Hairpins through the Snow, Traveling from Mendoza, Argentina to Santiago, Chile, 24 July 2016


I woke up bright and early-ish to catch my 10-hour, 1030 departure bus that’d bring me across the Andes from Argentina to Chile. The morning was a bit of a snafu. I asked for a taxi, expecting one to show up immediately, but it took a lot longer than expected, because the Park Hyatt called one of their trusted cars for the trip to the bus station. But I didn’t miss the bus, so all is good.

Bus from Mendoza to Santiago - Cama Ejecutivo

For this trip, I booked a second class bus, Cama-Ejecutivo for 500 ARS (~30 USD). It was a double decker, and the seats were 2 by 1. As I booked the ticket online, I was able to pick my seat as well, and naturally, I picked the solo seat. The leather seats were very comfortable, and there was a lot of legroom. Included in the ticket price, were also meal services. So there was a breakfast service almost immediately after departure, where we were given a package that included a sandwich and an alfajor. I sense this is a theme. The bus attendant also offered hot beverages, and soon a movie about Chinese who were transplanted to the borderlands was played.

Bus from Mendoza to Santiago - Cama Ejecutivo

I drifted between the state of sleep and being awake on the bus trip. I was very glad for the moments I was awake, because the snowy landscape was stunning. Families turned the snow-covered mountains into ski slopes, or other avenues of snowy fun. People were sliding down the hills. I wished I could have joined them!

Bus from Mendoza to Santiago - Cama Ejecutivo

Due to traffic at the border crossing, there was about an hour spent waiting. The border clearance itself wasn’t that terrible, but inspecting our luggage, and just generally, waiting in turn for the administrative process to be over took up some time.

At the Argentina - Chile Border

The greatest treat was the portion after crossing the Chilean border. There are a lot of hairpins leading down to Chile. While watching the ginormous bus wind through these hairpins was rather harrowing, at the same time, it was a beautiful sight to behold. This was easily one of the highlights of my trip, and reminds me of why I like traveling – life’s marvels will just unveil themselves when you least expect it!

I’d recommend this trip to anyone.


Argentina: Mendoza, 23 July 2016

Bubbles at Plaza Independencia

Ahh! The troubles of traveling. Ever since I started travel hacking, I’ve been trying to charge everything to my credit card, and use as little cash as possible. On this day in Argentina, I was trying to conserve my pesos, as this is my last full day in Argentina, and I didn’t want to change any more money, and be stuck with a bunch of pesos. So a bunch of workarounds – buying my bus ticket to Santiago online, and deciding to eat dinner at the hotel.


The Park Hyatt is in front of the Independence Plaza. On this fine weekend, there was a fair of sorts going on, with kids running around, a performance for children, and also the ubiquitous bubble person. It was nice to sit around for a bit, and take in what a weekend in Mendoza looks like for people who live there.


After setting in and handling a bunch of administration like printing my bus tickets, I ended up at cafe Essenza, eating my last medialuna and having my last cafe con crema for this trip. I really enjoy these slow paced trips where there’s no real need to see any touristy things, and I just spend my time reading and people watching!

Coffee break and some reading

In the evening, I decided to splurge on my last Argentinian steak dinner, and ordered a steak with sausage, alongside a glass of wine from the regions. It was an excellent end to the Argentina portion of my trip! Food at the Park Hyatt is excellent, but pricey.

To work off some of the calories after dinner, I went out, and took some pictures of Mendoza after sundown. I had my tripod with me, so that gave me the opportunity to do some long exposures.

Argentina: Cafe hopping and Mattress Running in Mendoza, 22 July 2016


Mendoza is a city set in Argentina’s wine region. Unless you’re into doing wine tours (which I’m not), I guess most people don’t stay three days. I was, however, mattress-running for Hyatt status, and Mendoza has a category 1 Park Hyatt.

After my complimentary diamond breakfast at the Park Hyatt, I moved my stuff to the Sheraton, which was a short, 10 min walk from the Park Hyatt.

Mendoza is a pretty compact city. In its heart, is the Independence Plaza, and there are four other plazas in its northwest (Plaza Chile), northeast (Plaza San Martin), southeast (Plaza Espana), and southwest (Plaza Italia). There are also plenty of sidewalk cafes and restaurants, alongside shopping arcades, which makes it a very pleasant walking city.


As I don’t have any real touristy things I wanted to do, I decided to spend my time in Mendoza, like I would any regular day. So first stop, find a cafe for reading. While it’s winter in Argentina, the sun made it warm enough to sit outside. I wound up at Cafe Jack, and settled to reading with a cafe con crema.

Coffee and shoeshine, Mendoza

When I started getting cold, I walked around for a bit. The signage for tourist attractions in Mendoza is excellent, so if you’re looking for a particular church, or a particular architectural gem, there’s no real guidebook required for exploring Mendoza.

Stained glass in Pasaje San Martin, Mendoza

The town of Mendoza has some nice architectural gems. Two instances are the Pasaje San Martin and the Banco Hipotecario Nacional. The Pasaje San Martin was built in 1926, and the covered shopping arcade features beautiful stained glass. I don’t know anything about the Banco Hipotecari Nacional, but it features a very beautiful facade with ornate carvings.

Banco Hipotecario Nacional, Mendoza

I ended my day with a pot of tea at Bianco & Nero, and more reading.

Tea time at Bianco & Nero, Mendoza

Flight Review: Premium Economy on Aerolineas Argentinas from Cordoba to Mendoza, 21 July 2016

Aerial view of Flight from Mendoza to Cordoba

I have probably repeated myself over and over about this – I have morphed from budget backpacker to luxury travel on a shoestring, and my tolerance for suffering has gone down significantly. Initially, I was going to take the 12 hr bus ride from Cordoba to Mendoza. However, after some price comparison, I don’t really save a lot flying vs taking the bus. Also, flying really just takes an hour. And to give you an idea of what a degenerate I’ve become, I figured that it was just $20 more to fly premium economy (the highest class of service) vs. flying economy. I can spare an Andrew Jackson. As I hate rushing, I booked a 5ish pm flight from Cordoba to Mendoza.

Aerolineas Argentina Club Economy AR2535 Cordoba - Mendoza (COR - MDZ)

After lunch, I asked for a late check out, and eventually took a taxi from Cordoba to its airport. The Cordoba airport seems to be quite a work in progress. They were ripping off the renovation plastic at my waiting area.

Aerolineas Argentina Club Economy AR2535 Cordoba - Mendoza (COR - MDZ)

Aerolineas Argentinas is a Skyteam member, so I was able to credit this flight to my Delta account. The nice thing about Delta miles is that they sit there and never expire, even if Skypesos suck in general.

Aerolineas Argentina Club Economy AR2535 Cordoba - Mendoza (COR - MDZ)

Premium economy on Aerolineas Argentinas is arranged 1-2 in four rows, although the there are only two single seats. I chose one of the single seats. The legroom is generous, although the overhead space is somewhat limited. Larger US-sized carryons will probably not fit in the overhead cabin. There was also a quick snack service, where I was given a water, a sandwich, and the ubiquitous Alfajor. There were also power sockets for those who need to charge their electronics. I don’t think mine worked, though.

Aerolineas Argentina Club Economy AR2535 Cordoba - Mendoza (COR - MDZ)

One of my gripes about Argentinian baggage handling is, even if you have a premium tag, it literally means nothing. They will load it in whatever order they got it, so if you’re hoping your bag will be one of those that rolls out earliest, tough luck! This happened both in Buenos Aires and in Cordoba.

Aerolineas Argentina Club Economy AR2535 Cordoba - Mendoza (COR - MDZ)

From Mendoza airport, I simply took another cab to the Park Hyatt. I’m rapidly running out of pesos! Eep!

Another South America Run, 05 – 28 July 2016

Avenida Paulista

I’m cashing in on my bounty of Miles and Points, and also rewarding myself for finishing my PhD. So I decided to do a graduation trip before starting a new job in Singapore. I hope my Spanish improves rapidly! *yikes*

05 July: Seattle – San Diego – Dallas Fort Worth – Sao Paulo (nobody said award flights are direct, but at least I’m flying First/Business class)

06 July: Sao Paulo, Brazil

07 July: Sao Paulo, Brazil

08 July: Sao Paulo, Brazil

09 July: Sao Paulo, Brazil – Buenos Aires, Argentina

10 July: Buenos Aires, Argentina

11 July: Buenos Aires, Argentina – Montevideo Uruguay

12 July: Montevideo, Uruguay

13 July: Montevideo – Colonia, Uruguay

14 July: Colonia, Uruguay – Buenos Aires, Argentina

15 July: Buenos Aires, Argentina

16 July: Buenos Aires, Argentina

17 July: Buenos Aires – Rosario, Argentina

18 July: Rosario, Argentina

19 July: Rosario – Cordoba, Argentina

20 July: Cordoba, Argentina

21 July: Cordoba – Mendoza, Argentina

22 July: Mendoza, Argentina

23 July: Mendoza, Argentina

24 July: Mendoza, Argentina – Santiago, Chile

25 July: Santiago, Chile

26 July: Santiago – Valparaiso – Santiago, Chile

27 July: Santiago, Chile – Sao Paulo, Brazil

28 July: Sau Paulo, Brazil – Singapore (a long, 25 hr flight in SQ First)