Monday, 30 October 2017

Off to South America

Back in late January Trevor received an email about a trip to South America. While we had spent much of the summer of 1985-6 in South America what was on offer included a cruise which would take us to places that we had not visited on our earlier excursion. Needing to make a decision within 48 hours we decided to go for it. It was surprising just how quickly the months flew past and all of a sudden it was time to leave.

Micahel dropped us at the airport just after 6:30am for our 7:20am flight to Sydney. A quick cup of coffee was the order of the day ahead of much sitting on planes.

An announcement came over the PA stating that our flight was delayed due to an technical issue and an update would be issued shortly. This was not unduly concerning as we had a 3 hour window between our scheduled arrival in Sydney and our departure.

Our flight kept getting delayed and a mild panic set in.

When Trevor had made the booking he was told to book our travel from Canberra to Sydney himself as it would be cheaper than the travel agent doing it. With that adive I had made the flight bookings between Canberra and Sydney. This was a very bad move. Our Canberra-Sydney flight was not on the same ticket as the Sysdney to Buenos Aires. Qantas was not responsible for ensuring that we made our connection. Great. We finally left 2 1/2 hours late. When we arrived in Sydney we needed to collect our bags and get over to the International terminal. We did this in almost record time but alas the flight was closed and we were no shows.

After hanging around the airline offices until the LAN Chile staff returned from seeing our flight off we did learn that it would be possible to get seats on the flight the next day. We needed to get our travel agent to do the necessary booking change.

Many phone calls followed. If the travel agent had been more astute they could have got us on a flight through Melbourne, leaving Sydney at 5pm and arriving in to Buenos Aires at 3am on The Friday morning. All that we would then have needed was the name of the hotel (the tour group was spread across two hotels and our documentation did not indicate which one we were at) and a taxi ride to the hotel would have meant that we could hve done all the things scheduled for the first real day of the tour.

The travel agent was not overly helpful and in the end we were booked on the same flight that we had missed but the following day. Oh, yes, we had to pay the full fare for the new flight, too.

Late in the day we were informed that we would be met on arrival in Buenos Aires and transferred to our hotel. At least that was one less thing to worry about.

In the meantime we had checked in to a hotel near the airport, yet another additional expense.

After a frustrating day we hit the sack with an early get up time so that we would have time to have a decent breakfast before fronting up at the airport to check in.

We awoke to a miserable day.

It was a relief to check in and know that we would be on our way ... a day late but at least we had not missed too much.

Without too much fuss and bother we got through all the formalities and were off. The first hop was to Auckland where we had a leg stretch before the long haul to Santiago.

I did manage to see the sun rise. My only photo was a disaster.

Approaching Santiago we were presented with great views of the Andes ringing the city.

On the leg from Santiago to Buenos Aires we were allocated seats in the middle of the plane.  The seating configuration was 2-3-2. A family with a nursed infant were in a pair of outer seats. The problem was that there were only two oxygen masks for the pair of seats. There were four masks for the 3 centre seats. We were asked if we would mind swapping. Not at all ... so I ended up with a window seat.

On leaving Santiago we had more great views of the snow capped mountains.

On arrival in Buenos got through immigration and customs fairly quickly. We duly found the travel agent who had come to greet us and take us to our hotel. Great. Then came the next bomb shell. The meet and transfer was not covered by what we had paid for the trip. Cost US$125 thanks.

So, less than happy we set off to the centre of the city and our hotel. To add to our general state of misery there had been an accident on the autopista and the traffic heading towards the city was a crawl.

By the time we finally reached the hotel we were pretty tired but it was too early to eat in any of teh restaurants so we ended up grabbing a Subway and ate it in our room which overlooked the central cemetery ... definitely a sight to behold.

As we had to leave the hotel at 5am the next morning, fortunately the hotel had organised breakfast to be available from 4:30am, we collapsed into bed and were dead to the world by the time our heads hit the pillows.

This was not how we had expected the trip to start. Still, we had made it to Buenos Aires and we were now on track.

Next up: the Argentine side of Iguazu.

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