This ten-story steel portrait of her on the Health Administration building at 9 de Julio and Belgrano streets was inaugurated a year ago on the 59th anniversary of Eva Perón’s death. Eva Perón was a champion of the poor and is virtually consider a saint by Peronists. Sitting president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, has a similar populist style and takes any opportunity to compare herself with the former first lady.
Archives for July 2012
Most of Mendoza’s wineries and activities lay outside of town, but make time in your schedule to explore this little city. Its shady tree-lined avenues invite the casual stroll, and unlike Buenos Aires, you can get a feel for many of Mendoza’s different faces within one day.
(1): 10:00 Museo Municipal de Arte Moderno (MMAM)
Nothing to wake you up like a nice jolt of modern art. Head to Plaza Independencia to begin your day in the humble Modern Art Museum, featuring rotating exhibitions of local and national artists. When you’ve moseyed on through, head back into the Mendoza sunshine and towards the mountains.
(2): 10:30 Walk up Aristedes Villanueva St.
In the evening, all the bars along this boulevard fill with people that spill out into the sidewalk. During the day there are a handful of nice shops for window gazing.
Try a stop at Santangelo Gallery (Olascoaga 631), featuring a well-rounded collection of works, all by local artists. Further up the street, peek into Mutantes (Paso de los Andes 720), a DIY boutique where three art students display their collections as well as items from other local designers.
(3): 11:30 Parque San Martin
Do a lap around the lake in sprawling Parque San Martin. If it’s warm, consider a mid-morning ice cream stop. When you’ve done the rounds, head back down to town through the park’s main gates or portones, along Emilio Civit St. Along this wide, open boulevard you’ll pass the colonial mansions of many of Mendoza’s most prestigious families.
(4): 1:00 Lunch at Maria Antonietta
Lunch in Mendoza used to be a practice in monotony before this bright little cafe opened. Everywhere you turned, nothing but milanesa (breaded meat patties), pizza, milanesa, pizza…
Maria Antonietta breaks the mold, serving up fresh salads and scrumptious sandwiches and homemade scones. They also make American style breakfast sandwiches all day long.
Now try to catch some zzz’s or lounge around with a good book in your hotel or in a plaza because you’ve run up against the endearing but sometimes vexing siesta, where everything (except the cafes) close.
(6): 5:00 Mercado Central
Head over to this indoor market to stock up on meats, cheeses, herbal remedies, nuts or dried fruits. There is an array of local and imported delicacies from mango paste to whole baby goat.
(7): 5:30 General La Paz
From Mercado Central, dart out a side entrance towards General La Paz street. Along these bustling few blocks, you’ll find street vendors with their wares displayed across the sidewalk, as well as a handful of indoor marketplaces mostly selling clothing and footwear.
(8): 6:30 La Alameda
From General La Paz you’re just a stone’s throw from La Alameda, a generous pedestrian boulevard lined with elegant and curving trees. In this bohemian section of the city, stroll past the booksellers and artisans, and find yourself a cafe to enjoy a tea and some flaky pastries. You have the rest of the afternoon to relax, take another siesta and gear up for dinnertime.
View Meandering Mendoza in a larger map
As part of Argentina Independence Day celebrations on July 9, San Telmo featured an antique car and bus show. Before the military dictatorship of the ’70s and ’80s public buses in Buenos Aires were customized to the owner’s liking, with fileteado (decorative hand-painting) details on the outside and personalized decorations on the inside, ranging from religious or tango iconography, to popular sayings, or poetic declarations of love.
The ‘colectivo-telo‘ seen here is a popular designs among bus drivers. This telo-stylized bus features a playboy insignia on the fare reader, a mini bar(!), black lighting and mini disco balls on the ceiling.
Today much of the ‘pimp-your-public-bus’ tradition has fallen to the wayside, but ride enough buses in Buenos Aires and you can still find some classic porteño touches.
The history of man in Argentina is well documented – it dances through the colorful streets of La Boca, whispers in the walls of Recoleta cemetery and stands proudly in monuments across the city – but where do you go when it’s natural history you’re after?
One of the city’s better-kept secrets, the Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales Bernardino Rivadavia (MACN or the Bernardo Rivadavia Natural Science Museum) has 13 exhibition rooms displaying Argentina’s creatures great and small.
History of the Natural Sciences Museum
In 1812 Bernardino Rivadavia – at the time an important government minister, and later the first president of Argentina – called for the provinces to collect materials to create a natural history museum.
Over the next 125 years the gathered objects were housed within in a convent, the historical manzana de los luces (block of lights)and in buildings around a square in Monserrat.
In 1937 the collection moved to a building specially designed to house them, in its current location in Parque Centenario. Attractive small details such as stone owls watching over the first floor windows, bronze spider webs adorning the doors and mollusk shapes in the banister reflect the building’s suitability to its purpose.
Dinosaurs and other prehistoric mammals
The MACN’s star attractions are the impressive looming dinosaur skeletons in the spacious paleontology room. One of the most striking is the spiny amargasaurus cazaui, a 10-metre-long skeleton discovered in Neuquén province.
All of the dinosaurs on display are native to Argentina. Displays explain how the creatures lived and when and where they were found. Small children can pretend to be archaeologists by excavating fake remains from a sandpit.
Equally fascinating are the displays in the low-lit ‘Buenos Aires, un millon de años atrás’ (Buenos Aires, a million years ago) room. The number of fossils dug up from underneath Buenos Aires exceeds the amount of dinosaur remains found in the whole of Patagonia.
Skeletons of prehistoric mammals such as the South American toxdon, comparable to a modern-day rhinoceros, and the glyptodont, a primitive armadillo, are on display. Short videos on flatscreen TVs give general information and reconstruct the excavation of these creatures, found when building the subway, the port and what is now Abasto shopping mall.
Plans are in place to expand this section of the museum to include exhibits on invasive species and the early American man.
Geology, Astronomy and Antarctica
Directly opposite the museum’s entrance is the geology room, containing rock samples, a large model of the globe and a small planetarium that replicates the night sky from any place on earth.
The ground floor also includes an aquarium, sections on marine life, mollusks and Antarctica. The aquarium is largely empty while the Antarctica room is packed with displays of model penguins and sea lions, preserved fish in jars, and the enormous skull of a sperm whale found in the South Atlantic Ocean.
Visitors can take a break at the retro bar temático (thematic bar), though should not be fooled by the name. Besides the room’s focal point – a large plastic shark hanging from the ceiling – the ‘bar’ consists of red plastic tables and chairs and a couple of vending machines.
The History of Science, Birds, Arthropods, Reptiles and Animal Idioms
Head upstairs for a journey through the history of science. Old-fashioned TV screens with 60s–style presentations, a colorful timeline on the floor and stand-alone posters tell its story. Here visitors can learn about Argentina’s connection to Charles Darwin, who passed through the country on his famous expedition on the Beagle, and Albert Einstein, who gave conferences in Buenos Aires during a 1925 visit.
There are also biographies of Argentine scientists such as Nobel Prize winning Bernardo Houssay and Luis Federico Leloir.
The rest of the floor exhibits bird, arthropods, mammal, reptile and plant species. Both bird and mammal rooms have skeletons of extinct and living species, plus stuffed animals in replicas of their preferred habitats.
In the amphibian and reptile room, jars full of coiled snakes and bulbous looking frogs line the shelves. Rows of glass cabinets in the arthropods room are filled with tiny beetles, butterflies and bees along with educational information about the species and their role in the ecosystem.
Spanish learners should look out for the ‘dichos argentinos’ display in the reptile room, which lists popular Argentine idioms related to animals such as, cocodrilo que se duerme es cartera – sleeping crocodiles get made into purses.
Temporary Art Exhibitions and Guided Tours
There are three temporary exhibition rooms in the Natural Science Museum, one of which is specifically for artists. It is meant for those whose work is related to the natural world or science, through the mediums of sculpture, photography and other visual arts.
Buenos Aires’ Museum of Natural Sciences isn’t modern, but it is well maintained, and its old-school display cases retain a kitsch charm.
While perfect for children or adults fascinated by dinosaurs, nature and science, it is not for the faint-hearted. Anyone who finds stuffed birds or pickled snakes creepy is advised to carefully choose the rooms they visit.
Information on exhibits is in Spanish only. Guided tours are available in English or Spanish, but must be booked in advance. —Rosie Hilder
Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales
Angel Gallardo 490
• Hours:Sun-Mon 14-19hs.
• Cost: AR$10, those under 6 get in free.
• Planetarium: $8, only open at the weekends.
• Accessibility: There are ramps and lifts for disabled visitors