Thursday, October 25, 2012

Peru/Brazil/Argentina Day 22: Templo Libertad synagogue and El Ateneo bookstore

May 24, 2012
Argentina Day 22: Templo Libertad synagogue and El Ateneo bookstore

Up at 9-ish, sleeping in today! It is so nice here in our own apartment in Buenos Aires. We really planned the trip well, moving from crazy experience (Inca Trail) to reasonably crazy experience (Amazon) to actually relaxing and having our own non-hostel experience (Buenos Aires) :) We started with some brekkie here, some bread and excellent Kiwi and Mango and coffee. Also some good/weird cheese.

Breakfast at the apartment
From there we walked to Calle Florida (Florida St), the famous pedestrian walkway in BA. We walked by the "Pink House" ( "White House" - the Argentinean government building, famous from the time of Eva Peron).

Norma :)
Argentina flags
We did a bit of shopping, and I found some cool Marvel boxers (Iron Man and Hulk) :) Frank tried on some sweet Adidas futbol jerseys. We saw some YSL and Christian Dior suits for only $250 US! This is what we'd heard about BA - and why we'd planned to get a suit at some point while here. We continued up Calle Florida to the Galleria Pacifico mall. It was fun and for lunch I got a Bife de Oro (Ribeye) with salad and Coke Light. It was a bit oily (though amazing for a "mall steak"), and a good flavour.

Some random "Patagonia" burger thing at Burger King
Awesome mall in downtown Buenos Aires
Lunchtime: a steak only restaurant
"Los Vengadores" Ice Cream Sundaes!!!
Steak for lunch, awesome Chimichurri sauce
Jess and some filled pumpkin business
We found a Hugo Boss store there (already looking diligently for our suits!) but it was overpriced. That was enough shopping to hold us for a bit, so off we went to culture it up... and there sure is plenty of culture to be had in BA!

We headed to Teatro Colon and got tickets for the Edipo (Oedipus) Opera!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was so psyched, I really wanted to go while visiting Buenos Aires. This is awesome. It was only 152 Pesos (approx $32 USD) for pretty good seats!! The guy at the ticket desk said something about "Fumare?" and I said, "Oh, no Fumare!" (assuming he meant "Smoking" or "Non-Smoking"?) haha. He laughed and said "No, a Smoking Jacket!" He meant there is a dress code for the opera of at least a Smoking Jacket. Hilarious!! From there we walked around the plaza a bit and it was beautiful.

Awesome architecture
Time for a juice box!
Teatro Colon
Teatro Colon
Interesting building across from Teatro Colon
Turns out it was a coffee shop!

Then we arrived at the Templo Libertad synagogue. I was really excited to go check it out and walk inside for the tour. We started off in the Museo Judia, where the nice lady showed us to a waiting area where a sad minor-key video was playing about the hardships of immigration from Europe to Argentina for the Jewish people. Ooph. It was a bit rough to see the way the immigrant Jews were taken advantage of by some locals. But there were a few cases of noble acts amidst the hardship. As is often the case in life. :)

Templo Libertad, downtown Buenos Aires synagogue
Front door of Templo Libertad
Kohen symbol
Amazing entrance
Inside the Shul it was beautiful. There was stained glass, an organ, byzantine tiling, roman columns. Lots of Kohanim hand images. After spending some time in the main sanctuary, we walked around the tour of historical items and Judaica.

There was a "Jude" yellow star donated by a Holocaust survivor. It felt like this was the first time I had ever seen one, and it was haunting. I suppose I must have seen one at the New York Holocaust Museum, but it was very affecting and surprising to see one in Argentina for some reason. It seemed so far away from it's original wearer's home in Europe... all the way down here in South America. Inside the museum there were also some Sephardic Torahs! I don't think I've ever seen one of those either!! It was a very unusual shape. The lady was very nice, telling us lots of info.

Inside the main sancturary of Templo Libertad
Top of Aron Kodesh and Shema imprint on the ceiling
Cool non-Menorah candle holder light :)
Kohen symbol
Awesome chandelier
Smaller Aron Kodesh downstairs at the Shul
Off we went to the shop, and I got a really cool Hamsa blessing plaque to hang up at my apartment, with a blessing for your home... in Spanish!! Very cool. It also had Argentine-style building colours on it. It took me a while to figure out the denominations of the currency as I was counting out in cash - and when I finally got it right, the lady nodded and sortof-shrugged, "Mazel Tov!" hahahah I burst out laughing. It was the sortof tone you can only understand if you've seen it a million times before, and it was just oh-so Jewish: sarcastic but appreciative at the same time. ("Mazel Tov" means "Congratulations", and would usually be used for a proper Congratulations for someone. In this case, it means something to the effect of, "Well, that sure took a while, didn't it?! But also... thank you." haha) Just hilarious. The lady didn't speak much English understood my appreciation for the sarcastic humour, and she said, "We are Universal!" haha!

After that awesome time of cultural exchange we headed to the El Ateneo bookstore... but first, Ice Cream! My friend from BA had told me Volta was one of the best ones... and oh man... it sure was. I got Maracuya y Naranha creamy ice cream, and Sweet Cookies ice cream. Epic!! It was amazingly good, literally the best Ice Cream I've ever had. They served it in this cool waffle cone bowl with some tasty toppings. It was amazing.

Volta Ice Cream
The best gelato I've ever had

El Ateneo was very interesting, it was an old theatre, converted into a book store. A really fascinating layout and an awesome place to hang out.

El Ateneo Bookstore, built within an old theatre!
Row lighting
Balconies you can sit in and read
Awesome vibe in here!
Cool suit we saw on the way back to the apartment

Back to the apartment, and we started some much-needed laundry. Also time for snacks and journal. Maybe plans to go to the bar tonight? Instead, we started trying out the famous Buenos Aires beverage, Fernet and Coke Zero. My general feeling was: "I love it, I hate it! I can't judge this drink, noooo!" Very weird, unusual, and funny. It starts off gross, then better, then weird, then good... crazy. For dinner, we made some tasty pasta, gnocchi and pesto, then some wine. After all of this and a long day of walking, we decided to stay in. Hopefully we'll plan a nightlife evening for one of the nights soon. This city rocks.

1 comment:

Carla said...

The Libertad was dedicated in 1932 and houses a small Jewish museum, which a good collection of photographs and Jewish ritual objects. The Argentine branch of the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical School, opened in 1962 in Buenos Aires and trains Conservative Rabbis from all over Argentina and Latin America. I had a Buenos Aires rent near it and saw that many bar-mitzvas were performed there!