Sunday 23.9.18 - Today we indulged in a little culture of Buenos Aires with a tour of the Colon Theatre, and lunch at the San Telmo antique market.
The Colon Theatre opened on 25 May 1908, taking twenty years for construction, made from mostly Italian marble and Stucco, with each mosaic tile on the floor placed by hand. The theatre's interior design features a rich scarlet and gold decor. Many Italian migrants were employed in the building of the theatre. They loved to see shows but they were quite poor so they would watch from the standing section up the top, they would clap and shout for a good show, but boo at the bad show, it was so loud that the standing section was nick named the "hen house". The auditorium is horseshoe-shaped, has 2,487 seats, and standing room for 1,000. The Colon's acoustics are considered to be so good it is placed in the top five performance venues in the world.
From 2005 - 2010 the theatre underwent massive remodelling of both interior and exterior. In earlier years smoking was allowed, so every inch of the place had to be dry cleaned to take away the smoke staining. The curtains above the stage - which are over 100 years old are not able to be restored any further and are very delicate. What had been planned to be an 18-month, $25-million renovation with 500 workers, scheduled for a May 2008 reopening, became a three-year $100-million extravaganza with 1,500 workers including 130 professional architects and engineers. While restoring the interior the acoustics had to be rechecked every couple of months to make sure nothing had been altered. It finally reopened on 24 May 2010, the eve of its own 102nd birthday and the Argentina Bicentennial. A truly magnificent building well worth a visit. From here we caught a taxi to San Telmo.
If you are looking for an antique San Telmo markets is the place to be, the cobble stoned streets are filled with make shift stalls of trinkets, antiques, china, silver and all you can think of. Many places to eat and drink, while listening to music or watching shows of tango dancers and musicians, it is a filled atmosphere of fun. San Telmo dates back to the 17th century, when it was first home to dockworkers and brick-makers, and later became an industrial area. It was a poor area, and one attempt to address this was the establishment of the Parish of San Pedro González Telmo in the area in 1806. 'San Telmo' is the patron saint of seafarers. San Telmo area began to attract the well to do after the installments of gas mains, lighting, sewers, running water and cobblestones, which led to the construction of many mansions and imposing homes. However, this ended quickly after a cholera epidemic in 1871 that claimed over 10,000 lives and many people living in San Telmo fled from the area. Due to this, San Telmo became very multicultural, as wave of European immigrants made it their home. During the middle of the 20th century San Telmo starting attracting artists, taking on a bohemian vibe and establishing the area as a hotspot for tango.
We enjoyed a traditional lunch while being entertained with talented tango dancers, after the show the dancers requested donations, they were interested to know where we lived and offered a photo with us. After wandering a little more and picking up some souvenirs we headed back to the subway.
This evening at home we meet another of the second cousins, Riccardo is the older son of Robs cousin Silvana (Rita). They turned up about 10.30 pm for dinner! It was a good catch up and he spoke great English so a lot of interpreting was done. People in Argentina work long hours, he runs a coffee house with his younger brother Mariano. He also is a personal trainer and trains 3 days a week and also fits in playing soccer during the week. A very late night eating & talking.