Day 9: El Chaltén to Chicago
We woke up for our last day at Explora to a beautiful sunrise and moon-set – after a clear starry night. Since we were the only guest going to the airport, and because there was no noon airport pickup, we were able to leave at 9:30, giving us time for a leisurely breakfast. We sadly turned in our room keys and were ready to go.
When we left, we stopped in the town of El Chaltén to do some souvenir shopping. The season is ending and we arrived at about 10:15, so some of the stores were closed, such as Patagonicus, the liquor store/Harry Potter spell. Our driver, Santiago, took us to a shop that was open and we found shirts, glasses, and new fridge magnets to add to our collection. We also found bottles of Calafate juice (as promised by Mauro) and bought two to bring home – complete with ceramic shot glasses.
The two hour journey to the airport continued with a stop to take pictures of the perfectly clear Mt. Fitzroy. After about an hour, we took a quick break at Leona’s – the same restaurant we stopped at on the way in.
Calafate Airport is small, with only a few gates. We know it would be quick to check-in and get it the gate, but when we arrived we were too early to check in. We killed time by shopping in the airport gift shop where mom bought a guanaco shawl and Matt learned about the legend of the Calafate berry.
After going around the line a few times, we were allowed to to check-in. At this point we were hungry for lunch and stopped at the one restaurant in the airport before going through security.
Finally, it was time to board the flight and officially leave Patagonia. Both boarding and the flight went smoothly and we landed in Buenos Aires with plenty of layover time to make our next flights.
Dinner in Buenos Aires was courtesy of the Star Alliance lounge (Delta lounge didn’t let us in and is not off the hook yet). By the time we boarded and took off, it was about 11:30 pm and we all slept on the plane for the night.
We arrived in Miami and checked our bags in to our American Airlines flight to Chicago. Just some hanging out in the Corona Beach House “lounge” and a flight to Chicago to go.