By George W. Zander, The Bottomline Magazine for San Diego Gay and Lesbian News

"On this night of a thousand stars
Let me take you to heaven's door
Where the music of love's guitars
Plays for evermore

In the glow of those twinkling lights
We shall love through eternity
On this night in a million nights
Fly away with me …”

These amazing words are from the pen of Tim Rice and combined with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score, the rock opera "Evita" swept through stages around the world in 1979. The uber-sensual film starring Madonna opened in 1997 and already is a cult classic.

It portrayed the life of Eva Peron, but was actually a story about Buenos Aires, the unique cosmopolitan city that is the capital of Argentina. Sensual, spicy, and sexy, it has risen to one of the major, travel destinations in the world and certainly in South America.

Because of its sophistication, it is most comparable to Paris, Barcelona, London, Rome, and New York. It is more comparable to Europe than Latin America because the cuisine, fashion, visual arts, and tango music all come together to delight all the senses.

The city of over 3 million sits on the banks of the Rio de la Plata.

The Spanish settled here in the 1500s so many Portenos ( the people of Buenos Aires…) trace their ancestry back to Europe. The sophistication of the place has allowed for a long time courting of the LGBT traveling population. Years ago, same gender civil unions were legalized in the city and this year, the entire country has legalized Gay Marriage.

Luke Watson of Palm Springs just returned from Buenos Aires, and exclaimed, “I love this amazing metropolis. Somehow it manages to exude exciting energy and maintain its laid back atmosphere at the same time. Everything, from the architecture to the exceptionally gorgeous people is extraordinary. I will return again in June!”

You can fly from LAX on a number of choices. LAN Chile works great as it is one stop in Santiago. American goes via New York or Miami, Continental via Houston and United via Chicago. Latest prices run a bit under $1000 round-trip.

As to sights, the main attractions are the parks, boulevards, neighborhoods (barrios) and the huge, rambling Cementerio de la Recoleta. It is arguably the city’s number one attraction. You will wander for hours. It will remind you of cemetery wanderings in Paris, Rome and other great European capitals.

The political, social, and cultural leaders from the country's past are all here… including of course Eva Peron. You will find her in the Familia Duarte sarcophagus. There is a great map and scheduled tours during the week- some are in English.

Three major parks that should be on your list are Parque Temalchen, a surperb zoo, Parque Lezama, an historic place and classic urban open space, and the Barrancas da Begrano where children play and old men spend the days playing chess. All wonderful and picturesque.

Plaza de Mayo and the Casa Rosada are a must do, especially the balcony on the Casa where the Perons and many others have made famous speeches.

There are 48 Barrios in the city. As with the 20 Paris arrondissements, all are distinctive and most are worthwhile attractions.

The central neighborhoods of Congreso, Microcentro and Retiro are basic downtowns with museums, large shopping venues and big hotels. Recoleta has the snazzy and trendy monopoly on hotels, condos, bars and restaurants.

Palermo is a barrio that is sure to be a destination. It may be the gayest neighborhood in Latin America, but besides that bonus, it is beautiful and full of classic charm. There are fashion boutiques, wine bars, fabulous cafes, and art galleries.

San Telmo is great and gay as well with an emphasis on antiques along with the fun bars and restaurants.

Most all the barrios have places to stay and this city has no lack of accommodations of all kinds. Some highlights are the Design Suites… a great place in Recoleta, for those of you who love minimalism.

Then there is the Mansion Dandi Royal Tango Boutique Hotel also in San Telmo. Great name and totally unique. San Telmo also has the Axel which is a lovely boutique hotel for gay men. The Five in Palermo has a perfect location, and is very cool.

And last but not least is Tango, the vibrant, sensual, unique dance that has consumed Argentina in legendary proportions. There are hundreds of Tango clubs and most do not deny same gendered dances, but for the best in gay tango go the La Marshall in Plaza Bohemia.

It will be your most important moment in this, the gayest and most sophisticated city in Latin America. So, on this night in a million nights, come fly away to luscious Buenos Aires.

For this and other trip ideas, email George at mailto:[email protected]

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