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Published: October 14th 2018
Today is a travelling day. Woke up this morning at 7:15 and finished packing before walking to restaurant for breakfast. Our room 60 is the second last room on the western side and the restaurant is located at the extreme eastern side of the hotel so actually a bit of a walk as the hotel is long and skinny so that all rooms have a nice view.
The bus left around 9:20 and had to back track towards Punta Arenas to reach the border crossing. We were traveling with Joseph, Marta, Darlene(Boston) , Angeliqua (Texas), Arnie and Benny from Israel. The bus stopped just before the border crossing at a cafeteria/tourist shop for about 60 minutes even though the driver told us 20-30 minutes. We were all looking for the driver but he had disappeared but he eventually turned up and we were bundled into the bus again and drove about 20 metres to the next building where we had to officially exit Chile. We were all wondering why we had to wait in the shop so long instead of being told to just walk over to this building as there was a bit of a line-up when we got
there, but luckily, it was quick. We then got bundled into the bus again and drove about two kilometer crossing the actual border which was clear because the nice sealed road on the Chilean side changed to an unsealed road on the Argentine side. We then were directed into a building , presumably to get our entrey stamps but were promptly told to leave the building and we were bundled into the bus again where we waited about 10 minutes before being instructed to go back to the same building again, where we were officially allowed entry into Argentina. After that, back into the same bus and driven another two kilometres to a vacant piece of land and as we got out another mini-bus arrived which was our final leg to El Calafate. By now it was about 1pm. I was thinking this is going to take longer than 5 hours, which is what we expected.
After about an hour we stopped for petrol and rest-rooms for 10 minutes and then set-off again at 2pm. Country-side was very flat and sparse since leaving the National Park with nothing much to look at which actually adds to the spectacle of
the National Parks when you arrive.
As we got closer to El Calafate we could see the mountain range appearing again and the terrain was also hillier. The journey took about 7 hours in total but it did go quickly because we chatted with our fellow travelers and got to know everyone. The bus dropped everyone off to their respective hotels which was excellent and got each others names to try and connect on messenger so we could meet up again later in town. The two Israeli guys were at the same hotel as us but we didn’t quite connect with them in the same way as we did with Joseph, Marta, Angelica and Darlene. After checking in to our very comfortable room we were contacted by the two girls and they told us a restaurant/bar they were going to , Borges Y Alvarez, so we replied we’d meet them there. However on the way out I wasn’t quite sure which direction to head in and when I decided to change direction Daisy stayed back to take a photo but I waited and she never turned up so I back-tracked and couldn’t find her, even going back to our
room. After quite some time I decided I’d head into town figuring she may have just found her own way and as I turned a corner, we found each other. We seem to have this knack of losing each other at some time during our trips.
We got into town and had trouble finding the place because it was actually on an upper floor and we had missed it and a local told us where it was. As we approached we then saw the Angelica and Darlene wildly waving their arms at bus from the window. We went up and just got a lamb burger a salad which wasn’t exactly the best salad we’ve had but the burger was nice. We sat there for quite a while eating and chatting the whole time before leaving to wander around the town checking out the shops. El Chalten is quite a charming town that reminded us a bit of Banff in Canada. I managed to find the bus company I had booked with to go to El Chalten tomorrow and thought they could give me physical tickets but he said to just pay a small fee at the bus stop office
and they would print in out for me. The bonus however was that he arranged for us to be picked up from our hotel at 7:15 so that will save us a 30 minute walk in the morning. Also found an ATM and got our first Argentine money. By now it was 8:30pm and we decided to stop for a hot chocolate and tell Darlene and Angelica where we were but by coincidence they walked right past and saw us, so came in and we had another long enjoyable conversation before bidding farewell and walking back to our hotel. We’ve really enjoyed meeting so many wonderful travelers on this trip so far and hope to meet up with them all at some time in the future.
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