Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Days 0-1 (or is it 2): E-ville to Santiago to Mendoza

Days 0-2: E-ville to Santiago to Mendoza

Weather: Misting and cold in E-ville, hot in Lima, hot in Santiago, hot in Mendoza

Department of Corrections: Well, that didn't take long. One loyal follower realized THB had misspelled Seyed's last name, it is really Alavi. THB now realizes that alt-fact checking is a real thing. Who knew!


Our President-to-be Johnny

Quotes of the Day: THB and DB will be in Chile and Argentina for the next 3 weeks. THB has decided to mingle in some real quotes from Juan Peron and Augusto Pinochet. It’s not easy to tell which is by whom, though the second one in this post is definitely got something missing in translation. One from each:

  • The armed forces have acted today solely from the patriotic inspiration of saving the country from the tremendous chaos into which it was being plunged
  • Whoever wants to follow me, who follows me and who wants to accompany me, to accompany me

Afternoon flight to LAX, and THB and DB wondered if 3.5 hours will be enough of a time gap to make the flight to Santiago via Lima. No problema! Southwest flight is not full and arrives in LA early thanks to an on-time takeoff and tailwinds.
Our coffee spot in LAX

THB sneaks a picture in the security line of what looks like a giant Mark Bradford (taking the pic makes people nervous I will get booted out of the line)

Plenty of time, and DB’s sister, EE, shows up to help us while away the time. Chat over coffee and then head through security. Half hour later, we’re at the airport offshoot of one of THB’s fave spots, Tavern (highlighted in many a blog post).

A great "Nicoise" sandwich

Nicoise sandwich (with the bread nicely warmed up by our waiter) is excellent; DB goes for two salads (curried cauliflower and quinoa with black beans), one Pellegrino limonata, a glass of sauvignon blanc ($17), and one choc chip cookie to go, $67 (wow, airport prices...the sandwich was really good!!).

Night flight to Lima and, even though we’re on the same plane in the same seats, we have to disembark, go through security, get new boarding passes and return to the gate through the duty free shopping market. At one point on the flight,  maybe midway, they called for a doctor. Guess it was good news as they did not have to divert the flight.

Department of Amplification: When THB was diagnosed necrotizing, the docs said we could do the Chile – Argentina trip if we pushed back. So, we pushed back from January 4th to February 19th. THB is pretty much opposed to trip insurance unless required by the groups we travel with.

Here’s what happened: Geo Expeditions handled the land rezzies, and they were able to move everything intact for around $500 total. AMEX handled the flights (and you’ll see, we have a lot of flights), and we decided to split the long LAX – Santiago outbound flight in two with a layover in Lima. When that happened the costs of the flights dropped, by $3,000. Overall, the trip is costing us less than the original January 4th departure. Travel karma is with us (if not statin karma).
Our hotel the last time in Santiago

The Singular

Arrive in Santiago on time, our transfer to the hotel is pre-arranged. Leaving the airport we see the Holiday Inn we stayed in on our short stay in Santiago as part of our Easter Island adventure (THB highly recommends Easter Island: it’s a long way to go and worth it).

Twenty minutes later we’re nearing our hotel, The Singular, when our transfer guide asks about our new president. Needless to say, he’s worried about how the major changes Trumpian are going to affect Chile (down at the end of the earth). We commiserate and explain it’s not easy to see the future.

The tip from the guide: take a copy of our passports, a bit of cash, and a credit card and leave everything else in the safe at the hotel. Same-same as we did in Rio, where it worked out just right. The hotel even made us copies (we already had them) of the passports along with our entry visa.
The greeting in the lobby

There's a childproof button to keep kids and THB from turning on the hot water

The Singular is lovely, THB takes a dip in the rooftop pool and visits the fitness center for a photo-op; THB is not quite ready to a workout yet.
View from the balcony in the room of an art center

Boca Nariz

Ice cream is big here

Close-up of the art center building

We walk around a bit, then dinner is at Boca Nariz (literally Mouth Nose), very close to the hotel and where we ate the night before going to Easter Island. 

It is a combo wine and food bar. THB goes for a red flight of carmenere (el primo of Chilean grapes) of which the 2010 Concha y Toro was excellent;  he orders a full glass: $25! DB has a white flight and enjoys the stringent Concha y Toro sauvignon blanc and orders a full glass as well.  Accompanying the wines we have ceviche and tartare crudo (steak tartare done ceviche style), both very good with the wines and a seafood platter of which the grilled pulpo is by far the best on the plate as all the shellfish is covered with sauce which masks the flavors (and age?) of the clams, oysters, mussels and shrimp. Total: 92K pesos, $123.

THB and DB actually get a decent night’s sleep which is a good thing since we have a 5:20am wake-up for a 6:15 transfer to the airport for a 9:30 flight to Mendoza.
It may be early, it is still a beautiful sight for THB

Breakfast in the lobby at 5:45am: a basket of baked goods (THB is very happy), fruit with Greek yogurt (thick and unsweetened), weak coffee, and a small bowl of guacamole (avocado toast is now officially a worldwide phenomenon), included. Since the price of the land portion is one huge total, THB doesn’t know how much the individual stays are nor the included meals.

Public art just outside Mendoza airport

We’re through security before 7am, leaving over 2 hours on thinly cushioned seats at gate 11. It’s a fine line for the transfer agents: traffic in Santiago and airport security are unpredictable the later in the day you leave for the airport, so the agents tell everyone that it takes 3 hours.

Lines outside one of several money changing businesses in downtown Mendoza (the ATM gave THB only $6 bills)

Irrigation canal next to trees

Up close view

We’ve made it Mendoza right on time, it is a very short flight. We then spend an equal amount of time in the immigration line as one agent after another has a failure of the computer technology that hooks your photo with your thumbprint. By the time it is our turn (there are maybe 7 or 8 people in front of us), we are accepted into Argentina by the 3 agent (well, the 1st agent who has moved to a different computer/station.

A few more shots from around Santiago:

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