Category Archives: buenos aires

Buenos Aires Day 6: The Final Journeys

At long last, we will go back to April and the conclusion of my Buenos Aires adventure. I’m not quite sure how I’m so far behind in blogging, except that I keep insisting on doing things and going places, and on chronicling them in obsessive detail here. Anyway, thanks for your patience and continued readership! For my last day in Buenos Aires, I had a late flight, so Cecilia and I decided to visit the San Telmo market. (After morning coffee/pastries, of course.)

San Telmo is the oldest neighborhood in Buenos Aires, and the street fair is lined with world worn colonial buildings. It is a bit touristy (the first time I spotted packs of my American brethren), but totally worth the crowds for the atmosphere. I ended up buying some random jewelry, as I do, and we drank fresh squeezed orange juice as we wandered.

The actual San Telmo Market is held in its own expansive building, where legitimate antiques crowd with curios in individual stalls. The building opened in 1897, and as you can see above it has a beautiful wrought iron structure with huge skylights.

I was of course drawn to these typewriters, sadly too heavy for me to consider taking home, but you could buy pretty much anything you wanted, provided it was old. I saw several amazing pairs of fighting roosters made of metal.

Outside the streets were bustling. It was, after all, Easter Sunday! (Please don’t do the math on how long it’s taken me to blog this.) People seemed extra festive, but then I don’t have another San Telmo day to compare to, so perhaps it is always a party.

We stopped by a cool artsy store that was installed in an old house and also witnessed some of the street performers, ranging from drunken marionettes to mimes portraying Frida Kahlo and the famous tango singer Carlos Gardel.Weirdly, there were two obviously American guys selling salsa or something on the street.

I did stop in a church this Easter Sunday: San Pedro Telmo. Or Our Lady of Bethlehem. I really don’t know.  I’m having a rather hard time confirming its name. What are you for, internet?! Anyway, outside there were guards around an eternal flame and inside there were strangely a lot of dogs, appearing in the floor mosaics and paintings.

Inside the church were beautiful sculptures, although there was something a little off and odd about them, like they’d been carved by people who had never seen other saint statues and were fully committed to believing. Or believed that maybe there was something slightly sinister to people with wings.

It finally came time to go back to the apartment and gather my things for the airport. I saw the Plaza de Mayo one last time and then we boarded the subway. I tried not to think about the fact I wasn’t going to sleep in a bed until after I had already gone back to NYC and worked a full day. (Oh, the woe of adulthood and limited vacation.)

The flight back to New York went smoothly. As always, I wished I could have stayed longer, but I know I will be back. That morning in New York, I got to Astor Place just as the sun was coming up, my mind confused to think that the shoes that were touching the pavement were the same that had not too long before strode over San Telmo’s streets.

Buenos Aires Day 5: Roaming the Day and Night Streets

Chocolate Shop

After exploring La Recoleta Cemetery and the church next door, we wandered through the market that was set up outside of the cemetery and had lunch in the grass. Then we walked over to the significantly fancier part of Recoleta to a chocolate shop that Cecilia had researched. I don’t remember the exact flavors I picked at random, but I do remember they were delicious. And the shop was incredibly charming and full of people buying Easter candy. We then had coffee at a cafe, which came with an astounding number of extras: three miniature croissants, orange juice, sparkling water… I think there might have been other pastries involved. Pretty wonderful.

Teatro Colón

That night we attempted to see a ballet at the Teatro Colón, but unfortunately it was sold out. However, we still got to see the stunning theatre at night. Apparently it is among the acoustically best in the world. We will just have to imagine from here.

Interior of the Teatro Colón

Teatro Colón stairs

We did get to see the entry hall, which was topped with this elegant stained glass dome that reminded me a little of Printemps in Paris. The threatre opened in 1908 with a production of Aida, replacing a theatre that had opened in 1857.

Exterior of the theatre

Cars driving by the theatre

After declining into desrepair, the Teatro Colón was recently renovated and reopened in 2010. No wonder it felt a bit like we’d stepped into a time portal to its 20th century opening night grandeur.

Night on the grand avenues

Outside, the city was beautiful with lights gleaming on its grand avenues. Some cities become ghosts of themselves at night, details masked in shadows and sidewalks empty of people. But Buenos Aires comes more alive the later it gets and the streetlights shine gorgeously on the curved ornaments decorating the buildings.

Monument at night.

Building detail.

Subte!

We decided to head to Palermo for a drink and enjoy the cool weather from a table on the sidewalk.

One more Argentina day left to blog!

Buenos Aires Day 5: Return to Recoleta

When visiting a place for such a short period of time, you might think it’s strange to go to the same thing twice. But during my too quick April voyage to Buenos Aires in Argentina, I returned to the Cementerio de la Recoleta on my fifth day. Although the cemetery is very compact and not as sprawling as larger rural-style cemeteries I have explored, you could wander Recoleta Cemetery for days without catching all the details and stories of its eternal residents.

For example, my first stop in Recoleta I had missed the grave of Rufina Cambaceres. Poor Rufina was accidentally buried alive in 1902 on what would have been her 19th birthday (or I guess it still actually was, worst birthday ever). When she awoke inside her coffin, she tried to claw her way out, eventually dying of a heart attack. Cemetery workers who had heard noises coming from her tomb opened it and discovered the shredded fabric of her casket.

It was the sunniest day yet of my trip. We walked under spotless blue skies that let sunlight sink through cracks and broken windows into the dark interiors of the mausoleums. I ventured to look inside through my camera and found unsettling scenes of decay.

It was a good day for angel spotting. In all elegant shapes, they were perched on the peaks of mausoleums, almost always gazing down at us. Maybe it doesn’t mean anything, but I feel like most of the angels in my neighborhood cemetery, Green-Wood, are looking to the skies.

Human statues were down at our level, including this intimidating lifesize representation of boxer Luis Ángel Firpo. Nicknamed the “Wild Bull of the Pampas,” the over six-feet-tall boxer had a “murderous” punch that could knock out a man at a single blow. His fighting victories are engraved on his mausoleum.

On this visit, we also stopped at the Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar, which is right next to the cemetery. The church is where many of the elite families in Buenos Aires have their weddings, and I presume funerals.

The beautiful white building was constructed in 1732 in a German Baroque-style. I liked this unexpected clock on top of one of its bell towers.

Right inside we were confronted with this strange altar including two human skulls. All my internet research has yet to turn up anything about them. Who were they? It appears there are other relics or maybe memorials surrounding them.

I wasn’t able to see it, but I read that tunnels in the basilica’s crypt used to lead to other parts of the city. The area we were able to see was lovely, though, and the ornate altar was especially stunning. Also, I couldn’t help but wonder how many times they have to repaint the interior and exterior of the church in that pristine white.

There are still more Buenos Aires adventures to come!