Cafe Tortoni, the tourist bus and the Atacama desert

I am writing this from our hotel in the Atacama Desert. We flew here via Santiago on the next stage of our South American adventure.
Our last 2 days in Buenos Aires were spent welcoming the newbies to B.A. The flight from Oz on Qantas is bad enough, especially travelling in economy but when it is discontinued at the end of this month and the choice is either to fly via Santiago with Qantas or direct with Aerolineas or LAN it is going to be a difficult one! I for one will probably think twice.
On the day that the new members of our party arrived we took them for a welcome coffee to the magnificent Cafe Tortoni. Unlike Confiteria Ideal Cafe Tortoni has been preserved. It may still have the furniture and decor of the 1850s but it is in excellent condition. It was full, but not crowded and we all soaked up the history and atmosphere with our cafe con leches. Then it was time for a rest before the evening's pleasures.
A tango show is always offered to visitors to Buenos Aires by our travel agency (Travel Choice*) and tonight we were going to the Esquina Carlos Gardel. This was to be my third visit to this show, but my memories were good and I was not disappointed. The orquesta is excellent and they play with gusto despite the fact that they no doubt play the same pieces night after night. The dancers are also very, very good. The routines are precise and display a range of tango styles. And of course being a theatre restaurant there was a meal beforehand which was good value. Our new fellow travellers being retired tango dancers loved it.
Next day - their only day in Buenos Aires - was at their call. They wanted La Boca, something different and Recoleta, so we decided the tourist bus was the best way to go. We set off with umbrellas in the rain and joined the bus at its starting point close to the Plaza del Mayo. This tour is really good value - it is the first time we have done it and we found it informative and an excellent way to give those new to BA an overview of this sprawling and diverse metropolis.
We got off the bus in La Boca in the pouring rain, found a coffee shop and waited for it to lift a little. It did and we explored the neighbourhood that has become synonymous with BA and tango. It still has a raw edge though it has been rubbed off more every time we visit. Next we decided to check out Calle Lanin in Barracas. A street of houses all decorated with ceramics it is well off the beaten track and the only way to get there was by taxi. Once again we were not disappointed and the art work on the houses was unusual and is well worth taking the time to see. We returned in the cab to La Boca, got back on the bus and toured through the districts of Belgrano and Puerto Maderno and more until we reached Recoleta - by now it was mid-afternoon. A late lunch, and a visit to the famous Recoleta cemetery - then we walked back to our hotel.
No energy for dancing - but a great day with an early start the next day.
Today was spent travelling to this amazing place. By late afternoon we were driving through the moonscape of the desert - by tonight we were swimming in the hotel's pool with the snow-capped Andes as our backdrop, a Pisco sour waiting at our table!


*The most economical way to see a tango show in BA is to buy the tickets through a travel agent before you go - and this show is in my opinion the absolute best - and I have seen 7 of them.


Comments

Jemima said…
I like the part at the end about the swimming with the Andes in the background, a Pisco sour waiting at your table! Can just see it in my mind now! So glad you're having such a wonderful time. Great job on the blog! don't know how you've found the time! Love you. xx

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