live blog: cafe tortoni

We started our day today with a ride on the subway.  For less than a quarter, it’s a no brainer for getting around the city if you don’t have the luxury of a car and driver at your disposal.  BA has the oldest underground in South America – who knew? – and one line even continues to run the early 20th century vintage wooden cars.  It made the perfect overture to Café Tortoni, a Belle Epoque coffeehouse where we stopped off for a snack and a surprise.

Appointed in wood, stained glass, and old marble on a grand scale, you’d be forgiven for thinking you landed in one of the baroque 19th century cafes of Budapest.  Also as in Hungary, the cafés served as an intellectual and artistic meeting place.  For Buenos Aires that place has been the Tortoni since 1858.  (Quinquela Martin, the famous socialist realist painter from La Boca, regularly held his salons here up until his death in the late 1970’s.)  Even if you’ve not the time for a coffee, I’d stop by and use the toilet, just for the glimpse back in time.

As for the surprise……you’ll have to check back later.

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