Sunday, January 29, 2017

First Look at Ushuai, Argentina

  After six straight weeks of leading adventure trips in Hawaii I was ready to head out for an adventure of my own. I was headed farther south than I had ever been before, to the tip of the South American continent, Argentina. Here awaited the southern-most city in the world, the fabled wilderness of Patagonia, the bottom of the Andes Mountains, and of course a little steak and wine.

Mimosas and on my way
Buenos Aires from above
  First things first. I needed to scoop up my girlfriend in Buenos Aries after a winter storm rerouted her from Vermont. I flew United on miles, 30K each way, and luckily had a first class lounge pass leftover from my United credit card. There is nothing quite like kicking back in a airport lounge and drinking mimosas during a layover. And pretty cool having your girlfriend waiting for you at baggage claim 8,500 miles from where you started.

Neighborhood vibe in Buenos Aires
Entrance to Solar Soler B&B
    We had an overnight in the capital city which gave us just enough time to check out our bed and breakfast called Solar Soler Bed and Breakfast, grab some food, change some money, and snag some sleep. The hotel was cute, the owners very helpful, and the location was really what nailed it down for us. It was in the trendy neighborhood of Palermo, with lots of restaurants but quiet enough. It reminded me a bit of parts of New York. After getting a birds-eye view from the plane the next day the area looked even more like New York. The exchange rate was around 16 Argentinian Pesos to 1 USD, and you got a better rate for bigger bills like $100's. It was a little hard to find the money exchanger since banks wouldn't do it and the ATM's at the airport were all out of money. So finally I got directions, jumped on a subway for 3 stops, and still walked right by the place several times because there was no sign at all, just an unmarked door. Finally getting the right door I was buzzed in by someone peaking out through the window blinds and into a dark waiting room where I took a number. Then I was buzzed in through another door where a very nice man happily exchanged my dollars to pesos.

Fitting in with the locals in Ushuaia
  After a typical Argentinian breakfast of cereal, bread, and spreads, Heidi and I jumped on a 'slightly' delayed plane to the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia. Located just above the 55th parallel, Ushuaia is the capital of the Tierra del Fuego district of Argentina and the jumping off point for boats heading down to the Antarctica peninsula. I imagine many people just fly into Ushuaia to get on one of the boats heading to Antarctica and miss all of the adventures around the area. There are glaciers, incredible hiking, boat cruises through the Beagle Canal, and the Tierra del Fuego National Park. Heidi and I plan to get around to doing all of these during our time here.

Ushuaia, Argentina
  Finding inexpensive lodging here was difficult so we settled on a couple of beds in a 6 bed dorm room style hostel called Torre al Sur. It is a bit cramped but makes it easy to get around town. As always when I go to a new place I like to get out and walk around to get my bearings. The rain seems to come and go so far which leaves some very dramatic skies for pictures. The town itself has a rundown but cute ski town kind of feel to it. It seems like every restaurant is a pizza place, which is pretty cool, and there are several micro-brewed beers in the area to go with the famous Argentinian wine.

Ushuaia Waterfront and shipwreck

I am looking forward to the Argentinian adventures to come. Stay tuned for glaciers, hikes, and wildlife from Ushuaia.

Ushuaia: View from the Water

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