Buenos Aires – Day One

Buenas noches, gentle readers!

I’m sitting here on the 15th floor of the beautiful Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt on a balmy Buenos Aires evening listening to – what else? – tango music to get me in the mood as I report to you.

Tango
Inspiration for this blog entry

Yes, we’ve arrived.

But before we arrived, we had to pack – and you know that this is a very delicate topic around certain people – no names, please. Here’s our luggage just before we left for the airport:

Luggage for 3 Weeks
Think we brought enough for 3 weeks?

As it was a late night flight (departure was at 10:00 PM), we opted to eat in the terminal at JFK, which has an outpost of Bobby Van’s Steakhouse. By doing so, we could (a) get a decent meal (don’t expect to eat well on the plane!), and (b) go to sleep as soon as we wanted.

Bobby Van's
Grabbing a quick bite before our flight

Our flight down was about as painless as it could be. American Airlines has a non-stop every night from JFK. They’ve reconfigured their business class section with very comfortable seats that can be adjusted into lie-flat beds.

AA Reconfigured
My bedroom last night

So within an hour of takeoff, I’d taken my pharmaceutical of choice, changed into “something more comfortable” and got under the covers. Miraculously (for me), I slept for almost 6 hours. Woke up in time to see a really good flick – The Walk – and had some breakfast, changed into my Buenos Aires attire, and prepared to land. Total flying time was just a bit over 10 hours (traveling almost 5,300 miles).

Final Approach into BA
Here’s our final approach before landing this morning

Getting through passport control was pretty much a breeze in spite of the long queues and, by the time we arrived at baggage claim, our luggage was already circling the carousel. How lucky are we? From there, we had to go through customs and have our luggage scanned (never seen that before when entering a country). Fortunately for us, Veronica at AmEx FHR had arranged with the hotel to have a waiting car and driver for us, so we were literally whisked into Buenos Aires and to the hotel.

Thanks again to Veronica and the Platinum FHR program (of which I’ve spoken many times), not only did we get the usual FHR amenities (complimentary breakfast, late check-out and $150 spa credit), but we were also afforded a DOUBLE upgrade! So, we’re beautifully ensconced in a Deluxe Park Suite. TheCulturedTraveler’s travel karma continues!!!

The Palace. jpg
A view of the Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt

Turns our my sister and her husband beat us to the hotel. They had flown in from the west coast, so we met up with them after getting settled in. Feeling a bit peckish, we checked out one of the hotel restaurants, all of which have lovely terraces, and had a delicious bite of lunch.

From there, we went for a little stroll to get acclimated to our surroundings and saw the restaurant we’ve chosen for tonight, Fervor, only a couple of blocks away.

Then back to the hotel where AAC CPA and I passed out for about an hour.

As I began this entry, he took care of his evening ablutions. This being our first night in town, we’re having an early dinner, so we can hit the ground running tomorrow.

Tick Tock – Three hours later:

Just back from a fabulous dinner at Fervor. It had been recommended by several friends, including some folks who live in BA. Our new friend at the hotel’s reception desk said it’s one of the best meals in town.

Fervor
Definitely check out this establishment if you’re coming to BA

He wasn’t lying – it was great. Basically a beef place, we ordered 3 different cuts of beef to share. All were succulent and perfectly prepared. To compliment the beef, we had this amazing Malbec that you’ll all want to Google and find for yourselves:

Wine at Fervor
This wine will blow your mind.

Afterwards, a short walk back to the hotel and calling it a day in anticipation of our first full day in town.

Luckily for us, we’ve engaged the services of a local guide to squire us around the city for the next 2 days. More about it and him in my next post.

For now: adios, amigos!!!

What’s New, Buenos Aires??

I know it seems like all we do is travel, travel, TRAVEL! Cruising around the Caribbean in November, spending Christmas week in London town and now here we go again. Too much galavanting about in too short a period of time, you say? Well, maybe – I’m just grateful that we get to go at all!

You may have already noticed that I like to plan my travel way ahead. At this point, we’ve booked trips (mostly cruises) through 2017. I think it’s great to get them on the calendar. Sometimes, there’s a financial incentive to booking early. If you’re traveling by ship, perhaps you want to snag a certain cabin. Maybe you’re traveling with friends or family and need to coordinate. You get my drift.

Here’s the deal: our cruise line of choice for the past 11 years has been Crystal Cruises. We’ve sailed on Serenity or Symphony more frequently than all other cruises we’ve taken combined. We like the service, the crew, the spaciousness of the vessels and, not least, the passengers with whom we sail, many of whom have become good friends over the years.

TRAVEL TIP: Crystal Cruises

So, about 2 years ago, Crystal announced that, in January 2016, Symphony would be sailing from Buenos Aires to Antarctica and to several other ports. We’d never been to Buenos Aires, let alone South America. And how many opportunities do you have to visit Antarctica? It sounded too good to pass up, and so we booked it, way back then. I contacted my friends at Tully Luxury Travel, chose my cabin, and they booked it for us. Thank you, Nada and Monika.

TRAVEL TIP: Tully Luxury Travel

Crystal Symphony Antarctica
Look what awaits us in about 2 weeks!

As it turns out, my sister, Leslie, and her husband, Ron – who introduced us to Crystal Cruises back in 2005 – decided that they wanted to get in on the action and offered to join us. They’re good sailing buddies, so we thought “why not”?

Crystal Voyage
Here’s where we’ll be going

In addition, we have other good friends who are joining us on this cruise, at least 4 of them (that we know about). One fun thing about Crystal is that, while you’re at the terminal waiting to embark on sailing day, you’re inevitably going to run into people with whom you’ve cruised before. AAC CPA and I are always amazed (and totally flattered) when people walk up to us on line, reintroduce themselves and say how pleased they are to see us again. That’s pretty nice, right? That’s also part of the Crystal experience.

Our cruise doesn’t begin until January 13th, so we decided to fly down to BA this Thursday evening (American Airlines has an 11 hour, nonstop overnight flight from JFK to EZE) and we’ll spend 5 nights at the Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt. It’s reputed to be one of the loveliest hotels in Buenos Aires. Thank you Veronica at AmEx Platinum FHR for taking care of our hotel reservations.

TRAVEL TIP: AmEx Platinum FHR Program

BA Night
We’ll be there in just about 72 hours

BA Park Hyatt
Our digs for 5 nights

TRAVEL TIP: Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt

Oh, and here’s another little TRAVEL TIP, if you have the means to do it. You know when your cruise ends and you’re thrown off the ship first thing in the morning (probably kicking and screaming and in total denial)? Well, what if your flight home doesn’t depart for another 13 hours? What’cha gonna do?? Our policy is if you don’t ask, you don’t get. So we asked Veronica if she would contact the Park Hyatt and inquire if we could reserve a “day room” until it was time to leave for the airport that evening. Guess what? We asked and we got! (Thanks again, Veronica!) We’ll be able to check in as early as 9:00 AM, and we’ll have the room until early evening. And, because it’s only a “day room”, the rate has been reduced. So now it won’t hurt so much to get off the ship – we’ll be able to laze around the hotel, hang out by the pool or the spa, and just be pampered, pampered, pampered.

If you’ve been following my posts at all, you know that I’ve already booked our dinner reservations and retained the services of a very cool guide who will squire us around the city.

And for all of you concerned with jet lag, here’s a cool travel fact: there’s only a 2-hour time difference between NYC and BA. Not only that, it’ll be the same everywhere we sail on the cruise. Jet lag: BE GONE!

Casa Rosada
Guess who lived here once upon a time

I’ll be posting while we’re away although, as usual, we’ll probably have the usual lousy Internet challenges for the 2 weeks we’re aboard Symphony. I know, poor us!!

Stay tuned – it’s going to be a great trip!