Tag Archives: ultimate

AUDL Levies $20,000 In Fines On Constitution

Hi: This story and a lot more can now be found at Ultiworld, my new Ultimate disc news website. Please stop by and check out the digs. Thanks.

The Connecticut Constitution announced this morning in a newsletter that they have been informed by the American Ultimate Disc League that they must pay $10,000 for each game they missed during their suspension. The penalties are due to the two teams affected — Kentucky and Indianapolis.

Bryan Ricci, the owner of the Constitution, told Ultiworld that the league said the team could resume play once they “sign promissory notes for $10,000” to both KY and IN. “There’s no way I’m going to pay $20,000 to anyone,” added Ricci, calling the fines “severe and excessive.”

The announcement, which has not been made official by the league, further exacerbates the tension between the two parties, who are fighting a legal battle.

The odds of a settlement seem to be decreasing. Ricci said that the team’s lawyers have not heard from league lawyers since last Friday. The team has until Tuesday to officially respond to the courts about the lawsuit.

Speaking about a scenario in which the two parties go to trial, Ricci said, “The odds are in our favor. The question is, how much do we spend to make it get there?”

The remainder of the Constitution’s season — and their playoff berth — are in jeopardy. If Ricci refuses to pay the fine and the league stands firm, the Constitution will not play again.

The Constitution will still hold an event this weekend, but their scheduled game against the Detroit Mechanix is cancelled. The league has not responded to requests for comment.

Disclosure: My friend and college roommate Husayn Carnegie plays for the Constitution.

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This coverage is a product of Ultiworld, a new Ultimate disc news website that will be launching soon. More details will follow, but for now, please feel free to email me (ceisenhood@gmail.com) with tips, questions, comments, or rants. Andfollow me on Twitter.

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AUDL Boston Franchise Purchased By League Official And Detroit Owner After Controversial Vote

Brent Steepe

Hi: This story and a lot more can now be found at Ultiworld, my new Ultimate disc news website. Please stop by and check out the digs. Thanks.

New information about the American Ultimate Disc League’s Boston franchise – set to open next year – adds an additional wrinkle to the current legal dispute between the league and the Connecticut Constitution/Rhode Island Rampage.

The Boston territory is one (along with New York) that is being challenged by the CT and RI teams under their Territory Licensing Agreement barring new franchises within 100 miles of their own. The disagreement led to the League filing suit against those franchises.

Multiple team sources said that Boston has been sold to Brent Steepe, the owner of the Detroit Mechanix franchise as well as the Vice President of Marketing for the AUDL.

What has other teams fuming is how that came to pass.

In March, Josh Moore, the President of the AUDL, raised a team vote on the issue of whether or not to allow owners to have financial interests in multiple teams. “That vote ended up in a 4-4 tie with Mr. Steepe voting to approve,” said Bryan Ricci, Owner of the Connecticut Constitution. “The tiebreaker [in favor] was submitted by the President.” Other team sources confirmed this account.

However, Moore had provisionally sold the Boston territory to Steepe months before, sources said. That was never explained to the teams prior to the vote. “Steepe should not have even voted and the league should have made us all aware that the territory was already sold,” said Ricci.

The bylaws of the League do not require voting members to recuse themselves in situations where they may have a conflict of interest.

Steepe’s dual role as a league official and team owner – particularly of the Boston franchise – complicates the legal situation. Boston has a strong Ultimate community and is an obvious location for expansion. Now the league not only has an interest in ensuring Boston becomes a franchise to improve the league itself but has also a long-term financial incentive through Steepe’s ownership.

Steepe has not responded to multiple requests for comment.

Photo via Detroit Mechanix.

Disclosure: My friend and college roommate Husayn Carnegie plays for the Constitution.

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This coverage is a product of Ultiworld, a new Ultimate disc news website that will be launching soon. More details will follow, but for now, please feel free to email me (ceisenhood@gmail.com) with tips, questions, comments, or rants. And follow me on Twitter.

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Connecticut Constitution Resume Operations, Optimistic About Legal Settlement

Hi: This story and a lot more can now be found at Ultiworld, my new Ultimate disc news website. Please stop by and check out the digs. Thanks.

UPDATE: The league has cancelled this weekend’s matchup between the Connecticut Constitution and the Detroit Mechanix. Details to follow.

Earlier today, the Connecticut Constitution resumed operations after nearly a week off the field after being sued by the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL). The team, a franchise of the AUDL, said in a statement that they will “continue to negotiate with the league on several outstanding issues,” but are resuming play in “good faith” that a compromise will be reached.

John Korber, the General Manager and Coach of the team, said that “there was a lot of dialogue between the owners and the league in the last couple of days” that led up to a decision to resume play. “None of the owners wants to be an obstacle that leads to the missing of games,” he added. “We want to make it clear that we’re trying to get games played.”

It is unclear whether progress has been made towards resolving the legal dispute, which is being discussed in private emails between team and league lawyers. Korber expressed optimism that there would be a settlement at some point, but had no time frame in mind.

The team said in an earlier statement that the cost of fighting the lawsuit “depleted [their] operational funds.”

The President of the AUDL, Josh Moore, suggested in an interview that the Constitution will need to rectify the “financial harm on both [Indianapolis] and Kentucky.” Korber said that earlier this week the league said “there would be fines due by teams that forfeit,” but has allowed the teams to self-determine appropriate penalties. The league has not spoken further on the situation and has not responded to a request for comment.

The Constitution (9-5) is set to face the Detroit Mechanix (6-8) on Saturday in New Bristol.

Disclosure: My friend and college roommate Husayn Carnegie plays for the Constitution.

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This coverage is a product of Ultiworld, a new Ultimate disc news website that will be launching soon. More details will follow, but for now, please feel free to email me (ceisenhood@gmail.com) with tips, questions, comments, or rants. And follow me on Twitter.

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Pro Ultimate Disc League Faces Criticism After Suing Its Own Team

Hi: This story and a lot more can now be found at Ultiworld, my new Ultimate disc news website. Please stop by and check out the digs. Thanks.

UPDATE: The Constitution have resumed operations. The team said in a statement that they will “continue to negotiate with the league on several outstanding issues.”

UPDATE II: Some further details about the Constitution resuming play.

UPDATE III (7/12): The league has cancelled this weekend’s matchup between the Connecticut Constitution and the Detroit Mechanix. Details to follow.

In its first year as a professional sports league, the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) is suddenly facing a crisis. Last Thursday, one of the league’s eight teams – the Connecticut Constitution – abruptly suspended their operations freshly off clinching a playoff berth, after the AUDL sued the team for blocking the sale of a New York City franchise for the upcoming season. While the situation is embarrassing for the young League, the real issues at stake actually run much deeper. What appears to be just a contractual dispute is rooted in dissatisfaction about the league management that raises questions about the long-term viability of the AUDL’s current structure.

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The path to this lawsuit began in May, when the AUDL front office informed team owners about confirmed new franchises for next year’s season. Among those announced were New York and Boston, two ultimate hotbeds on the east coast and obvious locations for franchises. However, the Connecticut and Rhode Island franchises, pointing to a small clause in their contract with the League, cried foul. That clause, the Territory License Agreement (TLA), says that no new franchises can be started within 100 miles of their own. New York and Boston both fall within the teams’ respective radii.

The two sides began discussions, but didn’t get far. “We tried to get resolve and in our frustration threatened to get lawyers,” said Bryan Ricci, the owner of the Constitution. “So to protect their interests [the AUDL] filed a suit.”

That suit, according to Josh Moore, the President of the AUDL, is “to request judgment as to their radius being enforceable given that they had agreed to the teams previously.” The AUDL stressed in their press release that the owners had verbally consented to New York and Boston franchises in the past. Ricci, who called the lawsuit a “Mickey Mouse move,” disputes that, saying that “we talked generally about where we want locations – there were a lot of conversations.”

However, the terms of the contract are not in dispute. The AUDL included in their initial press release that “[the owners’] purchase agreements do indicate that no new teams, beyond what we agreed to at the start, may be placed within a 100 mile radius,” which they later deleted without explanation.

“The AUDL is absolutely wrong, it’s clear cut,” said Thom Held, the owner of the Indianapolis Alleycats franchise. “There is absolutely no legal room on this.”

Moore responded to questions with a short statement: “We’ve made sure this issue will not be repeated with any of our other territories or expansion plans. Our owners can agree to teams within their territory, which is what Connecticut had previously done and agreed to before they later changed their mind.”

This argument – even if the League produced evidence of Ricci making a verbal agreement to allow a New York team – would be difficult to defend in court. In contract cases, verbal testimony generally cannot be used to contradict the explicit terms of a signed contract. That is, even if Ricci consented to a New York team – which he says he never did – before signing the contract, that would be inadmissible in court in most cases.

However, the owners could still agree to allow the new franchises. But Ricci sees the territory as his to develop as he sees fit. “It’s never been a contention that New York and Boston are bad places to be, maybe we should be there,” he said. “But it’s my territory and I chose to start in Connecticut.” He noted that forty percent of his players come from the New York metro area and added that no major sports league has a Connecticut team with a New York team next door.

Ricci is willing to settle if he gets everything – the lawsuit withdrawn, the new franchises dropped, and the AUDL reimbursing him for legal fees. But he cautiously suggests that he is open to negotiation: “I think I have something valuable and if they want to keep one or both of [the new franchises], they have to compensate me for them.”

That kind of arrangement would not be unprecedented. Though the League would not confirm this, Ricci and other sources say that the Philadelphia Spinners franchise was compensated for both the New Jersey and New York expansions (which fall in their radius). Surprisingly, that agreement, negotiated between Philly and the league, was allegedly made after Connecticut and Rhode Island raised the issue of the territory infringement, but prior to the lawsuit. That, if true, would explain some of the anger directed at the league by Ricci and the Constitution. [Philadelphia has yet to respond to requests for comment].

In an online message board for Ultimate players, one commenter suggested that the dispute is in some ways encouraging, since both sides are “willing to pony up and go to bat to defend their side.” Similarly, John Korber, the General Manager and Coach of the Constitution, said that it has become clear that “spectator ultimate is not an impossibility. People who know nothing about Ultimate are willing to pay five, ten, or fifteen dollars to watch it.” Average attendance at Constitution home games has been around 500; Philly and Indianapolis get even more.

But in many ways the current situation is lose-lose. Although the financial details aren’t clear, it’s hard to imagine either side wants (or can afford) a drawn out court battle. Korber expects the league to settle and says that the current dispute “is not a commentary on spectator ultimate, it’s a commentary on how the AUDL is run.”

The ongoing situation does not help matters. The Constitution’s decision to suspend operations has already caused lost revenue and the cancellation of some games, including a charity event in Indianapolis. Moore said in an interview yesterday that “[the Constitution’s] decision not to play puts financial harm on both Indy and Kentucky that needs to be rectified before they can rejoin the league.” However, Held – Indy’s owner – puts the blame on the League’s front office, even calling Moore’s choice to file suit “the worst decision of his life.”

It is strange to see a professional sports league suing one of its own teams. Most leagues are structured with the team owners or a Board of Directors electing a President or Commissioner to handle front office issues like rules, league expansion, etc. In the AUDL, prospective franchise owners pay the League for the right to play in it, but little else. There have been frequent complaints from players and owners about issues including marketing, sponsorship, profit sharing, insurance, and rule enforcement – the day-to-day operational issues that confront the teams, all of which face tight budgets.

Korber says that AUDL isn’t thinking about that. The League’s incentive, he claims, is to sell more franchises and not to deal with “policies that increase the value of the current teams.” Of course, the owners want to increase the value of their team. “The realities of those incentives have created a completely disjointed operation,” said Korber. He went further, suggesting that you could “effectively see the League as a Ponzi scheme” that sells franchises but does not worry about creating a sustainable league.

Because of this, Korber expects to see a very different League as early as next year. He thinks the current eight owners will either buy out Moore, find a way to put some elective board into place along the lines of Major League Baseball or the National Hockey League, or leave the League and form their own.

What complicates everything is that the AUDL has already sold eight new franchises for next season and twelve for the year after. But two of those, and two of Ultimate’s biggest markets, New York and Boston, aren’t in any way a sure thing.

In an ideal world, this lawsuit offers an opportunity for the owners and the League to discuss how to move forward. There is no question that some of the teams have already begun to build strong brands and fan bases – it seems foolish to jeopardize that. The real issue right now? In the words of Ricci, “It’s not about Ultimate, [and] that’s what we’d like it to be about.” On that, everyone agrees.

Disclosure: My friend and college roommate Husayn Carnegie plays for the Constitution.

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This article is the first effort of Ultiworld, a new Ultimate disc news organization that will be launching soon. More details will follow, but for now, please feel free to email me (ceisenhood@gmail.com) with tips, questions, comments, or rants. And follow me on Twitter.

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Purple Haze 2011: A Retrospective

I first started playing Ultimate when I was in 10th grade. My friends and I — long fans of throwing around an Aerobie — started up impromptu pickup games on my high school’s quad. Most of us couldn’t throw a forehand and there was nearly no offensive strategy, but we had a lot of fun.

That summer, a bunch of us decided to organize a team to play at Albuquerque’s (now-defunct) annual tournament, Ultimeet. We, of course, got crushed, though our speed and athleticism did cause some problems for the older pickup teams. I remember I threw an awesome backhand for a score but a scandalously late travel call brought it back. (If you see this, Robin, just know that it definitely wasn’t a travel).

The Ultimate bug had bitten me. I started playing with a church league (they were terrible, but it was fun) and the following school year — realizing that I hated running track — started an official team. I have lots of amazing memories playing with that squad; we even went to Western Nationals in our first year as a team (we lost every game).

I played more and more pickup with the Albuquerque/Santa Fe crew and actually began to understand the game a little better. I couldn’t wait to play in college. Not long after I decided on NYU, I sent this (embarrassing) email to Alex Kuo, a former captain:

Hey Alex,

I dont know if you are even at NYU any longer, the Purple Haze website is a bit out of date. I’m an incoming freshman and I’ve been playing for 2 and a half years now. Just wanted to let the team know that I’m coming out and I was wondering if there are any fall practices or city leagues or anything.

Thanks!

–Charlie Eisenhood AKA Pigeon (cause I sky the shit out of everyone)

Albuquerque, NM

“Cause I sky the shit out of everyone.” When you’re in high school, you really think you’re a boss. I was quickly put into my place (though I still wear my Pigeon hat).

Despite realizing I was not the superstar anymore, I did want to be the best freshman. I used to like to match up on Lu Wang at practice; he frequently owned me. Thing is, we had a lot of talented freshmen. Lu stood out that year, but I think we had one of the best recruiting years a college team could ask for.

Early that year, I befriended Husayn, who lived on my floor in Brittany. I found out he had been a sick soccer player, but came to NYU because he wanted a good education, not a D1 soccer scholarship. I got him to come out to Haze practice. He promptly fucked up his ankle going up for a disc against Ryan Schulz, the reigning deep threat and all-around badass. Somehow — even though he was out for basically the entire season — he came to enough practices and stayed committed. We used to throw in the narrow Brittany hallway for hours talking about Ultimate and smashing the disc into light fixtures, peoples’ heads, and doorways.

I taught Husayn a lot of what I knew about the sport at the time — he, being a natural athlete, picked it up quickly. I also told him a million times, “Hus, when we’re seniors, we’re going to be so good.”

Freshman season was kind of a bust. There were some really personality issues (I won’t be specific) and a lack of focus that led to a fairly unpleasant year for many of us.

Over the summer, I was lucky enough to get a spot on the Albuquerque club team, Sweet Roll, where my real Ultimate education began. I learned to play defense. I learned about subtle strategy. I just became a much smarter player thanks to some really gifted captains and generous playing time.

Sophomore year Haze was a different beast altogether. Under the leadership of Pete Gilchrist, we actually became committed to improving. We ran — a lot — and were easily the most conditioned team in our section. Unfortunately, I think an overemphasis on conditioning limited our disc work and, despite coming in as the one seed, we missed our chance at Haze’s first appearance at Regionals.

I had another summer in Albuquerque playing for Sweet Roll. Lots more personal growth. I started to get hungry for a chance to lead Purple Haze. But I left the country for a year as I studied abroad in Argentina.

Second semester in Buenos Aires, Eli and I spent a lot of time talking about Ultimate. We played together in a small BA league and met some great people, but, honestly, our focus was on Haze. We bugged Quinton for recaps of tournaments and sat glued to our computer screens updating Score Reporter during Sectionals. We were both thrilled and saddened when the team snagged the second bid to Regionals — ecstatic for the team, bummed we couldn’t be a part of it. But it just hardened our resolve to come back to NYC and tear it up as seniors.

I spent the summer in DC playing for an awesome group of guys on Medicine Men. I actually learned how to play defense (thanks Bill). After finding out I would be captain with Hus, I started to take notes from my club experience about things I wanted to do with Haze.

I came back to New York absolutely chomping at the bit for the college season. Husayn and I planned extensively about the season — from Club Fest recruitment to our preferred tournament schedule to our goal setting. It was difficult, at first, coming into a team where I didn’t know many of the younger players. I had to work hard to get to know them, while trying not to be too much of a dick at practice. But that core of seniors was there, ready to put in work.

It was quite a process, trying to keep the right tone during Fall season so as not to scare off the new guys while simultaneously instilling a sense of what it means to play for Haze. We really focused on teaching strategy early so we wouldn’t have to do it during Spring.

Husayn and I left for Winter Break, telling everyone to really get in shape. Not that many people followed the instructions; the workout spreadsheet was pretty thin. But Hus and I put in serious hours at the gym and came back to send a statement — we are putting 100% of our focus on this next four months. When we sat down in the rock climbing area at Coles to talk about our goals, the energy was palpable.

But when we said, “We are trying to go to Nationals,” I don’t know that everyone bought in. And we knew that they might not. But we put our heads down and ran up the three flights of stairs, jogged back down, and ran up again. We believed it — we knew we could get there.

The road towards the Series was bumpy. There were times of great doubt. In the middle of the season, before we had made some major changes to our O line, everything felt out of sync. A few of us sat down one night and realized it was ‘go big or go home.’ We could either refocus and buckle down — which required making some big adjustments and setting aside egos — or we could sort of give up.

We decided to refocus. Spring Break was — amazingly — a huge step forward for the squad. We took apart what we thought would work and started going with what was actually working. The lines were quite different. Some people changed roles completely. But, suddenly, we felt like we were on the right path.

It’s really something to devote yourself wholly to one task. I can honestly say I’ve never put in the kind of time, energy, and focus into one activity before in my life. As we kept running stairs and trekking out to East River Park or Prospect, I think the team started to recognize that, wow, we can do this. We ran more. We got better. I took something VP told me at Spring Break — “we play harder” — and never forgot it.

Ultimately, we fell short of our goal. But what we built was a team that was unbelievably selfless and committed to winning as a unit, as brothers, not as individuals. There were no egos. Every single member of the squad put their hearts into the team as we fought through the Series, winning ten games straight and only faltering at the very end in a 14-11 loss to Cornell.

I’ve played for a lot of teams in my life, but I’ve never played for a team like Haze 2010-2011. It was a team years in the making — it wouldn’t exist without Zach, Schultz, QMa, Pete, Lu, and others. That crop of ’07 freshmen grew together and brought others seamlessly into the fold to create one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Yes, it stings that it’s over. Yes, I wish we had accomplished our goal. But it goes beyond that.

Ultimate is just a game, of course, but the friendships it builds and the lessons it teaches — on and off the field — aren’t fleeting. It means a lot to me to see our freshmen and sophomores already hungry for next season, hungry to play with each other and work towards a goal together.

I said it to Husayn a million times, “Hus, when we’re seniors, we’re going to be so good.” And we were. And we will be next year. And the year after that. Sure, this crop of seniors is graduating, but, with Haze, it’s always ‘we,’ win or lose.

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Thank you with all my heart to each and every one of you for an incredible season. You are all my brothers. Haze <3.

(I wrote this in one take and didn’t go back to edit. Apologies for any typos.)

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Córdoba

OK, so I feel a little guilty after having not blogged in over a month. I’ve been working on some heavy stuff for a big exposé on NYU Local next week and haven’t been thinking much about the personal blagging. Anyway, I’m still alive and I have some great photos from my 1st big trip outside of Buenos Aires to Córdoba.

Córdoba is the 2nd biggest city in the country, located about 10 hours away from Bs As by bus. In October, the Ultimate community there organized a tournament, giving me an optimal excuse (not that I needed one) to travel.

It was an amazing weekend. Although the fields we played on may have been the worst I’ve ever seen (yes, worse than Tucson – they were pure dirt), everyone played hard and enjoyed the heat (it was still cold in Bs As).

There were, I believe, 7 different countries represented at the tournament, but my team ended up being mostly Americans :/ But it’s cool because we won. And then we forced everyone to pay us reparations. Imperialism FTW!

The best part of Ulti tourneys, though, is hanging out after the games (especially at casual tournaments like this one). Everybody came together and kicked it at our hostel on Sunday night. Josh fired up the parrilla and grilled up the most choris I’ve ever seen in one place at one time. So much chori.

I met a lot of new people (particularly rival players in the Bs As league) and generally had a superb weekend. It included delicious breakfasts, my first experience with costillas (beef ribs seasoned only with salt – DELICIOUS), and Argentina’s version of Oktoberfest (not too impressive). I also did a lot of sitting. Those of you that know me will understand that sitting is one of my favorite activities.

For more pictures, go here. Coming up soon: my EPIC spring break.

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Small World

friz mapThe map above shows the path I took yesterday, on bike, from my apartment (A) to a pickup Ultimate game (B). It should help give a sense of scale to the following comments.

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On Saturday, I made my first ~10 mile round trip to the weekly Bs As Ultimate frisbee pickup game. As I mentioned yesterday, Ultimate — and even discs themselves — are not particularly well known here. It is highly unusual that, in a city (and suburbs) of almost 13 million people, there is only one pickup game each week. There are far more than I can count in NYC.

The game was well attended, however, by a good mix of ex-pats, locals, students, and other South Americans living in the city. Everyone was very friendly – I met one of the main organizers who got me all set up to play with Disco Sur, Bs As’ oldest team. A spring league starts next weekend – I got here at just the right time.

In yet another sign of the small, small world that we live in, I met two people from Albuquerque at the game; we chatted it up about craving green chile and breakfast burritos. Unprompted, one even quoted Monroe’s: “a day without chile is like a day without sunshine,” he said. I laughed. (It’s true).monroesname2

I had my first choripán – chorizo sandwich – with a bunch of the players after the game. Nom nom nom.

IMG_0378Although the friz was fun, I think the most enjoyable part of the day was the trip itself. I was totally unprepared for the awesome new areas I came across. On my relatively short ride, I saw a huge park; an equestrian training center complete with a jump course; a lake filled with boaters and lined with fishermen; literally dozens of fútbol matches; and the River Plate stadium. River Plate is one of the hugely popular club fútbol teams in the city – they have a deep rivalry with Boca Juniors, the most popular team in the city. The passion and intensity of the match-up prompted Coca-Cola to change its logo’s colors to black and white on Boca’s stadium (River plays in red and white) – one of the only such changes in the world.

But I digress. I realized while I was riding through the park that Buenos Aires just stomps all over New York in terms of park area. You can hardly go ten blocks without stumbling upon a big, grass-filled park. In NY, there are lots of little mini-parks or squares, but Bs As hosts big parks all over the city. Big enough for boating and fishing. Damn.IMG_0377

I find something very soothing about sitting in an urban park, looking out across the water, grass, and trees to see skyscrapers shooting sun into your eyes in the background. It is like a little oasis of forest in a cement desert. But, as opposed to many forests, which can be isolating, urban forests are usually pulsing with energy. You get the big city experience in the calm of nature.

IMG_0381And Buenos Aires delivers. Even on a short little bike ride, you’ll likely enjoy not only bustling barrios and shifting architectural styles, but also quiet parks and “green” zoning.

Have I really only been here a week?

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