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18 JAN 2008

Wednesday, 16th January 2008 – Ushuaia

As we descended through the large puffy white clouds I could see snow pocked mountain peaks just up all around. Yes, there was Ushuaia, spread along the shore at the foot of Tierra del Fuego mountains. As we went to pick up our luggage we could feel the cooler air bring a chill upon us. With all of our luggage it took two small taxis to convey us to our Hostal Malvinas where I had arranged rooms for us. The Hostal was just one block from the main street and two blocks from the wharf where we would soon catch our ship to Cape Horn. The Hostal is a very nice place and we have two rooms on the third floor.

After settling in a bit we were off to look around town which took on the appearance of a Swiss village and an aire of Europe. I could not believe all the shops here plus the Casino right in the middle. There is nothing quaint about this place since most of the shops are very modern as in any US city. There are, however, many steps going up and down the hills. This is definitely a tourist haven with many ships coming and going. Plus tours everywhere. Bob and I did some hunting to find an ATM machine then figure out how it worked, it only dispensed $100US in Argentine Pesos at one time so to get more one just keep cycling . In one case Bob came out ahead since the machine output an extra 100 Peso bill – yes, machines do fail sometimes in favor of the client.

We made inquiry as to where to go to eat. We went down on the wharf and a very good fish dinner. Needless to say, since this is a tourist place, prices of almost everything is standard tourist prices, high – even by USA standards. Of course, with the drop of the US dollar this are more expensive for us.

Thursday, 17th January 2008 – Ushuaia

We were lazy this morning and after a light breakfast in the hostal we were off to look for some medicine for Paula who has a serious head cold. Fortunately, Isabel translated at a pharmacy what the need was and Paula now has some medicine to handle the situation. This is difficult country to have a cold since the wind is typically blowing. We did hike a ways out of town while the sun came out to the local aquarium, nothing special. This evening we will find a good meat place that the Argentines are noted for. Oh, yes, right across the street from our hostal is a great bakery.

The weather is its usual windy and cool but no rain. There are times when the sun does come out. Of course the most noticeable thing is that it is light until 11:00 PM. We opened up the window and fell asleep; however, we are in a larger city and it seems to stay alive all night long, i.e. a noisy city. There are, of course, many backpackers here along with tourists from the many large cruise ships that stop by, many going to the Antarctica.

Friday, 18th January 2008 – Ushuaia

Today we picked up some sandwiches from the bakery and headed off to the local National Park taking the “train to the end of the world” to get there we took a cap for all four of us to the rail head. The train was originally built by prisoners to haul wood to the city; there is, of course, a much larger story of this saga of Ushuaia in the early 1900’s. The “Tren del Fin de Mundo” was rebuild for tourists to take them into the local National Park. So as good tourists we took the little narrow gage steam engine train to the Park.

From there Isa and I headed down to the Beagle Channel trail. The day had turned quite nice and warm so our hike was good, except that the trail had its ups and downs plus many rocks and toots that made it a little of a challenge. On the other hand, we hiked right along the beautiful shore with many opportunities for photos. The trail was well marked with orange posts and well worn but there was no way all the tree roots could be done away with. IN once place we could see there had been a small estancia, or ranch, of some sort for there was a cistern and building foundation pieces left. WE hiked on thinking we would only go part way then back but soon we found we had traversed more than half the trail so we just kept on going. The second half took us along some rocky beaches them through a boggy area and up the mountain to get over the saddle. All the while the weather was quite nice except as we ended there were a few drops of rain. We followed the mountain contour for more than 6 km until we came to a road. Not knowing when the Park bus would come by we decided to hitch a ride. We chose well and picked a nice Argentinean couple who actually took us all the way down the mountain to the rail head where we caught a cab to the hostal.

Tonight we went out for Parallia where we had all the salad and meat to eat for a single prince. Typically the restaurants are not cheap but not quite as expensive as in the US.

Saturday, 19th January 2008 – Ushuaia

Today we took an all day tour beginning with a catamaran ride down the Beagle Channel. We saw Puerto Williams where sailed from several years ago then on to an island of special birds, Commerats, and the classic lighthouse off Ushuaia. Our next stop was to pull right onto the shore to watch some penguins. We then went further and go off the boat at the Harbron ranch first establish in 1875 by Tommy Bridges. Again another interesting story. Fortunately, our day’s weather has been perfect, warm and sunny.. The ranch once raised sheep and we were able to see the shearing shed along with some neat wooden boats.

The ride back to Ushuaia via bus was through beautiful glaciated mountain valleys that is difficult to describe. The day was so hot that we wished we had only put on a T-shirt and shorts; this type weather is a little unusual be certainly relished when it comes. The sun and blue sky only enhanced the overall scenery. We wend shopping for some mocs for me to get rid of my old worn out ones then picked up some pizza and drinks to eat at the hotel.