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Trip Report Argentina and Chile, Part 2: Punta Arenas, Ushuaia, Fin del Mundo

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For the first part of our trip, Iguazu Falls, Buenos Aires, Santiago and Punta Arenas, search BillJ under Latin America for
"Our Quick trip to Argentina and Chile."

I am starting this new thread as part 2; the first was getting kinda long and rambling. For those still interested, Part 3 will be
"Argentina and Chile, Part 3: El Calafate, Perito Moreno Glacier, All Glacier Tour, and home."

Friday the three of us (DW, Son, and me) flew 45 minute trip from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia. Ushuaia is in same time zone as Chile, so clocks don´t change. But now we´re back to Argenine Pesos. The sky was socked in with clouds, so never saw anything until descending for landing, breaking through the clouds. Wow, mountains all around. There had been a bit of a storm the day before, so the mountains all had a dusting of snow, and of course, permanent snow at the higher elevations. Contrasting colors of intermitant sun shine through the darker clouds. The scene was beautiful as we flew with mountains all around higher than the plane. Awesome! DW said¨"jaw dropping."
The airport is small and very modern. Hotel sent car for us at the airport, no additional fee. I had arranged the hotel direct with emails.
As soon as we entered, DW gasped with an "Oh, wow!" so I knew we had a winner. Hosteria Tierra de Leyendas is a small boutique hotel outside of town up on a hill in an upscale residential area. Wood motive throughout along with the stunning views of Beagle Chanel and mountains through very large windows gives the place a wilderness feeling, even though there are dwelling units all around, no views were blocked. Our room was the Las Yamanas, the indigenous people of the area, and had a large window out to the Beagle Chanel. DW and I voted it the best hotel we stayed in on the entire trip.
After settling in, the proprietress called a cab for the short ride into town (10 minutes, about 15 pesos) and we grabbed a pretty decent burger (which had a meat loaf consistency; but fries not available) and local draft beer at Ramos General. Then we walked around the shopping area, surrounded by hordes of tourists off of two cruise ships then in port. About 4 they all went back aboard their beasts, and we had the streets to ourselves.
Dinner that night was at our hotel; Sebastian is a fantastic cook, as what a meal he prepared. When we checked in and wrote out our passport info, they must have noted that today was my birthday, so they surprised us with a white chocolate mousse cake, with chocolate on top and one of those trick candles that won´t blow out. Pretty nice. Didn´t charge us for the cake, either. Great meal and terrific birthday. Son gave me a matte bowl and a bag of matte. Have to learn about it later.
Saturday. I had arranged by email with the hotel to have a rental car delivered at 10 am. It was Hertz, they charged a 35 peso delivery charge, but hey, saved a trip back to the airport. We got in this little tiny thing powered by a rubber band (note: next time rent a bigger car.) and off we went to Parque Nacional Tierra De Fuego. On a rough and sometimes washboard dirt road (4 wheel not necessary), we passed rugby fields with games in progress, stables with much activity, and a wind blown golf course (I´m missing my golf, but the cold rainy wind is not my style.) There is a 50 peso per person entrance fee, and as it began to rain we found on a tree canopied road. Went to the Fin del Mundo Post office and mailed some post cards to family and myself. Post office guy was funny. It drizzled on and off while were in the park. The wind was relatively calm.
After that, drove to the end of Route 3, the Pan American Highway. Son and I had been at the other end some years back. 17,000 plus kilometers north. Took a whole lot of pictures in front of the sign. There is a boardwalk out into the marsh which was scenic. There´s a guy now walking in Alaska finishing a 5 year walk; having started here 5 years ago.
The park is beautiful, with lakes galore and beautiful greens of the forest. Beavers, introduced here years ago, are creating many ponds. With no predators, they have become an ecological problem. We stopped many times for pictures.
At Lago Roca, we had another burger, this time with fries. Very good. Son went for a bit of a hike, DW and I took a nap in the car. The sun came out and it was actually warm. Many tour busses came and went from the cafe. There were many caracara birds in the and around the picnic and camp grounds. Aggressive critters about as big as our crows.
Returning to Ushaia, we drove up the hill to the chair lift, passing a few big hotels. There is a great view from up there of the town and Beagle Chanel. But takes a little longer to get into town. The short chair lift was running but we didn´t take it.
We stopped in Ushuaia and found an ATM. DW got some things in a Farmacia. The farmacias have most anything you might want in that category. We learned if you can´t find it on the shelf, be sure to ask. It seems they keep many items under the counter. English is spoken, but hand gesters are sometimes necessary if your spanish isn´t so good. If you smile a lot while trying to convey your wishes, it can be great fun.
The meal that night was at a place called Kuar. South of town center, linen tablecloths, fine service, nice views, but food just so-so. DW is upset because this was to be her night for crab. The only crab dish was not so good.
But it is the end of the season.
Doesn´t matter; DW is unhappy.
And no pisco sours. Left them in Chile.
Sunday: somehow got all our luggage and us into the little rubber band car, and safely back to the airport. Of all places, found a little club that accepted my Priority Pass card, and spent about 40 minutes comfortably seated in padded leather chairs. The senorita served us free water. First time I´ve had the chance to use the card, and it´s in Fin del Mundo. Go figure?
We had pretty good weather here in Ushuaia. They are subject to wicked weather most of the year. So it was a very enjoyable and interesting stay. There area is remote and rugged and beautiful.
Next stop: El Calafate.

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