A day of Argentine history & Asado
“WE’RE HAVING AN ASADO DINNER TONIGHT, would you like to come?” said Maria, a Canadian tourist who was visiting Buenos Aires to spend time with her Argentine extending family. I griped the handles of my bike as we approached a turn on the cobble stone street, “Sure! What time?” I said. “Right after our tour ends!” Maria said eagerly.
We had met on the BA Bikes tour, a four-hour tour of Buenos Aires by bicycle. Both of us agreed that it was a fun and active way to learn more about the largest city in Argentina.
I had found BA Bikes online because of their raving TripAdvisor reviews. The tour promised to show us eight historical and cultural parts of Buenos Aires with a local guide. I was intrigued and curious about what the guide could teach us.
Our guide for the day was an energetic local with a passion for Buenos Aires. She gathered our group of 15 in a line and we took off.
First stop was Plaza Dorrego in San Telmo. Originally, San Telmo was the center of the city, however, as time went on Plaza de Congresso took the title. San Telmo’s cobblestone streets have special guests hidden throughout the colonial Spanish architecture. These visitors are Argentinian cartoon characters. As we biked, I witnessed several tourists searching throughout the area to take pictures with them all. We continued down the road, eventually taking a pause at Boca Jr. Stadium home to the Boca Juniors one of Argentina’s top soccer (futbol) teams.
Futbol is more of a religion than it is a sport in South America. Our guide made it clear that Argentina is no exception to this rule. We dismounted our bikes on the grassy park surrounding Boca Jr. Stadium. “During games, the stadium is split in two to prevent riots from fans” our guide said to the group. Maria eagerly agreed and pulled up a video from her phone. “I went to the game last Wednesday and they separated the fans of each team with a fence and armed guards.” She said as the video played. The scene was messy and full of fans screaming at each other from either side of the fence. “They didn’t let me bring anything into the stadium for fear that I would throw it and injure someone. I had to toss out $100 of Kylie Jenner makeup, but it was worth it to experience the game.” Maria said. The video went on as guards escorted angry fans from the losing team out of the stadium. With that, we jumped on our bikes and headed to El Caminito.
Colorfully painted streets came into view as we peddled away from Boca Jr. Stadium. Caminito is a street museum and a traditional alley, located in La Boca, a neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina. We parked our bikes along the red, green, blue and yellow brick walls. “This area was originally inhabited by poor immigrants. Since it’s Oceanside, the salty air would eat away at the buildings. Immigrants would go to the shipping docks and grab whichever color paint was left over from the ships to protect their homes. This led to multi-colored streets,” our guide said. Today the colorful buildings make La Boca one of the most memorable and touristic areas in Buenos Aires.
We continued the trip to other touristy areas throughout Buenos Aires. Eventually we ended at La Casa Rosada, where the President works. We parked our bikes and sat down on the grassy area in front of the building. Our guide told us stories about the government and how its past is a roller coaster of financial booms and gripping political soap operas. It was incredibly interesting and led to me attending the Evita Museum later that week to learn more about the politics of the city. As the stories came to a close, we picked ourselves up from the grass and headed to our bikes. Maria turned to me “Are you ready for dinner?”
Biking for four hours left me hungry for asado yet full of intriguing stories from Argentina’s history. Maria and I dropped off our bikes and walked away from BA Bikes headquarters. “I think we deserve a good meal after that exercise!” I said. Maria agreed and we headed into a local market, ready to immerse ourselves into a different Buenos Aires story, the tale of Argentina Asado; a meal with friends centered on juicy, grilled meats. We had become more Argentinean knowing its history and our asado filled future.
BA Bikes operates several unique tours every day of the week. Tours begin at $32 USD. For more information visit BABikes.com.ar.
I was a guest of BA Bikes, however, the opinions are my own.