One of the reasons that Buenos Aires is called the ‘Paris of South America’ is because of the many beautiful European style buildings and architecture all over the city. After having lived in Buenos Aires for quite a few years now and having passed by many of these gorgeous buildings numerous times, I have realized that I don’t really know much about them. Therefore, I have decided to take action to get to know them better, so as to not repeat the same mistakes I had when I was living in other cities and taking things for granted until the day I moved away.
For this mission, I’ve found exactly what I needed and went on an Architecture bike tour. On a sunny afternoon, I met up with the bike tour guide and 2 other participants in San Telmo (interestingly, one of them was also an expat like me, wanted to do all the things he should have done long time ago before he leaves the country for good). After the guide made sure all gears and bikes were properly set up, he gave us a brief road safety and tour introduction, and off we went on our 4-hour journey.
We biked through small and big streets, stopped every now and then at various points of interest. From century-old churches built by the colonists to the most luxurious hotel refurbished and decorated by world-famous designer, and from must-see buildings like Congreso to an unassuming little house on top of a building, we covered a lot of grounds. The very knowledgeable guide not only told us interesting stories behind every single place that we’ve visited, but also taught us how to distinguish features of different architectural styles, explaining why the buildings in Buenos Aires are not straight up typical French but a mix of different styles with their very own characteristics.
In the middle of the tour, we took a break at a plaza with empanadas and yerba mate (included in the tour btw!). We shared travel stories and chatted about everything Argentine. The whole tour was very leisurely paced. Since this particular tour only runs on Sundays, the Buenos Aires streets are practically empty, no one honks or pushes you while you stare at buildings.
For someone who is not particularly new to the city, I really had a blast getting to know Buenos Aires again and learning many things I didn’t know before, like now I know where the Argentina secret services building is! The Freemason conspiracy theory came up too when we talked about the founding of the city, may be Dan Brown should consider Buenos Aires for his next book.
For those who is looking for something to do on a Sunday afternoon, whether you’re visiting or already living in Buenos Aires, this Architecture bike tour will do no wrong, it is indeed both educational and recreational!