200 Anos Bien Argentina

When we got back from Mendoza we headed towards the obelisk on 9 de Julio, ground central for the bicentennial. The city was filled with people in light blue and flags flying from every building. There was so much baby blue floating and flying around you would have thought Carolina had won the national championship, NOT. This was the celebration of the 200 year anniversary of the beginning of the revolution that lead to Argentina’s independence from Spain was no small event.

People turned out in droves to watch a parade made up of the different branches of the military. As the parade passed many in the crowed cheered. It was refreshing to see the Argentine people with as much pride of their men and women in uniform as Americans.   

After watching the crowd and parade for awhile, we made our way to the famous Café Tortoni (started in 1858 it is the oldest coffee shop in the world) and had lunch. We asked for a recommendation from the waiter and to my surprise he suggested a pizza. Buenos Aires has a huge Italian influence and their pizza was totally different, mine showed up with a layer of mozzarella (queso), a layer of ham (jamon) and a layer of grilled red pepper on a pizza crust. It was unique and wonderful.

After walking for most of the day we strolled down Florida street, the center of the street lined with vendors selling their wares, soveniers and tourist junk. Lou and I saw a guy playing the game where you hide the ball under three cups and get someone to bet you which cup the ball is under. I was sitting there thinking, “what a scam” and pointed to Lou which one I thought the ball was under when a girl said, “you won”  and said just show him your money and he will match it. Like a dummy I showed him a 100 peso ($25) thinking he was going to hand me my winnings, quickly her grabbed my money and said pick one, I did and of course it was the wrong one, $25 gone like that. Sucked in like a hungry trout hitting a fly rod even with a long history of being caught and released. Oh well, even the best of us get caught sometimes.

As we walked away Lou said the two girls who announced my good fortune were distracting her and bumping her while I was perfoming my act of stupidity. We both agreed we were lucky to get away for $25, another couple of seconds and they would have nailed her purse or my pockets. I picked my pride up off the sidewalk and we made a quick exit, I licked my wounds for a few blocks and we headed home to get ready for Confiteria Ideal.  

Another of the very old cafés in Buenos Aires built in 1880, Confiteria  Ideal takes you back in time, a circular tile dance floor with, cheap but effective lighting and the tables perched on the edge of the show. A choice of two entrées, a bottle of malbec and a tango show for 190 pesos ( $48), you can go upstairs after the show for the milonga for another 20 pesos ($5). During diner pre-milongaers (if that’s a word) are taking tango lessons while we ate and watched the show downstairs.

The food was mediocre, the show was fantastic. Complete with a accordion, key board, two Italian baritones and a crew of 8 tango dancers who put on a real “old fashioned” show. Highly recommended!

After dinner we decide to go back to the square and check out the continuing bicentennial festivities. We heard a band but did not expect to turn the corner and find ourselves behind the stage of a major concert. When the jumbotrons flashed pictures of the crowd, people as far as you could see, there had to be over 100,000 people all rocking out to some of Argentina’s best, Leon Gieco, Gilberto Gil, Milanese Pablo, Jaime Roos, Toto de Momposina  and Victor Heredia.

The crowd was elbow to elbow but I surfed and Lou followed, holding my hand as we weaved our way in front of the stage and finished the evening rocking out with 100,000 of our new friends celebrating 200 years of freedom.