Welcome to this, the fifth leg of my 2017 winter holiday trip!
I'm on my way to Montevideo, the capital city of Uruguay.
In my previous report I was left languishing at Aeroparque airport, in Buenos Aires, in an eight-hour-long layover, an experience not for the faint of heart, mainly due to the smaill, claustrophibic waiting area, the scarce variety of shops and services, and those unbearably uncomfortable seats!
If you ever have to make a connection at AEP, make sure you bring a thick cushion to seat on!
This is leg 5 of 8 of this trip. You can also read the reports for flights 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8. No flight tracker was able to track the flight completely, so I added the red line on this map.
Paying for my sins
I arrive at AEP at 1:05 p.m. My connection to Montevideo departs at 8:45. That means 7 hours and 40 minutes of confinement here.
I wouldn't complain if AEP had more cafeterias or restaurants to choose from, or gift shops to look around, or a newspaper stand, or TV screens, or at the very least somewhere to lay down and take a nap… but there's nothing of this here! You have to make do with the duty free (expensive as h*ell), the only restaurant (didn't even dare to order), or the only candy shop. Ah, and a vending machine for sodas and one for mineral water. It's apalling for an airport with so many connecting flights! AEP is used for all regional flights, and many passengers are in transit between different South American countries.
You just can't sleep on these rib-breakers!
Seconds and minutes pass as slowly as drops from a dripping faucet filling up a bucket like those I saw at SCL this morning. And I can't leave until the bucket is full.
With red eyes, awake since 2:30 a.m., my elbow on the armrest and my hand holding my chin, I see the day get darker and darker outside, from this…
I must have been a very bad person in a former life to deserve this.
Pneumonia, anyone? (Boarding)
When I finally hear the words "Pasengers of flight AR2386 to Montevideo, proceed to gate 19" I don't jump for joy. I can't! I can barely move! I rather crawl across the boarding room, cleaning the floor with my backpack as I drag it behind me.
I don’t understand the gate numbering system at AEP. I only see two gates in this waiting room, but they are numbered 17 to 22.
At the end of a jetway there should be a plane, right? Not here. This jetway leads to some stairs…
…that wind around the case of an elevator.
There's a chilling draft coming from outside. We want to board that bus quickly, but all we find at the bottom is…
We look at each other wondering what has happened. Where's that bus? The wind is freezing! Ah, there comes a blue bus….
…and there goes the blue bus.
But here comes a green one…
…and there goes the green one.
Eventually, we board the third bus with chattering teeth. Making us board when the bus was ready would have been a nice detail. Bronchitis or pneumonia don't sound like a good idea for anyone's holidays!
Surprise, surprise! The bus is a Metalpar. It stands for “Metalúrgica Paredes”, which is a Chilean company. I didn’t know they had a subsidiary in Argentina.
Qué nervios! My first Embraer ever!
It's 6-year-old LV-CIH.
That truck must be loading my gluten-free snack!
You might notice that Austral's livery is exactly the same as that of Aerolíneas Argentinas. It's because Aerolíneas took over this airline but they kept the red line as a reminder of Austral's history. Very considerate.
The cabin looks bright and modern. Much nicer than the dim, yellow lighting of my usual flights on A319s.
Wow! The seats are equipped with small screens and a USB port!
Great seat pitch!
I suppose my previously-ordered, much expected snack will fit very well here.
Safety instructions both sides.
I never saw this before. A special electronic devices “quick guide”…
…explaining what devices are allowed, and when to use them.
Inflight magazine. The same as on Aerolíneas Argentinas.
All the contents in the seatback pocket. Two sets of earphones!
My extremely gluten-free flight
The safety video plays…
…as we taxi.
And off we go, at last!
I’m on the verge of tears. LOL Goodbye, AEP.
Leaving Buenos Aires behind and flying over the Rio de la Plata. We head north and then east.
From here on I can see the lights of some Uruguayan towns across the river, but not my camera nor my cellphone can take decent photos in the dark.
Curtains closed to serve the Cóndor Cabin pasengers. I assume the economy boxed snacks will be handed soon.
In the meantime, let’s browse the IFE. A welcome message loops in Spanish, Portuguese, English and Italian. Many Argentines (if not most of them) have Italian ancestry. In Chile we say that Italians have Argentine names!
…what’s in the video section…
Mamma mia! Cos'è questa cagata?! (It’s OK. I’m just practicing my Italian) XDDD
In the music section… Gustavo Cerati!! I can't say his name without bursting into tears! He wrote the soundtrack of my generation! His music is deeply llinked to my high school years in my mind. He was part of Soda Stereo, the leading Spanish-language rock band in the 1980s when I was a teenager. In 2010 he suffered a stroke after a gig in Caracas, Venezuela, which left him in a coma until he passed away in 2014. :''''(
And Ricky Martin. "A Quien Quiera." OK, yo quiero. XDD
I miss the views Montevideo because we fly north of the city and make a U-turn to the right towards the airport.
All I can see is the east neighborhoods by the river as we approach MVD.
Cabin ready for landing. Has anyone seen my gluten free snack? I chose the gluten-free version. I didn't dream it!
Double-checking my itinerary later on, I realize that the change in my original reservation from flight AR2392, departing from AEP at 14:30, to flight AR2386, departing at 20:45, sealed my fate. AR2392 has a snack service ("Refrigerio" = "snack")…
…but AR2386 doesn't. "Sin servicio de comida" = "No meal service." However, my request for a gluten-free snack is still there. That means, I will receive a delicious, gluten-free piece of NOTHING. >:(
But something is undeniable: it WAS gluten-free.
Well, here we are at last, after a short hop of less than 30 minutes.
This is what flightradar24.com could see of my gluten-free flight.
We taxi towards the west side of the terminal.
The bus is waiting for us. The wind is freezing here, too.
Is this really Carrasco airport?
It was little more than a bus stop when I was here back in 2004!
Look at it now! What a handsome terminal!
Not precisely a red carpet to welcome us…
…but definitely much more interesting!
We finally make it to the “arribos” area. Weird word for me. The word in Chile is “llegadas”. In fact, every time I travel to some Spanish-speaking country I feel I’m coming from Mars. Nobody understands what I say! P’ta la weá! XDDDD
"Air Police". Wow!
Ours is the only flight arriving at the moment. This is the line for immigration.
This would be the whole group. Only two or three people behind me.
After immigration, duty free. Julia! Always regia estupenda, as we say in my country.
From here to baggage claim, and then to customs. You can’t get lost here!
It doesn’t take more than three minutes for us to recover our bags.
Customs now. Oh! But I have to fill in the immigration form, right?
Well, I should have read the instructions besides. I must fill in the form only if I’m carrying excess baggage or if I’m carrying some of those prohibited items. Please, understand me. Most of my brain went to sleep already.
You see? I’m a diligent traveller. Just give me forms and I will fill them in.
By the time I head for the screening, everybody else has gone! Looks like I'm the last one before they can turn the lights off and close for the day!
Immigration screening in Chile always makes me nervous because they are very strict. No fruit, no seeds, no wood whatsoever. That’s why I ate my clementine at once in the previous leg. I wonder if it's the same here in Uruguay. Well, I put my bags on the belt and ask those sitting gentlemen - engaged in lively chat - if I must take off my jacket, too. “Nahh,” they say. “Just walk through.” "Do you need this form?" I ask, expecting my hard work to be appreciated. "Nahh. Not necessary," they reply. My heart is broken. I put so much dedication in it!
After the screening, I'm free to move around Uruguay! Woo - hoo!
A giant, friendly "Hola!" welcomes me at the main hall. At the information desk I learn that you can get to the city in a taxi, in a transfer van (which won't leave unless they have five passengers at least), or by bus.
You know, I like "enriching" (cheaper) experiences, so I take the bus. The bus stop is right outside the terminal. Any bus saying "Montevideo" will take you downtown for 58 Uruguayan pesos (2 USD). They will leave you at Tres Cruces bus station, where you can take a taxi (or Uber) to anywhere.
Montevideo is a wonderful city, full of amazing architecture and nice places to visit. I was incredibly lucky to stay with an Airbnb host right next to the Ciudad Vieja (Old City) the historic area of Montevideo. It was a fantastic experience!
I hope you enjoyed the report. Don't miss the following…
Tourism Bonus - Montevideo's Ciudad Vieja (Old City)
Ciudad Vieja is the name given to what used to be the original city of Montevideo, before it outgrew the walls that surrounded it. I was very lucky to find a hosting place right next to it, and in front of the sea (actually, "the river"). The bus from the airport (big red circle) to the center of the city was 58 UYU (2 USD), and the taxi from there to my Airbnb was 180 UYU (6 USD)
I visited some places more than once. That's why you might see photographs of the same building taken earlier in the day or later in the day, with a cloudy sky or with a clear sky in this bonus.
The morning after my arrival, my host invites me to climb to the top of his apartment building. This is the view to the west, where the Ciudad Vieja begins…
…and to the east, That avenue runs all along the riverfront.
And that would be the way towards the center of the city.
Two blocks from my accomodation is the Teatro Solís. This is the back of the building.
Across from the theater is this building on the right, the Intendencia (city government)
The front of the Teatro Solís.
It’s very well preserved.
Look at that lamp!
And the details of the ceiling!
Uruguay has ine of the highest human development indexes in Latin America. proof to this is its culture of tolerance and social advancement. Something like this is still some years in the future of my country, I think.
I only have one objection. Do those signs mean that women, gay men and transgender people must share one restroom while "straight" males have a restroom of their own?
That doesn't seem fair!
The theater's gift shop.
Two streets from the theater is a building that called my attention since I saw it in a world atlas asa child: Palacio Salvo.
I used to think it was a space rocket!
Now I have to walk under its arcades every day, even when I go to the supermarket around the corner!
Palacio Salvo stands by the Plaza de la Independencia.
Opposite Palacio Salvo, on the other side of the Plaza de la Independencia, stands the last remaining of the wall that surrounded the Old City. This stone door marks the beginning of the Paseo Sarandí (paseo = pedestrian promenade)…
…which runs west all the way to the sea front.
Of course, it has lots of shops…
…and art, like this mural.
This style is widely and intensely copied in Uruguay. It was the style of an artist called Joaquín Torres García, and it became something like a trademark of Uruguay, along with that of Carlos Páez Vilaró, that you will see in my next report.
An art gallery.
Wow! Van Gogh’s portrait in pieces of wood!
You can rent bikes, too. The traditional ones, like these, or mountain bikes.
…down to this fruit shop…
…and a market where you will find restaurants and the cheapest gifts shops, if you need to know. That imposing building at the bottom…
…is a naval facility. "General Headquarters of the Army"
I love this entrance!
In Paseo Sarandí, as all around Montevideo, you will see these little mosaic-like patches.
They were originally a way to protest for the lack of maintenance of the city streets. At first, the authorities took those patches off and arrested the "artists", but people complained and they left them alone.
I walk around the Old City in awe. Look at that building in the corner.
Isn’t it amazing?
All those details!
We have so few like these in Chile, if any. Earthquakes, you know?
I continue strolling around the streets of the Ciudad Vieja…
…looking at the facades…
…like this one…
…or this one.
The Old City is like an architectural caleidoscope. Alway changing. Always beautiful. Always surprising. Can you read there? "The Montevideo Gas Company Limited." A reminder of how infuential the British were in these latitudes, too.
My Airbnb host took me to this building. A friend of his who live in Brazil bought an apartment here and she's renovating it. She paid a fortune for the apartment, and now she's paying a fortune for the renovation.
He says this is an example of a "cité", where people lived in a close community. We have examples of that in Santiago, too, but they are usually a synonym for crowded dwellings inhabited mainly by immigrants.
Details of the iron pillars…
…and a wall.
Renovating old buildings is the latest trend in the Old City. This building, for example, will be renovated…
…and the apartments are already for sale.
But this has made the property prices soar…
…and most buildings are turned into posh hotels…
..or host large institutions.
While many buildings are vacant. They are too expensive to buy and renovate.
Talking about expensive, I saw this in a jewel shop in the Old City. Do you know what they are?
I was told it's one of the few fenced parks in the city.
It was designed by a Parisian landscapist…
…and it's a refuge of peace and quiet. I came here several times just to sit and relax.
The buildings around the park sort of isolate it from the rest of the city.
Thanks for reading to this point.
Don't miss my next report! We'll go on a bike ride along the coolest area of Montevideo: Las Ramblas, or riverfront.
Austral Líneas Aéreas
Buenos Aires - AEP
Montevideo - MVD
Austral It was such a short flight that it's difficult for me to make a fair description. It was punctual. Better IFE than on Aerolíneas Argentinas. Almost redundant, in fact, for this shuttle flight across the river. The cabin was pretty. The only ugly shortcoming would be the cattering. I was offered something, and then received nothing. That's bad manners! Especially if you smell food being served to higher-class passengers. Now that's cruelty!
AEP Why do you hate me, AEP? What have I done to you? (Apart from bad publicity)
MVD Thing of beauty. Plenty of photos and details in my next report, MVD > AEP.
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