Some of the door collection at the Museo de la Ciudad.
Had another day wandering around today. Stopped in at a travel agent to buy some tickets for Gol when we´re in Brazil (we haven´t got access to a secure internet line for our credit card), and after 1 1/2 hours decided to leave it to them and go back in the evening! Walked down Belgrano to Defensa and then turned towards Plaza de Mayo. This section of Defensa has quite a few little museums and churches lining it and its side streets, so thought we would check them out. First stop was the Museo de la Ciudad, a two room museum basically filled with doors! It has a few odds and ends from early last century, and memorabilia about a famous tango singer but not a lot more downstairs. We think there may have been an upstairs section as well, but we couldn´t get in so might try again another day.
Juan and Eva Peron in the Casa Rosada Musuem.
Next door is La Farmacia, a still-working chemist shop retaining its original lights, shelving, wall decoration and so on. There´s a massive set of scales just inside the entrance and the tiling on the floor is lovely. We guess the owners and staff are used to gawking tourists, but must be somewhat disconcerting when you´re trying to go about your everyday work.
We then walked down to the Casa Rosada to visit the museum underneath the back section, which is filled with lots of presidential memorabilia and a time-line in Spanish and English of governmental history since Independence. Lots of walking sticks, monogrammed notepaper, portraits and so on, quite interesting actually. Couldn´t go into the old customs area in the cellar section as it´s closed for refurbishment.
The rear view of the Casa Rosada with Christopher Columbus keeping guard outside.
We left the museum and walked around the garden at the bottom of the Casa Rosada and back up to the Plaza de Mayo just in time to catch the changing of the guard for San Martin´s tomb at the Cathedral. Five men in full dress uniform come out of the Casa Rosada and march up to the cathedral, through all the traffic and people, marking time at the lights - it´s quite amazing that it is all so low-key! After all this history, we decided we needed to combine with food and drink, so stopped in at the 150 year old Cafe Tortoni for chocolate and churros. This is the oldest cafe in Buenos Aires
, and still retains its original decoration down to the marble tables and upholstered chairs.
The San Martin guard making their way to the Cathedral.
The walls are lined with paintings given by some of the famous patrons, and there is some beautiful stained glass leading into other rooms. Everyone who was anyone used to come here including Carlos Gardel, Garcia Lorca and more recently Hillary Rodham Clinton! By the way, the chocolate and churros were excellent!
From here, we walked right up Calle Florida, a pedestrianised shopping strip which goes all the way to Plaza San Martin. We were actually heading to the Harrods store, thinking maybe Mr Al Fayed had expanded his network, but when we got there, it looks like someone might have tried to cash in on the Harrods name and got shut down because the building is empty and quite derelict looking. And we really wanted a Harrods Buenos Aires shopping bag, too! By this time, our legs were getting a bit tired, so turned around and headed home.
Interior of the Cafe Tortoni - very civilized!
Stopped for a choripan (a burger, but with a chorizo inside instead of a pattie), empanadas, fries and beer on the way back - the whole lot for two people came to 19 pesos (about A$7) so pretty good value. Got back to our travel agent at about 5pm to find they hadn´t done very much because the Mastercard wouldn´t work. Have had this problem a couple of times now, so must be a Mastercard glitch. Went home to get the Amex and it worked first try, thank goodness, because didn´t want to have to waste an ATM fee on getting two lots of cash out to cover the cost.