Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Crystal Symphony - Buenos Aires to Santiago, Chile - February 1 - 19, 2019

South America - Crystal Symphony - Buenos Aires to Santiago, Chile - February 1-19, 2019

NOTE - The logs for this cruise were inadvertently deleted so I am going to reconstruct this voyage from memory - this should be interesting.

Our plan was well conceived.  We would fly to Buenos Aires early and spend a couple of days there until boarding the Symphony on Sunday.  

The trip started off in instant crazy mode - Chicago had been in a polar vortex weather pattern for days - sub freezing temperatures, snow, and other wintry conditions had cancelled flights for days.  I was somewhat encouraged by the fact that it was not snowing the day of our flight but what I didn't factor in was the backup of previously cancelled flights.

Just as we were about to head to the airport (the AA app said the flight was on time), I got an email from American Airlines indicating that flight to Miami had been cancelled.  I was offered options in the email, which I took, but these were cancelled in a few minutes.  When we called American, we were told that all flights were cancelled for January 30 (our original flight date) and for January 31 as well.  We then started to check out options for February 1, 2019..

We worked for about an hour on the phone with the American agent and option after option evaporated.  She kept on checking and finally came up with a complicated itinerary to get us to Miami.  Once down there, we could connect to Buenos Aires.  The itinerary she came up with was ORD to Knoxville TN (TYS) and then Knoxville to Miami. 

I also emailed the Cyan Recoleta Hotel in Buenos Aires to let them know our situation and that the original three night stay would only be one night and they said they understood and would amend the reservation.  I also wrote to hotels.com that our reservation would now be just one day.  They sent me a voucher for a future booking,

February 1, 2019 - Travel Day (we hope) - Cold - 30s - Breezy

Our flight to Knoxville (AA4060) was at noon so we asked our cab to come about two hours ahead of time to account for any issues on the way to ORD.  We got there in plenty of time, checked our bags through to Buenos Aires, and made a quick trip to TSA pre-check. All of this went went very smoothly considering the scheduling chaos going on at the airport with all the cancellations.  Many of the issues had gotten resolved during the last two days.

Our plane, an Embraer RJ145 (like a mini 737) was at the gate. We had opted for Cabin Extra Seats and were in 14B and 14C. I could see the pilot doing the walk-around and he came on the intercom and said he found some ice on the wings and we would need to be de-iced. The de-icer came along some time later and doused the plane in ethylene glycol. Like being in a car wash.

The flight to Knoxville was uneventful - the cold air tends to be smoother and at around 2:30 PM we touched down.

We had never been to this airport before - very small and out in the countryside.

We had a near five hour layover in Knoxville as AA3422 (also an Embraer RJ145) wasn't scheduled to depart until 7:12 PM. The time went rather quickly - we had our devices and spent the time reading or catching up on the news.
Another positive note - the waiting area had rocking chairs and you could sit and watch the planes (not a lot of them) come and go,

The weather in Knoxville was cloudy but good and the plane boarded on time and took off on schedule. We were again in legroom seats (10B and 10C).

After another uneventful flight, we touched down in Miami around 9:30 PM Eastern Time.

We were faced with a short connection time as AA931 was scheduled to depart Miami (MIA for Buenos Aires (EZE) at 10:45 PM. It was a big plane - B777-300ER and we had managed to get the primo non-economy plus seats on the plane (43A/43C) we had on our original flight - the last two seats in the back but in the two-seat layout with a little more room. Our Kosher Meals were also set up for this flight by that agent we worked with originally.

The plane had a lot of teenagers (we see that a lot) but the boarding was pretty organized and the plane took off on time for the long flight to Buenos Aires.

The seats were comfortable but it was hard to sleep when you eat dinner at near midnight. I never sleep on the plan anyhow so that was moot. I tried to watch some movies and watch the plane's progress on flight tracker. Note: Even though the seats were the last ones in the back and next to the bathrooms, they were fine. Very few people congregated near the bathrooms - the plane had plenty of washrooms. The galley was also quiet for the whole flight except for meal service.

February 2, 2019 - In Flight to Buenos Aires.

The flight was long but relatively smooth. I tried watching movies but mainly spent time tracking the flight - this puts you in a kind of trance where time goes by faster. Also, traveling South is easier for me because the time zone change is minimal. After our breakfast, we were on approach to EZE.

Our big jet landed pretty much on time at around 9:45 AM. Again, I wasn't as wiped out as I usually am after a 10 hour flight. That will come later.

Our plan when flying on a big jet is to hustle to Immigration Control to get in line before everyone else. A good plan but not when several big jets arrive at the same time, Immigration control was a huge crowded mess and the lines were not moving all that fast.

Eventually, the lines were diverted to get some movement and after waiting for an hour or so, we got to an agent.  He didn't spend a lot of time with us and we were on our way to baggage claim.

Our bags were there - hooray - and we made our way to the exit when a car set up by the hotel was hopefully waiting for us.  He was indeed there and for $25 USD, he took us to the Cyan Recoleta Hotel.

The hotel is a cute boutique hotel located in the heart of the Recoleta neighborhood and easy walking distance to everything.

We checked in at the front desk and spoke to the clerk I had been communicating with since I set up this reservation months ago.  I looked at the bill - he wanted pre-payment for our original three day stay.  I explained to him that I had contacted him and hotels.com about our delay and they did not say we would have to pay for the full three days.  He said I should have contacted "reservations" at Corporate and I told him that no one told me to do that.  Ellen went to the room and I wouldn't budge from the lobby until the issue was resolved.  He called several people and a lot of Spanish was spoken.  Finally, he hung up and said we would only be charged $102 for our one night stay.

We are in room 705 on the seventh floor - we have a great view of the Recoleta Cemetery and the surrounding neighborhood.

We rested up a bit in the room, which is clean and bright.  The hotel was a good choice.

It was pretty warm and we were looking for lunch near the hotel but decided to finish off the food we brought with us on the plane and then get a nice dinner later.

We found a nice area with several different types of restaurants.  We ate al fresco and had some salads and sandwiches topped off with an Argentine beer.  The food was different but good and I needed a good meal after our travel ordeal.

We walked a little more around the neighborhood but the kids started to congregate after dark and brought the music with them.  We decided that our day was long enough and headed back to the hotel to rest up for tomorrow.

What a crazy day but we are here in Buenos Aires.

No comments:

Post a Comment