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As I wrote about on the start of our trip to Argentina, this would be a 5-star trip on mere pesos (see, Argentina – 5-Star Trip on Pesos – the Journey Begins).
So the tally is in, we paid only $1,350 for a phenomenal 5-star trip to Argentina!
This was a trip of a lifetime – we enjoyed every minute of it.
This post is meant primarily to cover what we spent – other topics, such as the hotel fitness centers and jogging maps, will be covered in greater detail in upcoming posts.
Flights – $250
We flew on Lan Airlines in Economy.
Our first flight was an overnight flight from New York (JFK) to Santiago, Chile (SCL). We connected in Chile for a flight to Mendoza, Argentina (MDZ).
On day 3, we flew from Mendoza (MDZ) to Buenos Aires (AEP)
On day 8, we were on an evening flight from Buenos Aires (EZE) to Santiago (SCL), and connected with an overnight flight to New York (JFK).
The flights would have easily been $1,000 – $1,500 per person or $2,000 to $3,000 for the two of us.
I used British Airway miles (pre-Avios) to pay for the trip. At the time I booked it, the rate was 40,000 miles with free stops (“open jaw”) per person. Thus, I used 80,000 British Airway miles for this trip. I had gotten the miles as a sign on bonus when I got the British Airway Visa from Chase Bank. The tax and fees charged for the tickets was about $250.
Thus- we paid $250 for airfare valued at $2,000 to $3,000.
A word about the flights.
All of the flights, except the flight from Santiago to Mendoza, were on Boeing 767s. The configuration of the 767 in economy is 2-3-2, so, even though the seats felt somewhat cramped, we did not have to worry about a middle seat. Also, the airline imposed a weight limit for carry-ons, so we had to check our bags. The entertainment system was great – individual systems, with choices of movies, games, tv shows, or over 1,000 cds. The food was nothing special, but filling, and drinks were complimentary.
The flight from Santiago to Mendoza (I don’t recall the kind of jet it was) flew directly over the Andes. It was breathtaking to see the snow covered mountain tops peaking through the clouds. This part of the journey was very turbulent in both directions (is it always turbulent to fly over mountain ranges or were we just “lucky”?).
All of our flights were on time, except the flight from Mendoza to Buenos Aires. Why? Because the entire Argentinian National Rugby team “Pumas” was arriving that afternoon to play a big match a few days later against the South African team. This was a huge deal – having the National team play in the little city of Mendoza, and the airport was filled with young boys and their dads (most of whom were damn good looking, but I digress) waiting in anticipation of their heros’ arrival. (when Won’t Run For Miles saw the huge crowd of kids in the airport, he asked: “Is Justin Beiber coming to town?”). This turn of events was amazing to behold because when the team members did arrive, they took the time to give autographs and photo-ops. So many children were made happy that day. I even got a photo with one of the players!
|At the Airport Waiting for Pumas|
|Stopping to Give Autographs|
|Jumped in For a Photo Op…..|
Lounges. We did not have access to the Lounges in Santiago, but, in Buenos Aires, we were able to wait in the United Club Lounge (I have United Club Membership as a result of having the Chase United Club Visa).
Hotels – $270
In Mendoza, we stayed at the Park Hyatt Mendoza Hotel, Casino and Spa. Everything about this hotel was wonderful, including the marble bathroom, the complimentary bottle of Malbec wine and even the wine-scented toiletries! Its no secret that I love Hyatt hotels – and this property and the staff did not disappoint. We used points for this stay. The room would have otherwise have been $250-$300 per night. Muchas gracias.
|Lobby at Park Hyatt Mendoza|
|Nice Shower and Bath!|
|Hey, We Can See the Andes from our Window!|
The first two nights in Buenos Aires, we stayed at L’Hotel Palermo in the Palermo Soho area of Buenos Aires. I found this hotel by doing lots of research in Tripadvisor, Kayak, Expedia, and so many other sites. The price was about $115 per night with breakfast, and so worth it. We loved this hotel and actually didn’t want to leave there. We’d go back there in a heartbeat!
The only glitch that occurred at this hotel was that, for reasons unknown to us, the fuse blew in our room the first night and we were without electricity overnight. The hotel staff apologized profusely and upgraded us to one of their Master Rooms the next morning.
The next three nights in Buenos Aires, we stayed at the Palacio Duhau-Park Hyatt in the Recoleta area of the city. It was a dream come true. We used “free nights” from our Hyatt Visas for this stay (it wasn’t easy but I convinced Won’t Run For Miles to get a Hyatt Visa card from Chase). Because I am a Diamond Hyatt member, the room was a very large suite. And this wasn’t just any suite – it was beautiful and the service was impeccable. The rack rate for the room was well over $1,100 per night. Our rate: Priceless!
|Nice View of Courtyard From Restaurant|
Adding in tips, we spent about $270 for seven nights at some of the finest hotels in the world.
Ground Transportation:Taxis to and From Airports – $130
Although it is possible to take public transportation to and from airports in Argentina, we were leary to do so having heard lots of stories of crime and passing off of counterfeit bills, so we took radio taxis or hired drivers. I estimate this cost about $130.
On a day-to-day basis around Buenos Aires we walked a lot and also took their public buses – which cost only 2 pesos per trip (less than US $0.50). Won’t Run For Miles touched on this in his post Brother Can You Spare a Peso? One thing I will say, is that it is difficult to find a directory of buses – we found the people at the tourist information kiosks helpful on this. Also, the bus drivers start driving while the doors are still open, so the experience can be rather funky!
As I mentioned, a lot of our local touring was on foot. Once, we had the experience of deciding to walk from one area of Buenos Aires to another, instead of taking a taxi or bus – San Telmo to La Boca. We didn’t mind that the distance was a little far. What we hadn’t realized though, was that we ended up walking through some rather rough, depressed and unsafe areas. I would’ve taken photos but was scared to take out my camera or iPhone. Oh well. We persevered.
Visit to the Maipu Wine Region in Mendoza – $350
This was our “splurge day,” and so worth it. On recommendation of Alex (Gaucho) at Milepoint, and our friends Jeanne and Keri at Heels First Travel, we hired Miguel as our tour guide at an arranged price.
Miguel picked us up at our hotel at 9am (having told us to eat a big breakfast because we’d be drinking by 10am!), and drove us to three wineries: Mendel, CarinaE (all their wines are named for constellations) and Trapiche. Each property, tour and tasting was different, but equally sensational. The wine tastings cost anywhere from $5 to $10 per person.
|Wine Tasting at CarinaE|
We concluded the afternoon with the lunch of a lifetime, at Familia Zuccardi, a winery who’s restaurant is rated #1 in Mendoza. Lunch cost a little over $100, and worth every peso.
|Enjoying Lunch (and Vino) at Familia Zuccardi|
This was one of those awesome days that I’ll never forget.
Meals – $350
All of our breakfasts were included in our hotel stays. We were full from breakfast, so we only had full sit-down lunches a few times.
|Breakfast at Park Hyatt Mendoza|
|Lunch the First Day we arrived in Mendoza|
|Breakfast at Park Hyatt Buenos Aires|
Every night we had delicious dinners at amazing restaurants. Usually some sort of steak and a bottle of good Malbec wine. (whoever said you can’t live on steak and wine was wrong!). Most dinners cost only about $50 with tax and tip. Wow!
|Dinner at La Cabrera, our Favorite Restaurant|
All tolled, we spent about $1,350.
On recommendations from friends, we did go to some of the better leather stores in Buenos Aires. The prices and quality were excellent, but then I thought of all the beautiful leather coats in my closet that I hardly wear. Maybe I’ll wear them more this year. We are grateful for many of the other recommendations we received, including those in the comments to another prior post where we requested help planning the trip.
I didn’t even buy any tchotchkies – I meant to buy the little ceramic statue of the two fat tango dancers or tango salt and pepper shakers, but never got around to it. There really wasn’t anything that we wanted to purchase. Our memories are our souvenirs.
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