We arrived on time in Buenos Aires. Unfortunately an Iberian Airbus 340 had just landed so immigration was jammed. Though the line moved quickly, it still took forever to clear and get the bags. We bought some Argentine pesos, got the bags and met Frank & Pat just as they got theirs. As is always the case, the area outside customs was an absolute zoo. We eventually found a Princess rep and eventually got on a bus for the Intercontinental Hotel but organization was pretty lacking. It appears to me that Princess does a pretty good job of logistics (as in our trip to Alaska) when they control it themselves but are less effective when they contract it out (as in this trip and the one in the South Pacific).
We were supposed to have a city tour on the way to the hotel but were told by the guide that our information was incorrect; the tour was tomorrow.
From our room
Some folks seemed upset by this but we were actually pleased since we were too tired anyway to enjoy a trip. Traffic in BA is like any big city so by the time we dropped some folks at the Sheraton Park Towers it was noon when we arrived at our hotel. Princess had their own check in desk on a lower level. While in line, we heard the agents telling others that the rooms would be available at 4:00. Ugh! Fortunately, when I gave my name, the girl said Gus had checked in earlier and had reserved upgrades to the concierge level for us and for Frank & Pat. The additional cost would be US$40 per day for a better room with free drinks and breakfast and was (she said) available now. Naturally, we grabbed it. She said she had to go to the hotel desk to make the key cards and that she would do so right after she checked in the other folks in line.
She suggested we wait in the lounge but when I said we were hungry she suggested we eat in the bar and she'd find us there. When she hadn't shown up some time later, I found her at the desk. She reported that one room was ready and the other would be so in 1/2 hour. We figured that was no problem since we still had not eaten. I called Gus in his room and he and Val joined us in the restaurant. For lunch we all had empanadas and I thought they were great though not everyone agreed. Lin had Chardonnay and it was pretty good. I had Argentina’s most notable wine, Malbec, and it was great!
After lunch we learned that Frank & Pat's room was ready but ours still wasn’t. The girl suggested we wait in the concierge lounge on the 17th floor and the butler would tell us when the room was ready.
The gang at Spettus
Frank & Pat headed to bed as Gus & Val accompanied us to the lounge. There was no one at the desk when we arrived and when a guy eventually arrived he checked and said they'd KNOW in another 1/2 hour when the room would be ready! I must admit I went a little berserk. About 15-20 minutes later the report came that our room was available. Since by now it was 2:30 and we were asleep on our feet we went down and grabbed the bags and a porter rather than wait for the bags to be delivered. The room was absolutely great and we crashed and burned after putting in a wakeup for 5:30 PM. Being an engineer and this being only my second visit to the southern hemisphere, my first priority after the nap was to fill the tub and then open the drain to watch the water go down clockwise! After showering and getting onto fresh clothes, we met the others in the concierge lounge and, after drinks, headed for dinner. At the concierge's suggestion, we went to Puerto Madero and ate at an Argentine steak house called Spettus. The meal and service were wonderful and the price was surprisingly modest. I sat in the front of the taxi on the way back and got to have some fun exercising my quite limited Spanish with the driver.
From our room
Buenos Aires is absolutely wonderful! I was sorry we didn't have more time there and if it weren't for the long air voyage, I'd gladly return tomorrow. Buenos Aires is known as the "Paris of South America" and for good reason; it has the FEEL of Paris, my favorite city. In fact, we visited some neighborhoods where, of one couldn't tell the difference between French and Spanish on the signage, one couldn't be sure it was NOT Paris. While we were warned repeatedly about thieves and especially pickpockets, we were assured that our personal safety was not at risk. While there was some dirt, decay and graffiti as you'll find in any large city, there's a vibrancy that is exciting. The architecture is varied and in some cases quite elegant. The Avenida de la 9 de Julio, allegedly the widest in the world, is reminiscent of the Champs Élysées though I'm not sure it's nearly as elegant. La Boca is a particularly quaint and colorful neighborhood that I wish I'd had more time to explore. I found most people to be very friendly and helpful even though our grasp of the language was less than great. In general, I felt that I had just begun to discover the city and I really regret not having more time to know it better. Maybe someday...
Buenos Aires Hotels & Accommodations review
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