Anthony on the Gringo Trail 2005 travel blog

Stylish vaults

Tomb of the Time Lords


Crumbling vault

Same vault

Pics messed up a bit here, will sort them out back in UK. So here I am in Buenos Aries, capital of Argentina, once our mortal enemy for 78 days. Biggest bus station I have ever been in, slots for 150 buses. BA similar in size to London, but more attractive, in a European sort of way, though they have also done a Wapping on their docks. Probably why there is a Time Out guide to Buenos Aires in the shops here. I could live here though, if I had enough money, it is very civilised. On the way in we passed a number of the 'love hotels'. These rent by the hour, so my guidebook tells me, and are not for prostitutes, but for young people who never get any privacy from their parents. I can see this catching on in Britain, though probably more for the parents who want privacy from their kids. It also made me rethink my view of all Chinese hotels as being full of prostitutes (though many were), as I guess the issues are the same there.

Still couldn't decide what to do next, but eventually decided to go look for whales, penguins and Welsh people in Patagonia, so I will spend the day here and then get the overnight bus to Puerto Madryn. I considered spending a day in Uruguay just to say I had been there, and perhaps to visit the museum at the old meat factory in Fray Bentos in homage to a childhood living on their pies and puddings, but decided not to in the end...nature calls in the South. So I basically spent the day wandering around and in the Cemetery and the National Gallery, both most enjoyable.

The Cemetery is in the lovely and posh area of Ricoleta and is the most amazing cemetery I have ever seen, with 5,000 people buried in a plethora of huge flash vaults, all crammed next to each other in an extravagant gothic city of the dead, crying out for rock videos to be made. The most famous person there is, or rather was, Eva Peron - Evita. Her family vault was unexpectedly tasteful. I had expected South American excess (mind you, they are considerably more restrained in expressing their taste in Argentina and Chile), largely because I knew there had been many serious attempts to get the popes to canonise Evita, and anything involving saints, etc is usually a kitsch competition round here. As you might have gathered, they worship Evita round here, and were outraged when that godless American slapper Madonna got to play her in the film instead of Mother Teresa. So they made their own crap version instead.

I keep forgetting to say, but it turns out Steffan does not have worms burrowing towards his insides, but rather he has nastily infected legs, which at least does not stop travelling, just means he has to be careful not to drip on other people. So after a fine lunch, off to spend hours in the National Gallery, first proper art hit I have had here. Downstairs European, upstairs Argentinian, and some really gorgeous stuff, though as usual not available in postcard form. On the way there, I went over a bridge by the Law Faculty of the University. On it are the names of all the students who disappeared during the military dictatorship. Reminds me how we have been fortunate to not have had that kind of stuff for a long time.

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