Arriving in Buenos Aires, we had no idea what to expect from the Argentinian capital – except for awesome grilled steaks. To get a good first impression of the city, we decided to go Biking Buenos Aires. But hold on! Biking in Buenos Aires? Isn’t that dangerous?
Nope! Buenos Aires has invested in separate biking lanes all over the city making it perfectly safe. Good to go? Great!
Than meet Angie and Lucas, our 2 great guides. They took us on a fantastic ride along architectural highlights, hidden gems and some of the best street art. And to top it off, they introduced us to a part of the porteño life in Buenos Aires: Fútbol, Maté and Meat.
With it’s exuberantly decorated white marble mausoleums, Recoleta is a cemetery for the rich and famous of Buenos Aires. Walking between the narrow paths with tombs where doctors, politicians and even the beloved Evita Perón have found their final resting place was a serene, beautiful and morbid experience. It’s simply a must do.
The Floralis Genérica is a 23 meter high aluminium steel flower of which the petals close at night. The mechanism however broke a couple of years ago and it’s still in restoration. I don’t think it’s really a must see, but if you’re going to Recoleta you might as well make a quick stop.
This nature park in the heart of the city surprised us the most. The combination of trees, marshlands and the skyscrapers towering over it in the distance is a beautiful example of how modern-day cities can combine urban and ecological features. It’s not hard to understand why this is a popular weekend hotspot for families in Buenos Aires.
Puerto Madero is one of the modern upscale neighborhoods in the city. The port which was build here in the late 1800’s became obsolete a few years later when the boating industry had evolved to the point that big boats were no longer able to enter the newly built port. The dockyard buildings have now been turned into lively bars and restaurants.
The Calatrava bridge ‘Puente de la Mujer’, which defines much of the landscape here, is a controversial piece of architecture for the citizens. The bridge was finished on the day that Argentina fell into a big economic crisis. On one side of the bridge people were batting pots and pans together in protest while their rich co-citizens were celebrating and spending money on the other side.
One of most colorful neighborhoods in the city is La Boca. It’s the birthplace of tango, home to the Boca Juniors and has bright-colored streets among which El Caminito is the most famous.
It’s true that the neighborhood has a bit of a shady reputation, and yes it’s a bit of a tourist trap with tango dancers luring you into a performance for some extra dineros. But there is also a lot of great street art to discover. One of the murals I especially liked was the ‘Madres de la plaza de Mayo’ which tells the tale of one of Argentina’s darkest historical periods, the Dirty War.
Living like a local
Fútbol or soccer isn’t a game in Argentina, it’s a way of life. Buenos Aires is home to multiple first class clubs among which the Boca Juniors are the most famous (Maradona used to play here). La bombonera, the stadium of the Boca Juniors is said to be THE place to attend a game because of it’s lively atmosphere. Or to put in my guide Angie’s words:
‘When the Boca Juniors play, the stadium becomes the city’s beating heart. Boom Boom Boom! You can not just hear but feel it come to life.’
A Completo Lunch
Lunching in Argentina is a treat. There are food carts all over the city serving hearty sandwiches. We stopped at a food cart just outside the Reserva Ecológica called Parrilla Mi Sueño to order a ‘completo’ sandwich. The sandwich which contained a thin sliced piece of steak, eggs, ham, cheese and vegetables where extremely tasty! It’s a place I really recommend if you want to lunch like the locals.
Maté in Argentina isn’t a drink, it’s also a way of life. Seriously you will often see Argentinians walking around with their personal cup of maté. The sabador (server) will prepare the maté by adding yerba tea and hot water to the cup. When he or she offers it to you, you are supposed to drink all of it through the bombilla and return it to the sabador. If you want to be left out on the next round you simply say: ‘Gracias’ when returning the cup. It’s a very social experience but the tea is very bitter for first timers. So make sure you have some sweet cookies with dulce de leche nearby.
Do It Yourself
Biking Buenos Aires runs an Ultimate City Tour every day at 10 AM, covering 26 km in roughly 15 stops.
Address: Peru 988, San Telmo
Cost: 90 USD per person – This price includes the rental of the bike, helmets, water bottle, lunch and a maté drink.