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Published: January 22nd 2008
The trip from Tandil to Bahia Blanca was uneventful. No bus breakdowns. For the first couple of hours there are actually some minor undulations and even the odd hill with huge fields of sunflowers. Listened to some Devo on the IPod, that was a bit different.
Arrived at the rather ramshackle Bahia Blanca bus station (new much bigger station being bult next door) and immediately went to find some tickets for the next night to take us on to Puerto Madryn and Patagonia proper. Managed to get the front two seats upstairs for the 8.30pm departure.
After finding our hotel and checking in we went for a bit of a wander. Bahia Blanca has three multi screen cinemas but not much of a choice of viewing. For some reason I had had a flick through the local yellow pages and noticed a Basque style restaurant, not mentioned in our guidebooks, and we happened to be on the street where I thought it was. Popped in to have a look and a drink, we were made very welcome and ended up having possibly the best meal of the trip up to that point. Excellent squid followed by Sole and Merluza
dishes washed down with a great Sauvignon Blanc.
Next day we spent some time wandering around Bahia Blanca. Strangely most of the city´s museums all open just for a few hours in the morning on Monday to Friday. We only really went to the nearly empty Bellas Artes Museo in a lovely building. Sat in the square for a while, dodging the sprinklers and looking at where we might want to stay when we get to El Calafate and El Chalten. Somehow the day went by and it was time to retrieve the bags and get a cab out to the bus station.
The overnight semi cama journey was fine, as we are getting further south it is staying light now until about 10pm. We arrived practically on time at Puerto Madryn, just after 6am! The town was sensibly closed. We rolled our bags along the lovely seafront for the 45 minute or so walk to our apart hotel. Fortunately the hotel was open and by 9ish we had breakfasted and had unpacked. Quick shower and time to head out into the sunshine. Puerto Madryn has a fantastic beach with fine sand. Our priority was finding a trip
out to Peninsula Valdes to see the wildlife. Mission accomplished we also booked dinner in the Taska Beltza seafood restaurant. After more seafront walking we crashed for the afternoon before walking out to the Eco Centre sealife museum/ conservation centre. Good displays about the fauna and flora of the area and explanations about why Peninsula Valdes is so important for the Whales, Penguins, Sea Lions and Elephant Seals. Lots to do with the coming together of the Malvinas waters and the Brazilian current apparently which makes the water ideal for food sources to flourish.
Dinner was more amazing sea food, a platter of king crab (legs) and octopus and rice with shellfish (counted nine different types). Perhaps even better than Bahia Blanca.
Up bright and early on Sunday and we were picked up for our trip. On a small bus with about 20 of us all together. Good guide who spoke castellano slowly enough that we could understand, as well as the french, swiss and japonese. Lots of the day is spent on the bus as the distances on the Peninsula are long and the roads are rough. First wildlife stop was at the extreme north of the
Peninsula, Punta Norte, where there is a colony of sea lions. Great to see them although very noisy and very smelly they are too. Not quite the right season to see the Killer Whales coming to get their lunch from the beach - which I think most us were hoping to see. Next stop was Magellanic Penguins, a small colony of these breed on the east coast. Then it was onto an Elephant Seal colony. Not many of these here and they look like giant slugs from a distance. We then headed back across the Peninsula to go out on a zodiac boat trip. Great fun and up close and personal with more Sea Lions. No whales to be seen - wrong time of year, will need to come back in September/ October one year. A really good day but tired out so we had a quiet night in and cooked risotto as a thunderstorm hit the town.
Raining on Monday in Puerto Madryn so we took a self guided bus trip to sunny Trelew (Tray-lay-oo) one of the other welsh colonies complete with methodist chapel etc etc. Big attraction here was the dinosaur museum where we spent a
Did you spill my pint?"
make egos on display at Punta Norte, Peninsula Valdes
couple of hours. Decided to forego the prospect of a Welsh Tea and headed home.
As an introduction to Patagonia Puerto Madryn is a really good place to spend time, good hotels, restaurants, the beach, the Peninsula....I suspect we will come back another day.
Tuesday spending a quiet day in the town as we have another overnighter this time 18 hours down to Rio Gallegos. We have booked cama class.
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