Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Doing BA our way

So far today has been about cafes, subways and opera. Let loose on the city, we were thrown into disarray, unused to such freedom, dithering about a ferry trip to Colonia in Uruguay across the wide brown river (weather too iffy) and a religious theme park -watch Jesus rise from the dead every half hour!- but it was closed. So we took on the subway and triumphed, clattering through the dark on the A-line, on original 1930s wooden carriages with lampshades and open windows, and 21st century graffiti on the outside.

We went to Cafe Tortoni to spy on snappily-dressed local men having pre-work coffees with colleagues they greeted with a kiss, and be served by a very cool waiter in short jacket, bow tie and cloth folded over his arm like something out of Monty Python. The place had ambience in spades. Cafe Violetas was more brightly-lit, and its waiters wore white jackets, but it had fabulous cakes and pies and hand-made chocolates in its adjoining shop. In an intestinal link, we next went to Teatro Colon, the opera house recently reopened after an obsessive renovation, and now a symphony of marble, 24 carat gold leaf and tall mirrors. Our guide was Lucia, who impressed us by singing a couple of snatches of La Traviata and Carmen, but disarmingly confessed that she'd learnt the latter by watching 'The Simpsons'.

Then we walked and walked through the rain back to the hotel, past little squares surrounded by tall houses with balconies and half-hipped slate roofs that could have been in Paris; and a pub called Jack the Ripper; and the oddly-named Christ, a shop selling German leather goods, which was having an even more unfortunate liquidation sale. And now I'm going to have High Tea arranged by the hotel tea sommelier, and then get ready for an evening of tango during which I intend to stay firmly seated.

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