Thursday, June 19, 2008

It could be better only with....bikes!

After a few day-long wanders around the city, our feet were tired. My shoes were caked with red dust kicked up from footpaths in the parks in this city, and we had stomped on more dog shit than I think I've seen in the rest of my life combined. And we had done a lot in small amount of time:

We stumbled across a weird nighttime protest/reggae concert in the Plaza de Mayo surrounded by banners for organizations of veterans of the Malvinas War, full of pot-smoking hippies in funny hats.

We walked down to Parque Rivadavia in search of the elusive not-yet-picked-over LP bin. (The best stall we found was a bunch of grade-school textbooks and a single box of records, clearly someone's heavy metal collection being sold by his mom.)

We ran across insane 14-lane avenues to wander in the park.

We spent an afternoon wandering around the "reclaimed" waterfront area downtown, Puerto Madero (more on this to come):

And of course, as documented below, we'd been to the Recoleta, the zoo, and wandered around Palermo a lot.

But on a cool, brisk day, as we planned our afternoon huddled over the gas heater, our bike-fixing genes kicked in. The two jalopies that were left for our use were in sad shape, but we were undeterred, and in a few hours, we had 'em up and running!

With a little help from the friendly mechanics at Milenium bike shop on Bonpland, we were then ready for our first real bike jaunt, to the Club de Pescadores on the Rio de la Plata, near the municipal airport.

Maybe there was a better way to get there, but we didn't find it. We crossed a number of huge avenues, rode on some disintegrating sidewalks, walked our bikes across railroad tracks, and circumnavigated enormous construction projects to find ourselves on the wrong side of a huge highway leading directly into the airport.

But once we had crossed (witnessing a couple of heart-stopping near-accidents in the process), we were on a smooth, paved path heading north along the river, to the Fisherman's Club.

The view back toward the city was awesome, and made more so by the deafening jets taking off, so close that it seemed we might be sucked into the turbines as they passed overhead. Buenos Aires is so flat that you're rarely in a position when outdoors to see more than your immediate surroundings.

Of course, as is clear in the picture above, it was a tad breezy out on the water. Heading north, toward the Plaza Puerto Argentino, the wind was at our backs, and we could enjoy the sun and the view of an endless row of roadside parillas. We circled the Plaza, which is a small, strange park jutting out into the river at one of the airport entrances, but the wind was too much to stay there for long, and so we headed back south—straight into the wind.

The comical sizing of our bikes compounded the force of the wind, and we had to work strenuously to get back inland, and back across the highways, railroad tracks, construction sites, and avenues. Once back in the park, we stopped to rest our tired butts for a minute.

We were then off for a delicious vegetarian lunch at Senutre:

And for a quick stop at the MALBA (free on Wednesdays!), the new-ish museum of modern Latin American art:

The majority of the galleries were closed, as they were installing a new exhibition of Mexican art from 1968 to 1997, opening this weekend (more on the MALBA after our next visit).

Our ride home took us back through Parque Tres de Febrero (and across more gigantic avenues and railroad tracks and past the Hipodromo, army and federal police barracks, and the polo grounds). On the way, we spied the Buenos Aires velodrome but, sadly, were in no shape to compete.

Maybe next time, boys.

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