Having arrived straight from the rustic streets of Cusco, the moment my hotel elevator in Buenos Aires speaks to me for the first time I am taken aback, to say the least. Feeling as though I am in a spaceship, the elevator takes me to floor 7 and wishes me a good day. Startled by the very smooth and womanly voice, I wheel my luggage down the corridor. Automated sensor lights along the walls systematically light up with every step I take. The hallway gets brighter and brighter as I move past to my room at the very end.
Impressed, I swipe my key pass and enter my room for the next few days. It’s a wide contrast to my rooms in Peru. Complete with two queen-sized beds, a kitchen, a bar, and a huge, all-glass bathroom, the room is incomparable to what I’ve spent the last week and a half experiencing in various Peruvian cities. This is not to say that I wasn’t accepting of the room conditions I encountered in Peru, i.e. no hot water, plumbing gone awry, zero circulation of heat, etc, (it’s all part of delving in another culture, after all!), but I was excited to immerse myself in the steamiest, hottest shower I’ve ever had. And with that, taking a shower was the first thing I did. Choosing not to be conscientious of preserving water for the first time in almost 2 weeks, I took my time and scrubbed every last inch of Cusco, the Inca Trail, and the Amazon Jungle off me.
In the evening I met up with my Chilean tour manager, Cristian, and the rest of my travel mates for the next few weeks. We spent the night having dinner downtown to try what Argentina is most known for in its culinary sense: red wine and beef. Once I was nice and full and my cheeks were like tingling cherries from the smooth wine, a few of us went to a popular bar called “Sugar.” It was tiny, but packed, and after a few drinks I decided to head back to the hotel with Greg from Boston to get some rest for the Buenos Aires biking tour we had in the morning.
I couldn’t feel cooler whizzing through the city of Buenos Aires on a bike made of bamboo! Plus, it was about 10 degrees Celsius and it felt much chillier while biking, so I borrowed Ganesh from Australia’s XXL windbreaker. Now I look like a puffy marshmallow . . . but as long as it keeps me warm! We started by biking to the waterfront of the biggest lake in Argentina to explore along the shore and then take a break from pedaling. At the time, I didn’t quite realize how dorky it looked to continue wearing my helmet as we explored. The photos sure let me know, though. Thankfully I have some photos of me here without my helmet on.
The bike ride turned out to be really peaceful and relaxing. I thought the bike tour was a cool way to get around the city because it was: a) fun, b) good exercise, and c) a learning experience too. As a refuge for many Europeans after the Second World War, the diversity of Buenos Aires is reflected in its people: a melting pot of Spanish, Italian, German, Slavic and Syrian descent.
I was surprised how much ground we covered considering how big the city of Buenos Aires. I loved the incredible bright colours on buildings and homes as we biked through the district of La Boca. Another highlight for me was seeing the Punte de la Mujer, which means “Woman’s Bridge” in Spanish. It’s a rotating swing bridge, but somewhat unusual in its asymmetrical arrangement. Our bike guide told us that its angled shape comes from the inspiration of the female tango dancer. It has a single mast with cables suspending a portion of the bridge which rotates 90 degrees in order to allow water traffic to pass. When it swings to allow watercraft passage, the far end comes to a resting point on a stabilizing pylon.