. The network of staircases were almost like boardwalk peri-circumnavigating the glacier: a much more Ikea-like experience compared to our lonely, efforted approach to Glacier Grey (see Torres del Paine entry). That's enough about the glacier.
We went to El Chalten for three days (see El Chalten entry).
Upon returning to El Calafate, we were greeted by beautiful sunshine and cloudless skies. We knew we needed to be outdoors, so we dropped our bags back at the MarcoPolo Inn and walked around the Lago Argentino in the nature preserve. Although not much for bird watching, who wouldn't be impressed with dozens of pink flamingos??!! They're incredibly human shy, but we managed to sneak in a few choice photos and even a video. It seriously looked mythological watching those light pink birds take flight to reveal hot pink and black feathers. And most importantly, we finally saw the view we'd been waiting for in Patagonia - the one you think Patagonia always looks like but really you have to be lucky to see it I guess. Snow-capped mountains meet glassy clear lake water, with autumn-colored trees still spotting the lower hilltops. The panorama was truly incredible, and we are truly loving this Patagonia region.
This little city survives almost entirely off the big slab of ice located 80 km away. We hooked up with 3 brits to rent a car and save a few pesos. Seeing as they are all left-side drivers, Jayson got the pleasure of driving the rented VW Gol (see picture). The hunk of ice, as Sam Brown so aptly put it, is touristy but worth it. Oh so worth it. We were lucky enough to catch it on a day where it was snowing because the glacier itself was not nearly cold enough. Measuring 60m high and over 5km long, the icy breeze coming off the Perito Moreno (literally translated as "the purple expert") reminded us just how big that glacier is (roughly the size of Buenos Aires). Another "cool" fact is that it's one of the only stable glaciers left in the world. It advances at least as much as it calves (up to 3m a day). We were able to see some awesome glacier hunks dropping straight into the water and causing tidal waves. Some of them even rocked the boat when we were within 300m. After the boat ride, we ambled the elaborate network of staircases seeing the top and front face of the glacier from every angle until the snow forced us indoors