A few months ago, C and I spent a wonderful long weekend in Buenos Aires. It was such a magical and romantic few days, that it has taken me quite a while to let the whole experience sink in and be able to put it into words. Quite frankly the city stole my heart. The European architecture, the beautiful people, the vibrant restaurant scene – everything about Buenos Aires sang to me.
They say first impressions last a lifetime, and there is no better way to get an understanding of this magnificent city, than by biking it. I have NEVER done a biking tour before, and to be honest the thought was quite intimidating. However, when I was doing my pre-trip research and came across Biking Buenos Aires, I was immediately impressed with how professional their website appeared (which says a lot in Latin America), and how interesting and varied their different biking tours seemed.
After a bit of ‘umming’ and ‘ahhing’ I took the proverbial bull by the horns and signed C and I up for the Ultimate City tour – a full day, 7 hour trip which covers all the major sights of Buenos Aires. Admittedly, I immediately regretted this decision. First of all, can I really sit on a bike for 7 hours?! And second of all, what about riding in traffic? Although I am an accomplished cyclist, I do not have a lot of on road biking experience, and if Argentinians are going to drive like Peruvians or Mexicans, there is going to be some serious trouble….
It turned out there was absolutely nothing to be worried about at all. The day was so much fun and so interesting that it literally flew by, and the majority of this tour is on dedicated cycle paths. When we did have to venture onto the main roads, we had been properly briefed prior by our guide as to how we were going to do it, and what to expect.
The tour started in historic barrio of San Telmo where we met our fabulous guide Corine, and where we were introduced to our bikes and fellow sightseers. Corine was superb and a major component to the day’s success. Although not a Buenos Aires native herself, she was incredibly knowledgeable about BA and was so easy going that it was an absolute delight to hang out with her all day! In addition, all the bikes seemed to be really good quality city bikes as well, with fat tires and even fatter seat cushions (believe me this is an important feature when you are going to spend 7 hours on it!). After Corine gave us a brief safety orientation – we were off!
I loved every minute of this bike ride. I truly felt as though I was getting to know the city at a much more intimate level than if I were sitting on a tour bus looking out through the window. Your senses are awakened as you hear the everyday street noise, feel the cool breeze against your skin and smell the fresh bread baking as you cycle past a bakery. It all was incredibly exciting.
During the day we covered A LOT of ground – 26km to be exact! We pedaled through the bustling streets of San Telmo, we cycled to the modern and trendy neighbourhood of Puerto Maderno, we cruised along the docks towards the main transportation hub of Buenos Aires, we wheeled our way up the hill to the fancy neighbourhood of Recoleta where we could visit Evita’s tomb, and then casually meandered through the quaint cobbled streets which led us to the heart of the city – Plaza de Mayo, and finally ending up back at San Telmo.
The tour is conducted at such a leisurely pace with lots of interesting stops along the way that the day just seemed to disappear. During the stops Corine gave us detailed information on the history of Argentina, how Buenos Aires was founded, the background on the various neighbourhoods and wonderful bits of trivia, that the city truly came alive in my imagination. The tour also includes lunch at a casual parilla (grill restaurant) where you can sit in the sun and enjoy your food with the rest of the groups company.
From start to finish it was a fantastic experience. We got to see so much of the city in a relatively short period of time, and gain an understanding and appreciation of her stories – which were lacking in the other tours we took that weekend. Along with our Urban Adventure tour in Paris, this was by far one of the best tours C and I have been on to date, and if you are going to Buenos Aries, I could not recommend Biking Buenos Aires enough – you will not regret it.
Biking Buenos Aires: www.bikingbuenosaires.com