Thursday, February 25, 2010

Singin' in the Rain in Buenos Aires

Thursday and Friday were working days for Linda, and thus play days for me.

I went to the gym on Thursday morning to work off some of the good food I've been eating. Afterwards, I stopped in a local cafe and ice cream parlot for lunch.

I ordered what I thought was a sandwich and a glass of water (very healthy). The water came, along with the smallest sandwich I had ever seen (a micro-sandwich).

I ate it, and was still hungry, of course. So, this being Buenos Aires, I ordered an ice cream cone for dessert. (coconut with dulce de leche)

I started eating it when, lo and behold, a large tart came out of the kitchen for me.

Turns out that the sandwich was just something free to tide me over until the tart arrived. So there I was with the ice cream and the tart!

Later that day I went out to find some coffee for the apartment. I didn't like the coffee that we bought in a grocery store, so I asked in a cafe where to buy coffee. The owner told me he normally doesn't sell his coffee, but insisted on giving me a free cup of coffee and selling me about a half pound of delicious coffee. While sitting in the cafe, I started talking to an interesting woman who told me about how difficult her life had been living in Buenos Aires. I got the feeling that, before the devaluation (2002?), her life had been pretty good, and afterwards she may have lost her middle class lifestyle. The cafe was in Belgrano (our neighborhood), but she told me that although she couldn't afford to live in such a nice neighborhood, but enjoyed having coffee there. I took the following picture of her, which she didn't like, and she asked that a take a second one with a smile. As I left, we exchanged business cards. Hola, Sra. Delia E. Bareno.Mucho gusto conocervos.

On Friday, I met Linda at her studio for lunch. As I walked down our street, out of the corner of my eye I saw something familiar in the window of a glass and mirror store that I had passed a dozen times.
 I went back and looked, and saw this familiar poster...funny.

Then I passed a lovely open doorway....

with a lovely entrance to the building...

On closer inspection, it appeared to be a shabby hotel, that probably rents rooms by the hour...apparently very popular in BA. The hotel was definitely NOT listed in any guidebooks or on the internet!

Continuing on towards the studio, I saw some men unloading a truck by tossing the boxes from one to the other. Fortunately, it was only toilet paper!

When I arrived at the studio, Linda and her mates were finishing something before lunch (the high point of their day!).

Now for lunch!

They eat like this every day, according to Linda.

Adrianna suggested I visit a photography museum down the street. On the way there I passed this amusing store that sold percussion instruments.

and then an odd store that sold only cooking oil of all types...Aceites 4.4.4. Go figure!

From across the street, I eyed the photo museum.
 It's a mannequin...

Inside were mainly exhibits of old cameras and photo equipment, and a few photographs. All the cafe tables were glass topped with photo equipment inside. Clever.

Of course, I had to have a beer. As always in BA, it was served with something else, in this case some chips, cheeze things and nuts. Note the beer - Quilmes - which is the predominant local brewery.

Next stop was the Chacarita Cemetery, which I thought might be interesting on a dreary day. I wandered around, trying to find the entrance to this giant cemetary. I encountered these children playing alone.

 Then a place alongside the cemetery wall where someone (not present) seemed to be living.

and then finally the grand entrance to the cemetery.

It was getting darker and darker. Rain threatened. A good time for taking pictures in a cemetery?
I passed some workmen carrying a ladder. What were they doing?

I figured it out. With so many people buried in each tomb, there were deep caverns below each one, such as shown below.

I thought about how all cemeteries were similar, in that they ultimately sold real estate. There were small, medium, large and monumental edifices, all presumably for different prices. I walked around and took pictures for a long time.

As I left and waited for the bus, it started to rain, and, as luck would have it, I had no raincoat or umbrella. I got out near the apartment, ducked into the Cafe Ritz, and ordered a coffee and a alfomja (wafer), covered with  chocolate and with dulce de leche inside! Yummy. Also included (as always) were some delicious cookies.

Over an hour later, I was still cooling my heels, waiting for the rain to let up. It didn't seem likely, so finally, I ran home and got soaked in the process. Linda arrived shortly thereafter, also dripping wet. We laughed a lot, and stayed home that night, while it continued pouring.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Bad Day. Went one for five!

I had big plans for today, but mostly struck out.

I wanted to go to a museum of Argentina's water system, housed in a beautiful old building, but didn't realize it closed at 1:00 pm. Strike One!

So instead I took a bus (1.25 pesos, about 40 cents) to Once, an old Jewish neighborhood. There, I wandered around for a while, stopping at a Jewish bookstore, and seeing young Orthodox mothers with their children wandering the streets.

I decided to go to the Carlos Gardel museum.

He is the most famous Argentinian Tango singer. He was huge in the 20's and 30's, and then died young in a plane crash. He made movies in American and Argentino, and was a heartthrob in numerous continents.

Mementos of Gardel are everywhere in BA. Buildings...

with lyrics of his famous songs painted on their sides...

The museum was small and very noncommercial. They had nothing for sale. No Tshirts or CD's. Very refreshing.

even the bathroom

and the laundry room...

I can't imagine how big he would have been had he not died young in a plane crash....

Nearby was a shop selling only tango shoes. I was tempted, I have to admit....

especially by these babies....

also some very hot women's shoes 

After the Gardel museum, went to Abasto, a big shopping center that used to be a food market. That's how I got fooled into going there...I thought it was still a food market.

But it was lovely, and I had a coffee and ice cream, while I watched the crowds. It houses one of the only two Kosher McDonalds in the world. The other is in Israel, I believe.

Started getting hungry, and picked an interesting restaurant from a guidebook. Walked there, but it was also closed (for the summer). Strike Two!

So I kept walking towards another museum, Xul Solar, an artist's home. Arrived there to too was closed for the summer (remember that February here is the equivalent of our August). Strike Three!

Passed a small park, and saw an apartment building that seemed to have an interesting sculpture on it's roof. Wow, I thought, as I zoomed in with my camera...

...only to discover the sculpture was actually communication antennas....

Is that strike four?

As I wandered, I saw another museum across the street.

Although I had never heard of it, it certainly looked interesting.

But then the guard told me that it was a private museum, closed to the public. However, she did let me sneak a peek into the lovely interior courtyard.

That's strike five, I believe.

Fortunately, at this point things turned around.

As I walked along beautiful Avenida Santa Fe, I saw lovely shops and buildings, such as this bank...

I had read about the most beautiful bookstore in the world, El Ateneo, located in an old theatre. I was not disappointed!

All I could say was "wow!"

I met Linda at our apartment, and we joined some new friends, Jim Rosenthal, and David and Barbara Jablon, for a nice dinner at a lovely restaurant in Recoleta, L'Ecole.

Home for bed after a another full day!