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There's a sweet secret within the otherwise unremarkable terminal of Buenos Aires- Ezeiza International Airport. You see, EZE is somehow home to the nicest airline lounge in South America, the LAN Airlines VIP room.
The lounge is relatively new, having quietly opened in early 2013. Dark woods and soft lighting welcome travelers, tickets are checked at reception, and then guests walk a short hallway of periodicals and departure screens to enter the lounge proper. The first sight is a wall of wine, followed by separate areas for relaxing, dining, and working. Several Mac desktops are available, and a large communal work table is ideal for spreading out with a laptop and last-minute work. Bookshelves and dividers are the only walls, allowing the space to be cozy and semi-private at the same time as open and welcoming.
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Argentina is a beautiful country, but the reception for visitors arriving to Buenos Aires can be confusing thanks to a small section of the customs form. The Declaration of Mobile Phone requires travelers to list the brand, model, series, and any accompanying digital accessories of their personal mobile phone, with no explanation why the customs officers might need this information.
The document comes straight from the AFIP (Administracion Federal de Ingresos), and their website does say, at the very bottom, that this portion of the form needs to be completed, no matter your citizenship status or how you're entering Argentina.
We'd been to Argentina before, but never before by way of Buenos Aires' Ezeiza (EZE) Airport, and a past visit actually saw us robbed of our Nikon DSLR. It was after that unfortunate incident that we heard about and read more on Argentina's strict importation laws and high import taxes, which breeds desire for black market consumer electronics and the petty crime that fuels the trade.
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If it's cold where you live, then pay attention this week as we profile a few Perfect Weather destinations.
Ships sailing up the Beagle Channel and into the port city of Ushuaia wish they could always have the view above. Blue skies, majestic mountains, and a slight froth to the waves from the area's infamous high winds. It's optimal weather for setting out in exploration of the capital of Argentina's Tierra del Fuego region, but it only arrives several times every year.
Ushuaia, owing to its location at the "bottom of the world," (Fin del Mundo), is a perfect gateway for Antarctica travel. Expedition ships, cruise ships, and research vessels squeeze in to the single main pier, welcoming thousands of passengers for the start of epic adventures. As such, those travelers much first find their way to this frontier city, and there are definitely differences to the tourist seasons.
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If it's cold where you live, then pay attention this week as we profile a few Perfect Weather destinations.
What waterfalls are taller than Niagara Falls (3x taller!), wider than Victoria Falls, and so genuinely ginormous that they form part of a border between countries? The answer, of course, is the South American UNESCO World Heritage Site of Iguazu Falls.
The Falls are split between Brazil and Argentina (and Paraguay isn't too far away, either), and each comes with its own name, airport, and visitor vistas. In Brazil, you'll land at Foz do Iguaçu/Cataratas International Airport-IGU, the falls are named the Cataratas do Iguaçu, and wooden walkways take visitors out and over the waters to the very edge of some of the falls. On the Argentinian side, you'll land at Cataratas del Iguazú International Airport-IGR, the falls are the Cataratas del Iguazú , and the viewing is mostly from the tops of the cliffs.
While the decision over which side to visit may be a difficult one, at least one thing is quite simple: the beautiful year-round weather on both sides.
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As 2014 quickly comes to a close, there's no better time than now to think through exactly where we want the next 12 months to take us. Forget trend pieces trumpeting generic destination hotspots; over the next week, we'll share with you where our own Jaunted contributors personally want to go in 2015.
First up is Rayme, who splits his time between Chicago and Australia and looks for sun, scenery, and nightlife when he travels:
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Earlier this week, we ran down our picks of destinations within the US that prove most romantic, thus making them perfect Valentine's Day spots. Now we're busting out the passport to highlight some similarly amorous locations farther afield.
We're firm believers that crossing borders builds relationships. If your plans involve whisking your better half away on an airplane, here are our picks for making the most of international travel this Valentine's Day:
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If you think the above photo is beautifulit's our Andes view from LAN Airlines flight 158 from Santiago to Calamathen get ready to have your mind blown and your bucketlist overflowing.
South America is a land of such staggeringly varied terrain, from desert to glaciers and rainforest to snow-capped peaks, that flying over it without requesting a window seat is one of the biggest travel mistakes one can make.
Now, which route? Get your camera ready because, using our own past travel knowledge and a passion for experiencing the extremes, we've laid out the Six Scenic South America Routes to Fly Before You Die:
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We were robbed. It may have happened just over a year ago, but we still live with the effects (like a fear that comes while biking and we hear a moped motor approaching). Read the full story, but also take away whatever knowledge you can from our horrible experience in order to prevent it happening to you while away from home.
Only a few days ago, Lifehacker posted a brilliant list of tips for travelers toting nice cameras, including how to deter would-be thieves. In this vein, we're revisiting our own 8 safety tips to avoid being mugged abroad:
Kitty cats. They rule the internet and, whether we realize it or not, pretty much the world too. Ever noticed how cats sometimes stake out the coolest spots in a city? This new featureTravel Catfocuses on exactly that. Submit a photo to be featured by tweeting or Instagramming it to us (details below).
Travel Cat spotted at: Purmamarca, Argentina.
This week's Travel Cat is from Twitterer @davidsokol, who happened across this adorable scene in Argentina.
Of the photo, he notes: "How about this Argentine friend? Appropriately taken near Pur[r]mamarca."
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If you're older than 24 and you're still staying in hostels, that's a big shhh no-no. At least that's what society would have you think, however; we'd like to officially come out and say that we're older than 24 and still. staying. in. hostels.
Deep breath. Though the reason for our hostel stays has evolvedthey're now backups for when we blow all our budget early on in trips, with 5-star hotelswe're never ashamed.
Having done the whole backpack-around-Europe thing during college, we have a solid past dotted with hostel stays of all sorts. Dirty hostels? Don't get us started on Budapest. Party hostels? Ugh, Barcelona. Plain scary hostels? Look no further than London. Still we haven't given up on them, and we've discovered some real diamonds in the rough, places we'd happily return to (and soon). Oh yeah, and ALL WITH EXCELLENT, FREE WIFI INTERNET AND BREAKFAST. Here's three we've recently stayed at, and personally approve of:
When we travel, one of our favorite things to do is to pop into a local grocery store and check out the food products and candies we'd never find anywhere else. So we're trying out this new feature, Foreign Grocery Friday, where each week we'll feature some of our (and your) favorite overseas treats. Got a recommendation? Let us know!
Take the teabag out. Throw it away. Travel to Argentina and have some real Yerba Mate. Forget that you ever drank Yerba Mate using a stepped teabag.
While mate is popular all around South Americain Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Peru and Bolivia especiallywe're concerning ourselves with mate in Argentina, which is where we recently went crazy for the stuff and where drinking it is a social thing, but even more frequent than having tea in the UK or coffee in San Francisco. You'll see people clutching their gourds everywhere.
Mate is a type of shrub holly, and yerba are its leaves. The tea, a dried loose mix of the shriveled leaves and little sticks, has a very specific preparation that involves its own specific instruments: a guampa/mate (hollowed out drinking gourd) and a bombilla (metal straining straw).
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If you want to talk about cities and their signature characteristics (and we obviously do), then you could say that NYC has its bodegas and delis, Las Vegas has its flashy signage, Moscow has its onion domes and Santiagoas we've already seenhas its vibrant street art. But Mendoza, Argentina?
Wineries, right? Wrong. The wineries of Mendoza are, for the most part, outside Mendoza in the agrarian outskirts. Instead, in the proper city center, we instead found streets littered with brightly painted vintage carsRenaults, Peugeots, Fiats and Fords and Dodges from the 1950s through late 1970s, all surviving thanks to the arid environment.