Not such a big move (like 3 or 4km across the city) but we wanted to be closer to the bus station, and walk around Recoleta and see a few things.
It is however still raining (yesterday it poured down and there was some pretty decent thunder) so we haven’t done so much. We’re planning on doing a free walking tour (not quite free as you pay them in tips) tomorrow if the weather is better. Then, on Wednesday we’re taking a bus early in the morning to Rosario, 4-5 hours away.
We did still manage to acomplish a couple of things today – successfully ordered sandwiches and coffee in a bakery, purchased a SIM card, and topped it up at a “Kiosco”. The self serve machine was a little confusing, but we managed to squeek out a “por favor, ayudarme?” at the shop assistant which I hope means “Please can you help me” rather than “Help its an emergency” haha…
Found a decent supermarket (called “Disco” – there was no disco though) and actually purchased some decent food and meat. Stuffed up a bit though – turns out you pesar (weigh) your own fruit and vege, then the check out person scans the barcode.
The following day was lovely and sunny, so we took advantage of a “Free Walking Tour” that started around 10 minutes walk from our hostel. Buenos Aires Free Walking tours operate both an English and a Spanish version of the tour, naturally we chose the English option with “Fernando”. A typical Argentinian (always carrying a flask and cup for his mate tea) he led us through the streets to various palaces, mansions, plazas, parks, churches and monuments. The tour ended at Recoleta Cemetary, which despite its supposed popularity, was quite empty of people.
(Pic is taken in the hostel kitchen as we forgot to take any last night – whoops!)
Prior to leaving for Argentina, we put a profile up on Couchsurfing (and even hosted a few people ourselves). You can add trips to say where you are going to be/when you are planning on being there, and request accommodation or even just to meet up with locals. We were lucky enough to meet Leila and her partner Matt who live here in Buenos Aires. Bonus point being that the speak fluent English!
We arranged to meet in Palermo, around half an hour from San Telmo where we are staying. Having never used Uber at home, we thought we’d give it a whirl here – not having to tell the taxi driver where we were going (as it’s requested through the app) we thought would avoid any confusion with directions. Apart from being a bit expensive (around 250 pesos or NZ$25) due to a “surge” it wasn’t a bad ride – though we do think that maybe we went along a bit of a scenic route.
Being Saturday night, there were plenty of people out and about. Waiting at the corner by the “TAZZ Bar” we were soon met by Leila and Matt, who led us away from the “bad beer” and through the streets to “Antares”, a craft beer bar/restaraunt (we’re off to a great start!). They ask the door-lady for a table, and while one wasn’t immediately available, we were able to sit at the bar for a drink to start. The names of the beers are in English (although don’t try order an “eye-pee-aye” or IPA – they call it “eeppa”). We’re told this is so they can charge more – seems about right as it was around NZ$9-$10 for una pinta.
We ordered tapas to share, and compared New Zealand to Argentina (as you do). Leila and Matt both work in tourism, and are studying towards a bachelor meaning they are super busy most days of the week – they were even going to get up at 6am on Sunday to study, as Matt also plays futbol (I forget for which team, but “Boca” are the enemy he tells us haha). We get some great tips for while we are here, mostly safety and cultural related. They we’re curious to know what we think about how they greet (a kiss on each cheek) and their general closeness/sharing culture (for example when drinking “mate” or the local tea, everyone shares the same cup & bombilla). They were also curious to know about life in New Zealand, as they think they’d like to live there one day – Argentina is a bit politically troubled and you have to be careful with your things, and it’s expensive to live.
A couple of drinks and a few tapas cost us 533 pesos (NZ$53) which is comparable to what we would have spent in New Zealand for similar food/drinks. After dinner we moved onto dessert at “Persicco” which is an icecream chain over here. A few tips with translations of the menu, Darryl gets a chance to use some Spanish and orders us two icecreams in a type of waffle cone-boat. Getting the toppings is a bit harder (we weren’t prepared with the words for walnut, almond or “mini white chocolate balls with a crunchy centre”) but pointing and assistance from our Argentine friends soon had us sorted.
We said goodbye to Leila and Matt – guys if you’re reading this, thank you for a great night and for all of your tips! When you come to New Zealand, make sure you get in touch 🙂 As we had no wifi, they hailed us a taxi and thats where the fun began. Apparently my Spanish is marginal enough to get us to the right place – “San Telmo, Peru mil cuarenta y tres”, and hold a small conversation about where we are from, and what kind of music we like/he likes. This taxi was a lot better than the Uber – we wen’t directly home along the main roads, and it only cost 175 pesos (NZ$17).
We’re going to attempt to get SIM cards from a “kiosco” today, and maybe brave a market. San Telmo doesn’t feel as safe as what Palermo did, even though it was dark and the middle of the night. We’ve got one more night at Hostel Soleil, then we’re moving to Recoleta which is close to the bus station. Next plan is to head to Rosario, around 4-5 hours by bus from Buenos Aires.
Our final few days in New Zealand were rather relaxed – just a few last minute things to purchase, pack and organize, with most of our time spent doing not much at all (or, if you’re Darryl, fixing your parent’s shed roof, having withdrawls from all the recent DIY on our own house)
Anyway, back to the title. Arriving nice and early to Nelson airport, we began the check in process using the self check in machines. We knew something wasn’t quite right when no boarding passes popped out, instead replaced by what I like to call “a naughty note” (we’ve had one before, for cutting it too close!) which read “Visa Check Required”. What… the… If you don’t already know, New Zealander is a lovely country that is on pretty good terms with most of the rest of the world. Argentina included, we simply rock up, flash that swanky black book and the lovely customs agent stamps you in for 90 days, no fees, no need to apply in advance for a visa.
Or at least that’s what we thought.
Turns out, Air New Zealand said that because our departure date from Argentina was after the above mentioned 90 days, we weren’t going anywhere. Fortunately, a quick call to Air New Zealand and the lovely call centre lady had found us the same fare to return home on the 31st July. We did still have to pay $220 to change (some sort of penalty fee, and then a change fee – all done in under 5 minutes). Back to the check in desk and finally we have boarding passes! (after an hour of sorting our shit out). The check in staff at Nelson said just to apply for the relevant visas once we arrive, then we could change our tickets back… and pay another $220 I’m sure.
I however, believe that they’ve led us astray. See if you exit Argentina, when you come back in, you get another 90 days. That’s why people take the 1 hour boat across the river to Uruguay for a day or two. We had proof of onward travel, bookings for Salar De Uyuni etc that show we weren’t planning on staying the whole 6 months in Argentina, but apparently this didn’t count towards much. So, I’ll be emailing to ask why exactly we had to change our tickets, and hopefully try to get out of paying another $220 (I’d love the original $220 back too on that note haha!).
The actual flight itself was fine – we spent 4 or so hours in the Koru lounge beforehand and ate/drank/showered away the last bit of luxury we might be having for some time. (p.s. the showers in the Koru lounge were AMAZING. Best water pressure ever). We flew on one of the new Dreamliners – and it’s true what they say about the air, it just feels clean and fresh the whole time, not like a normal long haul where you start to feel stuffy a few hours in). Clearing customs in Argentina was a breeze, seems its a luck of the draw whether you go through the x-ray machine or not, and we got the green light so went “libre” or free. 280 pesos each got us a bus ride with Tienda Leon into the city, where they then transfer you by car to your hostel/hotel – a really good service I just wish they explained what was happening! Thank you Spanish lady on the bus for looking after the two gringos 😀
We are staying at “Hostel Soleil” in San Telmo. NZ$85 got us 3 nights in a double room (with a cute balcony overlooking the Police Station – yay for safety), shared bathroom, and free breakfast each morning. There seems to be a mix of full time residents, and a couple of tourists – but it’s not crowded or busy, just a nice sized “homely” hostel. There’s a supermercardo 3 doors down, and hopefully some cafe’s and restaurants nearby. It was dark when we got in last night so we thought we’d wait for daylight to explore.
The Spanish is giving me brain fog – I wish I knew more! Darryl is learning by osmosis – and by asking me what everything means. For the most part we’ve been able to understand what they’re saying, or at least enough words to figure it out. A few blank stares from us, or “deep in thought” type looks has people either quickly switching to English, or speaking slowly and more clearly… both help!
The place we’ve called home for the last 4 and a bit years is empty, leaving us one step closer to departure time. The last few boxes left late yesterday afternoon, after a mammoth 2 days of full on packing, cleaning, moving, and a couple (alright, quite a few) of “stuff this” moments. The process actually started months earlier, when we started selling off a few un-used things which would have just become more container fillers. Managing to make a little under NZ$3000 (and I’m sure we should have sold/donated/dumped more), this tidy wee sum of money will be put to good use on our travels – perhaps a little cerveza money? 😉
(Side note: We’ve both sworn off 3 bedroom houses with giant sleepouts which become junk pits, and will probably live in a cardboard box when we get home if it means we don’t have to go through this all again!)
Thankfully, we’re not currently homeless, nor living in a cardboard box – we’re managing a spot of glamping at Darryl’s parents house. Adamant that living out of our van would be an excellent idea, we soon changed our minds when a caravan arrived. Space, power, headroom… all things that our van was lacking – we’re pretty stoked with our accommodations for the next 2 weeks
A few tips for moving your life into a container (or storage)!
Start early! As soon as you’ve decided you’re going, start downsizing! Containers are big, but they’re not 3-bedroom-house-plus-garage-plus-sleepout big.
Sell, sell, sell! We sold bulky things such as coffee tables, old dressers, dining tables and chairs that would have taken up too much space in the container – furniture seems to always sell for a decent price too, maybe owing to the current upcycling trend? (Pssssst – hint: Most of the stuff we sold, we had purchased from TradeMe/garage sales for LESS than we ended up selling them for ;))
Donate/throw away! Things that maybe aren’t worth selling, but are still in good nick can be given away. Anything that is not worth keeping = SEND IT TO THE SKIP!! I have a feeling we’re going to come back and wish we had of thrown more away, and we should have probably hired a skip to encourage us to do so and fill it up. But, there’s always next time!
Consider the cost of keeping your stuff. If you aren’t lucky enough to have lovely parents/parents-in-law who can offer a spot in their paddock for a container, you’re probably going to be paying to store your stuff. Consider hiring a smaller storage unit, and REALLY downsizing. We purchased a 20ft container rather than a 40ft, but it’s still huge.
We’ll be using our time in “limbo” – this time between moving out of our house and getting on that plane to South America – to do a bit more sorting, and finalize a few more things (like packing lists!). We’ll be saying goodbye (temporarily) to our dogs soon too – we’re off to Wellington on Monday 24th bound for “Dinky Dogz”.
In an age of computers, we are seeing less of a need for “printed” material. However, this can be entirely different while travelling – requiring a few important pieces of paper to enter a foreign country 😉 We’ll be visiting around 8 different countries on our trip around South America, so it’s important we get it right. So, what will we need…?
Passport, of course!
A Kiwi passport is one of the strongest in the world. Technically ranked 7th, alongside Greece, we New Zealanders are allowed to visit 171 countries visa free! It’s important to make sure your passport has at least 6 months validity, and enough pages for all those entry/visa stamps. Make sure to have paper copies available, as well as storing a copy in your Dropbox or Google Drive in case the worst happens! Also worth having – copies of passport sized pictures for visas. This will save you time at the border – yes often there are machines/people who are set up to do this at the border, but it will be much quicker if you have your own!
2. Vaccination Records
From the 2nd March 2017, travelers entering Bolivia are now required to have a Yellow Fever shot. Previously it was not a requirement, but more of a recommendation. Other South American countries do not require it, however it is strongly recommended if you are travelling basically anywhere in South America with the exception of Chile and Argentina. Check out this map from the CDC. Other vaccinations you may want to consider include Typhoid, Rabies, Hep A & Hep B. You’ll also want some sort of anti-malaria medication too – Doxycycline seems to be the most common given out to New Zealanders, and the most affordable.
3. A Return Ticket/Proof of Onward Travel
We have a return flight booked from Buenos Aires, however for other countries we haven’t yet made any plans! We’ve heard that for overland travel, you are not usually asked… so we’ll be putting this one to the test!
4. Travel Insurance
It’s not worth travelling without, though with any luck you’ll never have to make a claim! We took out 180 days worth of travel with World Nomads – we found their website really easy to navigate, and it was super simple to add on all the activities we are planning on doing!
If you’ve pre-booked anything (think the Inka Trail, hotels, hostels, or tours of any description) it might be worth having a hard copy of this booking. It’s great if you have everything in your Drop Box or Google Drive, but if your phone/device runs out of battery, or you don’t have WIFI signal, it can make things a bit tricky!
We have been using Booking.com for most of our hotel bookings so far. It’s really easy to use, and seems to give a whole lot more results than we can get on similar booking sites. If you want to give it a go, just enter your destination below and hit “Search”!
Not something I’d usually say for an overseas trip, but… flights were actually the cheap part, in the grand scheme of things. We paid a little over $1500 each for return tickets from Nelson, New Zealand to Buenos Aires, Argentina. At the time this seemed like a lot of money, but since then we have been swiping our credit cards like they’re going out of fashion! Just as well they’re Air New Zealand Airpoints Cards, so we’re actually getting something out of it.
A basic summary of expenses so far:
Flights: NZ$3000 (2 adults flying economy with Air New Zealand from Nelson, NZ to Buenos Aires)
Travel Insurance: NZ$1400 (180 days cover with World Nomads, including “Adventurous Activities” cover)
Doctors Visits, Jabs, Medications: $750 (Yellow Fever alone is around $100pp!!)
Shipping Container to Store Our Stuff: $3000
New Gear including a GoPro Camera + Accessories: ~$2000-~$3000 (so far… we have most things we need but will buy some things cheap when we get there! We already had a few major items like decent packs and hiking shoes. My mum kindly bought me a SteriPEN for my birthday which we hope will save us a few $$$ on bottled water!)
We’ve also shelled out a fair bit of cash on repairs around our house to ready it for the new tenants moving in on the 19th April, including upgrading our House Insurance (which is now even more expensive due to the recent Kaikoura Earthquake!)
The countdown is on! (it’s actually been on for a while – at 105 days out to be precise)
We’re busy selling our stuff, researching our destinations, buying new stuff (travel specific, of course) and readying our house for being rented out. It turns out, after 4 years in this place we’ve accumulated a fair bit of junk. But as the saying goes, one mans trash is another mans treasure, and trash = treasure = cash! Cash is good!
We’ll be updating this blog as we go, so that you all know what we are up to (hi mum, hi dad!) and so we don’t have to spam our personal Facebook pages. So if you want to know, check back here regularly…
Meanwhile, we’re enjoying our last few weeks in sunny Nelson. We even managed a trip out into the stunning Abel Tasman just the other day! Check out those colours!