Our visit to the San Telmo Market was the ultimate example of making lemonade out of a handful of crappy “your flight was overbooked and you showed up with three minutes to spare to check in and were told there was no soup for you a.k.a no plane ticket to Mendoza and there ain’t nothing you can do about it so we’ll see you at 4:30, good day… I SAID GOOD DAY” lemons.
Did you follow that? I’ll break it down.
This was actually a great learning experience for me as a traveler. And that is: Always research your airport before you fly.
I’m always a super cautious air traveler, and arrive almost freakishly early for my flights 99 percent of the time. But in Brazil, domestic travel has been super quick and easy, so easy that I tend to feel like I’m getting away with something.
So, stupidly, I assumed domestic travel in Argentina would be the same for our flight from Buenos Aires to Mendoza.
To make a long story short, Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (AEP) is far and away the most disorganized airport I’ve ever encountered. The first hint of this was the fact that the lines for check-in were 100+ people deep, although the airport is tiny, and we witnessed several men and women crying and yelling at employees and then being escorted to who knows where. Pure chaos.
With multiple flights to Mendoza cancelled for inexplicable reasons, our flight was subsequently overbooked and because we had no wifi most of the previous day (and then there was Malbec) we didn’t check in prior to arriving (our bad, I admit). Although we arrived on time, we were not getting on that plane, despite very valiant efforts at talking our way out of our predicament.
It was also funny to see how expertly the Aerolineas Argentinas employees handled angry customers. You could tell this was nothing new.
Sour lemons. Very sour. It was about eight in the morning at this point, and the airline offered to put us up in a hotel, with paid shuttle there and back, until our flight later that afternoon. A silver lining, although it seems they could save a significant amount of money by improving their operations and not having to deal with hundreds of misplaced, pissy travelers. But, no one asked me.
Swallowing all of my whiny “but we’re missing a WHOLE day in Mendoza drama”, we loaded up and made the best of it, dammit. I do know that this was a pretty minor drama compared to all the things that can go wrong during travel, but I still wasn’t happy about it. (Did I mention that I’m a bad traveler?)
After a pretty legit free breakfast at the Emperador Hotel, where we got a surprisingly swanky room for five hours, Tom and I fought off the urge to nap and hit the streets.
San Telmo Market, an open air flea market held every Sunday, was another Buenos Aires attraction I kept hearing about over and over. I was a little bit bummed we’d miss it, since we’d planned to leave for Mendoza first thing Sunday morning. But what do you know? We had plenty of time to explore this treasure for tourists and locals alike.
Sunday turned out to be the warmest day we had in Argentina, enabling us to enjoy strolling through the market even more.
The market opens at ten in the morning, but the timing seemed loose and many vendors were just setting up their booths as we passed by after eleven so it seems like around noon would be the perfect time to arrive. The streets were energetic, but never shoulder to shoulder crowded and there were plenty of restaurants open on the corners for sustenance.
San Telmo turned out to be a fantastic way to spend a few extra hours in Buenos Aires.