I walk out of the small airport located in the centre and find it’s raining cats and dogs. I decide to queue for a taxi, they have a very handy QR where you can see how much the ride to your destination will cost you. When I arrive at the hotel, I leave my things and decide to go out, the damp streets and the dim light give the city a romantic touch.
I have the best idea for a rainy day, a place I already told you about on another occasion. In 2019 the National Geographic declared it the “most beautiful bookstore in the world“, I present you again the Ateneo Grand Splendid, the theatre that became a home of books and which stage offers coffees and alfajores for the reader who needs to replenish their energy. One of my favourite places in the world.
It’s very crowded, I’m so glad to see that books don’t go out of fashion! Reading will always be a pleasure for the soul who opens a book and immerses themselves in it.
It’s still drizzling, I’m walking through Callao St., BA reminds me of Madrid, they share so many names. I go to a literary café called La Biela to have some dinner. It was a place where motor enthusiasts used to meet and writers such as José Luis Borges, artists and famous people began to frequent it. It reminded me of Café Gijón in Madrid.
I cross the beautiful Manuel Quintana Avenue that takes me to one of the most beautiful streets in the city, Calle Arroyo, there’s the French Embassy or the Atlantic Flower Shop, where in addition to buying some beautiful flowers you can have dinner or a drink in its bar, one of the 50 best in the world.
In the morning I go back to Florida Street to exchange some more money, and I pass by the headquarters of the Naval Center, which has a beautiful lobby.
A few steps further on are the beautiful Galeries Pacifico. In 1899 they converted this Beaux Art building into the headquarters for Le Bon Marché inspired by the Parisian one, transformed in 1896 into the first home of the National Museum of Fine Arts until May 1992, when it became the shopping centre we know today where we can admire its divine ceilings.
The Centro Cultural Borges is located next to them, and inside there are stalls selling the most popular alfajores in the city, Alfajores Havanna, in case you want to fill your suitcase before leaving.
BA is the third city in the world with the most bookstores per inhabitant and of course I pass through some on the way.
You will remember the famous Plaza de Mayo, where the “Mothers of May” protest and where the Casa Rosada, the seat of government, is located.
Today I will visit the Catedral Primada de BA where the mausoleum of General José San Martín is located, who in 1816 signed the independence of Argentina.
The coffin has a curiosity, it is tilted downwards, in the direction of hell, out of his “sacred ground” because of his status as a Mason.
The National Historical Museum is located next to my next literary destination, the beautiful Esteban Echevarria Library that belongs to the Buenos Aires Legislature. One of its rooms is all made of wood and I feel I’m lost in time or in a fairy tale.
The Librería de Ávila was declared a Site of Cultural Interest since it was the first BA bookstore that opened in 1785. It’s quite an institution.
The endearing Farmacia de la Estrella is also trapped in the past.
From the Casa Rosada starts the Paseo de la Historieta (comic walk) that goes through the neighborhood of San Telmo and is crowned by the well-known Mafalda.
In another of my posts I told you about the passage Pasaje Defensa which is the old Casa Ezeiza, a place that I quite like, so I enter to take “new photos” and the opportunity to chat with Vicky who’s had a little shop there for more than 30 years.
Upon leaving something catches my attention, first it is a cat sunbathing on a bench in front of a store, when I get closer I realise it’s a witch shop!It is called Hecate and it is beautiful, I feel like I’m immersing myself in an enchanted forest. The goods are unique and made by wise witches. I take some home as well as a very pleasant conversation with the mother and daughter who run it.
I pass by the Russian Orthodox Cathedral that I’d planned to visit, but it is closed.
I continue my walk finding several murals and arrive at the Torre Fantasma (Ghost Tower), which has a curious history.
I enter what is perhaps the most football-oriented area of the city, La Boca, I hadn’t been here for at least 20 years, its murals of “entrance to the neighbourhood” greet me.
I go down a cul de sac and end up bordering the grandiose stadium of La Bombonera, home of La Boca team, unmistakable with its blue and yellow colours. As you know, football is not my thing, but I do know that Boca and River Plate are the two main teams in the country, like Barcelona and Madrid in Spain.
I finally arrive at my destination, the colourful Caminito street, also the name of one of the most famous tangos. I remember the first time I came I had a (paper) picture taken with a tango dancer, very touristy.
It’s much busier now than it was in those years. It’s still fun to see the colourful little shops, Maradona on the balcony and so on.
I return to the center and go for tea to the beautiful La Ideal Confectionery from the BA gilded age. I’m glad to see that despite the economic situation that the country is going through, locals continue to go out and enjoy what the city has to offer. There I am, with my tea, my book, my alfajores and croissants (media lunas) When I see a lady I had spoken with earlier while waiting for my table, her late husband was Spanish, she was there to celebrate her friend’s birthday, I end up joining the party and enjoying the chats and laughs with them and their family.
The next morning I buy the SUBE card at the Retiro Station, I can use it on any transport, it costs less than €1 (a bus ticket can cost 80 pesos = 10 cents)
I get on the 140 bus that leaves me in Palermo Soho, a cultural and gastronomic neighborhood, strewn with murals. My first stop is the Eterna Cadencia café bookstore, which I instantly fall in love with.
Nearby is Club Eros, a women’s football school, the national sport.The lovely Magic Books cross my path too.
In this curious house built in 1908 lived the character “Florentina”, the lover of Juan Muraña, from the story of the same name written by Jorge Luis Borges. Its façade was restored for the 120th anniversary of the writer’s birth on 24/08/1899.
Suddenly, an unexpected surprise , another charming bookstore and cafe, Libros del Pasaje.
More books and coffee at Elocuente Café y Libros. Vegetarian dinner at Artemisia Cocina Natural is on the menu, another charming place, very cute and tasty.
The next day I take the good, comfortable and safe public transport to San Isidro.
It’s a rainy Sunday morning and there’s not much movement, so I admire the beautiful cathedral.
I walk to the Quinta de los Ombúes. I have a matcha latte in the warm Usica Cafe. I walk by the Stella Maris Theatre and the beautiful quintas I see along the way.
It doesn’t stop raining, so I return to BA and go back, after several years, to the mythical Café Tortoni. It’s frequented by celebrities, royalty or writers like our great Lorca. I plan to spend the afternoon here with my book “Autumn Snow” by Irène Némirovsky. I choose it because it’s the season I visit BA. In this short and intense story, the author naturally brings us closer to her characters in a masterful way. Faithful old lady Tatiana stays in the mansion where she serves near Moscow when the family flees because of the October Revolution. She ends up meeting them again in Paris, where she feels nostalgic for her homeland and the first snows of autumn.