The alarm went off at 8, and it was just like the day before - deja vu all over again. But better this time. We got cleaned up and packed (which didn't take long at all), then took a nice ride to AEP, about 10 minutes from Palermo, driving through parks. It was sunny yesterday and today - not that we were outside to enjoy any of it - and in fact the only rainy day was the day we were in Buenos Aires all day walking around. Whatever.

There was a long line at AEP, but at least it was a line, and it was organized. It took us about 30 minutes in line to get to the front. At the podium, the agent helped us out, and booked us on our correct confirmation number. He said he couldn't cancel our other ticket - the one we'd bought yesterday - but told us we could cancel at the ticket agent, on the other side of the room. There was a short line at the ticket desk, and the ticket agent told us to just go online and cancel it there. Since we were so early, we decided to just do that rather than argue with the ticket agent.

We got pizza outside security, and it was pretty good. Shortly before coming here, we were talking with our friend Dave, and he said (more like whispered) that the pizza in Argentina was better than the pizza he ate in Italy. So we wanted to make sure to try some out. Our pizza was olives, arugula, prosciutto, parmesan, and an olive oil drizzle. Crystal got a glass of wine, and Justin got a Cuba Libre. The waiter's pour on the Cuba Libre was very generous. We weren't sure if Justin was supposed to say "when" and just didn't, or whether that was a standard pour.

After finishing the pizza, and still enjoying our drinks, Justin tried the LATAM mobile site, then the full website, but there wasn't any obvious way to cancel online. So he sent an email with details to LATAM, and hoped for the best. It was less than 24 hours since we booked, so we were hopeful we'd get a full refund. The security line was pretty short and easy. In fact, the whole vibe at AEP was totally different from EZE. There were floor to ceiling windows everywhere, with sun, lots of light, and views of the river on one side and the city on the other. If given the choice, we recommend flying into and out of AEP, as opposed to EZE, 11 times out of 10.

We got to the gate around 12:30, and just chilled. Little by little, we started seeing several of the folks from yesterday's flight, including the young couple from Melbourne. Everyone was in a much cheerier, albeit cautious, mood today. We found out that the DC couple, who had tried unsuccessfully for multiple days to get to El Calafate, just gave up. Also, several of the folks from Europe just decided to go to Uruguay instead, and had re-booked travel arrangements. So maybe we would all fit on this plane.

The flight before our flight out of the same gate was scheduled to go to Cordoba, and kept getting delayed. Justin worried unnecessarily every minute that went by, figuring something might be amiss, that it was going to be too late in the day to land in El Calafate, etc. Crystal did her best to ignore him by turning up the volume on her podcasts. We finally got on a bus about 45 minutes late, then waited on the plane for at least another 45, with more worrying from Justin. When we finally took off, there was cheering from the passengers.

After all of that, the flight itself was easy, just heading over the pampas, with rivers here and there, but mostly just scrub. The airport was next to a huge lake, Lago Argentina, that had a turquoise hue to it. For supposedly being right near Perito Moreno glacier, we saw no real evidence of any ice or mountains. [As we later found out, El Calafate is on the east side of everything, and all of the weather comes from the west.] It was noticeably brisk, however, and we quickly put on a fleece and jacket while waiting for our bags to come off the carousel. Fortunately our bags were right near the front, so we were among the first to grab a taxi. We had the world's fastest taxi driver - we must have passed a half dozen cars on the drive into town - and we were at our hotel (Posada Los Alamos) around 19:30. It was still very light outside, so on a whim, we asked the front desk whether there was any way to still head out to Perito Moreno. Sadly, no - the park closed at 20:00, and even our taxi driver couldn't get there in 30 minutes.

So instead we just got a drink at the bar. We thought, or at least vaguely recalled, that the hotel had a nice view of the lake, but that isn't the case. The bar was empty except for two other people, and an illusionist that was trying to coax interest from the guests. We just wanted to chill, so we politely turned him down. After we finished our drink, we took a short walk to the lake. It was very windy, and very cold, so we didn't go as far as we planned, but we did see some horses. Also, we noticed the infrastructure everywhere was way more than necessary, totally over the top. It's as if the town was planned to be five times as big as it actually is. The walk back was better, as at least the wind was at our back. We went to dinner at the hotel's restaurant, and got some Patagonian lamb (aka Cordero). It was a nice dinner, with lots of food. The restaurant was almost full, and it seemed like they must have been almost all hotel guests.

It was a shame that we were going to be at the hotel for just 12 hours, as it seemed like a really nice place, and the surrounding town was charming. After dinner we went back to the bar, and watched MTV and chatted with the bartenders. There was no Jamiroqui on MTV, but plenty of other mid 90s acts. Maybe music gets to Patagonia 20 years after the fact. We left the bar a little after midnight and set an early alarm, as the folks from Explora were supposed to pick us up early in the morning.

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