A busy day


I met a friend for coffee yesterday in an historical cafe in Avenida Corrientes – El Gato Negro. It has a nice atmosphere and an olde worlde feel to it. Originally a spice store when opened in 1927 it has the original wooden display cabinets and furniture. Being something of a tourist attraction the prices are relatively steep.

We sat and watched people scurrying past the display window on a rainy afternoon, under their umbrellas or with collars turned up. We chatted about all things tango and Argentinian. We had an order of a drink and two medialunas each, and later another couple of drinks, a sandwich and a slice of cake. And then they kicked us out! It seems we weren’t consuming enough even though we were making the place look busy by sitting in front of the window. The bill was $65 (pesos not dollars). In the four hours we were sat there I think they had about six other customers come and go.

So next time someone tells you that you can sit all day in the cafes in Buenos Aires for just the price of a coffee, don’t believe them.

There is no shortage of cafes in Buenos Aires so we walked for a few minutes in the rain to Los Galgos on Callao and Lavalle. This is another establishment from the same era with a worn marble step on the way in and a facade hidden behind scaffolding for renovation. Our discussion expanded beyond Argentina to Europe and Australia and exotic beaches in Thailand before returning to tango. After three hours and just a single drink each we decided it was time for food and asked the ancient mozo for our bill. It was the princely sum of $16 (about £3). For excellent service and no hassle we left a 50% tip.

A ten minute stroll down a packed Avenida Corrientes towards Obelisco brought us to another famous Buenos Aires institution: Pizerria Güerrin. Spread over three levels this is a contender for the title of “best” pizzeria in town. It is very popular with the locals and on all my visits has been almost full. After a couple of hours and a shared grande pizza, two puddings and two mineral waters we emerged with change from $100 into the Buenos Aires night. The rain had finally stopped.

Nine hours spent chewing the fat and watching the world go by. I just love this sabbatical.

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