Buenos Aires: the most American of European cities?

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We toyed with the idea of going cycling on the free bicycles in Buenos Aires, or even to take one of the guided bike tours. But, it was simply way too hot and humid to even consider doing more than slow walking, or shuffling when it got really hot, for short distances.

free bicycles Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is built in a grid formation, and the bits we have seen so far are very flat, so if it wasn’t for the intense heat (yes, I know, stop moaning) it would be a great town to pootle about in. It really doesn’t look any scarier than cycling around back in London. Cyclists we’ve observed tend to cycle on the pavement, against the traffic and jump red lights too, though this is kind of understandable given that it is so blooming hard to figure out which of the many street lights is intended for you!

The cycling infrastructure has learnt a lot from the UK, unfortunately, i.e. bike lanes around 2′ wide, in the gutter with interesting ‘obstacles’, and covered in drain covers. That aside, it does seem possible, with a combination of good judgement and a preparatory glance at a map, to have a good – and safe – cycle around the Big Apple.

The tarmac must have been mixed with some serious anti-heat chemicals because even at 35c and while being battered by hundreds of buses, lorries and taxis the road surface looks brilliantly smooth and pristine. No sticky roads here! This is in stark contrast to the pavements which are in dire need of repair.

cycle lane Buenos AiresTalking of pavements, let’s have a quick detour to Paris, France. Buenos Aires does appear in many respects to be a carbon copy of Paris, with strong elements of Barcelona peeking through. We see the same kind of rundown, ramshackle blocks next to brand-new or well-kept streets with pavement cafes and small green parks. The street art in Buenos Aires does win hands down, however, compared to the other two, especially in the San Telmo barrio where every bit of available wall seems to have some kind of graffiti or artwork on it.

Finally, another reason Buenos Aires reminds us of Paris is their very apparent love of dogs. Everywhere there are owners paseando their perros, who insist on contributing their “leftovers”, so keep an eye on your step, not just to avoid holes in the pavement but also for the doggy landmines. Though, a lady in La Recoleta barrio – the well-to-do part of town – did buck this trend by picking up her little pooch’s offerings. We approve.

Click here to see the gallery of our visit to Buenos Aires

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