Stacy in Antarctica

An adventure to the frozen continent

Nov 1st – Goodbye Australia

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After all of the drama over the weekend I was happy to finally arrive at the airport and get onto a plane headed for Auckland. Mum and Dad dropped me off and I made my way to the Air New Zealand check in counter. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to check my bag through to Buenos Aires because the airlines had issues with people losing their luggage during the ash cloud last June. Therefore, I would have to retrieve my bags and check them in again in New Zealand, scuttling my plans of a quick trip into Auckland city for dinner before flying out again.

After dropping off my bag I walked around to the international departures gate, where I fell in behind a line of people stretching almost 20m back from the entrance. The casualties of a weekend with our national carrier grounded, no doubt. I have to say that I was pretty impressed with the organisation of the security, who were making sure that everyone knew where to go and what to do when arriving at the security check. Only a deaf person would be forgiven for not knowing to empty their pockets and to remove laptops and liquids from their bags.

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It took around 20 minutes to get through security and a further 20 minutes to get through customs before I was free to enter the international terminal and find my departure gate. I unfortunately didn’t get the chance to check out the new shopping section that had opened recently as I really only had just enough time to pick myself up some lunch before boarding the plane.

The Air New Zealand flight was quite enjoyable and while the ticketing process is much like a low-cost airline the service was quite good. I didn’t elect to purchase a meal, which was fine for a 3 hour flight. When I arrived in Auckland I had to pass through customs and pick up my luggage for my 7 hour layover. Since the Aerolineas check in counter would not be opened until 3 hours before my 11:30pm flight, I had no other option but to find a restaurant, buy some internet time, a drink and a meal and get comfortable. Eventually the check in counter opened and while I waited in line I chatted with a Brazilian girl who had lost her credit card a day earlier and had only just realised she didn’t have it. After off loading our bags I left her to call her bank and headed through security and customs into the departure lounge.

Aerolineas Argentina seems to fall into that category of airlines that probably used to be good 20 years ago but never really updated their fleet when the times changed. I am grateful that it was an overnight flight of only 11 hours because the only entertainment was a screen at the front of the cabin and the food left a lot to be desired. Nevertheless, I slept for almost the entire flight (thanks to my trusty Motrin PM) and arrived fairly refreshed in the evening of the same day (Nov 1st) in Buenos Aires.

Customs in Buenos Aires was a little confusing to many of the tourists arriving because there is a special line for Australians, Americans and Canadians. This is because we are specially chosen to pay a “reciprocity fee”, or an equivalent value to the visa fee we charge them to come to our country. So while some people were jumping in and out of the two tourist lines with confused looks on their faces I had come prepared with my US$100 cash and was processed through customs without any hassle. I had organised a pick up by Ana, the woman who runs the guest house I was staying in, Giorgio’s House, but when I exited the airport she was nowhere to be found. A quick call to the telephone number she had left on the reservation notice located her and she bundled me up in her car and drove me in to the city and to the place I would be calling my home for the next 6 days.

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