Make Traveling Great Again…. - Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires, Argentina Day 1 & 2
Our Argentinian adventure…. The 48 hours of chaos and nonstop antics.
This Post is more words and the next will be more pictures…. but too much happened and not a lot was even done the first 48 hours….
The craziest trip of unknowns I have ever taken began very simply with us leaving the house only 15 minutes past what we planned. We were headed to the airport to take off towards Argentina. but nothing major occurred. yet….
We maybe walked past a sign telling us where to enter security or had to chug our water bottles but that’s average half awake traveler stuff. We got on our plane just fine too, although almost missing our boarding call despite sitting right in front of the gate, but again no big deal. The customs of Brasil boarding are just a little different than what we are used to being from America and Europe (Netherlands). But with us having assigned seats it would not have even mattered.
But what did matter was when we got onto the plane no air conditioning was on and our personal ones would not work either. It is almost summer in Rio De Janeiro so that plane was not cool, not even just slightly warm, it was hot. I started to perspire a ton and rolled up my leggings and tied my shirt up just to try to cool off. And I’m not someone who gets hot that fast. We sat there for a long time, and then drove down the runway to wait longer and still no air! I was very worried it would be a long miserable flight and it almost was. The air barely came on once the flight took off and did not cool us down till about an hour or so into the flight. But thank the flying gods it did eventually.
I managed to sleep regardless as I was exhausted having woken up extra early to go to CF and get my ass kicked before we took off. I had brought food but poor Mary Lou did not have time to buy anything as planned at the airport. Aerolines Argentina does luckily provide simple sandwiches and cookies so I grabbed my share of gluten snacks provided by the airlines and gave it to Mary Lou to hold her over. The rest of the flight went pretty smooth and I continued to sleep most the way. When we landed the air turned off immediately and it took us a long time to de-board as well. The plane was old school walking down the metal stairs, getting off and loading bus by bus to be taken to the terminal.
We got our bags just fine, and went to collect some cash.
Always arrive with cash in the currency of the country or plan to get some there. Never leave the airport without some.
Most airports over charge you in exchange fees or do not give a good rate, so exchange enough to get you to where you plan to stay, maybe some food and a little extra just in case. But airports have the highest exchange rates or charges.
Many banks in the states will exchange money for you if requested ahead of time enough for them to get that currency for you. Chase will specifically.
Mary Lou was able to pull some cash but with a hefty 10EUR fee and a limit of only pulling the equivalency of 100EUR (AR$4000). We planned to uber to the bus terminal and be on the bus till we arrived in Puerto Madryn so assumed that was more than enough and I did not exchange any money.
We go to get a phone chip for service and were told it could be quite a wait and we were pressed for time and still needed to get food. With luck we were able to get it in about 20 mins, grab some food quickly with some majorly jumbled Portenhol (Portuguese and Spanish) from McDonalds and rush outside to call an Uber. Of course, the uber app says nothing about where to meet the drivers, or if there is a designated location to do so. Our uber arrived and we were then instructed to meet him at Parking Lot B…. uhhh where is parking lot B? Mary Lou asked the men near by us. But being taxi drivers one man scoffed at the man trying to help us yelling that it was for an uber and not to help us. So they guy stopped giving us directions to Parking Lot B. Rude.
We finally found parking lot B after hoofing it out of the pickup area and around a building we didn’t need to since we got sent by a nice man in the semi wrong direction. Our uber drive was very kind though and helped us with our bags and attempted to talk to us in portonhol. But his Buenos Aires accent was insufferably thick and we barely understood him. And then the biggest chunk of our adventure truly begins. He begins to try and explain he will not be able to get us all he way to the bus terminal. His Argentinian accent is THICK and I can barely make out the words he’s saying. Plus we do not understand why he will not be able to take us all the way. Is it some weird uber ban? (we did come to find that technically Uber is illegal or banned in Argentina). The way we first understood it was we had to walk about 10 mins to the terminal and just figured it was an Uber restriction. He said something about presidents, but we didn’t understand, I thought he said the rule was because of a new president and just didn’t think much more of it seeing as I couldn’t understand much more of it. Until we reached a police barrier and understood he couldn’t get past without a special pass due to something big going on. We still couldn’t understand what that big event was but no doubt it was important. There were police everywhere and barriers up at every street he tried to take us on. He got us as close as he could but then pulled over and explained we had to hoof it and walk the rest of the way. He explained it was almost a straight shoot down the street and to the left. So we loaded up and as we were now going to be late and took off.
Little me with my 16kg too big for me green bag to my back and little black one to my front practically jogging after long legged 6 foot plus Mary Lou and her wheelie. Street after street was blocked off and man we must had been a sight for every police and chauffeur to see as they stood around the barriers. As we got closer, according to Mary Lou’s phone, some locals flagged us down and informed us the bus terminal was closed. But our ticket said we were headed to the right one. So we double checked, our 24 hour notice said we were headed to the right one. Even our online ticket said we were headed to the right one. There was no way it would be closed.
Well. There was a way. When we arrived it was very very closed. Luckily some nice locals, including with more luck one who spoke Portuguese, recognized we had no clue it was closed, why or what to do. They kindly informed us it was closed for the whole weekend and that we were standing right next to a favela and were not safe there sticking out being so obviously lost and tourists. They called some police over who also helped us figure out what was going on with our tickets. It was now past the time our bus was set to leave. They assumed it must have been moved to the other terminal in the city and figured we could just go there and catch a later bus after explaining what happened to the bus service.
Now what we next didn’t know what to do was get there. No uber in, meant no uber out either. The nice police men helped us flag a taxi down and explain to him what happened and where we needed to go. The taxi man, whose accent was very thick too, didn’t seem to know how to get there. The police explained to us he needed our phone to direct him but that he could take us without a problem.
Well a problem arose. It arose in us arriving just a minute too late to make it past the police barriers to let us through. Our light turned green, but we were held back. Many drivers, our taxi driver included laid on their horn for a long period of time. Most drivers gave up after a minute of constant noise but one persisted for minutes. Constant honking for a minimum of 3 mins if not more. As if the longer he protested the more likely we’d be let through. It didn’t. We noticed a ton of people standing across the street with large red signs saying welcome in English and Chinese. Also Chinese flags all along one part of the street. We asked our driver what was going on and said he didn’t know why we were stopped, who the signs were welcoming or what was going on. In frustration the taxi driver very haphazardly drove almost on the side walk to get around all the cars and bring us to the front to try and ask the police how to get us through. We were informed we had to wait and there was no other route. Before long a brigade of police bikes and cars came through with someone who must be important behind them. We were finally let through a few mins later and continued our journey to bus terminal number 2.
Not having a clue where to even go we we got there went to the information desk. All the very helpful lady did was write down some numbers and letters and point down the terminal mumbling something about it over there. Um, thanks? A25 15 was all we had to go on. We stopped and asked a nice maintenance man who was more helpful in guiding us but it all didn’t matter as our bus had left long long ago. Some conductors advised us where to go to book new tickets and even more fun began.
We got there only to find they couldn’t help us because we had booked online, and gave us a number to call, that was no help as we could not hear over the constant bus announcements. AND the online ticket service was closed for the day anyways. The ticket counter then informed us that the next bus didn’t leave till tomorrow; yes there was space and we could buy a ticket, but no they didn’t take cards. We did not pull enough to re-buy tickets after already paying the unplanned taxi fare too. Shit. They took pity on us and went around asking the other bus companies who were going to our destination who took cards. With luck again they found one! As I booked new tickets, Mary Lou booked a hostel for the night.
We left laughing as it hadn’t been a bad day, it could have been worse, but it definitely wasn’t a smooth day in any way. We called an uber and yet again it did not come to our location and we had to find it according to the GPS on the uber app. Yikes. The uber driver was very nice and tried to speak with us again being very patient with our Spanish as he tried to use his English. He was able to ask quite a few questions in English and spit out the phrase “I will love you forever” to me. Oh Boy. Hahahaha….
We arrive at our hostel and they didn’t have us booked in the same rooms! With puppy dog eyes we pleaded they see what they can do and they were able to make it work. When we got into our rooms and talked with our new roommate our mystery of why the heck half of Buenos was shut down got solved. Trump was in town….. Trump was the reason we couldn’t get to our bus!… okay okay it wasn’t only Trump the G20 summit was in town. Now it all makes sense. And why the heck hadn’t our bus company informed us of this?
Why would they even have sold tickets to that terminal OR inform us of a terminal change, update the website with a terminal change… you know at the very least!
After a long day we needed a drink. We asked the front desk if they had any recommendations and she told us there was a bar across the street with Big Red doors we couldn’t miss and we would enjoy. Well we can miss them and we did. When we walked out it started to sprinkle but we continued to walk and just laughing as it got a little heavier as we continued our hunt for these big red doors. We made it to the end of the block with no sign of red doors and made it under a big awning just as the flood gates opened up and it began to POUR rain. Cold, tired and just in aw of the day we stood there and laughed our asses off as three cops in barrettes and huge rifles on their side run under cover with us. We made nice with them and asked if they know where the bar was. They point us back toward our hostel. We stand there for way too long praying for the rain to break. It doesn’t so we make a dash for it hugging the side of the walls and trying to stay tucked under the small bit of awnings along the way. After getting back in the hostel and re-asking about the bar she tells us its so close she can almost see it from her desk. We try again and find these lean red, but barely in the dark as there were barely any lights, and figure that has to be it. It was. (face palm).
We grab some wine being our first night in Argentina how could you NOT try the local wine! And stand near the bar laughing our asses off at the day and chatting away. When our drinks were done the bar tender comes over and asks us if we’d like more, we politely say no as he playfully makes sure were sure. We thought we were sure as we wanted nothing more than to go to bed as we knew what a long day we had ahead of us tomorrow. But we hesitated too long to leave so he brought us a second glass each on the house. I mean who can say no to free wine anywhere but especially good wine in Argentina. So, we stayed longer and when we tried to tip the man before leaving we got talked into a traditional drink of the bar with a spicy vodka dropped in a sweet popular energy drink…. The energy drink was awful and it hit your palate first. But the after taste of the shot was rather delicious with a good bite and subtle flavor. This shot turned into nachos,(which were delicious btw) which turned into talking more with the other bartender who also spoke English very well. He invited us out more but being 3am we politely declined as we had a big day ahead of us. He left making us promising to come out dancing when we got back to Buenos. We stuck around a little more and chatted with the first bartender and his coworker as he took care of some closing duties. Those nachos then turned into free nachos as we said goodbye and tried to pay again. So we left tipping them the nacho money and exchanging numbers with a plan to go dancing upon our return back to Buenos.
When we got back into our rooms as quietly as we could, and a little buzzed,we changed immediately by flash light, I put in my ear plugs and I barely remember laying down before I was out. And apparently it was barely 5 mins before I was being “beaten” by a pillow from above. In a daze I responded to Mary Lou, confused why she was hitting me, she told me oh never mind and I passed back out. The next morning I woke up asking “did you hit me last night?” as we laughed she recounted the story for me. Our neighbor was snoring insanely loud and she thought it was me! He snored through the night so bad Mary Lou had to wake him up just so she could sleep for a bit before he woke her up again snoring.
I got up and went to CF, of course getting blocked by a police barrier again down the last street I needed to get to CF. I had to get directions from the Police as to if and how to get around to my desired location. Luckily it wasn’t completely blocked and I arrived only a few minutes late after a little extra walking. When I got back to the hostel we had some time before we needed to leave but not a ton. I jumped in the shower, that was over flowing all over the bathroom by a horrible design, and tried to pack quickly. We got down and checked out with time to spare before our bus left but of course ran into more un-explainables.
Our uber driver seemed to sit forever in one spot, which we assumed was yet another barrier. Maybe 5 minutes passed without him moving, I called another uber to see if he could arrive sooner and of course the first one starts to move. We canceled mine and waited for the original. He finally gets close to us, turns down a street before ours, loops around and stops a block away from us. There are no barriers there. I JUST walked by there this morning. We wait. Maybe there is a light there. And wait. Maybe somethings wrong with his car? And wait. Nothing. It is barely a block away, so we decide walk to him. I mean why not that’s how every other uber ride has gone. We check every car along the way just in case but gps shows he still hasn’t moved. We show up to the spot he has supposedly been sitting in and nothing. He is not there. No where in sight. And we are now with barely 30 mins to get to the station that’s roughly 20 minutes away without a G20 Summit. I see a taxi and quickly flag him down and we pray we have enough cash left to pay him.
We drive up in front of the station but are car’s direction is across the street and across a busy 3 lane on road going each direction. We stop at a light and Mary Lou is anxious as we only have 3 minutes to get to our bus before we miss it, again. She tries to convince me to jump out of the cab, grab our stuff and run…. Run would mean, out of a cab stopped in traffic to run across 3 lanes of more traffic going the other way and then into the terminal. I kept calm and reminded her it is not safe, not practical and not worth it. Car after car was driving along the other side off the road way with no break. Of course to get into the terminal our driver had to drive down the road a bit and make a huge loop to get back and go the other way. We are late. We pray that they wait or are late themselves.
Getting our money ready and scheme to jump out of the car and run. And run we do. Mary Lou practically throws the cash at the man, grabs her stuff and starts sprinting down the terminal. We don’t even know which gate we were running to but we were running! As we run through the station a big beautiful but un-neutered stray dog perks up as Mary Lou sprints by. Ears perked he starts running towards me as I come trotting along behind her. I know that look, he is excited, but what I didn’t know was if he wanted to play nice or his instincts were kicking in. I wasn’t going to take the chance. I slowed down and Angela Aden shushed him with command and confidence and got him to calm down and back off. But I didn’t risk running again till I got some distance. Mary Lou had gotten to the terminal we should have been at last night and was instructed to run back down the way we came toward where our bus was this time. BUT our bus WAS there! Thank the bus heavens. They had waited for us. Phew. And again, lucky.
Unlucky then became not knowing if and when we would stop for food but I hadn’t eaten more than a protein shake all morning in the chaos. Stop after stop there was no real restaurant or somewhere to buy food free of gluten. It got later and later, and we got hungrier and hungrier. The first chance we saw a shop with snacks, we gathered up everything semi decent in calories and bought it. For me that meant chocolate milk, chips, some rice snacks and corn puffs.
We must have looked absolutely insane carrying it all back in. Now to add to the trip, the sound on the TV didn’t work, headphones wouldn’t work, charger wouldn’t work, Mary Lou’s light wouldn’t work and it went from freezing cold to so hot I was sweating despite having stripped every piece I could and tied my shirt up again. But finally, the bus stopped after 11pm for “food” and to refuel and they turned regular amounts of air back on.
But our adventure doesn’t stop. The bus had to stop at a check point of some sort at like 6am in the morning and for some reason or anther they decided we needed to be checked extra. One man checked our passports, and everything seemed fine so I went to go back to sleep. I almost feel asleep too but was woken up again to another police/military man wanting to check our tickets and passports again. He made us show all of our bags, matching them with our stickers (each bag gets tag and sticker with the number to go with it placed on the back of your boarding ticket), and opening up everything including my sunglasses case to inspect inside. We then had to go outside in the cold to let them search our big checked bags, including my suspicious drawing case full of pens. I had to explain they were just pens for drawing before I got a half assed “okay” you can put them away and a half assed peak in the top of my bag… Like I’m pretty sure if I was hiding something, I wasn’t placing it in the top of my bag dude. But okay. We were only 2 of 3 people taken off the bus. I mean it had been a rough 30+ hours but did we look that rough? haha….
We arrived in Puerto Madryn basically on time…. And there ended most of our chaos and crazy first 48 hours of none stop shenanigans in Argentina.
Quick Tips and Names of Transport Used, Housing stayed in and Sites to see:
Taxi: They’re jerks but cheap and efficient. (well most of them in BA. not all of Argentina)
Uber is illegal and will almost never arrive right in front of where you are. Taxis are rude but about the same price and more reliable as you just flag them down on the spot. There are tons.
Bus 1: Ticket bought via BusBud.com
We were extremely disappointed in the improper communication ahead of time but after the fact refunding our tickets went a little smoother. They did however charge us a processing fee but returned the rest of our ticket price
Bus 2: El Condor Bus – Not highly recommended as half the bus didn’t work BUT the lay back seats were amazing!!! The best out of the two over night rides we too! And the seats we got weren’t even the cheapest!
America Del Sur Hostel – Buenos Aires
Little Pricey, decent front desk service but good location and bunking corridors.
Bar - La Puerta Roja (The Red Door)
Rua Calle Chacabuco
The Nachos are amaaaazzzinnngg and the drinks are good too. If you like beer it’s a beer bar!