18.5 - Buenos Aires - Tuesday 30th January
So that was our visit to Buenos Aires. Before we left we had not been too bothered about seeing anything there but now that we've been we are a bit sorry not to have had a couple of days. In hindsight I think it would have been better to have stayed in a hotel for two or three nights and have got off the ship sometime in the afternoon of the first day. We could have got off at our leisure and gone straight to check-in. Perhaps then I could have had that Argentinian steak that I had promised myself.
The evening is like all the last evenings on a cruise except that there were maybe less passengers around. There's always a sense of sadness and melancholy and all the clothes are packed away ready for the next time. Mrs QB has an early night but I pop into the theatre where the Tango School of Buenos Aires is putting on a bit of a show. Inbteresting but not my sort of thing. Nothing else to do but set the alarm and go to bed. We don't have to put our cases outside because we are handling those ourselves.
We had decided to do self-disembarkation which meant getting off at 07:00 the next day. This means carrying you own cases off the ship but at least then you don't have to fight through the baggage reclaim hall with everbody else. There are shuttle buses at this port to transfer you from the ship to the terminal, similar to the ones you get at airports. I had booked a transfer to the airport at the desk inside the terminal the day before leaving at 07:45 but we got there at 07:15 and had to wait. There were plenty of taxis ouside that we could have taken.
Our flight to Puerto Iguazu is due to leave at 11:10 having been brought forward from 12:00. I was uncertain as to our baggage allowance. The pleasantly cheap fare of £61.70 each that I had paid in June 2016 only provided for 15Kg per bag with 5Kg of cabin carry-on. I had applied for their auction for an upgrade which would have increased the allowance but without success. The Airline office in London had been very helpful and reassuring when i called them last year and explained that I would just have to pay for any excess up to the usual 23Kg but one never knows. When we got to the check-in desk the nice young man explained that I would have to pay an extra charge and gave me a ticket to take to a small kiosk with a glass window just across the hall. We had tried to adjust all our belongings and weights and I was wearing a thick coat with my camera and binoculars slung underneath it around my neck. There was a frustrating wait at the kiosk whilst the two in fron of me were served and then when it cam to my turn the old man there (he seemed older than me) had run out of staples. I was desperate to do it for him but could only stand and wait and look on with pity. The bill for the excess came to a total of £46.85. Panic over.
The airport is called Aeroparque Jorge Newbery and serves domestic flights from Buenos Aires. The transfer from the ship is only about twenty minutes. The wait and uncertainty for the flight drags on a bit. I try to find a table in the Hard Rock Cafe but all the lights are out and they don't seem to want to serve me. I ask what time they are going to open and am met with a shrug worthy of a French customs official and a 'who knows' and they point to the lights and say 'when they come on'. It takes me a little while to find out that they have had a power cut and don't know when it will be fixed. Their loss.
It's quite amusing for us to see everybody queueing up at the aircraft gate over 40 mnutes before the flight. There is a very nice-looking modern aircraft just outside the window and we are a bit disappointed to find out that it's not for us. Eventually the time comes and we join the back of the queue. We all have reserved seats, don't we. The aircraft is out on the apron so the transfer is by bus and we are last on it. This also means that we are the first off. That'll teach 'em to queue-jump
The aircraft is a Boeing 737-800 with plenty of overhead locker space and we had chosen two aisle seats opposite each other which worked quite well. Soon after take off we fly over the Uruguayan port of Fray Bentos but from my seat in the centre I can't quite make out the fields where they grow the corned beef tins.
The flight is about two hours and all proceeds smoothly except for one slight scare for us when a flight attendant asks if there is a doctor on boards. Oops. Fortunately there is and he and a medical trolley are wheeled to the rear of the aircraft. Unlike 'some people' I don't like to turn round and stare let alone take a selfie, but I later ascertain that and elderly lady has had a bit of a turn at cruising altitude. The doctor later returns to his seat to a round of well-deserved applause with an embarrassed but appreciative smile on his face.
The landing at Puerto Iguazu is smooth, our baggage is there very efficiently and we wheel it outside looking hopefully for the driver whom I had booked to meet us and take us to our hotel on the Brazilian side. I'm sure I remember booking a transfer.