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Published: January 31st 2008
Just what you don´t need when about to catch a night bus which will take you 1200 km south: a taxi that dosn´t turn up to take you to the bus station. We thought ringing up 40 minutes before we needed to go would be fine, stress levels were rising rapidly when the taxi turned up with 10 minutes to get the 20 blocks to the bus station. Of course we made the trip in about six minutes and the bus was an hour late anyway.......
The Andesmar bus coche cama was as comfy as expected and lots of sleep was had on what turned out to be the 19 hour trip to Rio Gallegos. That is sleep was had once the bingo had finished and I had asked the steward to turn off the music - a jumping live CD of some Argentine rock band that we had endured twice.
For the last five or six hours I was awake as we travelled across the largely featureless Patagonian landscape eventually arriving at Rio Gallegos. Booked our tickets for the onward trip to Ushuaia (more options than the guidebooks indicate) and went into town.
Pleasantly surprised by the
town, perhaps it was helped by the lovely weather, we had had very low expectations based on friends´ previous experiences. We had a nice apart hotel and for both nights we ate in really good restaurants, first night parrilla of local lamb and more and second night at the poshest place in town - where Susan had what she has called the best fish of the trip so far and a really nice bottle of sauvignon blanc. Even here the dinner was only $150AP for two.
Things that we did in our one full day in Rio Gallegos included waking along the sea/river front, visiting the Pioneer Museum - in a house brought from England before 1900, wandering past the train museum - lots of deceased steam engines, going to the cultural centre for a wander around the various bits of art, and attempting to go to the Malvinas Museum. The last is closed for refurbishment. Plus another haircut for A and Susan went in search of some replacement underwear - successfully.
After two nights it was time to get up reasonably early to get the 9am bus to Ushuaia, a mere 600km further to the end of
the world. A long day's journey punctuated by leaving Argentina to enter Chile, crossing the Magellan Straits in the mist to land on Tierra del Fuego, seeing dolphins from the ferry, driving across Chilean TdeF on 200km of gravel road before leaving Chile and re-entering Argentina and tarmac. Come on guys get together and do some landswapping so that we can all avoid the bonkers routine of getting off and on buses to queue up for a stamp in the passport.
After umpteen hours we started to see forests and hills and suddenly the hills became serious peaks with snow above beautiful lakes. The last 150km or so of the journey were through stunning scenery, every house having massed lupins in full bloom adding to the effect. And then at 9.30pm we reached Ushuaia set in a glorious bay, and bathed in sunshine. More about Ushuaia next time.
And despite all the delays we still arrived on time, 13 hours from Rio Gallegos.
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