[ Mar.2018 ] On the fifth day of our holiday in Buenos Aires in Argentina, we went on the city tour, carried out by Elisabet, our guide.
The first place we visited was a gorgeous book shop called El Ateneo in Av. Santa Fe in Recoleta.
This place used to be a drama theatre called Grand Sprendido built in 1919.
Later, it became a cinema.
On the top floor there was a radio station and famous Tango singers sung up there.
But because it is far from the main theatre district, it went out of fashion. In 2000 the major book shop chain El Ateneo bought the building and it was already unoccupied.
Now the stage is used as a cafe and the booths are reading seats.
According to Elisabet, the book shops are having difficulty with the competition between them and the online shops in this country, too. At least this shop seems to be doing well and there are always people queuing at the till.
Apparently, the British newspaper, The Guardian, ranked this shop as the second best bookshop in the world, which seemed the pride for not only this shop but also for the citizens of Recoleta.
The Guardian’s top choice was a bookshop in Maastricht in the Netherlands which used to be a church. The third was the shop in Porto in Portugal with a marvelous staircases, which we visited some years ago, by the way.
We cannot read Spanish, so we bought a couple of Tango CDs in El Ateneo for our memory.
After this shop, we went to a leather jacket shop behind the Recoleta Cemetery called Uru Recoleta.
Argentinian leather has a good reputation.
When we met Elisabet the day before and chatted about our past travels, my husband mentioned Hoi An in Vietnam where many shops make clothes and shoes in one day.
Then Elisabet said “There is a leather shop in Buenos Aires which makes a jacket in one day, too”.
I asked her not to forget to take us there.
They had many styles of jackets with many different colours in the shop, but in the end, I chose one made of Capibara skin, which is the speciality in South America.
My husband chose a jacket in goat skin.
They measured us, made the jackets and delivered them to our hotel the next day.
After enjoying shopping, we saw some mansions in Recoleta.
Within Buenos Aires, San Telmo area is the oldest. The wealthy people used to live there with slaves from Africa, but towards the end of the 19th century, yellow fever raged there so people moved to the Recoleta area.
Elisabet told us that, at that time, most of the slaves died of yellow fever.
At around the year 1900, people expected Argentina to be a rich country with rich soil and minerals, so people started building gorgeous mansions. However, because of the corruption within governments and for some other reasons, the country never became rich. Those people with the big mansions could not afford to maintain them.
So most of the owners sold them to hotel groups or embassies.
One of the mansions we saw was the annex of the upmarket hotel chain, Four Seasons, and its name is “La Mansion”.
When the singer, Madonna, came to Buenos Aires for the shooting of the film “Evita”, she stayed in this mansion.