Published: November 26th 2011November 25th 2011
Day 16 - El Calafate Rest Day
And on the sixteenth day, they rested!
We had no excursions booked, and so had a more leisurely breakfast, but were most surprised to see Vera at breakfast. Having woken feeling a little under the weather, she decided not to go on the full day tour, and was also going to have a rest day. We caught the first bus of the day into town, and from our drop off point, we went to have a look at the nature reserve to see if we could get closer to the flamingos that we had seen from our hotel window.
In exposed places, the wind was really strong, and on the way to the reserve it picked up significantly. The infrastructure round the nature reserve is still being built, so the wind was whipping up a lot of sand and dust. When we got to the reserve, the wind was so strong, we thought better of it, as really the flamingos were still some way off. Instead we walked back towards town, to the small museum which has a small dinosaur collection, some bones having been found in Patagonia of some of
the largest dinosaurs that ever lived, including the Megaterio, a herbivore weighing 6t that lived at the same time as humans. The museum also covered the colonisation of the area by settlers, and the unfortunate treatment that local tribes received from the settlers which meant that the indiginous people were wiped out, the last having died in 1992.
From here we sought out lunch, and on the way back towards the main street, looked for likely places to eat later on that night. For lunch we opted for the bar we had been in the first night, that was in the guide book. It is also a book shop, and you have to go upstairs and the wooden gallery looks out over the little shopping street. They have an old fashioned set of library sliding ladders to reach the books on the top shelf. They also have a spirits collection to outdo almost everywhere else we have been. Don't know if there is much call for 18yr old malts from the Outer Hebribies in El Calafate!
After lunch we went for a walk along the main street, before returning to the hotel and venturing to the pool. We've
had colder baths, than the temperature of the pool water, partly because the jacuzzi water was feeding directly into the pool. The wind was rattling the windows, but it didn't deter Russ from bobbing his head under the glass and into the outdoor bit. I'm sure that on a non win dy day (if they have any), it would have been lovely to sit out on the wooden patio and admire the view. Although it was not a big area, they had still managed to include a steam room and sauna and a small gym area.
After a swim, we returned to the room feeling quite relaxed, but also knowing that we had to pack for the flight the next day. This was going to be more challenging, as with everything, it never goes back in the bag as well as it did when you started the holiday. We also had the challenge and the airline the next day had a 15kg weight limit, but the tour company were paying for us all to have 5kg more, so we assumed that they would be checking the bag weights more closely than some of the other flights we had been
That evening, we took the shuttle bus into town, and went to one of the restuarants we had spotted during the day. It was quite busy, but we just arrived at the right time so we only had to wait a few minutes for a table. Four of the party staying in one of the other hotels were also eating there, and curiously there was a table reserved for four. We knew John and Vera were eating with friends from another trip, but couldn't remember the name of the place they had booked. We ordered a started of meats and cheeses to share, and main course of meat skewers. The table in the corner was indeed reserved for John and Vera, who had returned from his day trip. On enquiring, it had been quite extreme, very cold with a bit of snow, and was probably best that Vera had not gone. We even managed a dessert - chocolate volano to share -yum.
Day 17 - Buenos Aires
The next day, after breakfast we gathered in the lobby to be collected for the short journey to the airport. Once at the airport, the worry about the weight
seemed unfounded, as the rest of the passengers seemed to be taking on as much luggage as they wanted.
We were met at the airport by the guide and taken to our hotel, which was not far from the domestic airport, and the guide arranged to come back to the hotel to give us some hints on some of the best places to go in the city. We checked in and decided to go for a walk ourselves using the map from reception. We went through a park which had lovely Jacaranda trees with purple blossom. It also had a memorial to the Argentinian soldiers that died during the Falklands War, which has a permanant flame and armed guard. We had been warned no to take our passports out with us, and once again to remove jewellery. It was however a problem , when at the exchange bureau at the shopping centre they asked for our passport - a fact our guide had managed to miss.
We returned to the hotel and the guide was waiting for us, and the half hour turned into an hour, of him recommending different restaurants and places to go. We hoped it
would be useful as we were not going on the city tour the next day and were relying on the guide book for tips, and were doing our own tour on foot.
We decided to investigate one of his recommendations, which was a square in the San Telmo district. We got a taxi, which was relatively inexpensive, but the city has a lot of one way streets, so you often felt like the taxi was going the wrong way to get the where you were going. The main square had lots of tables set out belonging to the various bars that were located round the square. There were a few "undesirables" hanging round the square, but not being put off by it, we chose a table near the live music that a band were playing. They played for a while, and even managed to get the crowd to get up and dance. After the "act" had finished, we caught a taxi and went back to the hotel.
There are more photos below