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Buenos Aires – a city delightful with history

Submitted by on April 6, 2012 – 4:06 amNo Comment

My long pending desire to visit Buenos Aires finally happened. This beautiful place filled with life, culture, poverty, rich and not to forget the birthplace of Tango, did not disappoint my expectations.

I realized soon enough that this city has much to offer, and even though I just had less then one and a half days to explore, I could cover a lot of ground.

After I checked into my well located Intercontinental Hotel closer to noon, I took some rest and my day started around 1pm to begin my exploration of this long awaited visit to the city. Had a couple of choices but decided to go to the much talked about Teatro Colon first followed by a quick guided city tour, so that I can decide where I should be spending my Sunday to full use. The choice should not surprise people who know how passionate about music I am.

The Colon Theater was indeed a delightful work of art. Renovated after 3 years of closing, this majestically architected Opera hall was simply fabulous. Having Italian, Spanish and German influences, every step you take to move into the main auditorium will prepare you for an experience of a lifetime. So you can imagine how the buildup for concerts would have been.

With a capacity seating of 2500 seats, where every seat would deliver you perfect acoustics, the theater has 3 floors of box seating. The acoustics is, I believe recognized worldwide, amongst the top three.

The ceiling is simply gorgeous, with a 318 sq mts dome, everything about the hall is magical and retains the look and feel of its original intent. Every material used for restoration seemed to be of the highest quality. The chandeliers, the paintings and the costumes have been well preserved and displayed with elegance.

Oh, how I would love to attend a concert here, but I experienced the next best thing for sure. I sang there….yes, I did.

One of the tourists asked if they could sing to get a feel of the acoustics, and when they did, everyone joined in and wow, it made my day. See the video I will upload for the short sample.

Oh here, I did meet another Indian from Australia on a business visit. He too had heard of the theater and landed for the tour. Got friendly, and we could take pictures of each other at various locations. He saw that I was planning to take the city tour and decided to join me.

Having started the day with this beautiful place, I walked back to the spot to take a quick guided tour of the city. Not a very exciting tour but, gave me a good feel of the city, and also helped me decide where I should concentrate the next day. The tour covered, the parliament areas, Ricoleta, Puerto Madero, La Boca and a few other places. I loved the La Boca stop though. It was certainly touristy, but the bohemian feel, the art market, the tango dancers spotted on the streets along with other musicians, gave a fun atmosphere for sure.

Said goodbye to my new acquaintance, after exchanging business cards.

Returned back to the hotel and decided to go and see a dinner based Tango show. Called El Querandi.

A very disappointing show indeed and made me wonder what all this talk about the Tango was. Kind of felt convinced that it was not something I appreciated and decided to brush it off for the future. But, when I met my office folks the next day, they told me I picked up the wrong show. More about that later.

Anyway, felt I had made full use of my day and got back to the hotel to catch some sleep.

The first sight of the outside after I woke up, sank my enthusiasm as it was raining.
But, thank god for small mercies, it did not last long.
I decided to cover the following places today.
1- Ricoleta and the cemetery
2- Cafe Tortoni, the oldest cafe in the city
3- San Telmo street fair

Took a cab to the famed 18th century Cemetery. What a place, real expensive burials with beautiful funery arts and craftsmanship spread over 5 hectares of land.

This also was the burial place of Evita (Eva Peron), and her family, who seemed iconic and highly adored. Evita as she is called was very supportive of the poor and needy, so became the darling of the public.

I believe the burial ground had two types of owners. One the state for its presidents and other dignitaries, who ate buried here and the private family owned, who, in one cases even old their place. Given the market value of this piece being owned, guess could be a very tempting proportion.

Just as I was about to leave, a familiar voice called out my name, and presto… It was the same person I met yesterday at the Colon Theater. How co incidental is that? Guess if one is fated to meet, it will happen.

So we decided to pair up again, and walk thro the Recoleta area, which had museums, the University building , the Basilica del Pilar an 18th century church and other landmark buildings. We also saw the floralis. Floralis means it belong to the flowers and is a huge flower built out of metals – Aluminum and Steel that opens to blossom in the morning and folds in the evening. It is 20 mts tall and weighs 18 tons.

We also saw the museum of local arts.

Soon after, we took a cab to Cafe Tortoni. Cafe Tortoni the oldest cafe in Buenos Aires opened in 1858, is a place to visit for sure. Great coffee and snacks are served in this beautiful historic cafe, which has its history & culture embedded in artifacts, posters and decor is still preserved.. Floor to ceiling every bit dates to the wonders of the 19th century. They also have live Tango shows, but getting into this popular cafe, means you may have to wait your turn in the Queue.

Returning back to the hotel by around noon, I took some rest and in the afternoon about 2pm walked to experience the famous San Telmo street fair. It’s a square with a regular Sunday market and the street leading to the square is lined with hundreds of small shops, that sell local arts, creations of the local people, music, food and more. Streets also have individual artists performing music, or other acts. I for one loved the invisible man act. It was really something.
I also enjoyed watching the performance of a strange instrument (see picture).

The Invisible Man spotted at San Telmo

Loved the atmosphere, it was a huge line of shops extending over a mile both sides. I also caught a seller of flutes, teaching a woman how to play. See the pictures.

The Cemetry at Ricoleta

So got back around 7.pm to the hotel. Tried the local fernet drink mixed with coke. Not to my liking though, so went back to my usual drinks and a good meal.

Teaching the tourist how to play the flute ...

That was a full day, where, I think I really covered plenty of ground. Enjoyed every bit of the history, the culture, the arts and the street folklore.

The next day was all work, but in the evening we made our way to Puerto Madero. This place was beautiful, and amongst the most expensive residential real estates.
We went to a typical Argentinian restaurant, where they served meat and sea food. famous for its Bife, and other cuts, all the team members feasted with Spanish potatoes as sides.
Nice wine too, just forgot to note down the name. Overall a nice and enjoyable dinner.

Did I say, I was done with Tango…. Well well, I have to take it back. My local colleagues took me to a fascinating show ‘Senor Tango’. Truly, I finally realized why Tango is so much talked about. Graceful, performances by over 18 artists captivated me from start to finish.
Simply a show, no one should miss. The place itself was lively, fun and popular.
The show started with 2 white horses dazzling us, and went on to some outstanding performances from Tango solos to group dances. Simply fascinating to say the least.
Well, the show was over 2 hrs, and we got back only past 1 am. But, if I get there again, I would experience it all over again.

Teatro Colon

I guess, all good things will come to an end.

Goodbye Buenos Aires…. Will come again.

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