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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Argentina -- Tribunales, Calle Florida, Retiro & Recoleta 9.4.08

* Plaza Lavalle                                                              * Calle Florida

* Recoleta                                                                         * Afternoon tea at L'Orangere 

* Mosoq                                                                             * La Confiteria Ideal

We began our day with  Frommers' walking tours starting at Plaza Lavalle. More gorgeous buildings in desperate need for a face lift & repair, a protest in front of  the Tribunals building (Supreme Court), and the famous Theatre Colon in a major renovation. 
(Guess we just have to make a second trip after the theatre reopens.)

We passed the massive Avenue 9 de Julio. From there, we walked to the famous/notorious Calle Florida. And it was actually my favorite walking tour.  No doubt, the streets were crowded with many shops catering towards tourists.  But when you looked up the buildings, there were some superb architectures in places that were least expected.  The elaborated fancy facades of Galeria Mitre was just stunning.  It killed me to see the ugly Falabella store sign hanging in front of the building. 

Inside of Burger king was an elegant house. (See the picture on the left)
I had a mixed feeling about the Burger King invasion.  Would the house be kept in good condition if Burger King did not take over?  How much of it's original beauty was destroyed when it was converted to a fast food restaurant?

We took a coffee break at the  "Havanna" cafe chain.  After cafe con leche y medialunas (Coffee with foamed milk & sweet or salty croissants), we continued walking toward Plaza San Martin.  The buildings surrounding Plaza San Martin were enormous and grand . Palacio San Martin was another building offered free tours that I would have LOVED to go if I had more time in BA.

After Plaza San Martin, we walked to Avenida Alvea, the equivalence of Madison Avenue in New York City. Along the avenue, we passed by the French Embassy, Brazilian Embassy, Polo Ralph Lauren Shop, and finally made my first purchase for a pair of beautiful leather boots.  

We had walked nonstop for 4 hours by the time we came to Alvear Palace Hotel.  High tea at L'Orangerie was just what we needed. Being waited on by white gloved servers,  sipping sparkling wine and aromatic tea, snacking on finger sandwiches, plates of sweet and savoy pastries, and gourmet desserts, we enjoyed the classical music program in this lavish surroundings.  

I saw Bueos Aires at it's prime with striking beauty and incredible wealth.  Time froze in the old world elegance and I was reminded of BA's once affluent era.  


By the time we left L'Orangerie, it was too late to visit Recoleta Cemetery.  We walked around the area, checked out the housing value on this prime location in BA, hailed a radio taxi to Alto Palermo Mall, and continued our retail therapy. 
We were probably a few weeks too late for the winter sale, Most of the winter clothing were off the floor in many shops. 


Mosoq was the restaurant we picked for dinner that night.  I heard about Peruvian cuisine being popular in Buenos Aires, and was curious to try since I never had it before this trip.  The owner lived in L.A. before and returned to BA to open this restaurant.  It was a relief to be able to speak English with someone in the restaurant and knew what we were ordering.  Mosoq was the first restaurant we went in BA that offered cocktails.  I had a picso sour, and H had a bottle of Malbec all to himself.  We ordered ensalada langostino, ceviche (Peruvian sushi), tuna steak, and ojo de bife. We skipped the dessert as we had enough sugar fix for the day from the afternoon tea.  All the dishes were excellent, and H thought this was one of the best restaurants we visited.  

Walking out of Mosoq, it was past midnight. Now we were really living on BA's schedule.  After the wonderful experience we had with the Tango Show in cafe Tortoni, I thought I could push H into visiting a milonga to see real people in action.  

H embraced the idea immediately. We took the radio taxi to La Confiteria Ideal. The place looked like it was closed until we heard the music coming from upstairs. Not fully understanding the whole rules about eye contact & dance invitation in Tango culture, H and I were nervous about looking into other people's eyes.  Most of the dancers were in their 40's to 60's.  It was fun to check out the scene, we felt like we were let in to another secret world of Tango.


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