trip report: Patagonia, January 2019 – part 9: getting out with Mexico City layover

With many cheap airfares or award redemption, the flight routing it takes to reach the final destination maybe very roundabout and bad in general. The business class error fare we book this time around involved a long layover in Mexico City. The attitudes each of us has toward travel, similar to all aspects of life, can shape the experiences we’ll have. We can treat these are long laborious layovers as durations of time to waste or go search for some street tacos.

This is part 9 of my Patagonia trip report series. We pick up the trip report after 19 days traveling up the Argentinian Ruta 40 and then driving along the Chilean Carretera Austral (see part 3 of the trip report for the overall summary). You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

index

1 planning & research
2 trip report: getting in & Huemul Circuit
3 trip report: Ruta 40 & driving on the Carretera Austral
4 trip report: Marble Cave on General Carrera Lake & Glaciar Exploradores
5 trip report: Mirador Laguna Cerro Castillo
6 trip report: Parque Nacional Queulat & Ventisquero Colgante
7 trip report: Futaleufú
8 trip report: Parque Pumalín Douglas Tompkins
9 trip report: getting out via San Carlos de Bariloche & Mexico City
      9.1 Carlos San Bariloche to Mexico City
      9.2 19 hours in Mexico City
10 final impressions, top 5, & budget
11 trip videos
      11.1 Huemul Circuit
      11.2 Carretera Austral road trip, part 1
      11.3 Carretera Austral road trip, part 2
      11.4 Carretera Austral road trip, part 3, Futaleufú
      11.5 Carretera Austral road trip, part 4

trip report: flight from Carlos San Bariloche to Mexico City

Picking up on day 19 of our Ruta 40 and Carretera Austral trip report, our bus into Bariloche was late as expected. After a short taxi ride to our very basic Hotel Sol Bariloche (hotels.com), the sun was already setting.

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Once we checked in, we spend a couple hours walking around the European styled town center eating some chocolate at Rapinui (tripadvisor), one of the many chocolate stores Bariloche is known for, and window shopped for souvenirs. Both were very effective ways of spending our left over Argentinian Peso. However, we really didn’t get a chance this trip to explore the mountains and trails around Bariloche and they would have to wait til a future trip.

The next morning, we took a taxi to to San Carlos de Bariloche Airport (BRC) to catch our early flight. We booked the repositioning flight from BRC to Buenos Aires (EZE) to Sao Paulo (GRU) on Aerolíneas Argentinas metal with 12500 Delta Skymiles and USD$69 in fees for each person (25000 Skymiles and USD$138 total for 2 people). With many Skyteam partners such as Aerolíneas Argentinas, GOL, and soon to be LATAM (thepointsguy), Delta Skymiles maybe some of the most useful points to travel around South America.

The breakfast at our very basic hotel was incredible lacking, so hope for better at the VIP lounge at the airport (review by whereswindji) that we had access to through our Priority Pass from our credit card (details at Dr of Credit). Interestingly, the lounge required a phone call and an escort to a room hidden away airside. We had a slightly improved breakfast of sandwiches, snacks, and plenty of cappuccinos before our fight to EZE.

The flight itself was uneventful, but the transfer at EZE was just as bad. Even though we were flying into and out of the same terminal, we had to exit air side and reenter security. We didn’t have any lounge options as we were there outside of the Star Alliance Lounge hours for Priority Pass, so we had a small lunch at Illegno Café (tripadvisor) in the airport. Our evening flight from EZE to GRU was otherwise uneventful.

The international transfer at GRU was much easier as we could just stay airside and not enter the country since we checked into our Aeroméxico flight online and didn’t check any bags. It would be an overnight layover, but that was fine since the GOL Premium Lounge (review from minhasalavip.com.br) was open 24 hours. After good food for dinner and a few drinks, we settled in on a flat couch to sleep through the night. We even were able to have a shower in the morning. Our access to the lounge was because of our business class tickets so we weren’t beholden to the 4 hour limit they have for Priority Pass access, but it may be possible get around that with another Priority Pass swipe or a different card.

The next leg was a long day flight from GRU to Mexico City (MEX) on Aeroméxico’s Boeing 787-9 with a 1-2-1 layflat business class seats. It was an uneventful and pleasant flight being pampered through the day.

return to the index

trip report: 19 hours in Mexico City

We arrived in Mexico City in the late afternoon around 4:30pm and our next flight was at noon the next day, giving us about 19 hours in town. I didn’t know much about the city before arriving, so we opted to just stay in the old town, central area of the city. Our most efficient option was a paid stay at the Hampton Inn & Suites Cuidad Centreal (tripadvisor) for USD$94.80 and that included breakfast as all Hampton Inns do.For transportation, we saw that Uber was reasonable and got us from MEX to city center for USD$5.93, but public transportation is a much cheaper alternative (Northern Lauren). Our friend Daniel (instagram), who we met in New Zealand in 2016 and lived in Mexico City previous, had recommended Azul (tripadvisor) if we were looking for a fancy and pricer place to go. It was a good experience indeed as we splurged on mezcal and margaritas to go with our dinner.

We walked around the city at night afterwards.

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all lite up

I found the street art on the closed stores shutters very enjoyable.

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There were also plenty of side streets full of bars and quick eats full of locals and tourists. When we saw a long line of people lined up at a taco stand, we thought why not.

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I could always use a street taco or 2.

It was indeed good, but I think the reason for the line was how cheap it was. I also suspect this might have caused me a bit of stomach issues for a couple days after the trip.We ended up staying out relatively late in comparison to our hiker midnight schedule (which was sleeping at sundown), so we slept in the next morning. After breakfast, we were back to the airport via a USD$4.23 Uber ride.Our 4th flight was from MEX to MIA on Aeroméxico’s Boeing 737-700 with 2-2 business class layout. It was uneventful and the lunch served was a burger.

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Once we breezed through immigration and customs with our Global Entry (see Miles to Memories guide), we took the Tri Rail from MIA to FLL for our last flight of the trip to reposition us back to the DCA. I was hoping for a night time view of the capitol with the typical DCA landing from the north, but we had a rare landing from the south.

With that we concluded our Patagonia trip.

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