Friday, 21 February 2014

South American Adventure - Day Two - Friday 21st February 2014

An early morning call at 6.30am – Paul was so pleased.  It didn’t take long to get our things together and check out of the hotel.  Only seems like yesterday we arrived!!  No prebooked transfer on the way back, so the doorman hailed a yellow taxi from the street.  There are different colour taxis for difference parts of the city – yellow will take you out to the airport.  The sun was beating down this early in the morning – it was a beautiful day!  Sunglasses out, and we set off for the aiport.  And the driver was right from last night – the traffic is now going a different way to what it was when we arrived.  We passed most of the places again in daylight this morning – Christ was still keeping an eye on the city from his perch.  He has apparently now had his thumb glued back on after it fell off after being struck by lightening a few weeks ago.  The shanty towns didn’t look so bad in daylight – the driver last night had said you could get a tour round there.  I quite fancied that – but then I got “the look” from Paul who obviously didn’t.  That is another three and a bit weeks away – might have lost him by then!!  We got to the airport in half an hour – we were warned that it would take about an hour in rush hour traffic, but most of the traffic was going the other way.  We hardly got held up at all.  And the bill was under 60 Brazilian Reals – well under £20.  The check in was really slow – perhaps it had been a good move to get here early. 

The international airport is not exactly what I had envisioned.  It is very basic, and we struggled to get a coffee and something to eat.  Economy and no lounges all the way until our homeward flight – oh dear!  We bought what we thought were latte’s and muffin’s – neither being exactly that.  The coffee tasted as though it was made of condensed milk, and the muffins certainly were not muffins.  No idea what they were, but won’t be buying something that looks like that again!  One choice of coffee shop – take it or leave it.  The international airport certainly isn’t one that will be sticking in my mind as state of the art.

Paul decided to take a picture of our plane when we went to the gate – I thought it was a bit odd, the writing on the side looked very much like Alitalia.  We were flying Aerolineas Argentinas.  Nobody seemed to speak any English, but this was the gate that was on the departures board.  Then I noticed that the next flight down from ours was an Alitalia to Rome – don’t think we are going to be on that plane, but we have a nice picture of it!  The queue started moving, so like proper English folk we joined on the end – not really knowing where we were going.  We showed our boarding cards, but no-one really wanted to look.  Oh well – just have to see if anyone else is sitting in our seats, and then we will know that we are on the wrong flight!  No – our seats were empty so we must be on the right one.  I had booked a window and Paul an aisle – and luckily, even though the plane seemed packed, no-one sat in between us so we had plenty of room.  It wasn’t so bad – it could (and probably will be by the end of the trip) have been a whole lot worse.

The three hour trip to Buenes Aires went fairly quickly – and we actually had what looked like a ham and cheese roll, and it was a ham and cheese roll.  The international airport at Buenes Aires competes well with that in Rio.  We were off the plane quite quickly, and onto a bus for a twenty yard trip.  We were through passport control – the form here was only one per family, so as the head Paul filled it in (!) This one actually wanted the make, model and number of your mobile phone as well as the normal information.  When we got through the other side we realised we still had the form – not quite sure when and where that should have gone.  The carousel for the luggage here was something else.  It couldn’t have gone any slower if someone was winding it up from outside.  But, our bags duly arrived, and off we went to meet our prebooked transfer – or not.  No-one there with our name on a board.  We waited half an hour – called all the very useful local numbers and got a recorded message in Spanish on each one.  After scouting round for one last time, Paul changed some dollars into Argentinian Pesos and we headed out for a taxi.  Not a problem at all – apart from the driver didn’t speak much English and the luggage was piled on the front seat as there wasn’t much room in the boot.  I had the address of the hotel written down, and he put it into his sat nav – oh no, not another one that is still learning!  He dropped us off somewhere close to the hotel – he wasn’t sure where it was – and it turns out it was just across the road.  Near enough!  280 pesos later – around £30 – we were wheeling our cases up the ramp.  The doorman came running down to help – obviously doesn’t see “walk in’s” at the Plaza Hotel that often.

After successfully checking in, I asked the chap behind the desk to phone the transfer company to let them know we had arrived, and that they hadn’t!  The woman on the end of the phone insisted there had been someone there and we missed them.  She said she would get the rep to phone, which she dutifully did fifteen minutes later.  She then insisted she was there – although the times she arrived and left seemed to differ whenever she repeated them.  I knew she wasn’t there – and it was making me cross when she kept insisting she was.  In the end, I found out that she had been at the wrong airport – which she found quite funny, then suggested that the pilot must have decided to land at the wrong airport.  I know transport is renowned to be hit and miss in South America, including flights, but I can now put some of that down to stupidity.  Don’t these people look at the flight number and check it has landed and where??  I soon had enough of her, and hoped we wouldn’t bump into each other during our trip.  Idiot!!

That had got me hot under the collar, so there was nothing more for it but to relax by the pool and a campari or two.  Guaranteed to cool things down.  Let the holiday begin – albeit 24 hours late due to landing in a different country to start with.  Better late than never!  We didn’t venture too far for dinner – apparently the Plaza Bar is reputed to be among the best in Buenes Aires, and the Plaza Grill is reputed to be among the best in Buenes Aires – wonder whose propaganda I have been reading!  We did try them though, and although we have nothing to compare them with, they were very good.  Paul ordered a steak, and I have never seen one as big and thick as this one.  Even he couldn’t finish it! But it finished us – early night I think!

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