Saturday, November 17, 2012

Peru/Brazil/Argentina Day 27: Jewish Buenos Aires, Teatro Colón Opera

May 29, 2012
Argentina Day 27: Jewish Buenos Aires, Teatro Colón Opera

This morning I slept in after our crazy late evening last night for my birthday, while Frank and Jess headed to a tour in Recoleta. After a quick Gatorade/Drinkable Yoghurt stop for on-the-go breakfast, I grabbed a cab and headed up a couple hours later to meet them in the Recoleta area. We met up and we got some ice cream for breakfast (again. I love Argentina!) Volta is amazing!! This time I got Limon and Maracuya y Naranja flavours. It was epic. Volta is still the clear winner in front of all the other gelato options in Buenos Aires.

Volta gelato: breakfast of champions
From there we went for a walk down closer to Cordoba/Teatro Colón.

Awesome architecture
Love it!
I was going to stop then and head to the Shoah museum, but we were all hungry for lunch. So first, a quick jump on the Subte and back to Carlos Gardel station to get off at the Abasto Mall... for Kosher McDonald's!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We were so sad that it was closed last time (because we went on Shavuot... duh!) and so we headed all the way back there so we could try it. It was OPEN!!!!!! Yeah!!! I made sure to treat Frank and Jess cause they schlepped all the way there just for me :)

Yes!!!! And our visit to the Kosher McDonalds is finally a success!
Literally the only time I've ever seen a yarmulke and a box of tefillin at a McDonalds
Kosher certification for the restaurant! Describes (in Spanish) how the french fries are fried, etc.
Other than being super awesome and a Kosher McDonalds, just kinda looks like a regular McDonalds
No cheese on this Big Mac!
Oh yes, they DID have a ritual handwashing station :)
So excited
So fun to try this, the only Kosher McDonalds outside of Israel!
This was one of 3 McDonald's in the mall, but it's the only Kosher one outside of Israel (in Buenos Aires?!!!) It was so exciting and we had to try it. A guy in line was really funny, he had a yarmulke on and said, "You guys know this is the Kosher McDonalds, right?!" wondering if we'd gotten lost looking for the boring 'ol regular McDonalds. Nope, very intentional :)

We were wondering if the prices were going to be any different than the regular McD's (due to extra costs in preparation of the meat, or to pay for extra care in cleanliness in the kitchen etc...) but it was the same price as the other regular McD's in the mall! Nice! It was really funny and awesome to see a few specifically Jewish things in a McDonalds - there was a Yarmulke and Tefillin in a container there, presumably for the times where the Rabbi comes in to bless the kitchen and equipment. No cheese or bacon of course :) It was a meat-only restaurant actually, which makes sense. There was a ritual handwashing station which was so funny to see at a McDonalds. A certification document on the wall mentioned details about how the fries are cooked (in beef fat?) and they were much better than the ones you get at a regular McD's. I got a burger called the McNifica, so fun!!! It was tasty.

After all this Judiasm-meets-popular-culture excitement, we were still keen for more snacking and we got some amazing cake for dessert. We are crazy!! I guess we're burning lots of calories with all this walking around all the time :) The cake was huge but glorious, so we took some home for later.

Then we got this AMAZING cake
That is an ocean of Merange
Dulce de Leche is awesome
Frank and Jess went home to nap, and I headed downtown again to go to the Shoah Museum. There was a temporary exhibit in there about Eichmann in Argentina - it was in Spanish but it was still very interesting and there were lots of photos about his years spent hiding in rural Argentina after WW II. There was a section entitled "Why Argentina?" - probably something that all visitors to Argentina (including myself) are interested to know - as Argentina has a pretty strange and unusual history of both offering exile to Jews in WW II and also allowing Nazi war criminals harbour in the country as well. The exhibit was fascinating, and there was (as much as I could understand the Spanish), mention of Juan Peron's support of the Nazi party and of allowing Nazis into Argentina as a sort of "safe haven" after the war. Pretty crazy stuff. Though the exhibit did distance Argentina somewhat from Eichmann's protection in general - showing that he entered the country on falsified documents (including photos of the documents themselves) and that these documents were from Geneva and procured in countries other than Argentina. Pretty surprising to learn about all of this, but also interesting that the material was presented very matter-of-factly.

Headed to the Holocaust Museum, this was an exhibit about Eichmann's hiding in Argentina
Documents about the Holocaust surfacing in an Anti-fascist periodical in Argentina in 1942
Adolf Eichmann in gaucho (Cowboy) clothes, hiding in Argentina
Amazing exhibit at the Shoah musum in Buenos Aires, very emotionally powerful, and artistic interpretations of events.
Albert Einstein's exile
Sigmund Freud's exile
Anti-Communist/Anti-Semitic magazine from 1943 in Argentina
This was pretty crazy to see. A photo of a Nazi rally/party at Luna Park in Buenos Aires in 1937.
Further on in the exhibit was a memorial area for victims which was very nicely done. There was an excellent permanent exhibition with photos of Argentinean Jewish life before and after the war, along with a nicely written English translation. This was a very touching exhibit and had a very good tone to it - it was respectful but there was no sugar coating. There were also some tough photos to look at, but at the same time they did not rub your face in horrifying images - enough to educate and warn, but not disrespectful to the victims. Excellent museum. If anyone reading this goes to Buenos Aires in the future, I definitely recommend a visit to the Holocaust (Shoah) Museum. At the end of the exhibit, the was a hopeful tone, showing life continuing after the war, Nuremburg Trials, and justice. Lovely exhibit and museum. I bought a mezuzzah, one I'd been looking at when I was at the Museo Judio the previous week.

I finished up there and instead of taking the subway to Av. de Mayo, I figured it was close enough and I'd just walk. I walked by Teatro Colón to get a CD for Dad. I asked them if they had a CD made from the Orchestra of the Teatro Colón, and they said, "We have only one!" Easy!

Walking by Teatro Colon, where we'll be returning for an opera!
From there it was a nice walk down the Ave 9th of Julio, to Calle Floria, to Av de Mayo. I got some earrings for Norm at the Av de Mayo street markets. The artisans there were very, uh, "Artisan-y". Lots of dreadlocks and scraggly hippy clothes. Very artsy! While there I also got a Mate gourd and Bombilla straw. Then headed back home to chill and change into my new suit and shoes and belt, in preparation to head back to Teatro Colon for the opera tonight! The suit looks awesome, and we took some secret agent shots together. I still need to tailor the suit (we had to tape up the bottom cuffs of the pants because they aren't hemmed at all yet!) but it's OK for the theatre for now. We're sitting at the back anyway :)

Wearing my new suit, ready for the Opera!
Looking classy with Jess
Wait for it...
You can dress us up, but you can't take us anywhere
We took a cab over to Teatro Colon and man it looks glorious lit up at night! It was amazing inside, and there were some really awesome box seats we could see. We were way up in the $36 nosebleed section, but it was still epic!

In line at the Teatro Colon
Main steps at Teatro Colon
Orchestra and Stage
Amazing lights
This was so beautiful
Excited for the Opera!
The orchestra was awesome. The opera tonight was "Edipo", the Oedipus opera. It was sung in French, with subtitles in Spanish... close enough! We really loved it, and there were some interesting set choices (an airplane, the car driving and lights for travelers on the road, etc.). Intermission was fun and cool to be hanging out with lots of people who all seemed to be local Argentineans. I got a "Whisky National" for an intermission drink! The 2nd act was awesome too, crazy elaborate set pieces, Roman Colosseum style. There was "rain" in the epilogue, cleansing of Edipo's sins. Totally awesome. We were so glad to get a chance to see something in Teatro Colon as it had recently been under renovation and I think had only reopened 2 years before.

From there we took a cab to San Telmo and hung out at Bar El Federal, a place where Frank really wanted to go. It was great. I got a Roquefort pizetta and a Coca Light :) We also had a "Federal" fancy coffee! Fun times!!

Bar El Federal
Cool bar design
Some more late night food
All this eating late at night meant a walk home was in order, and we walked back to our apartment from San Telmo. Chillin' and chatting, we went to sleep quite a bit later, maybe 2ish. Another AMAZING day!!!!!! We are really packing in stuff here, though it hasn't felt rushed. What an awesome trip. Awesome peeps, too :)

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