A Travellerspoint blog

December 2017

Ushuaia - Argentina

Thursday, 21 December 2017

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Up at 05:00 for an 06:00 transfer to the airport for our flight to Ushuaia. I was amazed at how busy the roads were even at that early hour. We were dropped off at the Domestic airport and were confronted by a host of confusing signs - all in Spanish. Despite the apparent chaos we were quickly checked in and cleared the Security Check.

The flight was uneventful and we arrived at our destination right on schedule but were held for almost 30 minutes awaiting a vacant Gate. Appears to be a common occurrence - too many aircraft too few loading gates. Collected our luggage and found the G-Adventures representative who collected a number of us and escorted us to the bus. She provided a quick briefing as we were driven a short drive into town and were checked into the Albatross Hotel. We each received a package containing additional information including details of the boarding process for tomorrow.

Dragged our gear to our room and set out to buy some last minute essentials. We'd missed out on breakfast and it was almost 16:00 so we were both looking for something to eat. There were few restaurants open at this time, too late for lunch and too early for diner. We found one that was serving food and were confronted by a menu of strange dishes. We ordered something that we thought would be familiar, but turned out to be quite different. At times like that we would have gladly eaten at McDonald'. At least you'd know what you'd get served up.

This is the last opportunity to post this blog and images to 365, tomorrow we board the ship. Will look into an Internet package aboard the ship with no guarantees of speed or coverage.

Till next time

Stay healthy and safe.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 13:23 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Estancia El Ombu de Areco

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

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Beautiful weather and after an extensive breakfast we are picked up for a guided tour to San Antonio de Areco a small gaucho town North West from Buenos Aires. On arrival we strolled across the central park and visited the historic church established in 1730. The outstanding feature of the area is the endless flat pampas in all directions.

Back on our bus for a short trip to the Estancia El Ombu de Areco where we are greeted by the staff and invited to enjoy a beverage of our choice and freshly fried empanadas. After a stroll through the gardens we wandered down to the stables where we were invited to mount for a short ride. I decided to opt for the sulky ride rather than risk total embarrassment or broken bones,

We assembled on the verandah for lunch, again with copious refreshments. We were plied with a vast array of BBQ meats. Sausages, chicken, beef and ribs. Anything that was not to our liking was quickly devoured by one of the dogs that lurked under the table. The food just kept on coming and there was no sense of urgency. Icecream and coffee was served as we formed a circle to watch some traditional gaucho dances. Some of the more daring joined in after a basic dance was demonstrated. The highlight was the son of one of the gaucho couples all of two years old and fully decked out in the appropriate outfit.

To finish off the day we were invited onto the lawn where one of the gauchos demonstrated the close bond between him and a newly trained horse. Using his bare hands and a gentle voice he caressed the animal and slowly lowered it onto its side. He coaxed the horse into more and more unusual positions, at one stage the horse was flat on its back with all four legs pointing in the air. Had I not seen it, I would not have believed it.

Back on the bus for the long drive back to our hotels. We were back here just after 19:00 bringing this 10 hour outing to a close. An amazing day.
Tomorrow we are on the move again, a 06:00 pick-up for the transfer to the domestic airport and three hour flight to Ushuaia.

Stay healthy and safe.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 16:24 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)

Arrival in Buenos Aires

Tuesday, 19 December 2017 - Repeated

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After a restful night in the hotel we went down for breakfast. Checked with the front desk regarding the status of our flight to Buenos Aires. We were advised that it is scheduled for a 20:15 departure. The airline has approved a late check-out until 12:00. Spent some time catching up on Emails and checked out at 11:30. Shuttle bus to the airport and sat around until the departure gate was announced. For some strange reason the flight was still dated the day it was due to fly. Very strange.

Spent the last of the Kiwi currency we had in the wallet and moved to Gate 5 for an expected departure of 20:15. An aircraft parked at the gate and passengers disembarked, Flight crew for our flight arrived and sat waiting for them to go aboard and prepare for our embarkation. At 19:45 someone discovered that the cleaners had not been scheduled to clean the aircraft. A flurry of staff arrived and the announcement was made that there would be a 50 minute delay to the departure.

The flight left at about 21:00 NZ time and arrived in Buenos Aires about 17:20 Argentine time. After crossing the International Date Line we have now landed before we took off and have had a double day. As a result of yesterday's strike there are planes and people everywhere. There are no vacant gates and we are held for about 20 minutes. There were long queues at passport control, long delays at baggage collection and wall to wall people in the arrivals hall. Didn’t have much faith that the driver with name card would be there. Oh !! What a relief, he was there and drove us to the hotel through dense traffic.

Hotel is very classy and the area looks to be clean and “safe”. The activities that had been booked in Buenos Aires for Tuesday have all been cancelled. It was great to strip off and lay down.

Stay healthy and safe.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 15:11 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)

Stuck in Auckland

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

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The day started off without a glitch. The ordered taxi turned up right on time. No drama at the airport and baggage checked in through to Buenos Aires. We will meet up with them later. The weights were under the 15 Kg restriction.

A short flight to Sydney on a small (60 passenger) aircraft. It is for only 45 minutes and we enter the Domestic side of the sprawling Sydney airport. Instructions regarding the transfer to the International terminal were provided and we set off on the long drive around the Western boundary of the airport.

We already have the boarding pass for the next flight so straight to to Security where both of us were subjected to a thorough search including checks for drugs. On to Gate 50 for the Air New Zealand flight to Auckland.

The scheduled departure time came and went. Many fellow passengers were concerned about our connection to Buenos Aires. We were told that the delay would not effect the connection. Fully an hour after the departure time our aircraft arrived at the gate, it had been delayed in Hong Kong. The B777 was serviced and we were asked to board. This aircraft is very wide with 16 seats across in the Budget section. Finally we're off.

Along the way we were asked to complete a New Zealand Entry card - just in case we need to stay over. Some time before landing there was an announcement regarding the Buenos Aires flight. It has been cancelled and will be booked into hotels for the night. It transpires that the airport staff in Buenos Aires has walked off the job Now we will need to collect our baggage and clear Customs and Immigration - not yet referred to as "Border Force" much less intimidating.

It took for ever for our baggage to appear on the console, cleared the officials and off to join the queue at Customer Service. One of the staff spotted Jenny and took care of the arrangements jumping about 50 places in the queue. Found the required 'Yellow Bus' which dropped us off at the Sudima Airport Hotel. Looked like a nice place, hard to tell at 22:00 Local time.

The room was well appointed but lacks power outlets. Managed to hook up enough to recharge the laptop, phone and the FitBit. The Internet if free for 24 hours, that should be enough !!

Although it was late, the restaurant was happy to provide a meal. The seafood chowder certainly had plenty of seafood. Back in the room I shot off an Email to Craig at Chimu Adventures so that our planned activities in Buenos Aires could be modified or cancelled. We are booked on the Tuesday flight to Buenos Aires in the hope that the strike at the airport in Argentina has been resolved. We may be here for a while yet. There will be more to come no doubt.

Stay healthy and safe.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 12:30 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Flurry of Activity

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Spent most of yesterday sorting and packing clothing for our trip. It was difficult to decide what was essential and bearing in mind there will be four flights before we board the ship. A lot of the gear has not been previously worn and most likely won't be worn again. The luggage weight limitation continues to play on my mind.

All our social engagements are now completed. I find most people want to know if I'm excited. Not sure how to answer that. Dreading the long flights between New Zealand and Argentina. Some concern about the weather and sea state in Antarctica. Impatient to get started, I'm ready to go. Nothing I can do about any of that

Our local weather has turned on a scorcher with the temperature touching the high thirties. There will need to be some adjusting as we get closer to our destination.

Just completed my trial pack, looks like I'll make the luggage weight limit. Just hope everything is in the bag.

My next entry is likely to be from the hotel in Buenos Aires, it will depend on how I pull up after the flight

I'll take a break now and recheck the bag 8

Have a great Christmas and enjoy the New Year. Stay healthy and safe.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 14:58 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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