Tag Archives: United Airlines

Argentina Day 1: Getting Settled

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The Buenos Aires trip is off to a good start.

We flew economy plus on United on both legs of the trip, and the extra legroom sure makes a difference. We were a little early into Houston. We stopped for a snack in the airport. I had the worst Einstein Bros bagel, Ellen had some okay Chinese.

We boarded just about on time for the flight to Buenos Aires. We are used to flying foreign carriers like Air France or Lufthansa on our vacations. In those cases, it feels right away like your foreign vacation has started. Flying United is flying United. Flight was fine though, okay meal, entertainment system was pretty good. I wasted time watching a few episodes of Charlie Sheen’s Anger Management, which was really okay. I then watched Hope Springs. It was better than I anticipated.

Arrival at the airport in Buenos Aires went fine. Argentina levies a “reciprocity fee” of $160 to enter the country. It is in retaliation for the visa requirement for Argentinians to enter the US. We had paid it over the Internet before we arrived with the idea it would save us time. The way the lines worked it probably took longer but that was okay. We were facially scanned, thumb printed, and let into the country.

Our luggage was waiting for us, and we were ready to go. We had arranged for the hotel to provide a car. Normally we try to use public transport in the fog of no sleep and jet lag when we travel. But this time we let expediency rule and took a car.

After about 20 minutes, we were at Hotel Home. A small hotel, it is in the Palermo Hollywood neighborhood, which has good shops and restaurants nearby.

We ditched our stuff and headed out. First stop was at an ATM to get Argentinian pesos. Currently at 20 cents to the dollar, everything seems expensive until you multiply by .20, then it is pretty reasonable. We made an attempt to get SIM cards for our phones, but the mobile stores are closed on Sunday (and Monday and Tuesday this week for Christmas), and despite being told at the hotel that bodegas would have them and know what we were talking about, they didn’t.

So far, we’ve had to get by on my high school Spanish. English is not widely spoken, at least among those we encountered today. But given how much we have traveled, it has not been even a minor impediment. We get by.

I also thought maybe our first trip across the equator to visit a new continent might bring back that “stranger in a strange place” feeling we once had when traveling. But it is now second nature to be comfortable outside our comfort zone. Doesn’t phase us at all.

We found lunch at a small place nearby. I had chicken with rice, Ellen had Milanese (we think beef).

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We walked into the adjoining neighbourhood , Palermo Soho. A street festival was going on that reminded us of the outdoor Christmas market in New York, except a lot warmer. Temperature was in the upper 80’s today, but probably the warmest day of the trip.

We walked back to the hotel, went outside to the pool, and rested/snored. We needed the rest. It is only a two hour time difference (we are ahead of East Coast time), but we didn’t sleep very well on the 10 hour flight to BA.

It was then dinner time. We walked about a mile to Campobravo. It was time to have steak.

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We both had ribeye steaks. With drinks and an appetizer, it came to only $60.

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We then walked back to the hotel, to plan the day tomorrow and collapse.

First impressions are good of BA so far. The drive from the airport took us through neighborhoods of various wealth levels. We know Argentina has been struggling for some time now. Our neighborhood is quite nice, the biggest differences from a major US city are the trash and graffiti everywhere. Also, people don’t clean up after their dogs, so walking is an adventure.

We are looking forward to more exploring, shopping and eating. Read along with us.

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Thanks for the free flight, to Argentina!

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You will soon be reading about our Argentina trip. But before you do, you should know why we are going to Argentina.

Last December, we visited Andrea in New York. During the holiday season, Wired magazine opens a store in New York. After a day of walking around and seeing the tree and store windows, the geek in me wanted to visit the Wired store.

We found it in Times Square. Ellen was tired and uninterested in tech stuff so took a seat. In walking around, I saw a contest from United Airlines. Scan a QR code. You know, those funny looking boxes? They are irresistible to me because it intersects marketing and technology.

Much to my surprise, the screen above appeared on my iPhone. I gasped. I asked the Wired store employee if he knew anything about it. He suggested taking a screen shot, which is why I have the above image. I filled out a short form with my contact info and submitted it.

I then walked over to tell Ellen. It then occurred to me maybe this was one of those everyone’s a winner things. So I took Ellen’s phone over to scan the code. Sorry, you are not a winner.

The contest was legit. We got the ticket in January of 2012. It was good for one year. We had already booked our Summer 2012 vacation. It wouldn’t be good for Summer 2013. So we HAD to take an extra vacation.

With a free ticket anywhere United flies, we knew we had to go somewhere good. The Far East is attractive, but the trip so long that you really need at least 2 weeks. Anything in the US seemed silly. We go to Europe all the time, and it would be cold. So the idea hit us to try South America. Neither of us had ever been, it is a great use of the ticket. And it is summer there.

So Ellen got to do what she loves to do, plan another trip. We leave tomorrow and return on New Year’s Eve. We will be staying in Buenos Aires the whole time, as the distances to the wine country and the rain forests are quite long. We will take one or two trips into Uruguay, but otherwise simply explore Buenos Aires sites, culture and food.

The blog will be updated nightly. Suggestions about things to do and places to eat by those who have visited are welcome.

Hasta luego!