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OK. Don't Bite My Head Off-Guenmai's Trip Report

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Dec 25th-Merry Christmas...
OK. I know this is the Asia forum, but this trip report is a Christmas present to my Asia forum folks as many of you have expressed an interest in going to Buenos Aires. I will type another kind of report on the Latin forum after I get home and am back on the MAC.

Well, it just took over 20 minutes to get connected to the internet on the borrowed computer that I'm using at the hotel that I just checked into. They've given me a laptop to use.I'm now in a boutique hotel in Recoleta that looks like a mini Versailles. At least 6 different people were here running around and trying to connect me to the forum . It took three different laptops before one worked. At the apartment that I just checked out of there were no computers available.

So, as for Buenos Aires...There's just one word to describe it....
F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S! I couldn't be happier! So, throw your tango shoes into your suitcase and head on down!

I left home on Dec 19th. I was up at 4:30AM and in the airport shuttle van at 5:20AM, heading to LAX for a 9:30AM flight to N.Y.

There was a snow storm in N.Y. so the plane didn't leave until around 1:15PM.

While sitting in the airport, at LAX, all of those hours, I started chatting with one of the flight attendants who asked where I was heading. I told him to Buenos Aires by way of N.Y. He just happened to be the flight attendant for the N.Y. portion. So, he said he'd go over to the computer and check on my flight. I was told that I wouldn't miss my connecting flight as long as weather permitted the plane to fly. The Buenos Aires flight was originating in San Francisco and would be getting into N.Y. later than my flight.

Then he started talking about the great time he had had in Buenos Aires a few years back and started giving me tips.We talked and laughed until he was called to board with the crew.

There was another passenger that I met and she had also been there and loved it and gave me some tips,too. So, I was jotting things down while waiting to fly out of LAX. Smiles.

The flight FINALLY took off and arrived into N.Y. at 8:30PM. It had been scheduled to arrive at 5:55PM. It didn't get to the gate until 9:15PM. The flight to BA was scheduled to leave at 10:15PM, but was rescheduled for 11:00PM.

Dec 20th,2008-Arrival Day!

Arrival time was around 12:40PM. I was totally excited although numb from exhaustion. I had been awake for over 32 hours.

I'm really glad that I was sitting in the FRONT of the plane in the low 20 numbers. I was able to get out pretty fast and into the VERY long immigration line. I was towards the front, but it took me a good 30 minutes to get through the line. There were only 2 immigration officers to handle the foreign passports and then one left. It was hot and very stuffy and I didn't feel any air conditioning. It was only around 82 degrees. The weather this whole trip has been great at around 75-84 degrees.

NOTE: If you decide to fly down to BA, get a seat towards the FRONT of the plane. Plus, the flight attendants ran out of customs forms, but I got one since I was sitting toward the FRONT. Smiles.

So, the immigration agents were hot and fanning themselves and wiping their foreheads,too. I was glad to get through that line.

After leaving that line, and picking up the luggage and there were NOT tons of luggage carts, then the luggage has to be taken to a spot where you have to sent it through a huge x-ray machine. After collecting it again, then you can go.

Right after getting your luggage out of the x-ray machine, you will see the Banco Nacion Argentina window. I was told NOT to exchange money at the other exchange place inside of baggage claim.

I walked over to the Banco Nacion Argentina window to exchange money and was the only person in line as the crowds behind me were probably still in that horrid immigration line. The problem was that the window was closed. There were two workers inside, but one was helping customers who had entered the Banco Nacion Argentina office from the airport lobby entrance. There are two facing customs before exiting and the other out in the airport lobby area. So,I needed to exit and walk around and enter the office from the front.

After I exited customs, right ahead of me was the booth for Manuel Leon Tiendo Remis(car) service. I had been told, by the Latin forum folks, to use this one. They were great...very efficient and really nice. There were other companies, but this company was obviously very well known since I saw no customers at the other booths in the area.

I went over to the booth and gave them the address of where I needed to go and then paid the 131 pesos needed to get me to Palermo Hollywood. I used the pesos that I had bought in L.A. at an exchange place that I've been going to for well over a decade.

I was given a slip and then I told the agent that I really needed to go over to the Banco Nacion Argentina and exchange some more money. The agent said that it was no problem and that to just come back to him when I had finished. He put in my reservation for a car.

The Banco Nacion is right in back of the Manuel Leon Tiendo booth. At the bank there were only two ´people ahead of me, and one was almost finished with his transaction, but it took at least 15 minutes to get through the line. Again, although there were two people in the office, only one was waiting on customers. The lady, in front of me, was trying to exchange more than US$1,000. She was counting out a lot of hundreds. The teller then said to her, in Spanish, that the limit of exchange at that branch (since it's a small branch) was US$800. She didn't look happy. When I got to the window I checked to make sure that what I had heard, in Spanish, had been correct. I then cashed US$500. into pesos and was finished with money issues knowing that that would be enough for my entire 8 day stay in Buenos Aires.

I then went back over to the Manuel Leon Tiendo booth and signaled the agent that I was back. The crowds of customers had formed by then. A driver was sent to me within 3 minutes and off I went to Palermo Hollywood....a 35-minute drive through tiny streets in greater Palermo.

To be continued as the internet is spotty here. I'll post this so that I don't accidentally lose it. Happy Travels!

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