Palermo and Recoleta were the areas to explore today, in the hot sunshine. We went into the subway, paid the ticket office and went to the platform - the signage was not clear down there and the subway was hot. We walked up and down trying to find the right platform and eventually a nice Argentinian man helped us find our way. Not only was the subway hot, it was dirty and the trains were spray painted and shabby. Not what I was expecting when the city itself was so lovely. We've think we might be 'Subway Spotters' as we said down there "We've been on the subway in London, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo and this is the worst by far". Oh dear... Look out for a new Subway Blog coming soon, where Andrew and I travel the world riding the tubes!
Not to go on, but also unlike any other subway I've been on, here they have people selling things - a pack of scissors with safety pins and a cotton picker, a set of 12 colouring pencils...just what I need when I'm on the tube. Start selling pocket tissues or hand sanitiser and I might be interested!
Palermo was a nice area, with lots of cafes and bars, but not much in the way of sightseeing. We decided this must be more of a nighttime place, to come for drinks and food. We walked through another park, much to Andrew's pleasure (!), and rather than get on the tube again, decided the walk to Recoleta wasn't that far.
It was! We dodge the sun as we continued walking, seeing statues of Eva Peron and large museums along the way, but by the time we got to Recoleta we were tired, hot and sweaty. There was only one thing for it - ice cream. We asked for two of the specials, which were about £2 each, maybe less, and they were massive. Dulce de Leche and Fresa (toffee and strawberry), delicious and really cooled us down
Next stop was the Recoleta Cemetery, which I'd been really interested to see. Eva Peron is buried there and I'd heard it was completely different to our idea of a cemetery, although I didn't really remember why.
We bought a map from a woman at the entrance, the money goes to the upkeep of the cemetery, walked through the pillars and it certainly was different. It was row after row of mausoleums, on paved ground, making for an off white, grey and black setting. Such a contrast to our generally small grave stones laid out on green fields, surrounded by trees and a little old church. It was an amazing but sad sight, and almost immediately I felt a little uneasy about walking around there and especially about taking pictures (thanks to Andrew we have some for you!).
Some of the tombs were impressive - tall, white marble monuments with statues of angels on top, black marble buildings with glass cross-shaped frontage.
Others were worn down through time and lack of care, and patched over with wood. I was expecting gravestones but these were like a little house, with a door for relatives to enter in, sit and be with the loved one, buried inside somewhere. We saw inside a few, which was ok on some - just a seat and a tiny alter, with candlesticks on top - on others it wasn't. The coffin was in full view and worse, maybe, there were what looked like recent notes and cards for 'mum'. It felt strange to be viewing all that as a tourist.
Down a narrow set of tombs we found Eva Peron's family mausoleum. It was a lot smaller than I had expected but there were many plaques as tribute to Evita and flowers left there for her.
We decided to cheer ourselves up by visiting a busier part of town, which had nice places to shop but was also home to one of the most beautiful book shops in the world, El Ateneo. We thought it must be the most beautiful, but nope, there was a sign saying their was one better in Holland and that the fifth best was in Glasgow. Maybe we can be bookshop spotters instead of subways?
On the long walk home we noted a strange thing that had happened today. I must be looking a little tanned (although I definitely don't seem it), and I was wearing my sunglasses (blue eyes are generally a giveaway!), but I was asked for directions in Spanish three times! Obviously I couldn't help, but it made me feel quite good to be mistaken for one of their own!
Tonight we dined on more steak! We'd been recommended a restaurant in San Telmo called Gran Parrilla del Plata and it didn't disappoint. It's set in an old butchers shop, with pictures on the wall to prove it, the same tiled walls and bottles of red wine everywhere. The waiter was learning English and wanted to practise on us, which made it an easy night for us language wise. We ordered a bottle of Malbec and a rib eye steak each (we didn't want to compare to the one we had in Puerto Iguacu) with patatas bravas - they're like small roast potatoes with a tomato sauce, Steve Waugh Along with it came three dips, chimichurri, provencale and another that I can't remember the name of - it was all delicious!
Afterwards we had drinks in Plaza Dorrego, watched the tango dancing and listened to the musicians...