Sunday, November 12, 2017

Getting into the green in Buenos Aires

The Palermo neighbourhood that’s become my Buenos Aires, Argentina stomping grounds has an excellent tree canopy on most of its streets, providing attractive greenery, shade and a positive environmental impact that adds to the pleasure of wandering around whether you have a destination in mind or not.

You’ll also find several small parks with more green space, benches for people to sit and chat, playground equipment for kids and, at a few of them — like at Plaza Immigrantes de Armenia — a carousel for the young ones.

The Plaza Immigrantes de Armenia carousel.
There’s a much more extensive park system closer to Rio de la Plata, however, and I took advantage of a beautiful Friday afternoon to take a long walk through a large segment of it, beginning near Plaza Italia and moving north from Avenida Santa Fe.

I took in the 17-acre Botanical Garden, which is home to approximately 5,500 species of plants, trees and shrubs from around the world, as well as a number of sculptures, monuments, greenhouses and a beautiful building housing the Municipal Gardening School. I also walked through the nearby Parquet Las Heras and Plaza Sobral.

The 44-acre Buenos Aires Zoo, which housed more than 2,500 animals, was closed down last year amidst complaints of cruel treatment of its 89 species of mammals, 49 species of reptiles and 175 species of birds. It’s supposed to be turned into an ecopark, but it’s still locked up tight and it doesn't look like there's a lot of work happening there. Walking along its perimeter, you can occasionally see inside through fences and I spotted what looked like a young capybara wandering around on its own. I didn’t spot any other signs of life, but some of the buildings looked intriguing.

Galileo Galilei planetarium
One of the observation towers around the planetarium.
Renzo Baldi and Héctor Rocha's monument to General Justo José de Urquiza.
Continuing northward on Agenda Sarmiento past Avenida Del Liberator towards the water and the city’s domestic airport, Aeroparque Jorge Newberry, I came upon several more interconnected parks and gardens as part of the 989-acre Parque Tres de Febrero that's more than 140 years old. 

You’ll find the Galileo Galilei planetarium, commonly known as Planetario, as well as several statues — some of monumental size — in this area. There were also four observation towers, covered in astroturf, surrounding the planetarium for reasons unknown to me.

While roads run through this park system, on this day at least there were more walkers, runners, rollerbladers and bicyclists using them than cars, which was a nice respite from the busy streets not far away. You’ll also find lots of water, and can even rent paddleboats to leisurely take in some of the sights and get up close and personal with the abundance of waterfowl in the area.

Moving further west, I encountered the lovely rose gardens of Rosedal and the ornate Eduardo Sivori Museum, where I checked out the lobby but didn’t pay the entry fee to see more.

Eduardo Sivori Museum
For the sportsmen (and women), there was: a horse-racing track; the polo grounds where the Argentine Open (the fifth-oldest competition in the world and one of the most important international championships) begins later this month; a golf course; and a tennis club. I even stumbled upon the Buenos Aires Padel Master, a tournament stop on the world paddle tennis circuit (which I had no idea existed), that attracted thousands of fans to La Rural, Predio Ferial. I watched an outside practice court and bought a super poncho (that's what they call hot dogs here) with mustard, ketchup, bacon and potato sticks, but didn't pay to get inside to see the main event.

There were also several less official games of pick-up soccer and Frisbee taking place in some of the open grass areas.

The Puerto Madero area of Buenos Aires also has a very large park that I’ll check out before my time in the city runs out on Dec. 2, and I’m sure I’ll continue to keep discovering smaller green spaces throughout the city as I walk around it and get to know it better.


daveed flexer said...

Hey steve,
Had no idea that there were such amazing parks in Buenos Aires, must put this on my list of places to travel too (albeit that list gettign longer and.... never mind)

When I was in London, walked with my brother in what used to be the Rothchild estate, that has been going through an intensive renovation project. It is shaping to be one of the most incredible walks in London. However, according to my brother, they seem to have cultivated some of the more wild areas.

How is the steak?


Steve McLean said...

Hi Dave.
The steaks have been great. There's a large grill at my apartment and we're going to try it out tonight in advance of hosting a parilla party next week.
I hope all is well with you.