Flying to Buenos Aires

Avenida 9 de Julio

More than three years ago, I arrived in Buenos Aires after a 16-hour bus journey from Puerto Iguazu. This time on my second visit, I'm flying from El Calafate which takes takes 3 hours and 25 minutes nonstop. It's still a long trip but then Argentina is geographically-endowed in size. As I'm wont to do, I packed and locked my Philippine-made backpack inside a duffel to ensure it flies safely with me - in other words, no itchy hands ever get something from it or worse, put something into it (like drogas, you know).

My backpack inside a duffel
Hostel breakfast
Common area @ the hostel
Pool table @ the hostel

I took the free breakfast at Che Lagarto Hostel - a bowl of cereals, bread (with yummy Dulce de Leche - or caramelized milk), OJ and coffee. Pretty basic but something which actually filled me up. Chatted with Luisa, the front desk clerk who confirmed the shared van ride I will be taking to the airport. Having noticed the graffiti written by previous hostel guests, I asked if I could do the same - sure enough, I was handed Pentel pens. So if anyone who reads this finds my little scribble, let it be known that it's officially the first time I wrote on someone's property.

A hostel that encourages graffiti. Can anyone see what I wrote?

My ride to the airport came on time. Luisa came over to give me a farewell hug. It feels sad leaving one of the best hostels I've ever stayed at but I got to go. After picking up a couple in another hostel, we went our way to the airport, some 14 miles away from the center of town. El Calafate's Aeropuerto Lago Argentino is strikingly modern. However, construction is ongoing inside to improve parts of the terminal. A sound investment I must say since El Calafate's tourist arrivals are ever increasing.

Awaiting for my LAN flight with Lago Argentino in the background
Cerro Fitz Roy lords it over Los Glaciares National Park

My LAN flight on an Airbus A320 departed on time. Having chosen the window seat, I had a grand view of the glaciers and the expansive Andes mountain range topped by Cerro Fitz Roy. While looking down at it, I imagined my new German friends Ralf and his wife Susan trekking in the area and I got terribly envious - one good reason why I have to come back to Patagonia in the future! (anyway, just a couple of weeks later, I would be meeting Ralf & Susan again in New York).

LAN's sweet delights

If there's one thing I look forward to in a LAN flight, it's got to be the alfajores, served as part of their inflight meal service. Made by a company called Havanna, this Argentine version is basically two layers of round, soft chocolate biscuits with Dulce de Leche in it. Very, very sinfully indulgent!

The gentrified Puerto Madero as seen from the plane
Plaza San Martin (center) and Retiro train station (right). I rode the bus from the airport which dropped me off at their  terminal (left), crossed the Plaza and into the train station where I took the subway
A street-level view of the British Clock Tower at Plaza San Martin

After 3 hours, we began our descent into Buenos Aires. The city is served by two airports, the distant Ezeiza for international flights and the centrally-located Jorge Newbery for domestic flights where we landed. As soon as I got reunited with my duffel at the luggage carousel, I went to Manuel Tienda Leon counter to buy a ticket for the bus ride into the city. It's far cheaper than taking the taxi. The only downside is that the bus terminates in Retiro, still far from my hostel in the MicroCentro area. Thankfully, Retiro is convenient to the subte (or subway). 

Taking the subway in Retiro
Getting off the subway at Avenida de Mayo
Avenida de Mayo more than 3 years ago. . .
. . . Avenida de Mayo now

Retiro is in fact where I first took the subway more than 3 years ago so no wonder things were still familiar to me. I hopped on the C train bound for Constitucion and got off at  the Avenida de Mayo station, adjacent to Avenida 9 de Julio, one of the world's widest avenues. This again was the same stop I made  during my first visit except that I'm not staying in the same hotel anymore. From there, it was an easy walk to  Sudamerika Hostel where I had planned to stay. It's in an old building in a gritty part of MicroCentro. At the equivalent rate of about $24, I got myself a single room with bath and a little TV. Breakfast was also included. 

Hostel Sudamerika
My hostel room

Speaking of food, I sorely missed eating rice since embarking on this trip that I wanted to find a Chinese restaurant right away. Armed with a map, I walked for about 15 minutes and ended up in Galerias Pacifico, a mall with opulent frescoes on its dome. I ate here before so I was confident I'll find a Chinese restaurant in its food court. Among the ubiquitous beef-steak-and-potatoes combo, I got excited finding what I wanted. The meal however was a disappointment but at least, I finally got to eat rice!

Galerias Pacifico
Chinese meal. Oh boy, did I miss rice!
Submarino drink
The Obelisk stands in the center of Avenida 9 de Julio

On my way back to the hostel, I stopped by a Havanna coffee shop and ordered submarino, a local beverage consisting of a tall glass of hot milk into which I dumped a lump of dark chocolate.  Feeling rejuvenated by this great-tasting milk chocolate, I walked along Avenida 9 de Julio and saw the Obelisk in the fading light of day. I stayed there, in the middle of this super-wide avenue looking at people hastily crossing the street while cars awaited their turn. In our journeys, we may tread on narrow footpaths or wide avenues but they all lead us to the same, to some place that has sparked our wander lust. Ahhh...Buenos Aires, estoy feliz de estar de vuelta!


  1. Can you not reduce the bulksize of your backpack so you can just hand carry it? Maybe you can get a smaller one that can easily fit inside a plane's overhead compartment.

    I often worry about my checked-in luggage not arriving at the same time I do or worse, arriving at a different destination or getting lost altogether. I always have a small backpack with all my important stuff that I keep with me all the time when I am on the road.

    Btw, I enjoyed the pics you posted about Buenos Aires. Keep sharing your travel pics with us!

  2. i love the pics man... its like im travelling through your pictures :-)

  3. nice! you have he same picture of Avenida 3 yrs ago pa at the same spot. I love the watch tower too and the aerial view of the city, lalo na cguro kapag gabi, with the lights and all.

  4. before bus, now airplane. may budget! ^_^
    really, why would other people place some drugs to your bags, may ganyang case jan? scary! now I now I should really be padlocking my luggage.

  5. Wow...another exciting travel.
    I can see you are a very experienced traveler !

  6. oh boy, kakainggit talaga specially now that i am back in the corporate rat race. that is manu ginobili's turf right? awesome coverage :)

  7. bertN,
    I had a daypack for a carry-on where I put all my valuables. Much as I would want to pack lightly and carry everything in the plane, it wasn't doable because of my cold weather trekking gear.

    Thanks Flip. My wrists and neck got sore carrying a DSLR all day.

    Being in that same spot where I took a picture previously was like a deja vu moment haha! There are differences though in the wall paintings after looking at it.

    There was an incident I read years ago where an unsuspecting backpacker became a 'drug mule'. Scary talaga!

    Hey welcome back.

    He's from Argentina but I'm not sure if he was born in Buenos Aires. Mas sikat pa rin kasi dito ang mga football players.

  8. Why do I feel that I'm not living this life everytime I look at this site? Why oh why? Cut!!!! Drama lang. Hahaha.

    Love all the photos again. The first photo, galerias pacifico, the colorful avenida de mayo...nakakatulala sa ganda.

    I've watched some NatGeo's LOCKED UP ABROAD series, stories on drugs and terrorism (tourists were accused wrongfully) nakakaparanoid ang mga ganitong stories minsan. Ingat. :)

  9. I have never stayed in a hostel, but the choices of accommodations that you had on your trips are amazing.

    Buenos Aires is a dream destination for me. So I'm excited to see these posts to related to BA.

  10. Wow. Are you still on the road? And yes, you make it look like the hostels are rather an elegant way of staying in a place not your home. I just came back from Mexico yesterday, I stayed in a hostel, it was okay, but it wasn't stellar either.

  11. nice collection of pics, as usual, NP.

    i love the tower clock pic. :-)

    the way you described the havanna biscuits made me want to eat biscuits. yea, i know, i cant find one here that is almost as indulgent..

  12. Rizalenio,
    Oh yes, that one too with the 'Locked Up' series sa NatGeo got me really more careful about the security of my own luggage. It's already bad to lose something but getting accused of wrongdoing in a foreign land is one I don't want to experience.

    Photo Cache,
    I have a feeling BA is on your wish list - this is a city with plenty of European vibe to it, lots of history and teeming with good food.

    No, I'm done with the trip last November. I happen to enjoy writing in the present tense. My guess was wrong again - thought you'd be going to Honduras or Guatemala. But close eh!

    you know what, I did miss this that I actually googled it and found out it's actually available even on ebay! I might just buy it :)

  13. Hi Nomadic! Buenos Aires is a fantastic city!! Probably the most European of South America...
    And your pictures are awesome!!

    Thanks for your comments at Blogtrotter Two, where Egypt 2010 ended up in magnificent glory for Ramses II at Abu Simbel! Enjoy and have an exceptional weekend!

  14. Trotter,
    I'm sure you'll make it here once you decide to go all the way to Patagonia.


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