Photo: Juan Antonio Segal
An eye-opening pedalling expedition around Buenos Aires’ trendiest barrio, Palermo.
Photo: Andrew Milligan Sumo
Photo: Gobierno de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires
WHIZZING PAST the life-sized monument of the charismatic Italian general Giuseppe Garibaldi, the bicycle wobbled ever so marginally, as if in a hint of reverence. Not too far away, the bustling entrance to the Buenos Aires Zoo is visible.
A few blocks down southwest and the aroma is pleasingly apparent.
There is this certain disposition that somehow inexplicably rejuvenates and reinvigorates. Several cafes line the streets. The scene is effervescent. A lively affair. Even at a marked distance, not exactly in the thick of activity, the hurly-burly is palpable.
At the Palermo Soho, the dining tables are not constrained by the footpaths. Which makes it easier to notice the local preference. Apart from the usual cup of caffeinated concoction, spot the odd transparent glass of fallow-coloured beverage.
Submarino. The Argentinian take on hot chocolate.
Or a cute light-crusted pastry that looks delectably delicious.
Medialunas. Homemade, hometown croissants.
Mental notes taken: will be back for a sweet treat. The journey continues, for now.
A splash of kaleidoscopic hues awaits.
On the walls, on the doors. Pastel graphics. Monochromatic commentaries. You name it.
Where graffiti is legal, at the building owner’s permission, the innate artistry runs wild and free. Around the Soho, Palermo Vieijo and Villa Crespo, this is street art, at its finest.
On two wheels, the displays are engaging, appealing and a satisfying breath of fresh air.
Stop, stare and ponder, though, and there is a chance a profound understanding transpires.
Ten minutes away, and nature’s greeting is affable. The Parque Centenario takes a bemusing shape; pedal around the park’s perimeter, and you will realise you have travelled a circumference. In the centre sits a lovely pond. The Swan Lake, they call it.
Oh, the greenery is exquisite, all right. But the interest lies in not the trees, the leaves nor the bushes.
A rowdy and rambunctious bunch of boys decked out in a blue and yellow football kit stroll past. Their gait; fervent and cavalier with an air of thinly-veiled arrogance.
Boca Juniors fans. Supporters of one of the country’s most celebrated football clubs, where world-class stars Diego Maradona and Juan Riquelme once plied their trade.
And a microcosm of the ardent Argentinian passion for the Beautiful Game. On game days, the hinchas turn up in style and in numbers, and for a good ninety minutes, the city is divided by fierce loyalty.
Not today though. The Superclásico – still a week away.
Sitting on picnic mats, a couple of porteños sport a book in their hands. Not just holding it, but keenly focusing on the scroll’s contents.
In this day and age, what a curious sight.
But in a city with the highest number of bookshops per inhabitants in 2015, and where one of the world’s most enchanting bookstores resides, perhaps, it is not supposed to be that much amusing.
Shame on us. Shame on the rest of the world, for forgoing one of mankind’s earliest indulgences and knowledge pursuits.
Approaching the city bike station, a second hand bookshop on the park’s periphery comes into view. Maybe it is time to once again, pick up a good old book.
Did You Know?
With over 130 km of connected bike lanes, the Argentinian capital is a cyclist’s paradise. The city government has even implemented their very own bike sharing scheme dubbed EcoBici.
Photo: Matias Garabedian