Some of My Favorite Trees in Buenos Aires

Feliz Primavera!

It seems like a good time to make a post about trees.

Not that there’s a bad time to post about trees, honestly.

First off, though, this is not a comprehensive list of every rad tree in the city.  In fact, one very rad tree is absent, although I will add it whenever I make it to Recoleta and photograph the famous 200-year-old Grand Gomero.  The following trees aren’t so well known; they labor in obscurity, providing shade and bird housing and sometimes even brilliant floral displays.

Please note–I am not great at identifying tree species, but I’ll do my best where I can.

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If you thought I was bad at photographing small things in museums, wait til you see me try to fit huge trees into frame.

This stately guy here gets to go first because the Supreme Court building is in the background and this is the last landmark you’re going to see in this post.  This tree lives in the Plaza Lavalle, and if you’re visiting the city, you have a good chance of seeing it.  It’s one block over from the back of the Teatro Colon, right on the D subway line, so if you’re seeing any of the sights of the area, stop by and tell it that it’s doing a great job.  I haven’t the foggiest idea what kind of tree it is.

LOOK AT THIS ABSOLUTE UNIT.

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This chunky beast is an ombú.  I think.  Shading several chess tables and then some, this expansive benevolent overlord stands at one end of the Barrancas de Belgrano, a large park that slopes a bit and therefore earned the name of “Barrancas” (cliffs) because people have given a slight incline far too much consideration.

As a bonus, these two are at the other end of Barrancas and I like them because it looks like a tree and its pet tree.

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Speaking of residing in Belgrano, here are two trees in Barrio Chino, very close to Barrancas, that might only be noticed in the spring.

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Kinda lied about the Supreme Court building being the only landmark; that’s the arch at the entry to Barrio Chino there on the right.

These sweet little things bear white and red flowers and are practically hugging, so it looks like one tree with two colors.

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I guess that’s sort of cheating but this is my list and I can do what I want.

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A tree of high comedy.

This is a monkey puzzle, which wins best name for a tree species.  It looks like a twirling weirdo, and therefore I empathize with it strongly.  This particular monkey puzzle provides a home for roughly a jillion monk parakeets in the Parque Centenario.

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speaking of comedy trees

There are a lot of palo borracho trees in the city, but damn if this one (on the grounds of the Museo Historico del Regimiento Granaderos a Caballo General San Martín) isn’t just extra.  “Palo borracho” means “drunken stick,” but the more dignified name for the species is the silk floss tree.  There’s a lot more to this tree than its sexy curves.  The flowers are big and bright pink and the fruits are eight inch long capsules filled with cottony floofy fluff.  There’s just a lot going on there.

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I don’t know anything about this situation, but I find it utterly delightful.

Finally, I give you this little unassuming guy.

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This is a young jacaranda, and it is not shown in all its glory.  There are also many far grander jacarandas in the city.  But this one is right outside the window of a burger joint in Microcentro that I often find myself in when I need a quick bite before hopping on the subway.  I usually sit next to that window, and I’m looking forward to watching my small tree friend bloom in the next month, even if the burgers are decidedly subpar.

So there you have it.  A collection of my favorite trees in the city.  I’ll add the Grand Gomero at the end when I can, but for now, here’s the sign for a shop that combines two things I love most about this city: the trees and the book shops.

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Buque Museo Fragata ARA Presidente Sarmiento [Frigate ARA Presidente Sarmiento Museum Ship]

AHOY!

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There are two museum ships in Puerto Madero:  the ARA Uruguay  and her more famous yet less interesting sister, the ARA Presidente Sarmiento.  But just because she doesn’t have the very cool history of the Uruguay doesn’t mean the Presidente Sarmiento is boring.

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I’d say that it might be unfair to compare them, but it’s impossible not to, as they are literally within sight of each other.

The Sarmiento was a training ship for the naval academy.  It was English-built and launched in 1897.  Retired in 1961, it’s been a museum since 1964.

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I love passageways on ships!  This one has a lot of plaque bling.

Lots of stuff to see from the glory days:

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Training sailors got a mattress on their hammocks, so that’s cool.
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This guy had a really fancy pillow embroidered to commemorate his voyage around the world.
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Arf.

The sign wasn’t super clear on the origin of the taxidermied Lampazo here, but it seems like in 2014 they decided that he’s probably Buli, owned by Lt Calderon and ship’s pupper on the 37th voyage.  I don’t know how he came to be taxidermied and under glass on the Sarmiento, and I didn’t see anything on board to shed light on that.  Such pressing questions remain mysteries.

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There’s no meal service.

The crew dining room now has a video you can watch, and going on through it leads to the officers’ digs, which are nicer.

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If you’re an officer, you mattress doesn’t swing.

The Captain’s quarters are off-limits to visitors, presumably because the naval personnel currently assigned to the ship have taken over the best space for offices.  But there’s a nice little model of it.

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Command and comfort.

You can climb up on the decks, too, which afford a nice view of the Woman’s Bridge and other ship stuff.

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I wasn’t entirely sure I was allowed up on this part, but two navy dudes saw me climbing down and didn’t yell at me, so I assume I was.

The Presidente Sarmiento is open seven days a week, 10 am to 7 pm.  It’s 20 pesos to get on board (at the moment!) and located in Puerto Madero, kind of across the street and to the right from the Casa Rosada.  It’s a very short walk along the river to the ARA Uruguay, so if you’re super into museum ships, you can hit them both.

 

 

Jardín Botánico Carlos Thays de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires [Carlos Thays Buenos Aires Botanical Garden]

December is here, and despite my strenuous objections, spring is warming up the city.  These will be the last weeks to enjoy the parks and gardens without feeling super hot and gross the whole time.  It’s time to visit the plant museum.

Okay, technically, it’s the Botanical Garden.

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But for real what’s a garden if not a plant museum

The Buenos Aires Botanical Garden is, objectively speaking, the best place in the entire city.  It’s one good soundproofing and a few shady hammocks from achieving empirical perfection.  These are just the facts.

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Luscious, green facts. 

And there is a small sort of museum on the grounds: the main building, where garden designer Carlos Thays lived while he was director of parks and walks, so there’s a nice perk you don’t see in city governments much today.

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Inside, you’ll find some models of the gardens and structures and antique prints and maps.  The whole thing is very picturesque.

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The museum/administration building is the center of the activities for the Garden, and there’s also a wee children’s library, which is adorbs.

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The Children’s Library of Nature

The Garden itself has QR code labels for some of its collection, which is very handy for an outdoor museum (just go with it okay), as you see here on the artwork circuit.

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I don’t remember if this one had a QR code, but c’mon it’s a gimme.

And like many large public gardens, you can find contemporary art installations, too, such as “Instalación Mesológica” by Didier Rousseau-Navarre, which is meant to “question our relationship with the earth in the Anthropocene Age.”  The seeds are made from the wood of their species.

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The Botanical Garden hosts many workshops and activities and is a goddamn delight.  It’s in Palermo, near the Rural, the Japanese Garden, the former zoo, the Museo Evita, and lots of other stuff.  It’s a nice place in the city to find some birds; I saw a really pretty green hummingbird.  It’s free and open every day except Mondays, and closing times depend on the season; check the website.  It’s accessible via the Plaza Italia stop of the D line of the subway and a whole mess of buses.

 

Buque Museo Corbeta ARA Uruguay [Corvette ARA Uruguay Museum Ship]

Hellooooooo, sailor!

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Best case scenario for a ship, a nice little retirement berth in Puerto Madero.

Situated in the river in Buenos Aires’s ritziest barrio, parked near its better-known sister museum ship the ARA Presidente Sarmiento, you can find the ARA Uruguay.  How much better-known is the Sarmiento?  When you get a ticket at the Uruguay, it says “Sarmiento” on it.

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I was not on the Sarmiento.

But the Uruguay has its own very interesting history!  It’s the oldest ship still floating in the Argentine Navy, having come into service in 1874.  It was a training ship, it did military naval stuff like go to Patagonia to help throw cold water on Chile’s territorial ambitions, and then it got outfitted for scientific exploration in 1887.

The real high point in the Uruguay’s service life came in 1903, when it was refitted as an Antarctic rescue vessel.  It got its chance for glory in that line of work that same year, when the Uruguay was sent to save the Swedish Antarctic Expedition, which had been stranded for an ENTIRE EXTRA WINTER after its own retrieval ship sank on account of being crushed by ice.  They had to eat penguins.  It was not a good time.

The ship, which honestly seems a little small and drafty for crazy cold Antarctic shenanigans, has a museum below decks.

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Just, super small, you guys.

Here you’ll find artifacts from its naval career:

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Important person hat.
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Less important person hat.

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I long for the days when the pinnacle of masculinity was also extremely fancy pants.

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It includes some items that are original to the ship.

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So many jokes here.

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I don’t know what most of this is. Ships are mysterious places.

There are some actual artifacts related to the Swedish Expedition, too.

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Hm, yes, the plan of depending on candles in the Antarctic sounds solid.

Look at all this space below decks!  The 27 guys who went to rescue the Swedes were probably super comfy.  After the Swedes came aboard, everybody probably had to spoon constantly.

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DUCK TAILS, WOOOOO-OOO-OOOOO

Ships’ wheels are kind of neat, actually.

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Well that’s enough of that!  Let’s see some views on the deck.

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Bank, ho!

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Ship’s compass in that brass fixture on the higher deck.

There you have it, a piece of Argentine naval history parked right there in Puerto Madero, a stone’s throw away from a more famous piece of Argentine naval history, but deserving of attention, too.  Tickets are 20 pesos (about 50 US cents at the moment), and it’s open seven days a week from 10am to 7pm.  Look for it in the river here.

 

 

 

 

Paseo de las Esculturas [Promenade of Sculptures]

Boedo is not a neighborhood that draws the tourism of a Palermo, but there are some cool things there, not the least of which is the feeling of visiting a non-tourist-centric barrio.  It’s an old working-class area that drew a lot of immigrants, and Boedo has a rich history in socialist and anarchist politics, artistic movements (particularly left-wing and literary), and tango (for a brief primer in English, go here).

If you find yourself in Boedo (and you might, there are tango shows, historic cafes, and the Museum of Modern Art is also there), take a bit of time to visit the main drag (Avenida Boedo) and the few blocks of sculptures installed along it.

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There are some neat ones, and you know you’re in a quality place when there’s art just lying around on the street.

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I was intensely curious about the relation of the leaf to the body, so here’s the back.

So go check out the museums, pop into Cafe Margot, and appreciate the sculpture.

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This one is my faaaaaaaaaavorite.

The Paseo de las Esculturas is comprised of 20 works along Av Boedo between San Juan and Independencia.  It’s easily accessible by subway (the E line).