Heading up the escalators after passing through immigration and security at Terminal 1 at Dubai International Airport. We had already printed out our boarding passes, only had carry-ons, used the e-gates for immigration and there was no queue for security so we were through in no time.
Queuing up for the train to Concourse D.
In the Marhaba lounge to get a bite to eat in the early morning.
After enjoying our first trip South America last year we were keen to head back and see some more of the continent.
Flights to South America on Emirates were quite expensive at ~$2k with slightly cheaper options available via Europe or North America. We had flown to São Paulo (GRU) via Lome (LFW) on Ethiopian Airlines last year however for a very cheap $1120.
Ethiopian Airlines had since begun service to Ministro Pistarini International Airport (EZE) in Buenos Aires via São Paulo (GRU) for also a very reasonable $1380.
I decided to take advantage of the cheap fare and upcoming Eid al Fitr holidays to plan a second trip to South America.
Our domestic flights were on Aerolíneas Argentinas, Austral Líneas Aéreas and LATAM Argentina for $130 to $150 for each leg.
Hence our flight schedule for the trip was:
Day 1: Flying Ethiopian Airlines (ET) from Dubai to Buenos Aires via Addis Ababa and São Paulo (DXB-ADD-GRU-EZE).
Day 3: Flying Aerolíneas Argentinas (AR) from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazú (AEP-IGR).
Day 6: Flying Austral Líneas Aéreas (AR) from Puerto Iguazú to Salta (IGR-SLA).
Day 9: Flying LATAM Argentina (4M) from Salta to Buenos Aires (SLA-AEP).
Day 11: Flying Ethiopian Airlines (ET) from Buenos Aires to Dubai via São Paulo and Addis Ababa (EZE-GRU-ADD-DXB).
Heading down to the gates just after 3:30am.
And at gate 21, ready to board the 777 for our 4:25am flight to Addis Ababa.
Wilkomemen / Bienvenu / Welcome. Ethiopian are one of the few airlines to still have 9 abreast seating in economy in the 777, so I made the most of the extra room to nod off for a bit of a nap soon after boarding.
Breakfast of egg and sausage served about 2 hours after departure.
Watching the classic 1971 Clint Eastwood film, Dirty Harry.
Flying down the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Yemen.
Disembarking at a rain soaked Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.
And into the bustling Terminal 2.
Luckily they had built extra security stations and the typically long queue's were now much shorter. Our gate was next to the North American flights however and we were obligated to go through the bodyscanners.
Walking down the jet bridge to the waiting Boeing 777 that would take us to South America.
Reading the inflight magazine where they had an article on their new route to Buenos Aires, and featured the striking El Ateneo Grand Splendid. I made a note to add it to our sightseeing list in the city.
Drinks and some savoury snacks served soon after take-off.
Woody Harrelson as Sheriff Willoughby in the Oscar winning film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Fish and rice served for lunch.
Followed by some coffee to clear away the cobwebs left over from the early morning.
Flying over the Atlantic where we picked up a bit of turbulence.
Beef and rice for our second meal on the 12.5 hour flight.
And back in South America at São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport. Our layover was just over an hour and about two-thirds of the plane disembarked while only a handful of passengers boarded for the continuing flight to Buenos Aires.
Flying over the city of São Paulo just after take-off at 5:30pm.
Chicken and rice for dinner served on the 3 hour flight.
Flying above Uruguay as we make our way to Buenos Aires.
And just over 24 hours after taking off from Dubai, we arrived in Buenos Aires and was stamped into my 118th country visited.
After having our bags X-rayed I went in search of an ATM. I had heard that the ATM fees were very high, so was glad when I found an HSBC ATM and hoped it would offer more reasonable fees given that I bank with them. However the maximum withdrawal limit was 2000 pesos ($72) and came with an exorbitant 260 pesos ($9.40) ATM fee! Luckily I had brought plenty of US dollars with me and avoided using the ATM's for the rest of the trip.
We then caught a prepaid taxi for 800 pesos ($29) for the 45 kilometre ride into the city.
And in our spacious room at the Dazzler Palermo just after 10pm, and then promptly crashed out after the big travel day.
Dawn breaking just before 8am from the top floor of the hotel as we made our way to breakfast.
And enjoying a decent breakfast to start our first day in Argentina.
We then went for a morning stroll through the barrio of Palermo.
Located in the northeast of the city, Palermo is the largest neighborhood in Buenos Aires.
Walking down the beauitful tree-lined Calle Gorriti.
Looking south-east to the city beyond. With a population of over 13 million, Buenos Aires is one of the largest cities in South America.
Although it was a little cool, it was great to have clear skies on our first day of the trip.
We then walked north along Calle Humboldt.
And about to head underground at the Palermo Subway Station on Avenida Sante Fe.
The Buenos Aires Underground is also known as Subte.
We then transferred to Line C to head south to Constitución Station.
Back above ground again at the 153 year old Constitution Square Station.
After a short walk through the barrio of La Boca we arrived at the brightly painted houses in Caminito. Caminito ("little walkway" in Spanish) was originally a stream until the later 1800's when rail tracks were built from the nearby port. The railroad closed in 1954 and the alley was then restored in 1960.
It was a few minutes until our walking tour was scheduled to begin so we grabbed a quick cappuccino to go.
We then met up with Luke for the 2 hour walk through the neighbourhood. Listening to Luke beside the Rocha Bend of the Riachuelo, talking about the life of the Argentinian artist, Benito Quinquela Martín.
Adopted when he was seven years old, he worked at the family's coal-yard in La Boca during the day and attended art night school in the evening, selling charcoal drawings and paintings of La Boca port to supplement the family income.
He eventually visited and exhibited his work all over the world including Spain, France, Italy, New York City and Havana.
A bronze statue of Martín by the old port, holding a sculptors trowel. He later became a philanthropist and bought land and donated the money to build a school, a children's Dental Hospital and a orphanage in La Boca.
We then continued on to the very colourful houses and shops.
The brightly painted corrugated iron is in homage to the days when port workers lived in the area and painted their shacks with whatever paint was available.
A cat drinking from a tap. Some how I don't think this is his first time.
Paintings for sale as we walk along the colourful Caminito.
Outside an artist's house, showing his old family in their original Slovenia (middle), in an immigrant camp in Austria (left) and in their new home of Argentina (right).
A mural for the República de la Boca. In 1882, La Boca seceded from Argentina, with the rebels raising the Genoese flag (as many of its early settlers were from the Italian city of Genoa). The republic was shortly lived however and the rebels duely crushed.
A mural for the volunteer fire brigade of La Boca. Founded in 1884, it was the first to form in the country.
Luke continuing with our dose of our Argentinian history. From 1976-1983 Argentina was held under a brutal military dictatorship that 'disappeared' over 30,000 citizens. The military junta detained students, militants, trade unionists, writers, journalists, artists and anyone suspected to be a left-wing activist. They were tortured, drugged, put onto a plane, and flown out over the sea where they were chillingly 'disappeared' into the ocean.
The Plazoleta Bomberos Voluntarios mural by Lucas Quinto. Influenced by Mexican muralism and Mayan artwork, it is a tribute to the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, an association of Argentine mothers whose children "disappeared" during the military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983. The mothers began weekly peaceful protests in 1977, wearing nappy cloth around their heads as makeshift scarves, and still meet every Thursday afternoon at the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, in front of the Casa Rosada presidential palace.
La Boca is one of the poorer barrio's in Argentina, with its cheaper accomodation acting as a refuge for new arrivals to the city. Luke said the mural with the lady wearing the scarf was meant to symbolise taking shelter in La Boca. Gentrification of the barrio however is threatening to change this however, and it was quite ironic to see the construction of a new apartment building that would eventually cover up the mural.
Outside the bright blue and yellow La Bombonera (the chocolate box) for our last stop of our walking tour. Home of Club Atlético Boca Juniors, mostly known for its professional football team. Famous former players in the team include Diego Maradona and Carlos Tevez.
Luke related to us how the La Bombonera looks like a Ikea store with its bright blue and yellow colours. Apparently it was decided that the team colours were to be the same as the flag of the next ship to pull into port, which just happened to be from Sweden!
He also told us about how Mauricio Macri, the current President of Argentina, had a successful run as Chairman of the club for 10 years before turning to politics.
After the great walkabout through La Boca, Luke's top recommendation for lunch was the nearby El Gran Paraiso.
At the front of the restaurant was the barbeque with some delicious chorizos (pork sausages) on the grill.
We decided to sit outside and enjoy the sun. Some fresh warm bread to start.
Some empanadas de pollo to start.
Enjoying a tasty choripán with fries.
And a cappuccino to finish. A great, simple meal and very reasonable for less than 300 pesos.
After some false starts, we finally managed to catch the right bus north towards San Telmo.
Frutas y vegetales. After geting off the bus, we went for a stroll through San Telmo, the oldest barrio of Buenos Aires.
Rianda posing in front of an interesting street sign. Apparently it means that a school is nearby and to watch for children.
At Plaza Dorrego in the centre of San Telmo, where a couple of tango dancers were putting on a display.
A plaque in memory of Eva Perón, the former First Lady of Argentina, who passed away at 8:25 pm, 26th July 1952.
The historic San Telmo Market.
Mercado de San Telmo was opened in 1897 and later declared a national monument in 2000.
Argentinian aircraft used during the Falklands War / Guerra de las Malvinas.
We then ducked into a nearby café for a mid-afternoon caffeine fix. Buenos Aires has long had a vibrant and thriving café culture. This decor of this historic café was carefully preserved and it felt like stepping back to a different time.
Bar El Federal, open since 1864. Buenos Aires has over 70 listed historic cafés declared bares notables, recognised for their importance to the city's history and culture.
And enjoying a strong café doble along with a sweet chocolate brownie.
We then headed north-west towards the city centre.
9 de Julio Avenue where there were numerous economic protests ongoing in the afternoon.
With inflation at ~25%, there is frequent protest for pay rises.
A few days earlier Argentina had also agreed to a $50 billion loan from the IMF.
Line C of the subway had been closed down due to the protests, so we walked north along 9 de Julio Avenue to the start of line D.
Obelisco de Buenos Aires in Plaza de la República at the interestion of Avenidas Corrientes and 9 de Julio. It was built in 1936 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the city.
And underground again at 9 de Julio station where we caught the train back to Palermo.
After chilling at the hotel for a while, we caught an Uber to the barrio of Recoleta. Uber is technically illegal in Argentina and one of us had to sit in front to make it less obvious that we were simply passengers.
Just after 7:30pm we met up with our guide Jorge for a food and walking tour through Recoleta.
Outside El Sanjuanino.
A restaurant specialising in Northern Argentinian cusine, it is best known for its famous empanadas.
Some very good Malbec red wine from Mendoza to start however.
We then enjoyed two empanadas each, one beef and one chicken.
After the tasty red wine and empanadas we went for an evening stroll through Recoleta.
The Alvear Palace Hotel on Avenida Alvear. Buenos Aires' first luxury hotel opened in 1932 and has rooms starting from $350 per night.
Rambo Antiques. Recoleta is one of the most affluent neighborhoods in the city and with all the luxury stores and Parisian style architecture it definitely seemed it.
Outside our next stop, Clarks Steak House on Calle Junin.
A traditional Argentinian restaurant with quite a colourful and eclectic decor.
We chatted with Jorge about our plans for our stay in Argentina. He had worked in the tourism industry for most of his life and gave us a few tips for the next few days.
Another Argentinian red wine from Mendoza to start.
This time a 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon
The waiter preparing our barbecued provoleta cheese. An Argentine variant of provolone, it is often eaten at the start of an asado (Argentinian barbecue) before the grilled meat,
Served together with some morcilla (blood sausage).
Our grilled meat and vegetables, fresh from the barbecue.
A good fix of Argentinian beef!
And being treated to a complimentary glass of sparkling white wine. A great way to finish a delicious dinner.
Dessert was just short walk away at an ice cream / helado parlour.
I decided to indulge in the impossibly rich dulce de leche (caramel) along with the chocolate helado.
While Rianda settled on the passionfruit sorbet.
At our final stop, Café La Biela (in English: The Connecting-rod Café). Two of their past frequent patrons had been immortalised with their very own statues.
Café La Biela first opened in 1850 as La Viridita. It acquired its present name in the 1950s when it became a popular meeting place for racing car champions, including five times Formula One world champion, Argentinian Juan Manuel Fangio.
Other notable former guests include José Froilán González, Emerson Fittipaldi, Jackie Stewart, Robert Duvall and Francis Ford Coppola.
And enjoying some coffee at the end of a very enjoyable culinary tour through Recoleta. After thanking Jorge for the pleasant evening, we caught an Uber back to Palermo.
And back at the Dazzler Palermo at the end of a great first day in Argentina.
The view from our balcony at 7:30am at dawn on the morning of day 2.
Breakfast again on the top floor of the hotel.
After checking out, we walked north along Calle Humboldt for some more sightseeing in the city.
And back underground again at Palermo Station, ready to catch the rain east.
In Barrio Norte after alighting at Callao Station.
After a short walk we arrived at El Ateneo Grand Splendid.
Orignally a theatre when it opened in May 1919, it was subsequently converted into a bookstore in 2000.
Most of the books were in Spanish but it was a delight to just wander about and take in the amazing and delightful store.
Often described as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, it definitely didn't disappoint!
Passing a very busy dog walker as walked through the streets of Recoleta again.
Outside La Recoleta Cemetery with a black Toyota Corolla hearse parked out front.
Dating from 1822, it contains the graves of several notable people, including Eva Perón and a granddaughter of Napoleon.
The cemetery is set on a 5.5 hectare (14 acres) site and contains 4691 vaults, of which 94 have been declared National Historical Monuments.
It was quite unusual to peer into some of the vaults and see multiple coffins stacked together, knowing that each one was home to the remains of someone's late family member.
Alot of the vaults were very grand and must have cost a small fortune to construct and maintain.
Café La Biela was only a short walk away so we returned for a second visit. While Rianda had a café doble I decided to indulge in a submarino. A hot drink originating in Argentina and Uruguay, it consists of a glass of hot milk with a dark chocolate bar melted inside.
Just after 1pm we caught a taxi for the short drive to Aeroparque Jorge Newbery to catch our afternoon flight to Puerto Iguazú.
A quick look at the flight info board showed that our 3pm flight still showed that it was ontime, but all the prior Aerolíneas Argentinas flights were showing 1-2 hour delays. A little concerning but figured there wasn't much we could do.
We used the kiosks to check-in and then headed through security.
Airside with out boarding passes. The 12:30pm flight to Puerto Iguazú still hadn't boarded yet despite being close to 2pm so although our 3pm flight was still showing ontime, we were resigned to a having bit of a delay.
Our 3pm departure time came and went so we retreated to a Havanna café for a bite to eat.
After a rolling delay, we finally boarded just after 5:30pm for our flight to Puerto Iguazú. A little frustrating but we didn't have any plans for this afternoon and were just glad to be on our way again.
Glass of lemonade served on the ~2 hour flight north.
And outside Cataratas del Iguazú International Airport which was undergoing a bit of expansion and refurbishment.
We then caught a prepaid taxi for 500 pesos for the 20 kilometre ride to Puerto Iguazú.
And getting a buggy ride to our room at the Iguazu Jungle Lodge just after 8pm.
Our room was quite large and included a sizable kitchen and lounge. We were only going to be here for less than 12 hours unfortunately though.
For the dinner we headed to the lodge restaurant. It was quite busy but luckily they still had room and we were quickly seated.
Some warm fresh bread and condiments to start.
For the entrée we shared the smoked Surubi and marinated Pacu on toasted focaccia bread. Both Surubi and Pacu are riverfish, with Surubi being a South American catfish and Pacu being related to the piranha and with teeth that are eerily similar to humans but mainly feed on plant material. Both were very tasty and it was great to taste something both local and a bit exotic.
For the main I had the herb crusted lamb ribs, stuffed with bacon and sun-dried tomatoes with quinoa risotto.
While Rianda had the very tasty Filet Mignon, wrapped in Parma ham and smoke cooked in herbs with potatoes, mandioc, sweet potatoes and malbec sauce.
We then headed back to our room to get some rest before an early morning start tomorrow for a day at Iguazu Falls.