The flight from Ushuaia was uneventful and we landed in Buenos Aires about 15 minutes early. The approach from the east to the domestic Aeroparque airport is very nice if you have a window seat on the left, with great views of the city. Clapping in the plane still appears to be a thing here and strangely it started right at the moment of touchdown when many things could still happen, including a go around. According to the pilot’s announcement it was 29 degrees at 19:30, a far cry from Fuegian summer to put it mildly. The bike and box appear to have survived just fine.
The drive into the city was “interesting”. Wide avenues, busy traffic on a Sunday evening and large monuments and buildings are quite the change. The city proper has 3 million inhabitants and the urban area well over 10 million. The last metropolis I visited was Mendoza in October. I got to the hostel at 21:00 and I was glad to find out they have a bar that also serves pizza, so I didn’t have to go out for dinner. Of course this was a perfectly normal or even early time to do so, but I was tired enough that I took the easy way out. Another welcome change is the return of the liter bottles of beer as well as reasonable prices for everything. A big bottle here is cheaper than a pint in Patagonia.
I have three full days to spend in Buenos Aires before I fly home on Thursday. I spent most of them exploring the various neighbourhoods near the city center, since they all have their unique characteristics. Some of this I did on guided tours and some on my own. The tours are always good to get an idea of the history of the city, which is strongly linked to the history of Argentina as a whole. Though I knew about the major events and personalities already after more than two months in the country and seeing the same street names and statues over and over again, this really helps tie it all together and understand the bigger picture.
I spent most of the time on the streets, since there aren’t many world-famous museums and such. I did visit the cathedral on the main square, where the previous archbishop was Jorge Mario Bergoglio before he became bishop of Rome and started using the stage name Pope Francis. I also visited the Colón theatre and the Ateneo book store, which was basically the only thing I knew I wanted to visit before I arrived. The concept of turning an old theater into a bookstore is great, but I thought the execution could have been a lot better.
I also went on a bike tour of the large and far away neighbourhood of Palermo. I don’t think this counts as a rest day anymore, since the bike tour ended a week ago, so I’m allowed to ride a bike by now. Cycling here is relatively good. There is some bike infrastructure and the city is almost completely flat. The drivers appear to be somewhat used to meeting riders in the streets too.
The drive to Ezeiza airport was quick and easy. The check-in process for the bike however was not. First they sent me to a normal check-in desk where it was labelled. The label says it’s 23 kilos, but they didn’t actually weigh the bike box. It’s not far from the truth though. Then they sent me to a service desk to pay for it, only pesos or credit card, and then I had to return to the check-in counters where someone accompanied me to the scanner for oversize luggage, which I estimate to be 90 centimeters wide.
Security took away some of my AA and AAA rechargeable batteries. They claim only 6 are allowed and I had 13 excluding those inside devices. Note that this is not my first flight in Argentina with the exact same batteries in my bag. But it’s better for it to happen now than on the way in. I suppose if I had put some of them in my checked luggage all would be fine. As I was leaving Argentina for the third time was also the first time they wanted a thumbprint and a photo at immigration.
As I sat down at the gate for another long wait the rain started, and it wasn’t just a little bit. Excellent timing for me, though a bit of rain in the last few days would have been fine to cool down.
Then at boarding I got assigned a new seat. I was annoyed, because this was an aisle seat instead of the window seat I had specifically selected. When I got to the new seat the annoyance quickly disappeared, as I once again got a whole row of three to myself. I only wonder why they didn’t bump the guy in the middle seat of my original row here instead. Thus, the overnight flight home was fine.