Saturday, November 23, 2019

Dante's Inferno and Opera- our Last Day in Buenos Aires

Our last day in Buenos Aires.  We had to arrive an hour early to check in for our guided tour of Palacio Barolo. This office tower which was built in the early 1920s was created on the theme of Dante's Divine Comedy. At the time it was the tallest building in South America.

The symbology throughout the building was really interesting. You start on the ground floor which  along with the basement,  are the two floors representing Hell. There are dragons holding the light fixtures. The female dragons have the longer, sharper teeth. There are large flower-like glass windows in the floor which at nighttime light up from below to look like the fires of hell.

There is a statue in the centre of the main level which represents Dante being flown up to heaven on the back of a condor.

The elevator takes you up through the floors of purgatory. We visited a few purgatory floors like envy, sloth and lust where some of the ceiling details were like faces hidden in foliage. Back then chewing tobacco was popular so there are stone "ash trays" on the floor to spit into. We were allowed to go into one of the old offices. Most of the other offices are rented out to various businesses. The guide said there are a lot of law offices on the purgatory floors... no offices are rented out on the Hell floors.

The elevators do not go higher than the purgatory floors so to get to Heaven you have to walk up to the Heaven level by a narrow, curving staircase which gets narrower and steeper the higher you go. There were no hand rails at this point.

On one of the lower levels of heaven, we were able to walk out onto many small balconies perched high above the city.

With my fear of heights and small spaces, I felt much more comfortable in Hell.

The top of the building has a working  lighthouse which is where the stairs end and we step into the all glass chamber housing the light. Originally the light could be seen for more than 100 km which caused problems for shipping so the light was turned off for many decades. Recently they replaced the light with one that can only be seen for a kilometre which is now well within the city centre and does not reach the port.

Our guide was great, her English was easy to understand and she was knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the building. This was a really enjoyable tour.

I have read and heard it said that Buenos Aires has some of the best pizza in the world and since the 1930s the place to go for pizza is Pizza Guerrin. Of course we couldnt leave BA without trying it so after the Borolo tour we headed there for lunch. The place was packed and there were pictures all over the walls of celebrities that had dined there. The dough was thick like a Chicago pizza and it was smothered in toppings. Very enjoyable.

I checked out a few shops as we walked towards our next tour. An area in the plaza in front of Teatro Colon was packed with young people spraying paint all over themselves and dancing to music. There were hundreds of them. I am not sure what it was all about but they were having lots of fun.

We went to another part of the park, sat on a bench and watched the quaker birds doing their bird stuff. I am really missing my bird.

We arrived at the beautiful Teatro Colon for our 2pm tour. This opera house has the best acoustics in the world for opera and the third best for concerts according to a study by MIT of opera houses around the world. It was designed by Italians and it shows. It is opulent. Gorgeous.

After the tour we visited El Ateneo, a large bookstore that is housed in a gorgeous old theater.

We took the subway back to our accommodation in Palermo and then made one more stop. Argentinians love their ice cream and with so much Italian influence in their culture, I heard their ice cream is amazing. We had been recommended to try an ice cream place called Rapa Nui which is just up our street. In addition to selling ice cream its a cafe and chocolateria and has a nice courtyard and terrace. The ice cream was divine.

Back at the apartment, we packed and our host, Eugenia came over for a goodbye visit. Hosts like Eugenia make staying at an Airbnb such a wonderful experience. With her knowledge of the area, she recommended restaurants that were local favourites, great tango show experiences and an amazing wine food tasting with Diego. 

Diego had also dropped off the wine we had purchased from him along with wine travel bags.

John and I both loved Buenos Aires and want to return soon. This has to be one of my favourite cities in the world.

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