After a long day of touring, I regretted the fact that we had signed up for another excursion in the evening to a Tango Show and a dinner. We had attended a cultural show in China as well as a Flamenco Show in Spain. I had rather low expectations for this evening’s entertainment, but I was blown away by the show. We drove to “Cafe de Los Angelitos” and were led back to a surprisingly large theater with rows of tables where we were each given a tiny appetizer, a bottled water and a glass of wine. The theater was nice, but not so large that you couldn’t see well.
I had expected a repetitive series of Tango dances, but I was very wrong. The five couples took us through many different time periods of Tango, from the turn of the century, to the 20’s, 30’s, even the 80’s and modern times. The dancers and dances were varied and very skilled. There were two talented singers and an amazing combo. The evening flew by and everyone I spoke to was very impressed.
The dinner was given in an apartment that used to belong to a couple who gave it over to a chef and manager to become an exclusive “closed door” restaurant. The dinner was served on the fourth floor of a old building. This meant many, many stairs to get to the dinner. A couple of the people in our group had to take the elevator which looked like a small version of something from Thoroughly Modern Millie.
The dinner was served in four stages with excellent wine and coffee. Stage 1 included cuttlefish. Stage 2 was white salmon. Stage 3 was an amazing piece of beef and stage 4 was a chocolate mousse with coffee ice cream. The food was very interesting as was the conversation around the table so I forgot to take pictures of Stage 2 and Stage 4 as it was eaten before I was able to photograph the plate.
This was a fun night and we got back to the ship about 10:30 p.m.
After our visit to Plaza de Mayo, it was time for a refreshment. We drove a very short distance to Cafe Tortoni.
Cafe Tortoni was opened in 1858 and was named Tortoni after the Parisian café of the same name where the elite of the Parissiense culture gathered in the 19th century. This cafe in Buenos Aires has served as a meeting location for many famous Argentinian and international artists, authors, Tango dancers, etc. including one of my favorite authors, Luigi Pirandello (theater of the absurd) (“Six Characters In Search Of An Author”).
We were served croissants, tea sandwiches, and a demitasse of coffee. A nice break from the touring. The cafe was filled with busts and artwork of the important people of the time. I was especially intrigued by one painting of a famed Tango dancer of the period.
The cafe also gives daily Tango lessons and Tango shows during the week.
Next up on our tour was a visit to an area call “La Boca”.
La Boca is a popular destination for tourists visiting Buenos Aires, with its colourful houses and pedestrian street, the Caminito, where tango artists perform and tango-related memorabilia is sold.
The real show here is the loudly painted buildings and what looks to be papier-mâché figures watching from the balconies. There is a lot of art on the walls too. With all its Tango bars and restaurants it would be a great hangout at night! Paul used La Boca as the subject of his next watercolor project.
After a morning of touring, it was time to go back to the ship for a rest before tonight’s dinner and entertainment excursion.
Also located at the Plaza De Mayo is the Metropolitan Cathedral. It is the main Catholic Church in Buenos Aires. It is the mother church of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires and the primatial church of Argentina. Now it is most famous for it’s most recent Archbishop/Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
Located in the right aisle of the cathedral are the remains of General José de San Martín one of the greatest generals in South America because of his success in helping South American countries gain independence from Spanish rule. His black sarcophagus is guarded by three life-size female figures that represent Argentina, Chile, and Peru, three of the regions freed by the General.
Did I forget to mention, Archbishop/Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is now Pope Francis I!
We arrived in Buenos Aires about 7:00 am and left on our tour of the city about 9:00. We would have started earlier but our buses were stuck in traffic (sound familiar?)
We began our tour in the north of the city in the Recoleta district. We saw several parks and our first memorial to Eva “Evita” Peron, probably one of the most well known, as well as controversial, Argentinians. We then proceeded to the Recoleta cemetary to see Eva’s mausoleum.
When we arrived it began to rain, not a normal rain but buckets! Only 8 of us chose to go to the mausoleum. You really need a guide to find it. You zig and zag through the tombs until suddenly, in the side of a small aisle, you’re at the flower-covered door to the mausoleum. Evita is buried deep in the Duarte family mausoleum with other family members.
Evita often gave speeches for women’s suffrage and the working class of Argentina at the Presidential palace called “Casa Rosada” (Pink House) located in the city center overlooking Plaza de Mayo. She spoke from the balcony with the curtained windows on the left.
On a building where her speeches were often broadcast in Buenos Aires, a metal image of Evita is shown yelling into a microphone about workers rights. It is facing north towards what was then where the rich and elite lived. While we didn’t see it, on the opposite side, Evita is facing south towards the working class area and is smiling.
After a couple of relaxing sea days, we arrived at the city of Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay and 90 degree heat. It’s a very modern city and has miles and miles of public beaches. However what appears to be the Atlantic Ocean is actually the Rio de la Plata river flowing from the interior of South America into the Atlantic. When we leave town tonight we’ll actually sail up the river to Buenos Aires, Argentina.
During WWII, the heavily damaged German battleship Graf Spee arrived in Montevideo seeking assistance for repairs. Convinced by false reports of superior British naval forces approaching his ship, the commander of the ship, ordered the vessel to be scuttled. Only within the last few years did the remains finally slip beneath the water.
A popular drink in Uruguay is Mate tea. An empty gourd is filled with Mate tea and then filled with hot water. The tea is then sipped thru a metal spoon-like sieve. The gourd and a thermos with hot water is carried around all day and the cup is refilled as needed.
After touring the city, we left the city to tour the Juanico Winery. Uruguay is a very big exporter of wine.
We visited the fields and the processing plant where all the grapes are turned into wine and stored. This is a big operation. When we arrived at the tasting room, we were treated to a tour of the oldest wine cellar in Uruguay. It was built by the Jesuits in the late 18th century.
After the tour we attended a wine tasting of 5 different wines. The tasting room was beautifully set and various breads, meats, and cheeses were provided to cleanse the palate and enhance the wine tasting experience. After the tasting ended, lunch was served. Huge pans of beef, pork, chicken, sausages, and roasted vegetables were served along with more wine.
Towards the end of lunch, there was a surprise performance by a couple of local Tango dancers. They were very good. They even convinced some of our tour to dance with them.
I can truly say that no one left the Winery with an empty stomach. The bus was very quiet on the way back to the ship as everyone napped!