme and stood in the shadow of Diego Maradona.
Last but not least, we visited the collection of one Rodolfo Renato Vazquez. Rodolfo, with 7,700 differing items, happens to hold the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of Beatles memorabilia anywhere in the world.
The range of items on display and the fact that they are housed in Buenos Aires is a powerful reminder of the scale of The Beatles’ success. To be the biggest-selling band of all time AND the most critically acclaimed (some readers are welcome to disagree) is a hard act to follow. And as catalogued in Rodolfo’s collection, here’s only one example among many of John, Paul, George and Ringo’s greatness.
In February 1964 The Beatles arrived in the USA for the first time and appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. Shortly after they played two concerts and appeared again on the Ed Sullivan Show. A little over a month later they held the top five slots in the USA Billboard’s chart. The Beatles didn’t just break America, they smashed it. And in record time.
Our final night in Buenos Aires, nay Argentinia, couldn’t have passed without dining on steak and supping blood-red wine. No photographs are available due to the gratuitous size of the steak. But rest assured, whether it’s meat, dancing, art, football or music, Buenos Aires is a city that can offer you both quantity AND quality.