There comes a point in every traveling adventure when I decide that a very long distance is totally walkable, and procede to wear the heels off my poor shoes. Day 3 in Buenos Aires was that day, and as I looked at the long avenues connecting down the Plaza de Mayo, I thought that wouldn’t be too long of a walk for the morning.
My first stop of note (insert some coffee/pastries before this if you’re wanting a complete morning) was El Ateneo Grand Splendid, the bookstore shown above. The beautiful space used to be a theatre and its boxes, painted ceiling, and even stage have been preserved. Unfortunately, the selection of books is basically as exotic as that of a Barnes & Noble. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it was full of tattered covers and tall Audubon reprints?
After wandering through what appeared to be the theatre district (there was an interesting mix of comedy shows in with things like a musical version of Dracula), I found myself in front of the Obelisco de Buenos Aires. The obelisk is at the center of the intersection of two of the main Buenos Aires avenues, which I read is something like the Times Square of the city. It seemed like a lot less of a chaotic mess than Times Square, but then that place has a pandemonium with which it is hard to compete. I saw tiny windows at the top of the obelisk, however it didn’t appear open to visitors.
Down at the very end of the Avenida de Mayo is the Plaza de Mayo, where I discovered another obelisk, this one slightly smaller. The Plaza de Mayo is the center of the political life in the city, where demonstrations regularly take place. Nothing too dramatic was happening during my visit, but it was here in 1810 that the May Revolution started (Plaza de Mayo translates to May Square). The symbol you see above is a white head scarf, representing the Madres de Plaza de Mayo. This is an organization that continues today of mothers of those tens of thousands of people who disappeared during the military dictatorship that lasted from 1976 to 1983.
One of the icons of the Plaza de Mayo is the Casa Rosada, or the Pink House. It houses the executive branch, including the President.
It was nearing Easter, and a large group of people was gathered around a statue of the Virgin Mary outside of the cathedral in the Plaza de Mayo. I thought another crowd down the street was having an Easter procession, but it turned out to be a movie crew filming a car crash scene. I took a short underground detour on the A line train to ride in one of the old wooden cars, which have been operating since 1913.
That night we actually had dinner at the appropriately late time, near where Cecilia and her brother were staying in Palermo Hollywood, so named because a lot of film and TV offices are there. There’s also Palermo Soho, which has lots of shopping, and Palermo Chico, which is the most upscale.
Day 4 coming soon!