I absolutely love Buenos Aires
I was awaken by the familiar screech of my telephone reminding me that I had already overslept and was dangerously close to missing my flight. I struggled to open my eyes, trying to shake off last night’s hangover. I had gone to the bar for a couple of drinks, which turned into a lot of drinks followed by dancing. By the time I came home it was 4 am and I made the mistake of deciding to catch some zzzzzzzs before my flight. I set my alarm to 8am and turned up the ringer to LOUD in the hopes that the noise would wake me up.
Instead, I had slept through that alarm and as I glanced down at my phone fully expecting an alarm notice, I instead realized that someone was calling me. I placed the phone to my ear only to hear a voice remark [in Spanish]: This is TRANSVIP calling, I am just confirming your address and informing you that we will be there in 5 minutes.
I hung up the phone and shoved all my remaining items into my bag. I got dressed and eyed myself in the mirror thinking: this is as good as it gets. No time to shower or make myself pretty as I had mere minutes to make myself somewhat [in my case BARELY] presentable. That was September 2012.
My second trip to Buenos Aires came several months later [June 2013] and this time the award for least prepared went to my boyfriend who had gone out the night before and forgot to pack many essential items in his suitcase. As he noticed that I was completely prepared, he remarked: why didn’t you double check my suitcase?! Face palm. Unlike my previous trip, we took the long way to Buenos Aires.
Each of my trips to Buenos Aires were unique and memorable but you may ask, what is the best way to go from Santiago– Buenos Aires [or vice vera]. My answer is quite simple: depends. Let me start with the AIRPLANE OPTION:
When going to the Santiago airport travelers have three options 1) taxi 2) transvip 3) bus. The Transvip system is so convenient and economically that I have never taken a taxi to or from the airport. The system is simple. First, you call the number [2677 3000] or email them to make a reservation. I usually choose the transfer compartido [shared mini bus] and pay around CLP$6,000 for a one way ticket [this price depends on where you live]. The booking agent will ask for your flight number, time of pick-up and location. Then the day of the pick-up the Transvip mini-bus will call you [5 minute warning] and pick you up right at your doorstep. If you want to be even more budget friendly then there are many airport busses that depart from various areas of the city. I personally take the bus that departs from red line metro Los Parajos and a ticket will cost you around CLP$2,000 one way.
The different logos of Transvip and Manuel Tienda Leon
I have heard some tourists snagging amazing deals to Buenos Aires [a friend of mine got a ticket to Santiago-Buenos Aires return for CAD$50!]. I personally flew with Air Canada and paid roughly CAD$250. As you arrive in Buenos Aires you are faced with two main options for leaving the airport 1) taxi 2) bus. At this point I would recommend just taking a taxi as the Manuel Tienda Leon bus is kind of a headache. A Manuel Tienda Leon bus takes you to from the airport to their downtown location [Terminal Madero] – this will cost your roughly ARG$80 [CAD$15]. From the terminal you can hitch a taxi ride or take a mini-bus [ARG$30 – CAD$6] to your final destination. Unfortunately I had already paid the full fee when I was informed that my location wasn’t within the mini-buses boundaries. Instead, the driver dropped me off three blocks from my hostel and I had to walk twenty minutes by myself and with all my lugguge and valuables on me. When I returned to the EZE Airport I decided to skip the headache and take a taxi. BEWARE a taxi should cost you no more than ARG$150 [CAD$30] – do not get ripped off! Always, ALWAYS decide on a fixed price with the driver before getting into the taxi.
I liked the airport option because it was quick and somewhat painless. My second trip to Buenos Aires was much longer but due to the magnificent scenes outside of my bus window, I would recommend taking the trip at least once. THE BUS OPTION:
NOW READ THIS NEXT PART VERY CAREFULLY
If you are taking the bus in the winter time [principally between the months of May – September] than make sure you double check the weather before departing to the bus station. Winter time means a lot of snow in the mountains, which can translate to border closures. Border control has a TWITTER account that the update regularly [stating if the border is open or not] and also a site you can check the weather [sunny means the border is probably open / heavy snowfall would mean that the border is closed] [P.S. yes info is in Spanish and this is why Google Translate is your best friend].
I was shocked to find out that a one-way trip from Santiago to Buenos Aires will cost roughly CAD$80 – 100 [depending on the seats you choose]. Many people purchase tickets ahead of time but on my trip back from Buenos Aires, I just showed up at the Retiro station and purchased a ticket without any problems. I like the bus options as it allows you to have a certain amount of flexibility that the airplane option does not afford.
The meal that was served on the bus – it was actually good [unlike plane food!]
There are different bus companies but the two best options are CATA International and Andesmar [who also owns El Rapido Argentino]. The bus station is located right beside the red line METRO station “Universidad de Santiago.” When choosing your seat, you can either choose a “cama” or “semi-cama” [bed or semi-bed]. These options provide you with an extremely comfortable seat that reclines to an almost horizontal position to allow you to sleep properly during the overnight portion of the journey.
Our trip from Santiago to Buenos Aires was on a CATA International bus with a CAMA seat. We departed at 10 am and got to the border at mid-day. The snow lining the mountains was incredibly but unfortunately the 3 hours wait at the border was incredibly tedious. Also REMEMBER that the reciprocity fee regulations have changed in Argentina, for information click here. We switched buses in Mendoza [there is NO direct bus from Santiago to Buenos Aires or vice versa] and enjoyed food, a giveaway and pillows/covers in our cama seats. The trip took a total of 24 hours and we were dropped of in the center and took a cab ride [ARG$20 – CAD$4] to our hostel.
My ticket back to Santiago was a little less expensive on El Rapido Argentina as I booked a semi-cama [it doesn’t recline completely]. The bus station is located at RETIRO [there is a metro stop at the station and/or a taxi should cost less thant ARG$50 – CAD$10]. El Rapido was decent, the only suggestion I would make is to bring warm clothes as they did not provide blankets and I was freezing in the night. Other than that I highly recommend CATA and Andesmar.
Airplane PROS: a much quicker trip and less stress on your body [24 hours can really take a toll on you, especially if you are a light sleeper]
Airplane CONS: Less flexibility on time arrivals and departures and one-way tickets are extremely expensive [if you don’t plan on returning to Santiago]. Also although you might have snagged a deal on the flight remember to factor in the costs of taxis to and from the airport into your travel budget.
Bus PROS: the view is quite breathtaking and the bus gives you the flexibility of just showing up the day of to catch a ride/
Bus CONS: Although the camas – semi-camas are quite comfortable, 24 hours is a lot of time, especially if you have a limited amount of time to travel. PLEASE PLEASE do not forget to check out the weather at the border; last winter my friend waited two weeks before the border finally opened.
In the end, scan your itinerary and check out what is the best option for you and have fun in Buenos Aires/Santiago!