My Second Favorite Bookstore in the World.

January 24, 2010 Buenos Aires 

Normally I like a narrative post with stories to go with my pictures.  This post is stretch.

Ataneo Grand Splendid Books is my second favorite bookstore in the world.  It’s an old theater, restored, but instead of seats are books, shelves and shelves of them, thousands of them, and on the stage the coffee shop.  We went there 5 years ago and I did a whole blog post on it that you can access here.  This post just has a few pictures.  The link has more.

I love the setting, the homage to books and the fact that one of the first radio stations in Argentina was operated from this theater, their coffee and cakes match the grand cafes in Euorpe.  The only thing lacking is their selection of English language books.  The English section is tiny with only mass market titles.  I guess that’s what tourists and expats want.  Certainly living overseas I liked buying popular fiction, but I also longed for books from local authors translated into English.  I was hoping to capture some of the spirit of the Pampas on the printed page, or some history of General San Martin, or some contemporary Spanish language literature to keep me company on this cruise.  Alas no, but it is still my second favorite bookstore in the world.

It seems to me that the more flamboyant the uniform the less effective the government.  (I used to think Britain was the exception but now I’m not that sure.)  We watched the changing of the guard at the Plaza de Mayo (South American warriors seem to like May, in the cool of the autumn.) where they march from the presidency to the tomb of General San Martin in the metropolitan cathedral.  Stiff legged, high boots, ridiculous brushes on their shoulders and hats from an early 19 century movie, they strut. 

They march from the Presidency to the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Which is in the Plaza de Mayo.

I did a double take on the way to the airport.  I saw a totem pole out the taxi window and was able to take a fleeting photo.  Looking up this curiosity on line I learned that it was raised in 2015 on Canada Day to honor Canada’s and Argentina’s indigenous peoples and the links between them.  But it has a longer history than that.  It replaces an original pole, carved by BC carver Mungu Martin and raised in 1962.   He had the same idea in mind, to honor the links between indigenous peoples in the northern and southern hemispheres.  The pole was taken down about 10 years ago for repairs but it had deteriorated too much to be raised again, so Argentina and Canada went looking for a new carver and found Stanley Hunt of Fort Rupert BC who is Mungo Martin’s grandson.  The new pole was raised on Canada Day, 2015.

And Finally, in Bueno Aires the elevators talk to you.  In my hotel you need to scan your room key to have the elevator stop on your floor.  If you are not fast enough or put it in backwards, which I do about half the time, the elevator says, in a very cross voice “You are not authorized to stop at that floor.”  Once I get it right, she says in a chipper and happy voice “Thank You.” 

The elevator in the cruise terminal that we took up to the ship ramp said “Thank you for your visit.”

I half expected that after pushing the button in the lobby a voice would say “Thank you for summoning an elevator.  Your ride is important to us, the next available elevator will…”

These shots do not fit any narrative, just random shots around BA.  Enjoy the pictures.

2 thoughts on “My Second Favorite Bookstore in the World.

  1. My dear amazing Rich….your photos continue to bring us all along with you on another incredible adventure. Although I have been tracking you for several years now, I am afraid I do not know what your FIRST favorite bookstore in the world is…bet you were just waiting for me to ask, right?? !
    Stay safe and healthy and happy!!
    Tons of love …
    nrd

  2. Old Harbor Books in Sitka, They are friendly, have a good selection and order whatever I want, sometimes going to great lengths. And the coffee house in the back is the best.

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