1/29/11

Biking in Buenos Aires


To speed things up a bit and cover more distance, I decided to join a bike tour. There were at least two companies operating in Buenos Aires offering such activity. After checking their websites through my hostel's free Internet-connected PCs, I decided on the simply-named Bike Tours. For $30, I would have my own bike, a helmet, a bottle of water, a guide and the opportunity to revisit again (for at least 4 hours) some of the areas I've seen during my first visit to Buenos Aires more than 3 years ago.


I walked to our meeting place at Plaza San Martin just before the scheduled 9:30am start of the tour. There were other travelers, some couples from Europe, a girl from Poland and another girl from Australia. After getting our bikes and helmets from their garage nearby and getting introduced to our guide Fabio, we were on our way. Our goal? Bike through Puerto Madero, La Reserva Ecologica, La Boca, Caminito, San Telmo and wind up in Plaza de Mayo.


It's a very pleasant morning as we pedaled our bikes passing through the now gentrified and über-expensive area of Puerto Madero. This rose as an important port area in 1880 but was replaced by a more modern Puerto Nuevo up north, getting abandoned and forgotten for many years until its resurrection into a real estate goldmine in the 1990's. These days, rich Argentineans either live here in expensive high-rise condominiums or eat/dance/party in elegant restaurants and exclusive clubs in what were previously brick warehouses.


A landmark in Puerto Madero, the pedestrian-only Puente de la Mujer (Bridge of the Woman) was designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.


Since we exceeded the number of persons allowed in a group to enter the Reserva Ecologica, we merely skimmed its surface, so to speak. Our guide wouldn't want to risk it with authorities - after all, he brings guests here almost every day.


Entering Barrio La Boca, we pedaled past what I believe was part of an apartment complex.


Further on, we saw these men firing up the parilla - slabs of meat and sausages were being grilled which only made me hungry.


Ahhh . . . Caminito! It felt like 2007 all over again as I came back to this numero uno tourist spot in all of Buenos Aires. It may be a huge tourist trap now but I guess, one can never visit this city without even peeking at this extremely colorful neighborhood. Just beware, this is not a safe neighborhood once all the tourist buses have left.


Caminito's riotous colors can be traced back to the old times when poor residents of this neighborhood began painting their corrugated metal houses with  paint that was leftover from a shipyard in the nearby harbor.


There's plenty of tourist stuff to buy in Caminito, oftentimes overpriced, but my fellow traveler from Poland felt the need to try mate, a popular hot beverage that's drank using a calabash gourd.


If there's anything Argentina is crazy about, it has to be fútbol (soccer). At La Bombonera in La Boca, home to the soccer club Boca Juniors (think Diego Maradona!), the game is played with such ardor between rival teams while revelry among fans always lead to instantaneous street parties. Too bad, it wasn't game day at the time of our visit.


Besides the obvious love for soccer, Argentineans have a soft spot for Fido and his ilk. They love to walk their dogs. Or, in the case of the fabulously rich who hardly have the time, they pay others to walk their dogs for them.


After La Boca, we pedaled into Barrio San Telmo, the oldest neighborhood in the city. At Parque Lezama, we stopped briefly in front of the monument of Don Pedro de Mendoza who founded Buenos Aires in 1536.


Our biking trip finally brought us to the city's Plaza de Mayo in the city's MicroCentro area. Here, the presidential office Casa Rosada looks less regal what with all the protest banners in front of it. For a long time now, a group of Argentinean women calling themselves Madres de Plaza de Mayo (Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo) has been protesting - and crying for justice on the disappearance of their children during the military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983.


Having burned enough calories, I rewarded myself with yet another meat that just came off from a parilla - this one bought cheaply from the food court in Galerias Pacifico. I was just too hungry I devoured everything. But then, in Argentina, when one eats great food, one doesn't leave the plate empty. Oh well, I could use another bike.

13 comments:

  1. Very nice post! I've also heard about the colorful neighborhood being a not-so-safe destination, and yet it's always been one of the most visited places in Buenos Aires.

    And I was wondering about that bridge, the Bridge of the Woman. Yes, the lines were quite curvy and feminine, but that bridge overall somehow looked quite phallic to me. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. although it's not the first that i've read of such from your blog,
    i love this biking tour post!
    i like those colorful structures; such an eye candy.
    i like your photo of the thinking man sitting on top of that blue bench amidst its vivid background; how dramatic! more of your self-portraits next time! hehe.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I so love the colors of the buildings and the houses. I love touring in bikes too, and I wish someday I could bike around there too! :D
    And oh, this is the 1st time that you posted your photo or is that a friend?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Linguist-in-Waiting,
    Must be a reflection of strength besides being feminine as well, I suppose. Calatrava's designs do make you ponder!

    docgelo,
    Wish I'm photogenic enough to really plaster my face on my blog hehehe. Seriously, I feel hesitant to hand over my DSLR to someone who might just drop it.

    thepinaysolobackpacker,
    It's me indeed and it's not the first time I posted photos with me in it. But they're not that much either.

    ReplyDelete
  5. One of the best ways to discover a city is by bike.
    A set of beautiful pictures...make me want to take the first plane and go there for a long vacation :-)

    Glad to meet you! I might have missed your other "self-portraits".

    ReplyDelete
  6. Parilla is love... that's how we call it also in our dialect... nakakagutom ang pagkain nakakabusog ang mga makukulay na tanawin :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. When I saw the colorful houses, I thought artists live here, but when you mentioned that it was colored out of the available materials (i.e. paint), I concluded that indeed, creative people live here. Oh those graffiti, very artistically made.

    And while I am ranting about art, the photo of the man doing the de quatro with that colorful backdrop is a very artistic photograph. There are so many stories behind that one photo.

    Thanks for bringing me here. Wonderful photos and stories.

    And would you believe...I feel like I'm smelling the sausages being grilled and...the paint...???

    I'm in BUENOS AIRES. Wish. :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. So colorful! I wonder when they are going to introduce a bike tour in the UAE (at least during winter) because biking is widely promoted nowadays in the emirate.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wow ang colorful!! Wait lang, bakit di na safe dun? Anu nagaganap?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sidney,
    oh yes, I do have more 'self=portraits' scattered somewhere in my previous posts :)

    lakwatsera de primera,
    much as I enjoyed eating meat from their parilla, it's just worrying the amount of cholesterol I've ingested! haha.

    Rizalenio,
    you know what, artists do actually live in the neighborhood, the kind you would say 'struggling artists'. I didn't show the photos but they have works being sold on sidewalks.
    I'm not sure if you remember but BA got all the more famous for Pinoys when the local franchise of Fear Factor went there.

    witsandnuts,
    I can't imagine biking there in summer, I'll drop dead from heat stroke haha! winter nga dapat. but if I get over my motion sickness, I'd like to do sandboarding in the dunes!!!

    princess_dyanie,
    La Boca kasi gets busy only during the day when busloads of tourists go there. Mas maraming police din. Pagdating ng gabi, anyone could get robbed.

    ReplyDelete
  11. How many miles/kilometers did you pedal to complete the tour? Can you legally bike on the sidewalk like that biker in your 2nd photo? In our city it is not legal but bikers do it anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  12. bertN,
    I can't remember how many miles but it took us four hours including stops. We were mostly on designated bike lanes (there were signs).

    ReplyDelete
  13. Anonymous8:09:00 AM

    Great info and pics, thanks! I found some interesting tours to discover Buenos Aires, they might help, check them out in this Buenos Aires travel guide.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...