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!