Published: December 4th 2010December 1st 2010
The journey from Puerto Natales to Ushuaia was quite interesting. We left Puerto Natales and met a bus coming north from Punta Arenas in an Estancia parking lot where we transferred vehicles. Then, we continued along the road towards Ushuaia. We starting parallelling the Straits of Magellan and we saw several shipwrecks along the shoreline as well as a red tide in parts. When we arrived at the ferry across the Straits, we were little blown away by the wind. It was whipping up large swells and blowing the sand on the beach everywhere! Then, the ferry had trouble getting to the shore and when it did, it was smaller than the Bowen Island Ferry. Seriously, we have to get on that little rowboat to get acorss the mighty Straits of Magellan? Really, that rowboat or swimming eh? Well, the boat does not look that bad anyways. We managed to make it across and then we went over several dirt roads until we crossed the border into Argentina. Once there, the roads became paved and we headed towards Rio Grande. The city has some of the largest trout in the world in the rivers and lakes nearby and they let you know that with the massive statue of a trout that they have by their welcome sign. Once we arrived at the bus station, we transferred to collectivos, essentially mini-vans, and we continued the three hour journey towards Ushuaia. En route, it started to snow. It was very pretty until it began sticking to the roads and making it difficult for the driver to see. We carried on through the 5 centimetres or so and, after 14 hours on the road, we arrived at Ushuaia safe and sound.
Ushuaia itself is the southernmost city in the world. It is beautifully situated on a little bay and it backed by tall, snow-capped mountains. The town has many souvenir stores and caters to tourists from cruise ships. That being said, there are some cool sites including Tierra del Fuego National Park. In the park, Canadian beavers were introduced but they have wreaked havoc on the local ecosystem because they have no natural predators like in Canada. There are also many great restaurants in town, inlduing one called Ramos Generales, which used to be the general store in town. There are items all through the restaurant that were available for purchase to explorers over 100 years ago! There is also a prison in town which we visited. Do not worry, we did not get into any trouble. The prison itself has been converted into several museums that tell the history of Ushuaia, Antarctica, the Islas Malvinas and the prison itself. The museum was quite interesting but it was creepy walking through some of the old prison cells. Also, there was a statue of a guard and we swear that his eyes were following us everywhere we went.
One night, we went to a restaurant called Bodegon Fuegian, which was supposed to serve the best lamb in town. To start things off, they had a "cubierto" which, for those who do not know, is a fork and knife tax. Yes, they actually charge you for the use of a fork and knife. The night proceeded to go downhill when the waiter refused to serve us tap-water. The lamb arrived, what we were told was some of the best lamb in southern Argentina, and it was more bone than meat and the parts that could be eaten were so over cooked that it should have been fed to the dogs in the street. We were very unimpressed.
We knew that Ushuaia was the so-called "Fin del Mundo", but we wanted to go further...
Bye for now,
Valerie and Peter
Things we learned in Tierra del Fuego:
-There are no fires there, but sea monsters and dragons abound.
-Apparently, it can snow in late spring here, despite the fact that the city is on the coast.
-New York Times Crossword clue: "France's ______ von Bismark." Seriously!?!?!?!?