Part 20: Casa Rosada and Catedral Nacional


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The Trip

After our pretty long night with Kathleen's buddy from high school, we decided that a "short" day was in order.  Our plan was to visit the presidential place, AKA "Casa Rosada" (Pink House), the National Cathedral and Teatro Colon.  We ended up taking more photos than expected due to a novel event.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

Buenos Aires has an extensive subway system, locally know as "el sube".  The cards are RFIDs rather than magnetic strip (which is more reliable) and the cards can be purchased at nearly every kiosko (kiosk convenience store) but we got ours for free from our hotel.  Trust me, we more than paid the 25 peso face value with the price of the room.  To our surprise, the tracks ran opposite to our expectations and we discovered that the system was designed and built by the British.  Mystery explained.

We had about 8 stops to get from our area (Plaza Italia) to the Catedral which was the end of the line.  The line terminated at our intended destination.

When we popped out from underground, we immediately saw European-style buildings.

We passed a massive cast iron door with a bronze inlays.  We later discovered that the door was associated with the mayor's residence (locally known as the Govenor del Ciudad).

We were not too surprised to find advanced surveillance gear on the roof of the building.

Across from the Govenor's residence was the Banco del Argentina.

Our initial destination was Casa Rosada (the President's Palace).  We were surprised, and even disappointed to find out that the plaza in front of the place was closed off due to construction, thus blocking our ability to get a good photo of the place.  Undaunted, we continued on past the construction barricades.

As we got close to the palace, we noticed that something big was preparing to happen.  The palace guard was in full dress uniform and the red carpet was out.

A closer inspection showed that there was a formal camera crew on site.  The guard went through a few dry runs while we waited.  But, we were not sure what we were waiting for.

Whatever was preparing to happen was sufficiently important that the bomb squad was on site inspecting vehicles that we coming onto the grounds.  Above, one of the bomb squad uses a mirror on a stick to inspect the underside of an incoming vehicle.

It was nearly noon and Kathleen reasoned that whatever was going to happen would happen at noon.  Within moments, we heard sirens that we interpreted as a formal escort of some kind.  Above, the folks by the barricades were watching the the approaching motorcade.

The approaching sirens brought out the big guns.  The fellow on the right is clearly military, but the fellow on the left?  Chief of Staff?  VP?  Secretary of State? Unknown.

A Mercedes S-class sedan pulled up and two older folks disembarked.  The woman waved at the (very small) crowd and then went to shake the general's hand.  The band started playing, they walked up the stairs and we lost interest.  On our way across the street, I asked an ambulance driver "who was that?" and he said "the King and Queen of Norway".

Only one block away we came upon Banker's Row -- many banks in just a few blocks.  This bank was the only one than was not in a "classical" building.

One block away we came to the Catedral.  The construction impacted entry, so we had to come around behind the building to gain access.

Inside were nice alcoves with huge paintings.

The altar area was quite magnificent.

Every large cathedral has an organ for the choir, this one was no exception.

A more detailed view of the altar.

Every alcove had something surprising.

High above was some nice stained glass.

I had heard that the cathedral also housed the body of the "founder of the country" Don Jose de San Martin.  Indeed it did, complete with military guard in full dress uniform.

Don Jose de San Martin was a critical player in the independence of Argentina (and Peru and Chile) from Imperial Spain.

There was some nice statuary in the cathedral as well.

When we were done at the cathedral, we headed back to the subway.  Waiting on the station, I got a shot of the tracks and I was immediately reprimanded by the security guard and told to not take more photos "for security reasons".  Ok.  The tracks look just like New York, but newer, cleaner and in better repair.

Our plan was to go to Teatro Colon and do a tour and when we came out of the subway we were greeted by an enthusiastic group of youngsters either protesting or celebrating using drums, whistles and and water sprays.  They appear to be in school uniform.  I don't recall mini-skirts and crop-tops being the uniform of the day at my school, but it will forever change my outlook on higher education.

Next: on to Teatro Colon.

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