Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Buenos Aires: Palermo Soho to the Eva Peron museum

 A leafy street in Palermo: Guatemala

We have just arrived in Buenos Aires and, although tired from the long overnight flight, we started to explore this enormous city. We are staying in Palermo Soho, a very European neighbourhood of boutiques and restaurants. It also reminds us a bit of the Hell's Kitchen neighbourhood of New York: I suppose it is the combination of grid-pattern streets (one way in alternate directions), low rise buildings and plentiful trees. The picture above is looking along Guatemala.

We headed north along the suprisingly named Thames to immediate see a couple of cheerfully coloured houses with exquisite plaster work.

Walking nine or ten blocks brought us to Plaza Italia from which we entered the Jardin Botanico Carlos Thays. This is a lovely green park, full of trees and sculptures, which was designed by the French landscape architect and designer Carlos Thays and opened in 1898.

There is of course a greenhouse, but we made for the butterfly garden, first passing this intriguing structure. It is apparently a weather indicator, donated by the local Austro-Hungarian community in 1910.

The butterfly garden is very attractive and a good selection of butterflies could be seen in flight. But unfortunately for me it was fenced off.

I prowled around the edge spotting a few species which I already new: Monarch, Gulf Fritillary and, surprisingly, Painted Lady. I was pleased however to get a nice photo of the very attractive Mangrove Buckeye, taken through the fence.

We walked through the park to find our way to the Eva Peron museum, a elaborately decorated building enlarged in 1923.

Inside there is a sort of shrine to Eva, where as with her grave, admirers bring fresh flowers every day, as apparently they do at her tomb in the cemetery at Recoleta.

We know Evita as the subject of a musical, but it was interesting to hear her described as "one of the most important women of Argentine history". The museum takes you through her life and brings out her extraordinary role as a pioneer of social reform. This culminated in the Maria Eva Duarte de Peron Social Aid Foundation purchasing this house in 1948 as a sort of refuge for women from the Provinces who had come to Buenos Aires. It is easier to understand now why she is seen as a national hero.

The building itself also surprised us with its delightful Spanish patio in the middle of it.

By now rather weary, we made our way back to our hotel via the Jardin Botanico. I had no better luck with spotting new species, but this slightly battered Monarch did pose very nicely for me.

Conditions: hot and sunny.

Distance: two or three miles.

Rating: four and half stars.

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