by Maggie Alsup and Kanwal Meer
This was a partial free day because we had a scheduled tour of the opera house in the afternoon. The night before, Sarah and Nicole planned the day for a few of us because we wanted to shop at the outlet malls in Buenos Aires. After sleeping in, we left our hotel and hailed a taxi at a street corner. We were glad to actually be able to hail a taxi and communicate with the driver about getting us to the outlet malls. We spent two hours wandering up and down the 7 blocks of outlet malls and loved every minute of it. It was very interesting to see all the fall fashion in the display windows. Being very Eurocentric, Argentines are very partial to the newest trends in Europe. However, while it is summer in the northern hemisphere (US and Europe), it is fall in Argentina, and they take cool weather to the extreme - wearing heavy, down winter coats in 70ˇF weather.
After exploring the outlet malls, we headed over to the opera house, the Teatro Colón. All of us met at the side entrance and participated in a tour of the theater. The building was absolutely beautiful, but we could only take pictures of the entrance hall and the seating area only. Of course this is all too bad because there was a particular room on the second floor, the Gold Room, where once only the rich and famous would socialize during an opera night. Here, they made business deals and/or scout to scene for potential husbands for their daughters. Today, the Gold Room is still used, mainly for gatherings, auditions, and some small performances.
We were able to enter the theater and sit down in the "rich" seats - those that were on floor level and closest to the stage. Ironically, we were told, the best acoustics can be found in the upper deck of the theater, all in the section where the audience must stand throughout the performance due to the absence of seats. Thus the moral here is the cheaper the ticket, the better the performance! The Colón was breathtaking - the paintings, sculptures, details, and size of the place were all overwhelming. We kept twirling to look around slowly took in the sights. It is one of the top theaters in the world, ranking number 1 in acoustic superiority, based on a survey of many top-notch conductors in the world. Many world-class musicians from all over the world yearn to perform in the theater. It is with this knowledge that we began to get excited for the performance we were attending the next day.
We were also able to go sit in box/balcony seats and experienced what it was like to sit there. There are seven balconies, and in the center of the theater, the president has her own box for her and her family when they attend. The heads of state also have their own boxes for them when they attend. We also learned that the theater is unique because everything is done in-house; they have a costume design and set-building school in the basement of the place.
That night, for dinner, we were on our own because some of us wanted to try a local empanada place. At the restaurant, the La Americana, we sampled several types of empanadas including cheese and onion, spinach, and chicken. We sat around and relaxed, taking in the atmosphere of the place. Nicole thought that the word chocolo meant chocolate, so she ordered 3 chocolo empanadas. When her order arrived, she discovered, to her horror, that chocolo is Spanish for corn. We laughed for a good 10 minutes at ourselves and appreciated the fact that you can learn new things - most of the time with humor - while traveling.
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