These breezy and sunny autumnal days have brought forth once again the beauty and possibility present within this cosmopolitan city. I often find myself doin’ a little dance through the streets, jumping vivaciously at commercial marquees, and singing horrendously out of tune along the protected bikeways. So much so, that running into a friend on the sidewalk, she laughed, “I was wondering who that crazy guy talking to himself was!”
My quirks aside, you never know what you’ll come across when opting for the frugal fanatic’s ferrocarril: walking and biking. And yes, you read that correctly, biking is free in Buenos Aires! I seem to have unknowingly fallen into the role of unofficial EcoBici ambassador. So I’ll give you the same pitch: for those planning on coming to Buenos Aires, EcoBici is the city’s free bike share. You sign up online, download their app, and please please use the Cómo Llego app if you need directions! It lays out and directs you along the marvelous protected bike lanes so you don’t become colectivo meat.
As for walking, the sidewalks are generally spacious and capable (caution: summer months come bundled with unwanted A/C water raining on your parade). One of my favorite exercises (pun intended) is walking from Point A to whatever Point B I need to be at, leaving far in advance of the ETA. For example: if I need to walk to FUC or UBA Ciensias Sociales, and I’m trying to find a specific book I want to read, I would give myself one or two hours more than needed to meander on into any librería I come across. It’s helpful when Google is not. That way you know your city better, get to talk to more people, and may just score a free bookmark, pastry, or potted plant!
It’s all part of my* general hierarchy of transportation: EcoBici>walking>SUBE>BA Taxi, and Uber (as a last resort). Biking and/or walking are also methods to guarantee you won’t fall into the quagmire that is your smartphone. Because, especially if you have never lived in a city before, or South America, adventure and surprise are all around! Just in general too, if you are scrolling through your phone to prevent boredom, whether it be on the subte or in line at Nicolo (highly recommend), you are denying yourself time to be pensive, be present. One of my best friends once told me something along the lines of, “it’s a privilege just to think; I mean much of the world is fixated on staying alive. And here we are, with time in our day to stand still and let our minds wander.” I hope you wander more, and scroll less.
In all my wandering thus far I have met some friendly faces I try to hold onto. More recent ones include Claudia the café lady who helped me do some bike-related research, María the elderly passerby who needed a hand recharging her SUBE card, and my top floor vecina Estela, who was at first concerned by my poking around via phone flashlight, but then warmly invited me in and let me explore the rooftop terrace.
Happy wandering 🙂
* It should be known that I am an able-bodied estadounidense white guy, thus my experience is fundamentally steeped in privilege. So, results may vary to my walk in the park (literally and metaphorically).