|Thinking about Argentina|
My hope was to see this cultural giant over five days. It is supposedly the most European city on the continent, and even though that may not impress some people, particularly those who want to get away from Europe, it was interesting to me because I find European cities, in general (places such as Düsseldorf excluded from this), architecturally and culturally interesting. Unfortunately, rain kept us from seeing more during the day, so as a result, those first few nights, when the weather was mostly clear, we spent in Palermo near Plaza Cortazar, which is a great place to breathe in the nightly atmosphere unless one wants mixed drinks. As we found out our very first night in Buenos Aires, the mixed drinks are insanely weak there. To put it bluntly, after having three mixed drinks at three different bars that night, I will never buy another mixed drink in Buenos Aires again. The water is significantly cheaper for the same product.
|A sculpture at San Martin|
But back to the point at hand, the food and presentation at Meridiano 58 were better than at La Cabrera and the prices were better, too. So, remember, don't be so hasty to eat at the steakhouses recommended in the guidebooks; yes, they're good, but it is important to note that they are all good.
Before eating at Meridiano 58, however, we met up with some friends of a friend who made all sorts of recommendations for our final two days. We met at their new tango studio (one is a teacher, one is her husband, and the other is doing tango documentaries - see the final paragraph for more info on that) and chatted for a while. It was a very informative meeting for a couple of reasons: 1) we learned that there would be a free tango show put on by the most famous show, Tango Argentino, the next evening down by the obelisk and; 2) I was given a good walking tour to do the next day while my friends slept off a hard night clubbing in Palermo. Since the rain had dampened our spirit for sightseeing the previous couple of days, I was excited to finally get out and see the city.
|Ballet and opera in Plaza Lavalle|
|The new built onto the old at Plaza Lavalle|
From there I moved on to Avenida de Mayo, which is where I gratefully took a wrong turn. Gratefully is definitely the correct word because I think this side of Av de Mayo, toward Plaza del Congreso, is much prettier than the one heading toward Plaza de Mayo. The buildings here were more interesting to me, and, as you may be able to see by the photo at the top of this post, el Congreso Nacional is a remarkably beautiful building despite its appearance as being in disrepair. If I had been paying better attention to the map then I never would have seen this pretty section of town.
|Av de Mayo (the good side)|
Defensa is an old-world cobblestoned street that leads right into the heart of San Telmo, a sort of bohemian neighborhood that is more gentrified now than it probably was a few decades ago. Despite the gentrification, which is really only because of the quality of shops, restaurants, and cafes established there, the buildings still grow vines that go from the ground to the top; the churches still feel cozily old; the balconies, strewn with vines, clean laundry, long curtains swaying in the breeze, and built with green, wrought copper or heavy iron railings, invited me in as if I belonged up there and not on the quiet street below; and the people moved about such they lived there instead of behaving as if they were there only for the tourists. It had a neighborhood feel to it, and for once I was really excited to be in Buenos Aires.
|The oldness of Defensa|
Plaza Lezama was actually my goal for the day, but as I mentioned above, I supposed to meet my friends at the corner of Defensa and Estados Unidos at two o'clock. I honestly wasn't sure if they were going to make it (they came into the room pretty heavy from a hard night of partying), but I didn't want to make that assumption and ditch them when they were likely tired and hungover. So I settled down on the corner and waited for them. As luck turned out, they were only a half-hour late, so I was glad that I didn't walk all the way to the end of the road, as I neither would have made it back in time nor would have enjoyed myself at the park. It was also a good thing that I met them, too, because their cab driver (they were too hungover to do the same walk I had done) had recommended a restaurant on Estados Unidos just a few steps down from our meeting place.
|One of the churches on Defensa|
After revitalizing our moods, we all headed to Plaza Lezama, which was a treat to visit. For one, it gave us a chance to see Feria de San Telmo, which is a cute little square with nice buildings and merchants selling their wares. The road beyond that stops being interesting for a while, but after we crossed under the highway things picked up again, except this time the area is less gentrified and a bit more genuine. This is where San Telmo meets Boca, the latter of which I did not get to see but, from my friends's pictures, which they got to see after we all returned from Uruguay (the three of us went to Uruguay the next day. See the link to read that write-up), it appears as if it is well worth the visit, but only before five pm (because that's when the police leave the area).
But then it was time to go. It was now show time, and we wanted to score excellent seats for the free tango show down by the obelisk. We were lucky and did get our wish and, oddly again, ran into another one of our tango friends at the show (the videographer). I talked with him for a while before the show started and agreed to meet up with him after I got back from Uruguay.
|Seconds before the stage change|
|Inside the cathedral at Plaza de Mayo|
One side note: I met up with my videographer friend after returning from Uruguay so that we could discuss our art projects. It is always nice to discuss these things with fellow artists, even if the artist doesn't completely understand the other artist's field of work. He is doing a documentary on the history of the Milongas as well as setting up a business to do mini-documentaries for tourists coming to Buenos Aires to learn how to tango. A website for Tango2Go should be up by the middle of March, 2010. To make the story nice in the end, we went to La Rosalia, the place across the street from La Brigada, you know, the one that was initially too noisy? Well, in the end, it tied Medriano 58 for the best food and value that I had in Buenos Aires.
|A final look at another church on Defensa|