Walking around the city today reminded me a lot of both Madrid and Barcelona. Downtown Buenos Aires has some very wide avenues (9 lanes in each direction) with a green space in the middle, lots of historic buildings and a bustling crowd of business people. Still, many of the buildings have graffiti which is such a shame.
We took the subte from Plaza Italia to Catedral. As we exited the subte into the busy street, we decided it was safe enough to get the camera out again. We stopped in a shop and right away the young shop woman pointed at the camera and said “Be careful.” She said that just this past Saturday in front of their shop a tourist had had their camera snatched right from their hands as they took a photo. We put the camera back in the backpack and only took it out to take photos. We even would look around first to make sure it was clear before getting the camera out.
We walked around Plaza de Mayo and photographed the area, including Casa Rosada and the Obelisco. We took a side street and found a Franciscan Church (with many banners showing Pope Francis) and toured that as well. A stop in a book store for postcards and more walking. We covered the entire area of Plaza de Mayo on foot (I took many photos, none of which are included in this blog, but more on that later).
One of our main goals today was to tour the Teatro Colon, one of the world’s greatest opera houses. It dates to 1908. We bought tickets for the 1 pm English-speaking tour. The theater is fantastic and it would have been wonderful to see a performance. Our guide was a music student and she treated us to some singing. It was a great tour and the building was really beautiful.
The Colon Theater is only about 5 or 6 blocks from the tango shoe mecca called Comme il Faut. My sister has bought shoes here before, and it sounded like so much fun I wanted to try it. It is hardly advertised and no signs, so it took a bit of finding, but we did. You ring the bell, and as you’re let in they ask you to sit. No shoes are displayed. They ask you your size, the heel height and the color you are looking for, and then they start bringing out boxes and setting them all around you on the floor. It was fun, and I had at least 25 boxes open. Because I had no particular color in mind, I said I wanted something beautiful, I had a rainbow of shoes to try. When we arrived, we were only the second patrons, but as the afternoon wore on, more and more customers came in. It is a busy and colorful store and a lot of fun. I ended up with two pair of beautiful tango shoes that will be worth just as much used in the US as they are new here.
After our shoe extravaganza we headed to the historic Café Tortoni. We had a wonderful lunch and toasted our day with a glass of champagne. More great photos were taken (none of which will ever be seen). Our next stop, right next door, was a tour of the National Tango Museum.
It now being about 5 pm, we had only to walk a few blocks to the subte and be back at the hotel. The camera was dutifully packed into the backpack and we walked nonstop to the subway. As we descended the subway steps my sister noticed the backpack, which had been zipped and clasped, was open and my camera missing. We were victims of theft, from a zipped backpack, while wearing it and walking and talking. (We later got more info on the camera thieves. It is a gang of women who pick pocket tourists targeting cameras almost exclusively. They are professionals and work in groups on the street and in shops).
So back at the hotel I mourned the loss of my camera, which has accompanied me to 5 continents. It was a great loss and I was feeling down the rest of the day. Inquiries into how to handle it and whether or not to make a police report resulted in us chalking it up to experience. We would have wasted half a day making the report and I would not have gotten the camera back. I would advise anyone planning on touring the city of Buenos Aires to leave their large camera in the room, and walk around with a point and shoot that you can slip into a pocket. I wish I had done just that.
The photos on this blog were all from my iPhone, which my sister was using as backup while I used the Nikon. For the remainder of this trip to Argentina and Chile I will be using my sister’s Olympus SP-600UZ.