31 October 2016

Chocolate and Chandon at Voulez Bar

Dinner ends but the night continues at Voulez Bar. The intersection of República Arabe Siria and Boulevard Cerviño is lively with porteños enjoying themselves on the pavements of Palermo. We adore the waiters' sense of humor and the French flair of the dimly-lit bar. The linear, symmetrical stained glass of the windows, the white, wrought iron railings, and the sleek silverware convey a sensible combination of history and modernity. We order a chocolate volcano with fruit and ice cream. I ask if credit card is an accepted form of payment. To my dismay, Voulez Bar is a cash only establishment, and I shudder at the thought of having to leave prematurely. A.C. reassures me that we have enough cash. The waiter pops a bottle of Chandon and pours two glasses. The bubbles rise and I feel completely at home in Buenos Aires.
Chandon at Voulez Bar

28 October 2016

The Words of Eva Perón

The tomb of Eva Perón must be the most visited site in the Cementerio de la Recoleta. In life, she was a powerful speechmaker, persuasive and bold in her delivery. Eva, fascinating and charismatic, enchanted her audience through the spoken and written word. She directed the loyalty and emotions of the working class to her husband Juan Perón at a Peronist rally on la Avenida 9 de Julio on 17 October 1951. “The enemies of Perón and of the country have known for a long time that Perón and Eva Perón are willing to die for this nation. I ask you today for one thing: that we swear to everyone, publically, to defend Perón and fight for him until death.” The crowd shouted in affirmation of her opportunity to accepting a nomination for vice president. Eva’s declining health prevented her from officially announcing her candidacy, but she continued to be a visible symbol for the Peronist agenda. When Juan was elected to a second presidential term, his wife attended a parade to mark the occasion although weakened by cancer. On 4 June 1952, she rode beside him in the standing position as the car traveled through Buenos Aires. Her large fur coat hid the wire contraption fabricated to keep her vertical. She addressed the people for the last time on 1 May 1952.  “Friends, once again I am in the fight, once again I am with you, like yesterday, like today, and like tomorrow.” In death, she did not cease to influence her political followers and intimidate her enemies.
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The Duarte Family Tomb

24 October 2016

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

The Museo de Bellas Artes is open to the public without charge, and I am free to visit often in short intervals of time. My trajectory along the Avenida del Libertador weaves through the museum. The institution, which settled in its current location in 1933, houses a wide variety of works from antiquity to century XXI. I favor the ground level for European paintings from centuries XII-XIX and Argentinian paintings from century XIX. The Guerrico Collection, which resides in rooms 16 and 17, takes my breath away. The collection was established by Manuel José de Guerrico (1800-1876). The collector’s son José Prudencio de Guerrico (1837-1902) continued to build the family’s holdings, contributing to the museum’s founding collection with the donation of 22 pieces in 1859. Descendants of the original collector donated hundreds of pieces in 1938, raising the number of items in the Guerrico Collection to over 600. Paintings by Boudin, Jacque, Corot, Pérez Villaamil, and Henner shimmer in gold frames against the red walls. The precise line formations of the small bronze, silver, wood, and porcelain objects command my attention. I wind between sculptures by Rodin, Tantardini, Calvi, and Carrier-Belleuse on my return to the traffic of Libertador. 
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The Guerrico Room

19 October 2016

The Restaurant at Algodon Mansion

Accustomed to early evening dinners, we arrive at Algodon Mansion (Montevideo 1647) ahead of the crowd. The hamburger and selection of empanadas are our favorite items on the menu. The Algodon Estate is a wine empire. Thus, testing Malbec, especially at Mansion, is obligatory. We evaluate the taste, the waiter waiting for nods of approval. Apologizing for the inconvenience, we inquiry after our favorite Chandon, and he delivers. Before embarking on our westward walk home along the Avenida del Libertador, we descend to the basement. Admiring the uniformed wine cellar through the glass is time well spent. 

Dinner at Algodon Mansion


14 October 2016

Outside Teatro Colón

Teatro Colón first opened its doors at Cerrito 628 in 1908. The first venue,  located on the site of the current Banco de la Nación Argentina (at Sarmiento 101), closed in 1888. The present house, designed in the eclectic style, was built by three different architects over a span of twenty years. One of the most renowned and acoustically sound theaters in the world, Teatro Colón was named a national historic monument in 1989. We only needed to circle the perimeter to gain a sense of the house’s grandness. 
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12 October 2016

Tango at Café Tortoni

The Parisian ambiance lured us to the grand Café Tortoni, but the tango show was cause for our extended stay. Founded in 1858 by a French immigrant, the café is quintessentially porteño. The irresistible combination of wood, marble, glass, and mirror elements evoke a European flair, like the tango itself. The performance, the establishment’s foremost asset is held in the basement. We are part of an intimate crowd, modest in number and delightfully international. The singer, lit by spotlight through the dimness, is an interactive host. As an audience, we respond to his survey of our home countries. When a member of the crowd declares himself the representative of los Estados Unidos, A.C. and I silently evaluate his inexperienced pronunciation. The dancers, who seem to have no fault, embrace, whip, hook, and sweep to the narration of the singer’s storyline. They glide, kick, and float across the stage effortlessly in unison.  At the close of the spectacle, we spend many minutes photographing ourselves on stage. Filled to the brim with chocolate, churros, and Chandon, we walk east on Avenida de Mayo, still in the midst of the dance. 
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06 October 2016

La Avenida 9 de Julio

Heading west on the Avenida de Mayo, we crash into the Avenida 9 de Julio, the widest avenue in the world. The murals of Eva Perón on the side of the Ministerio de Desarrollo Social de la Nación survey the bustling traffic. I utilize the center pedestrian path as a runway. The buses pass in the bordering lanes as we make out way toward the Obelisco de Buenos Aires, a monument to the city’s history.
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04 October 2016

Lunch at the Restaurant of the Museo Evita

We are ushered into the restaurant of the Museo Evita by the black and white checkerboard tiles. Sitting outside on the terrace, under cover of a green awning, we are greeted by the mix of sunshine and breeze of spring in Buenos Aires. The waiter brings a small bottle of Chandon and three glasses. The young waitresses perfect their postures at the command of their manager. M.K., who is fielding business calls on his mobile between bits of conversation, has the honor of pouring champagne. We raise our glasses in celebratory gestures to commend ourselves in this glorious city.     

Lunch at the Restaurant of the Museo Evita



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