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Old May 19, 17, 9:11 am   #1
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Cool Going South (Uruguay, Argentina & Chile) w/ Avianca and a little bit of Rouge

Intro
Hello all! 11 months w/o a holiday is enough to make anyone go a bit batty.

In any case, like many I was trying to earn enough points to take a holiday. While my original plan was to go to New Zealand in first, the devaluation last fall, pretty much killed that idea, let alone how limited flights were.

I then started looking into other options, and South America came to mind. I’ve been curious about Uruguay since I heard a classmate talk about it in class in university so I figured why not?

Of course reading stories from others here about the key to maximizing points is to do multiple stops made me think “Why not add in Argentina and Chile too? They have wine there!”

Well after numerous calls to Aeroplan (since I couldn’t book it online on my own) and wanting to add in a stop to Mexico for lunch with my fam on the way back (made booking even more complicated), everything was booked and ready to go.

Of course, this will be in business class, and it’s actually my first time flying this way, so I’ll give the following disclaimer in that I’m easy to please and def. not a DYKWIA type of person. Working in hospitality gives one sympathy.

But I digress… stay tuned for a heavily wine focused Trip Report with a business class noob…

First stop... LIM for the evening, with a 50min stopover in SAL.

Last edited by iceblueshoes; May 22, 17 at 9:47 pm Reason: better title
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Old May 20, 17, 8:22 am   #2
  
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Looking forward to this adventure!
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Old May 20, 17, 3:04 pm   #3
  
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Hey, question for you. I take it you are connecting at Lima to catch an avaince flight to Uruguay. Did they make you pay the departure tax at the airport?
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Old May 21, 17, 5:20 pm   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steveo View Post
Hey, question for you. I take it you are connecting at Lima to catch an avaince flight to Uruguay. Did they make you pay the departure tax at the airport?
I plan on uploading tonight but to answer your question, yes they made me pay. ($31 USD)
Would have been nice to have been warned about this prior and aeroplan goofed in booking with a 20hr connection instead of as a sep flight.
Ugh...
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Old May 22, 17, 9:06 pm   #5
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Day 1
Well the day had finally come for me to begin my trek to South America.
First it was off to the airport in order to get my flight with Avianca.

Since I was a first time Uber user, I figured, why not try it out and use it to get to the airport. Ride was fine. Driver was actually a good conversationlist. Unfortuntely Uber didn’t apply my credit it.
If anyone can tell me how to contact them, it would be greatly appreciated.

Anyways though, got to the airport and enjoyed not having to wait in line.
After clearing security I went to the Maple Leaf Lounge. Finally, I would have the chance to check out the much talked about Maple Leaf Lounge… Annd…… it’s rather underwhelming…
trip1
Neat fountain.

Lounge wasn’t too busy. In decent shape, looks nice but the food and drinks selection was average at best.
trip2 by
trip3 by

trip4 by

Decent spirits though, but it reminded me of the domestic lounge at YVR.
At least it’s not too busy though. Easy place to find a spot to sit.

trip5
I had some macaroni and cheese. It was ok, but nothing great. Also had a few glasses of wine, but wasn’t trying to get drunk or anything.
Anyways, after a little while I figured I should get to the gate so off I went. I could get used to this earlier boarding thing

The plane

Plane is decent enough. No pods sadly, but there’s IFE and the seats are fairly wide.
trip22
trip21
The purser quickly offered us a welcome drink (sparkling wine)
What some people were being allowed to bring as carry-on was beyond insanity…

Anyways, flight itself was ok, but no menu, no real options, besides, beef, chicken or fish. I went for the fish (tilapia) this time (more on this later)
It was alright.
trip20

Meal [trip8
Some sort of wrap thing. Not too shabby.

Since the bathroom was busy for a long time, I decided to use the bathroom in the back (Economy)
trip14
When I got back the flight attendant asked "why did you use the one in the back?"
To which I answered "the one up front was busy for so long."


My happy place:
trip6
And my happy place at dusk...
trip9
Anyways, finally we arrive in San Salvador for a 40-ish minute layover. No time to check out the lounge, just enough to run for a quick washroom break though and then… wait… gee thanks desk agent for saying “we’re boarding soon”…. And then taking another 30mins almost.

Well back on the plane, so far looked the same… until I sat down. No IFE… and no USB. The prior plane had the ports on the side.
Plane is looking a little worn, but life goes on.
trip23

Same welcome drink again… but with some nuts this time.
trip5

Flight to be continued... sorry for the delay...

Last edited by iceblueshoes; Sep 3, 17 at 7:30 pm
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Old May 22, 17, 9:25 pm   #6
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Well finally on board and no IFE means nothing to watch. No big deal since I planned on studying a bit and then napping.

No amenity kit (I'll take a photo of the one I got during the YYZ > SAL flight later on)

Food was more or less the same, although their was an option for a veggie lasagna which I went for:
trip24

As an aside, why offer someone a veggie dish, but octopus as a side... ...?!

The strawberry tart desert was really good though!
trip11

Besides that, not much to say about this flight. Trolls was on the overhead screens. Pursers offered us the welcome drink and addressed us by name. Pretty surprised by it, but a nice touch. I can see why people like it, but honestly, if someone didn't say it, I wouldn't flip out.

Flight got in to LIM about 5mins early, unfortunately Aeroplan booked my trip as a 20hr layover instead of 2 sep. legs, so when I left I had to pay the departure tax. Ugh.
Anyways, more on that later.

But for now, finally made it to Lima. Off to the Ibis to check in...
More to come...

Last edited by iceblueshoes; Sep 3, 17 at 7:35 pm
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Old May 24, 17, 10:24 pm   #7
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So finally I'd made it to Lima.
Thinking my bag would be out quick was a pipe dream. As I mentioned before Aeroplan didn't book it as separate legs, but rather as a layover (20hrs or so) so I was supposed to stay in the airport that time. ...!?

Anyways, finally made to the hotel, Ibis. I decided to go on this one since it had just opened and I didn't know that my previous points expired PRIOR to me booking a non-refundable rate.

Anyways... the room....
trip27

[trip13
trip12
trip30
What's behind here...
trip31
Nifty!

I didn't take any pictures of the bathroom. It's an accessible one. Works I guess.

trip15
The lobby.

After a "nap", it was off to see Lima again.
trip34
trip32

trip33

After wandering around, it was time to get my stuff from the hotel and then back to the airport to continue onto Uruguay.

As was mentioned before, I had to pay the departure tax thanks to a goof up at Aeroplan. By the time it was all done, I had 20mins at the lounge (Not a Star Alliance one)
Let me say, this lounge was a real disappointment.
trip17
trip16

This orange machine was the highlight
trip18
It did make good OJ I do admit.

I did see a llama, so it wasn't a total waste...
trip19

Anyways, finally boarded and just as I thought we'd have the same meals, we got wowed with a lasagna. (Ok not wow'd but same)
Anyways, same crappy seats (no trolls this time)

Food:
trip24
Flight it self was ok, but I had had a hard time sleeping... or trying to, but finally, I'd made it to Montevideo!

Last edited by iceblueshoes; Sep 3, 17 at 7:46 pm
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Old May 28, 17, 2:12 pm   #8
  
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Am I correct the hostesses no longer wear Red Ponchos? I used to see these attractive Avianca hostesses in their red ponchos at 8 AM leaving their hotel to go catch their flight to Bogota while I had to go to work. Since then I wanted to fly Avianca and visit Colombia. FARC kept me away but I think it's OK now to go.

In those days they flew the Boeing 707. One had a bad crash landing in New York.
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Old May 29, 17, 6:35 am   #9
  
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I can confirm that, sadly, the red ponchos are no more. But if you're feeling nostalgic for them, you can feast your eyes on some cool old ads featuring them here:
https://au.pinterest.com/pin/187251296980892969/

iceblueshoes thanks for the report so far. I'm curious to hear your thoughts on Montevideo. I thought it was a fascinating and underrated place.

If you're still there, please drink some delicious Uruguayan Tannat red wine for me, I crave it. Oh, and I recommend the guided tour of the Palacio Salvo, it's fascinating.
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Old May 30, 17, 7:49 am   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mad_atta View Post
I can confirm that, sadly, the red ponchos are no more. But if you're feeling nostalgic for them, you can feast your eyes on some cool old ads featuring them here:
https://au.pinterest.com/pin/187251296980892969/

iceblueshoes thanks for the report so far. I'm curious to hear your thoughts on Montevideo. I thought it was a fascinating and underrated place.

If you're still there, please drink some delicious Uruguayan Tannat red wine for me, I crave it. Oh, and I recommend the guided tour of the Palacio Salvo, it's fascinating.
Hey,
sorry for the delay in uploading/updating, but I did try some Tannat and even brought back a bottle.
I'm actually in Santiago now but trying to fight off a bit of a cold and hoping it doesn't get any worst.
This is really throwing my plans in a loop.
In fact my plans for Montevideo were also thrown out the window. I'll try to update with Uruguay and at least Buenos Aires today.

Last edited by iceblueshoes; May 30, 17 at 8:26 am
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Old Jun 7, 17, 8:49 pm   #11
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Cool Montevideo - Day 1

Again, sorry for the delay. I ended up losing some days of travel due to being sick but am luckily much better. I'm also back home so this should be updated and finished a LOT faster since I'm using my desktop and not my laptop.

Anyways...
So finally it was time to get to Montevideo.
Same boring seats with no IFE.

No matter since the plan was just to sleep. Flight time is about 4-4.5hrs.

After arriving at the airport (pretty snazzy) and then waiting around for enough to people off we went. I was in no rush since I hadn’t booked the prior night.
Sorry for the lack of photos, but the ones I took don't really show much.

Took about 40mins to get into Montevideo, place is pretty quiet for a Sat night.
Finally got to the 4 Points Sheraton SUPER early, it wasn’t even 6am…
Since I was travelling on an employee rate, the front desk agent said he’s only charge me the 10am early check-in rate ($25 USD) instead of the regular one at $50. Also let me grab some food from the buffet table. Since they were just setting up, I just got some cereal and was off to bed.

The room.





The lobby:


Look up!


Well, my plans for Montevideo were sort of tossed out the window because it’s a Sunday and pretty much everything shuts down and with Monday being a holiday, things didn’t really improve much.
Also I wanted to go to a wine bad (Montevideo Wine Experience) in order to try some Tannat. Unfortunately the wine bar isn’t open Mondays so it was off to the old quarter on Monday.
Before walking around I needed a real breakfast. The hotel suggested I try something called a Chivito (like a steak sandwich) at a place called “El Pasivo”. It’s a chain, but pretty good.


The Chivito:


Some shots of my walk to the old area.





This really reminds me of Havana (for better or for worst)




Finally at the wine bar I did a tasting.

As interesting as it was, I can see what Tannat is a grape that only a mother could love. Anyways if ever in the area, I would recommend stopping by. The wines aren’t cheap, but also not a rip off by any means. There are also various wine (mainly Uruguayan and Tannat of course) ranging from about $10 to $60+. Some international wines are also available as well.

There's a tasting bar but here is the group table:

Simple but useful.

My tasting line up:


And the bonus wine:

Probably one of the best wines I had on my entire trip. Super fresh and enjoyable. Had it been cheaper and actually part of my test I would have gladly brought home a bottle.

As some of you may know, I'm prepping to become a sommelier. Although Tannat is not part of my exam, it was interesting to try.
I did bring back a bottle of tannat though to share with my tasting groups though.

I would highly recommend stopping by this place to try out something different.
They're right across from the ferry terminal so one could easily stop in either before or after arriving.
This is the website I used for info:
http://guruguay.com/montevideo-wine-experience/

Since almost everything was closed (it’s Sunday) it was back to the hotel to catch up on some sleep and look up stuff for Buenos Aires.

I'll update with day 2 and the views as well as the hotel room shortly. Will likely be tomorrow... and I mean it. Def won't take anywhere near as long as last time.
Sorry for the delay!
To be continued...

Last edited by iceblueshoes; Sep 3, 17 at 8:06 pm
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Old Jun 8, 17, 12:58 am   #12
  
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Good TR so far and I like the pics you've taken of the cities you've been to.

Looking forward to reading more.
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Old Jun 13, 17, 8:35 pm   #13
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Montevideo - Day 2 and to Buenos Aires

Sorry for the delay. Things have been busy with work(s) (I have 3 jobs) so ya... time is a bit short...


As I mentioned before, the Monday I was there, was a holiday so not many things were open. Also my original plan was to explore the old town on the first day with a walking tour, but I’d already completed the same “path” on the prior day when I went to visit the wine bar.
I then decided to explore the area near the hotel, go up the lookout across the street and then walk along the rambla (boardwalk).

Anyways, how’s the view from the room? Glad you asked!


Not much in the sense of the area that I took in terms of photos, but here are some from the lookout across from the hotel.

Nice clear day.




On a walk near the hotel:


And now some from the rambla.


There were people fishing, running, cycling all throughout. And yes drinking mate too (which I didn't get to try)

This was as far as I got since I was feeling pretty tired.

I almost forgot to mention that the night prior I had recommended by the girl at the front desk of the hotel to get some steak at a local restaurant. It was way too salty and I got charged for cutlery. I took a picture of the receipt and I can post it if need be.
Place is called El Fogon.

When I got back to the hotel I told her it sucked (didn't blame her or anything) but did tell her she should tell foreigners that cutlery is extra.



So the last night, I went back to Passiva and got some pizza.
The pizza was pretty good. If I could get it here, I would.


Anyways, the next day it’s off to Buenos Aires.

I didn’t really have time for anything in the morning so it was pretty much off right to the port in a taxi.

Some pictures of the interior of the port.





Still am not sure why I had to put these on. maybe they couldn't afford a cleaning crew?

And some of the boat.




Not much to see but there is duty free. Based on the prices I saw, with the odd exception, for those in Canada or the US, it’s almost certainly cheaper to buy things at a normal store.

I did have a few other pictures but they came in blurry since the boat kept moving.

Anyways, I was in the regular tourist class. Since the ride was only about 2hours on the high speed ferry named after the pope (Juan Francisco) I figured it was good enough.

I did some reading mainly. Tourist class holders can't go upstairs. Not sure if the view is better up there, but I presume so!

One thing to keep in mind is that I thought all the windows were blocked off, but the first 2 on the side do have a bit of a view. Unfortunately I only realized this about 10mins before we got into the port at Buenos Aires.

Bye Montevideo! It's been a slice!


Welcome to Earth!

So how do I feel about Montevideo so far? People are generally friendly but not overly warm/nosey like other parts of Latin America. Some of you may know what I mean. The easiest way I can explain Montevideo is like saying it's a smaller version of Buenos Aires, albeit with more of a Spanish feel. The streets reminded me of being in Spain to be honest.
Would I go back? Sure, but it'll likely not be anytime soon though.


Next up, Buenos Aires.

Last edited by iceblueshoes; Sep 4, 17 at 10:23 am
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Old Jun 15, 17, 1:00 am   #14
  
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Wow, that is a new one having to pay to use cutlery!!! :O
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Old Jun 15, 17, 10:18 am   #15
  
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Nice report, looking forward to reading the rest.

The "cubierto" charge is typical in the Southern Cone and in some parts of Southern Europe (I've been charged "coperto" in Italy as well). It's basically cutlery + bread basket. Not that you can refuse it, though. Some places have huge signs "We don't charge cubierto", but those are usually on the less exclusive side. I guess I'm used to it as a local, but it seems just as silly as the 20% tip they have in the US, which gets on my nerves every time I visit

I agree with your impressions about Montevideo. The Francisco ferry is allegedly a green vessel, hence they make you wear the silly things over your shoes. Sounds a bit too much, but oh well, it's the fastest way to get to Montevideo from BA.
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