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Published: March 14th 2012
Yesterday was a day full of travel; lots of hurrying, lots of waiting, lots of sitting and wondering what the heck was going on. My taxi driver sent someone else to pick me up today, but she was early and very nice. We left the hotel at 9 and made it to the airport on time. I thought that the travel gods were smiling upon me today- the plane was on time and they checked my 2nd bag for free. It was off to a great start. As we approached Buenos Aires, the cloud cover grew thicker and more ominous. Heck I wasn't worried, I was only there for a couple hours and didn't care if it was raining there; that would be my worry the following week. Oops, my bad. We circled BA for over an hour, around and around and around safely buckled in with all electronic devises turned off. Right! After a few passes, my Kindle accidentally turned on and I read without worry. Apparently the rain was so bad that the airport was backed up and there was no gate for us to use. I still didn't put it together that the airport was basically shut down
due to the weather. We finally landed and exited to the nightmare that was the airport.
I can honestly say that I have never seen a departure board where every single flight was either delayed or cancelled. My flight was several hours later in the afternoon, so I wasn't worried. Just in case we got in late and I was going to miss dinner, I had lunch in the food court. You may know that I am prone to exaggeration, but let me tell you, this is not blown out of proportion at all. That was the worst, most vile, disgusting lasagne I have ever tried to eat. I had thought that the nasty chicken that I sill think gave me food poisoning in Krakow was bad, but nah, it was gourmet compared to this. Luckily there was a big bag of Skittles and a couple Snickers at a nearby shop
Our flight finally came up on the monitor and was listed as On Time. Awesome, I went through security and headed downstairs to the gate. By the time I made it there the flight was listed as Ask Agent. Since there was no agent, I went back
upstairs. At that point it was listed as delayed. Back down to the gate, wait some more. Ask Agent. New gate upstairs. Uh oh, that wasn't right, there was a plane there but it was for another flight. Ask Agent. Back to the old gate. Delayed 2 hours. Wait 2 hours, Ask Agent. Delayed. Ok, I don't think I need to go on. You should have the picture by now. The good thing is that a group of passengers bonded and would send out a scout each time something changed. We finally left about 4 hours late, but I was grateful that we actually made it out and that my stop was the first one. The plane did not make it to the second stop, so I don't know what those people did for hotels overnight. Ugh. The El Calafate airport is so brand new that it isn't finished yet. We walked past construction areas and down what will eventually become fire stairs. It will be a beautiful airport when it is finished. Since we were over 4 hours late and it was almost 11:30, there were no taxis, so I had to wait for a taxi to come. It
was a nice ride to the hotel and let me tell you, I was so happy to be at the hotel.
Today was a down day with absolutely nothing scheduled. I slept in as best as I could in a room next to the front desk and breakfast room. It was beautiful today, so I walked down the hill to the main street. What a nice feeling to simply window shop, walk slowly and not feel pressured to do anything. I picked up some souvenirs, some gloves since I forgot mine and enjoyed being here in Patagonia. After a full swing up and down the main street, Travel Brendan took over and told me he was done with doing nothing. There as a big 4x4 off road mountain tour that looked like fun, so I signed up. It was going to be several hours later in the day which gave me time for lunch. Nothing looked really good. I wasn't in the mood for a tourist type restaurant, so I headed to the side streets. One storefront had caught my eye earlier in the day but I wasn't sure about it. Well, heck, there was only one way to
find out what it was all about. I went in and ordered 3 handmade empanadas; carne, pollo, jamon y queso. I had them heated and then sat outside and ate them while enjoying the warm afternoon. Let me tell you, these were absolutely freaking incredible. They were so good I couldn't stand it. I had to go buy a couple more to take with me for later.
After some coffee in a small shop, I took a taxi up the hotel to wait for my tour. El Calafate is situated on Lago Argentino (lake Argentina) There are mountains in all directions, some white with snow, some just rock. It is very beautiful, especially on a sunny day with blue sky, fluffy clouds and deep blue lake water in the background. It is easy to see why Patagonia is such a special place.
The big 4x4 came lumbering up to fetch me from the hotel and off we went up into the mountains on dirt roads and paths. I had no idea what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised. The views were postcard perfect. We stopped several times to take pictures. Huge rocks that had been under a river
El Calafate Mountain behind me.
eons ago were scattered about. The landscape was moon-like with the dark boulders stacked on each other. The final rocks had compressed iron sticking out in various sized discs. Several resembled sombreros. It was very interesting to see. After doing all this, I rested in the hotel for a bit, then headed back to the main strip for dinner. Again, it took forever for me to find just the right restaurant. I walked, and looked and mumbled to myself and looked at menus. Finally I found just the right place, which was ironically the first place I walked past. A little handmade pasta with Bolognese sauce, bread and wine was just what I needed to finish another perfect day. Now I am all packed and ready for the Big Ice Tour tomorrow. Stay tuned for that one. I have a feeling it will be another super incredible tour.
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