Buenos Aires

March 8, 2020 – Buenos Aires, Argentina

2020 South America cruise

I had a good sleep last night and have breakfast in the room. I have lots of time to go to the Explorations Cafe for my all-important cappuccino since my shore excursion doesn’t leave until 10:20am. We start with a city tour in a bus, where we learn Buenos Aires aspired to be “the Paris of South America”. Neoclassic architecture obviously influenced by European design is to be found everywhere in the city. One of the widest streets in the world – Plaza de la Republica is a result of civic leaders ploughing whole city blocks just to emulate the wide streets of Paris. The city also has many huge office towers and other amenities found in all modern cities.

We are then dropped off for our Culinary Walking Tour, where we have a second, local guide to describe all the samples of food, wine and beer as we walk to three local restaurants, representing a variety of the Argentinian meat-focused cuisine:

  • La Carita Cafe & Bar
    • Chimichurri – beef sausage on a bun with two sauces
    • Aperative 14% wine – Bermu or Gancia – sweet
  • La Guitarrita
    • Empanadas – beef and banana
    • 2-wine blend, including a muscat – fruity, dry, white
  • Las Cholas
    • Sirloin and skirt steak – probably the best steak I’ve ever eaten!
    • An Italian cheese designed to not run when grilled
    • Malbec – a robust red wine
    • Andes Origen – a light-tasting lager beer
  • Cream Roll Cañitas
    • Gelato-like ice cream treats

My travel buddy took the subway from the dock area to downtown and found the wool shops she was seeking with help from some very kind locals, but the shops are closed since it is Sunday. She then ends up marching in a parade marking International Woman’s Day, which she found very moving. Guardian article


Houston to Buenos Aires flight

March 7, 2020 – Houston, Texas, USA to Buenos Aires, Argentina

2020 South America cruise

Clouds off the coast of Peru lit by the setting Moon
Clouds off the coast of Peru lit by the setting Moon

Neither my friend nor I sleep much on this long 9.5-hour flight…just half hour naps once in awhile. I admire the Moon setting over the Pacific Ocean as we approach Lima. The light from the Moon illuminates the clouds below us – very pretty. Later, with a darker sky once the Moon has set, I observe the Southern Milky Way.

United flight path from Houston to Buenos Aires
United flight path from Houston to Buenos Aires

The sun rises as we fly off the coast of Chile, so I can see the thick cloud cover below us. The aircraft has travelled down the coast on a southerly route, but makes a turn to head southeast to Buenos Aires two hours before our arrival. When the heading changes just north of Coquimbo, Chile, we lose our 50 mph tailwind and pickup a 15 mph headwind increasing to 25 mph, which explains why we were flying this heading down the west coast of South America.

We cross over the Andes Mountains and then the Pampas as we approach Buenos Aires. The headwind picks up to 58 mph as we get closer to the airport. Buenos Aires airport is quite large, and our 777 is given the second-to-last gate, so we have quite a hike to get to the immigration hall, where there are well over a thousand people waiting to be processed. We manage to pick a just-formed line, and get through in under a half hour, claim our checked bags, and clear customs. The Holland America reps are waiting for us in their orange shirts to take our checked bags from us, and we board a bus which transfers us to the dock area.

The cruise check-in process is a bit convoluted, since we now have to clear Argentinian immigration again, fill in a health questionnaire about the coronavirus, before being processed by Holland America. We obtain our key cards for the ship, and give our passports to Holland America for safekeeping and so they can clear us at each port-of-call.

Once we go aboard and find our stateroom, we get cleaned up a bit and go for lunch in the Lido. By the time we return to our stateroom, our checked bags are waiting for us. I call home to let my family know I’ve arrived without a problem and I’m aboard the ship. Later, we have dinner in the Main Dining Room. My friend has a pork rib entree that looks great and I have very tasty Flat Iron Steak with grilled onions, and a cappuccino for dessert.

We are both obviously very, very tired after our 22-hour marathon travel session, so a good sleep is welcome! Tomorrow, we get to explore Buenos Aires before our departure.