I left the hotel before 9am; there was no one on the street and a couple of people only in the subway train station. I set out on Linea A and then changed trains to Linea C, finally alighting at the station Independencia. One of the problems that can arise when you return to street level is that you don’t know which way to walk even if you have the correct street. Thankfully this morning the sun was shining grandly giving me the correct direction, and I headed eastwards with the glare in my eyes. This morning’s goal was to follow up on Graeme’s recommendation to visit the San Telmo Antiques market. It was an excellent recommendation. I walked the five blocks to Defensa street and despite the time being before the official starting time of 10am many stalls were set up or in the process – even though the epicentre of this enormous market over endless blocks with their appalling uneven cobble street surfaces was a block or two away in the Plaza Dorrego.
The stalls were typically white ‘elephant sales’ in that most were someone’s junk waiting to be someone’s treasure. Because Megan collects depression glass I was on the lookout, but really I was not sure what I was looking for.
If Australia’s quarantine and customs laws were different I might have picked up some furs – I realise that love is politically incorrect. In addition, I loved some fine light green glass bowls but with 54 days to go before I get return home, carrying such breakables would have been silly.
Piles of photos made me wonder if any of the South American connections with the Wood family could be found by digging. I tried for a while without seeming success – I wasn’t sure of the surname.
Penguin jugs were a big thing. Antarctica here I come!
Then there were true oddities – the tepee of feather dusters attached to their plastic handles. How many birds died for these?
I was glad that I arrived before 10am and had a good walk along all the streets for the next hour or so. By all accounts 20,000 people descend on this market every Sunday – I certainly didn’t want to hang around for that crush. With luck I found a corner café and sat with a café con leche & tres medialunas for some time watching the stalls increase in number and the size of their displays, and noticing more buyers arriving every minute.
I left and walked towards the end of the market seeking to visit the Zanjon De Granados. Unfortunately, when I arrived I found this ‘house’ was on the weekend’s Open House list and it was entry for those who had pre-registered only. Damn nuisance.
The story is that in 1985 a local discovered the most important archaeological find in the country; the remains of 4 centuries of life in Buenos Aires. If I could have had access, I would have walked through subterranean tunnels.
I shrugged my shoulders and decided to get away from the crowds and all the people activity, and I expected to eventually end up at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Passed a rainbow flagged café, the Pride. Passed massive 19th century buildings.
Passed many more buildings showing the French influence on the architecture.
And others showing mixed influences.
The going was tough. Whether on the cobbled streets or the footpaths, routinely stones or tiles were missing, and gaping holes would turn your ankle if you weren’t vigilant.
I reached the Modern Art museum 15 minutes before opening but decided to sit and wait.
And I sat and waited until 15 minutes after the opening time then left. Lots of other waited in hope, but I felt it was time to move on.
Many blocks away was my next goal – the National Historical Museum. I really enjoyed the walk and saw the occasional true suburban shop with, for example, good freshly made pasta. I Hola’d a woman, who was standing on her riotous roof top garden enjoying the occasional passer-by and received a smile and friendly wave. I enjoyed the occasional wandering cat searching out a garden nook. This was a very pleasant stroll albeit not in such well heeled territory as yesterday. The socio-economic situation of this area seemed significantly different and poorer. More pollution grey. More mould on concrete. More litter. A greater need for a good scrub-up of anything visible.
I reached Parque Lezama and was confronted by a large-scale memorial to a key person in the development of Argentina, Mendoza.
Continuing through the park I reached the Museum. This presented as British-in-India building to the core in appearance or so it seemed to me.
In the entrance foyer was an information board about Mate. I have not as yet drunk Mate – maybe in the next few days.
The Museum presented the military history associated with Argentina using information boards, photos and artefacts. None in English. I have been hunting for a museum that covers the textiles/costume and household implements from the indigenous peoples and the variety of migrants from all the controlling nations over time. However, I have only seen rare examples, and these have always been associated with the wealthy elite. If Russia can collect and display such artefacts in great quantity how is it that Argentina does not seem to have done so – well – so far, I have not been able to find such items. Or maybe the military changes wrought through time here are more important.
Items that attracted my attention included a superb summary in picture form that names each type of person depending on their birth and ancestors.
There were many examples of metal framed anteojos, and all a similar structure and size. No information was provided as to whether these were worn by a particular person or indeed whether they were for a man or a woman.
I liked these chairs for the shaping behind the head, and the general construction. In the second photo, carved bone or ivory dogs heads were shaped at the end of the arm rests.
After leaving the Museum I plodded many more blocks in search of the Constitucion subway. I found it beneath a huge country railway station.
I left the train at Peru station and came up to find thousands of people having a Festival associated with Italians from Calabria; food stalls for miles, information booths, and thumping music being sung by people with Italian names. And everyone speaking Spanish. Of course. The press of the crowd and the sound volume turned me away.
I turned a corner and found the Museo de Cabildo.
Again, the contents of this Museum were about the struggles and strife that featured through parts of Argentine history.
Disappointed but not surprised at an 1806 world map showing migration etc that called my home island Tasmania and we know it was Van Diemen’s Land then. Also, the map showed only settlement around south western Western Australia and Sydney – Hobart was settled in 1803. I know I know I know – how parochial can I get.
I struggled with enjoying this museum because the external booming from the concert stage was painfully distracting – along with simply too many people. When I found the Catedral Primada de Buenos Aires during a communion service, I stayed wandering amongst the rich gold and marble elaborate structures for a long time.
The Virgin Mary appeared to have a touch of Michael Jackson in one of the sculptures.
Elsewhere I loved the new embroidered red velvet and satin outfit on the old ‘doll’ – yes I know it was meant to be Mary but the juxtaposition of the very old and brightly new was too much to take seriously.
In the distance was a great reddish coloured building. On closer inspection I think the President lives there – more research required.
I walked down empty streets with their massive bank buildings and road closure structures for use when there is civil unrest and made my way to another subway station.
After working my way through connections on different lines, I returned to my hotel territory. When I came out of the subway station, I could see hordes of people and hear Andean music ahead. In full swing was a festival by Peruvians with their street stalls offering traditional foods, and a background of different music.
Don’t worry Phil. I didn’t eat any of this.
Finally, I returned to the Hotel, rewarded myself with a glass of another wonderful Argentinian red wine, and took the lift to the roof top. Marvellous. Sun and space. Great views.
A very pleasant way to end another great day.