because i’m doing the workation thing, i don’t have much time during the day to get out an explore Buenos Aires (luckily i was able to see most everything the last time i was here). i don’t remember how i found out about this nighttime bike tour (maybe TripAdvisor?) but i couldn’t pass up the chance to get out and see a pastiche of the city at night. also, i’m glad it was the only day so far it didn’t thunderstorm! i was the only one since the other two people who signed up never appeared (love it when you pay group pricing but end up with a private tour).
the tour costs 400 pesos or $55 – 10% discount for paying in USD = $50 (pay either in pesos or in dollars at the end of the tour). it starts at 8 and ends between 11 and 12 depending on pacing. you will want to pre-eat since there are no stops for food along the way, but they do supply you with a bottle of water, which you’ll definitely use.
the bike you get is made by a couple of guys in the north of Argentina — of bamboo(!) reinforced with epoxy and metal. you’ll note that it’s more mountain bike than cruiser, and that’s because some of the cobblestone streets feel more like an off-road trail!
!!! it’s not a bad bike, but note that it’s single-gear (there were definitely times when i wished i had gears!). i’m pretty out of shape, and by the end of the ride my legs were quite tired — and my bum sore. their site says the tour is easy-going, and i guess it could be — maybe my guide thought i was more athletic than i am :\. regarding weather, the tour will only be canceled in the event of a major storm. be prepared and double-check the cancellation policy if the forecast looks crummy.
from the starting (and ending) point in San Martin Square (at the 12 o’clock position on the map below), the tour goes clockwise and hits many major neighborhoods and sights, many of which i would never have thought to see at night. i don’t think we ever went into any particularly dangerous parts of town, and i never felt unsafe. also, i was worried that there would be nothing to see since it’d be…well, dark, but no. nighttime is a great time!
!!! the route includes lots of cobblestone roads, some slight inclines, and sharing lanes with cars. luckily last night (a Tuesday) had relatively light traffic, but some streets are fairly narrow and cab drivers can be assholes. just be alert and stay safe. you should be pretty proficient on a bike (able to ride at least off curbs, make tight turns, not be afraid if a car drives next to you, etc.) i’m sure, though, if you run into trouble or get tired, they’ll be more than happy to wait. p.s. your legs and butt will thank you when you get to the last half of the tour since it’s pretty much all asphalt, all the way.
because i was the only person on the tour, many times we would ride side-by-side and he’d be talking as we’re biking, which i think helped with the pacing since in a large group he’d have to stop and explain. it was only when we had to navigate traffic that i’d ride behind him.
my tour guide was Gonzalo (btw, tours are in English) and i don’t think i could have asked for anyone better: he was really enthusiastic and knowledgeable. in fact, the best part of the night wasn’t necessarily what i saw, but what i learned from him — you can tell he loves his history. there was so much i didn’t know that i didn’t know, although i knew was ignorant about lots of the history and geography of the city, of the country, and of the Rio de la Plata region. for example, i never thought about the name “Argentina”, Brazil vs. Argentina, the patrician society of centuries ago, the effects of Peronism, riots, the president’s helicopter, economic turmoil, gauchos, Simón Bolívar, José de San Martín, and so on. i learned so much about names, places, and dates in the history of the region as well as the socioeconomically-driven layout of the city because we covered a wide range of neighborhoods which to this day reflect the past. the education alone was worth the cost of the tour, IMHO.
!!! you may want to spray with mosquito repellent if you’re heading out in the summer months. being by the water in Puerto Madero and the greenery of the ecological reserve = bugs bugs bugs! it’s ok when you’re riding and when the wind is blowing, but when we stopped to talk, i swatted my arm and splattered a mosquito and the blood it sucked out all over my arm. lovely! luckily, the bites i did get don’t itch. [UPDATE: i lied. give it 24 hours and red bumps will appear and you’ll be itching like crazy. ugh. BE SMART AND SPRAY.]
yes, i’m still sore and very tired today, but it was definitely worth it. my main tip? ask to stop if you want to take more pictures. that’s my main regret!