As always the last day with a group of friends is a sad one, and today was no different. To soften the blow (well defer it) I am catching up with friends from the ship for lunch as they are lucky enough to be able to stay in Buenos Aires for a few days before heading home.
The last photo from my balcony
As my flight does not leave until very late tonight, I have taken advantage of Regent’s post cruise tour, hotel “lounge” and airport transfer offer, so once I have disembarked from the ship, my bags will be transferred to the hotel and we will be taken on a bus tour of downtown Buenos Aires.
One of the Windstar Cruise Ships
The people who have late flights are the last to disembark at around 9am, we had to go through the usual in port transfer and then change to another bus at the passenger terminal for our tour.
The tour was not exactly worth the effort, we did a long lap around the CBD and then to the hotel where we will be given access to a holding area for the day. We were shown some the impressive older buildings around the city. In the early 20th Century, Buenos Aires was known as the Paris of South America and you can tell from its architecture that it probably was, they were even friendly back then with the British, a bit different to today.
The Retiro Train Station
The streets of Buenos Aires
I really enjoyed wandering the streets of downtown Buenos Aires, the architecture here demonstrates why it used to be known as the “Paris of Latin America”
A couple of dog walkers taking it easy with their charges beneath a tree behind the General Carlos’ monument.
The widest avenue in the world, 9 de Julio Avenue, it is named after Argentina’s Independence Day, July 9, 1816. It is about 1km in length and has up to 7 lanes going in both directions, with two wide median strips that separate the middle lanes from the 2 lanes on either side of the median, so up to 18 lanes with two median strips.
More of the streets of Buenos Aires
As with most major cities there are some more modern buildings that I feel detract to the more classical buildings, but money talks, so this is to be expected.
Starting to get hungry! The wares of a street vendor, wish I had time to go to a food market, expect that it would an interesting place.
As some of you would know I am interested in horses, mainly the ones that make me money!! During my wandering around I found this incredible sculpture of 5 cantering horses on the lawns out the front of the 4 Seasons Hotel. The sculpturer is a local, Vivienne Duchini, and believe that the brief they received was to create an installation that ties the hotel to the Polo history of Buenos Aires. My photos don’t do this sculpture justice.
For lunch I was meeting up with the friends who convinced me to join them on the cruise, they were lucky enough to be staying Buenos Aries for the weekend, no timezone issues for them, and had chosen the beautiful Alvear Palace Hotel. The hotel was originally opened 1932, it was last renovated in 2004 and, as you can see, they did a great job!
The lobby bar
The fire escape from the ground floor
From the one of the upper floors
For lunch we given a recommendation by the concierge to try a local restaurant that was nearby and he picked a great place for us El Sanjuanino.
We arrived at lunch and the place was very busy, so we were escorted to the basement, wow, a very different world down there!
As we were in Buenos Aires we had to try a bottle of the local wine, in our case a 2010 bottle of Cabernet Malbec that was recommended by our waiter. I enjoyed it a good choice for the local food. According to the winery’s website the grapes are sourced from high altitude vineyards, between 3300 and 4000 ft (1,000m to 1,200m) above sea level. Nice nose, dark fruit, a wine that is better with food, I found it to be fairly balanced and not an overly long finish.
In basement there was an interesting cellar, filled with 3 litre (guessing this) flagons of wine
An El Sanjuanino Table Place Mat
Empanadas are a specialty of the area, so we had to try a few
After a great lunch, I recommend El Sanjuanino to anyone who is looking for a good local restaurant in the Recoleta district of Buenos Aires, we went for a walk and after a short while, came across an up market shopping mall, Patio Bullrich, that we decided to check out.
Found a few interesting places, but Valenti was the place I liked the most, a great selection of cheeses, cured meats and everything else needed for a great picnic / lazy afternoon at home or any other time!
As it was getting late in the afternoon, it was unfortunately time for me to leave my friends, Don and Kathi, and to head back to the hotel where the Regent’ holding area was set up to grab the bus to the Airport.
If you are going to be joining / leaving a cruise in Buenos Aires and are arriving / staying a day or two, I would recommend that you book your own / upgrade your hotel to the Alvear Palace or another hotel and not stay at the hotel that is currently being used by Regent, as it did look too me to be tired and it was definitely not in the same class as the other hotels in the area. Getting to and from the hotel to the port did not seem difficult, lots of taxis and the arrivals hall seemed to be fairly well organised so Regent transfers are not going to make your life that much easier. Just my opinion!
The trip to the Airport was fairly uneventful, although the driver did have an issue with bus, seems he did not know how to drive the sort of bus we were in, but we still made it.
When I arrived at the Airport I was informed that my Aerolinas Argentinas flight to Madrid was going to be delayed by a few hours, so I had to hang out in the lounge and try to not fall asleep. The flight left about 3 hours late at around 2:30am and all I ended up doing for the about 10 hours of the 12 hour flight was sleep.
When arrived at Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport, Madrid, I found out that I had to go through Immigration in order to change terminals, this was very quick, but when I was through Immigration I found that changing terminals was not a simple exercise, needed a bus and then a train after going through Immigration. Unfortunately the signage is not clear but the information desk was helpful. In all it took me a bit over an hour or so to transfer from Terminal 1, where my flight arrived, to Terminal 4s where I was to board the Emirates flight to Dubai.
The flight to Dubai was on time and once again I enjoyed the Emirates, a good meal, a couple of movies and some more sleep. When my flight arrived found out that I had to transfer terminals there as well, but had time for a shower in the lounge before heading to Terminal 1. No need to go through Immigration this time, but another train ride. The flight home to Singapore was also fairly comfortable, a couple more movies and that is about it.
After about 35 hours, 27.5 hours flying, I arrived home in Singapore in time for a good nights sleep before heading back to reality, work, tomorrow 🙁