Wednesday, June 22, 2011

B.A.'s Avenida de 9 Julio

We will not discuss how skinny I am in some of these photos. Let's just say that this trip was a long time ago and leave it at that. But I remember it well.

"Ezeiza," or "EZE" in airport code, is the international airport about 15 miles outside of Buenos Aires or "B.A" as it is known around the world. Opened in 1949 it sadly did not appear to have had much attention paid to it in the years since other than make it usable for widebodies hauling in from overseas. I wasn't impressed, to say the least, considering B.A. is such a cosmopolitan city where others in this tier have "statement" airports to impress and/or intimidate visitors with. The impression from this airport was one of having some catching up to do but I and my friends weren't in Argentina to rate the transportation. We were here to experience the city and it's more intrinsic offerings.

We took a shuttle service in to the city which dropped us off at our low-rent hotel for the next couple of days which nonetheless went by the lofty name of the Waldorf Hotel on Paraguay Street. It was not too far from major attractions but offered the kind of rates budget travelers prefer so they can spend money on fun, food and drink instead. The bed was comfortable enough, the linens clean and the water hot; we were good to go. And go we did, despite being fresh off a ten-hour overnight flight from Miami.

This was a whistle-stop tour of the Argentinean capital, requiring the covering of much ground and still having energy to adjust to the Latin rhythm of the place. We'd heard about some things, knew about some others and wanted to see anything else in between before having end our stay and head back north in less than 48 hours. First among the ones we knew about was the massive, awesome and unbelievably choked Avenida de 9 Julio, the promenade through the heart of the city billed as the widest boulevard in the world. It is pretty fat, I must say, seemingly almost wider than it is long.

The road evokes comparisons to the older Champs Elysees which is not nearly as wide but surprisingly twice as long: Avenida de 9 Julio only runs for one single kilometer while "the Champs" extends for a grand total of two. At some points, however, the Argentinean avenue has up to 11 lanes of traffic in each direction including parallel roads within the same area. Architecturally the main focus of "9th of July Avenue" is the Obelisk at the center of the route, again evoking Cleopatra's Needle at the very end of the Champs along with the famous opera house, Teatro Colon. After that it's apartment blocks, small office buildings and store front shops here and there but nothing that really captures the eye after the green spaces stretched all along the road.

Why was I so keyed up about this road? Not simply because of the size of the place but because of its history which is slightly, existentially connected to my own. On July 9, 1816, Argentina won its independence from Spain. My birthday is on the same day, although I came along a few years later.

And even now I'm not quite as wide!

Gotta go.

No comments:

Post a Comment