After around 30 hours of planes, buses, cars and airport terminals finally, finally the welcoming sight of the River Plate and the skyline of Buenos Aires appear.
I feel absolutely cream crackered by the time I get through customs at Jorge Newbury International and decide to make life easier for myself by taking a 'transfer express' to my hostel. This is a glorified taxi service organised by the airport for tired and clueless individuals who don't feel in any fit state to take two or three different buses to their final destination.
My driver is smartly dressed in what appears to be his own version of a uniform and drives me past the Art Deco style Costanera Norte pier, explaining what he can about the sights we pass in English and Spanish.
The slums adjacent to the railway track look rough, tough and must be a terribly difficult place to live. The rest of the Buenos Aires I see from my window is far more welcoming. I like to make quick, initial comparisons of new places while the initial sights and sounds are fresh. To me, Buenos Aires has something of Valencia and Belgrade about it. You have probably never heard the Belgrade comparison before for the Argentine capital, but the mix of the garish brand new and the crumbling Old World, together with the smartly dressed and decidedly middle-class city folk going about their business on the streets of Recoleta and Retiro, are more than a little reminiscent of the Serbian capital...with a Spanish twist, of course.
Once in the hostel all I feel like doing is sleeping and chilling in the bar with a cafe con leche or two. The real Argentine adventure will begin tomorrow when I'm not wandering around like a zombie...
TAM, the Brazilian flag carrier, like to refer to themselves as being 'the magic red carpet'. Once on board, I watch 'Unknown' and after drinking a ridiculously large glass of Balentine's - hey presto! - I am out for the count and sleep through most of the 12-hour flight, waking up shortly before we begin our descent into Sao Paolo.
Despite blagging my way through 'the diplomatic channel' at Sao Paolo immigration & customs, saving myself an hour of queueing, it is already 7.20am before I make it to check in for my already departed 7am flight to Buenos Aires.
Initially, Aerolineas Argentinas are all up for the idea of me buying a new flight and, additionally, paying the Sao Paolo airport departure tax. It looks like it is going to set me back 3-400 dollars but I am not about to accept that without trying to persuade them otherwise. To cut a long story short, TAM agree to give me a declaration form for the late arrival of their flight, and AA kindly agree to rebook me on the 10.15 without any extra charges or taxes. If it wasn't for the kind efforts of the staff of TAM and AA my London travel agency would have left me with a hefty charge for new flights.
By the time all this is sorted I am only left with an hour to wait before my AA flight departs and leave the controlled chaos of the old school airport behind for some great aerial views of Sao Paolo as we pass directly overhead.
It is 5 hours to Heathrow, two of them spent crawling through rush-hour traffic in London, much of which looks as grey and unappealing to me as always. At Heathrow I discover that the agency I booked my flights through are either cowboys or fools. The departure time of my TAM airlines flight to Sao Paolo has been put forward by 40 minutes, meaning that my connection time in Brazil is just 50 minutes before my Buenos Aires-bound flight departs. Worse still though, TAM tell me that no agreement exists between TAM and Aerolineas Argentinas for connecting flights. In other words, when I get to Sao Paolo I need to go through customs and immigration, get a visa, pick up my bag from arrivals and check in again! Clearly, there is no chance I will do all that in 50 minutes. TAM tell me that my agency were legally bound to tell me my flight had changed but failed to even send me an email. They should also have explained that my connecting flight isn't connecting at all. To give myself a chance I don't check in my bag and instead carry all my luggage on with me.
Headed off to the airport and the long flight to Buenos Aires. Crazy to think that it was 22 degrees warmer in England than in Argentina yesterday! 33c here - 11c in Buenos Aires! Leaving the summer for midwinter.
An hour until I am off and still packing - usual rules apply. I hate this leaving part; I always feel spaced out and start asking myself 'what the hell are you doing this trip for?'. Every time without fail I feel the same. Right, better get going...
It is one year since the BBC covered our joint project with Bjorn Heidenstrom's 'The Shirt 2010' in Cape Town, South Africa.
For those of you who have never seen the 2-minute BBC video of the 'world's biggest shirt', please check it out at this link:
Estonia finished their South American tour with a comprehensive defeat against Uruguay, just a week before the start of the Copa America.
Most Estonians will have missed the match with its citizens on holiday celebrating midsummer.
The goals are below:
The 2011 Copa Libertadores final between Santos and Penarol ends in a mass brawl, with several top players, including Brazil's Neymar, involved in violent confrontations, just days before the start of the 2011 Copa America:
The Brazil squad arrived in Argentina on Tuesday evening in preparation for their opening game against Venezuela on July 3. Several members of the squad will not meet up with their team mates until Thursday as they will be playing in the Copa Libertadores cup final on Wednesday.
15 players currently plying their trade in the English Premier League will turn out for their national teams at the Copa America. The most famous names include Antonio Valencia, Carlos Tevez, Luis Suarez and Roque Santa Cruz.
Argentina are currently favourites to win the tournament with the bookies, with the reigning champions Brazil second favourites.
Copa America 2011
A blog from the 2011 Copa America and road trip around Argentina.