Our plan for Sunday was to visit the Feria de San Telmo, the market and fair held in the San Telmo district of the city every Sunday. We would be using the subway to get there, but there appeared to be a problem with our usual starting point on the D-line so we had to walk a bit further to get a train at Malabia Station on the B-line. Undaunted by this minor obstacle, we utilised our new-found public transport expertise to negotiate our way to Independencia station whence we had memorised a straightforward route to our destination.
It transpires that this is a big day for Argentina’s third national sport after football and rugby: political protest.
Small demonstrations were congregating in various side streets, presumably with the intention of coalescing, or conflicting, at some later point. I couldn’t dissuade Ishbel from taking a surreptitious snap. I’m fairly certain that protesters, in general, prefer to avoid being captured for posterity but in this case, they either didn’t care or didn’t notice.
We eased ourselves in the direction of the market’s epicentre, Plaza Dorrego, but were slightly distracted by a large antique/flea market in its immediate vicinity. There was an amazing quantity of Peron memorabilia – both Eva and Juan. It’s clear that the lure of Peronism and the cult of personality around them remains strong here.
The San Telmo Sunday Market is very popular and we moved along its thronged streets keeping a watchful eye on our belongings. It’s a pickpocketing hotspot here, for obvious reasons.
Eventually we reached Plaza Dorrego and meandered through the stalls. We stopped at a little restaurant, attracted by the elegantly dressed couple standing outside. Clearly, there was going to be some tango in this place. Having judiciously avoided being corralled into any of the many outrageously priced tango shows available across the city, we decided a little light lunch here might provide our fill of the dance.
We each had a salad while these two performed immediately in front of us on a tiny little dance floor. A stiletto heel whizzed past my ear as a couple of acrobatic movements were performed but luckily neither we nor any of the other diners were at any point impaled. This was a fun little add-on to our visit here and we were pleased to have seen tango performed during our visit. And we got a couple of fun photos out of it.
After lunch and another relaxed wander, we made our way back to the train station, passing yet another demonstration en route. It turned out that the D-Line was now running so we were able to get back to our usual stop at Plaza Italia and make our way back to the hotel.
The rest of Sunday evening was occupied with our previously booked Argentinian wine tasting. We presented ourselves at the JA wine shop at the appointed hour of 5pm and were escorted to their downstairs tasting room. We were the only two official customers for this evening, but our guide for the tasting had invited along a friend of his who is just starting a sommelier course in Buenos Aires. We were treated to a lovely selection of wines from boutique wineries that we would be unlikely to see in any mainstream wine store back home.
They also provided an excellent cheeseboard and cold cuts to accompany the wines. That was a pleasant conclusion to our Sunday evening and we retired to the hotel and made plans for our last full day in BA.
As part of our walking tour on Saturday, we had heard of a sculptor by the name of Lola Mora, an Argentinian woman who had scandalised polite society in the middle of the 19th century through her lifestyle and her works. Her masterpiece, the Nereids Fountain, was her gift to the Argentine people and government. Originally, it was sited just outside the Casa Rosada but was deemed so shocking that it was moved to an out of the way spot in Costanera Sur. As luck would have it, it was our intention to visit the Ecological Reserve in Costanera Sur, so we would be able to see what the fuss was all about.
It’s a wonderful piece of public art and should definitely be in a more accessible part of the city.
We made our way from here to the nature reserve, eager for Ishbel to get the tripod set up and the big lens attached to see what wildlife she could capture photographically. None, as it turned out. Never Trust Google. The place is closed on Mondays. Open every other day of the week, so we could have visited at any point during our stay. Apart from the very day we chose. Oh well, chin up and let’s find an alternative. It turns out that the Botanic Gardens is just outside our usual subway station at Plaza Italia. Let’s go there, instead!
But Ishbel had adventure on her mind. We wouldn’t simply walk back to the subway station where we had alighted. We would take…a bus! She was not to be dissuaded from this radical course of action so I allowed myself to be directed to a bus stop. I made a rudimentary attempt to pronounce Facultad de Medicina as our target stop and touched the travelcard to the reader twice. Amazingly, it worked. It took a while and we missed our stop by one, which wasn’t bad, but we arrived at our destination and managed the interchange with the subway like experienced Argentinian commuters.
We were proud of ourselves and our elation lasted all the way to gates of the Botanic Gardens. Which are also closed on Mondays. There was nothing else for it. Coffee and a slice of cake was the only remedy, of which we duly partook.
Our spirits buoyed somewhat by the tasty comestibles, we made our way back to the hotel and lost ourselves in the ever challenging task of packing for the next leg. Our flight to Lima was scheduled to leave at 8:30am on Tuesday morning, and we wanted to get to the airport in good time to avoid rush hour traffic. We got our luggage organised and headed out for dinner. On the night we had checked in, the concierge had advised us that there was an excellent Italian restaurant just on the next corner, Il Matterello. For one reason and another, we hadn’t eaten there yet so decided to give it a try. He was right – it was excellent. A cheering meal with which to make our farewell to Argentina. Tomorrow Peru!