El fin del munde

Trip Start Sep 20, 2007
Trip End Dec 20, 2007

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Monday, December 10, 2007

I came to the southern hemisphere to escape winter, something I'msure you can all appreciate being in the nasty rain of england. So imagine my horror when I arrive in Ushuaia and its snowing!! In summer!! That was so not in the game plan. And its cold and windy. On the other hand, I'm only 1000km from Antartica which is the closest I'm ever going to get (or at least in the foreseeable future), and snow is always fun, especially near christmas :o)

To get to this far off little place was a bit of a marathon - I left Calafate at 3am and had 4 hours to sleep on the bus before arriving in Rio Gallegos. Then had to wait 2 hours for another bus,which Iwas on for 12 hours. Yikes! On the way we had to cross into and back out of Chile, always good doing pointless border crossings, and take a rather fun ferry across a very very choppy Magellan Strait. Ace! To add to the fun I hadn't showered for 3 days and although I had changed my socks, the new ones weren't so much clean as less dirty. Nice.

Anyway we actually arrived one hour early by some miracle and that made me happy :o) and then I walked to a hostel and got the last available bed there, and that made me happy too. Went out and got a lasagne - yum! My first proper meal for nearly a week as I had been trekking, and before that living on bread and cheese to cut costs, so it was awesome.

Treated myself to a lie-in the next day, as late as 10am! Wow! Later and I would have missed breakfast, and I'm not one to miss free food. I was, not really suprisingly, totally exhausted for most of Sunday and so unfortunately did virtually nothing, even though it was my only full day in Ushuaia. Ah well, the plus side of travelling alone is that if I want to waste a day doing nothing no one else cares. So i did just that - wandered around town, considered (and rejected) the idea of buying some very naff "end of the world" souvenirs, spent hours on the internet, and went to a museum for the culture fix.It was nice enough, learnt about the history of ushuaia and saw the old prison there (it was originally a penal colony). Also saw many models of ships that have explored the area through the ages and read a bit about antartic exploration. Not exactly a trip highlight but a nice enough way to spend the afternoon. Chatted to some people in the hostel in the evening and then went out for possibly the worst meal ever :oS I wasn' really hungry so had a salad at a cheapish place nearby. It was soggy lettuce with a bit of carrot and tomato, the prawns had absolutely no flavour (im not exagerating there), the tuna was nasty cheap tinned stuff and the hard boiled eggs were sad and tasteless. yuck. And it still cost 4 quid! Bloody tourist towns.

Anyway, rant over. Next day I actually got to see some of Ushuaia which was really nice :o) i wanted to see some of the countryside around Ushuaia but couldnt be bothered with any more walking so went for the easy option - see it from horseback :o) I got picked up from my hotel at 10am and we headed out to the Centro Hipico. Its up on the hill overlooking the town and was actually a riding centre not just a pony trekking place which was good. The horse was great fun, extremey stubborn and mareish - we spent most of the first 5 minutes walking backwards in circles whilst waiting for the other guys to get sorted out! So it was satisfying that once it was time to go i actually got her to listen and move in the right direction, even though she really didnt want to :o) unfortunately the other two members of the group were total novices, However it was hillarious watching this posh spanish women screaming with fear most of the way round, hehe. So at least it was entertaining :o) we walked most of the way, but it was a nice challenging walk on narrow paths up and down hills and the guide was sweet and wanted to practice his english. Got a few trots in an a very very brief canter. Ah well, it was fun. And the scenery was stunning - amazing views across the city and the beagle channel, it was a beautiful day and the sky was clear, and snowy mountains all around :o)

After the ride we headed back to town and I went to grab some lunch. Went to a coffee shop and happened to sit at the counter next to an american couple and got chating to them - turned out they were on the same flight a me to BA that afternoon. They were really sweet and we had a good chat. the guy was mid 40s and used to work for mercedes so has worked wih plenty of consulatancies before - was giving me lots of advice! And said that the work McKinsey did was rubbish, hehe. So as my flight was at 5.30 I headed back to the hostel, charged the (slowly dying) Ipod, and got a tai to the airport. Another tiny place so very quick and easy to check in, and then at the gate I saw the couple again so we chatted until boarding. The flight was good - as we ascended the views were great over Tierra del Fuego. Also saw an awesome sunset as we flew north, bright fiery red sky. Because we flew due north pretty much for 3000km, once I arrived in BA it was really dark even though Ushuaia would still have the sun up, weird.

So ushuaia was tourist central but outside of the duty free shopping and gross restaurants it stil felt like the end of the world, just a naval base and ex-penal colony on a remote island somewhere near Antartica :o) pretty cool really. And no, I didnt get the passport stamp saying "I've been to the end of the world" ;o)

Cant wait to see you all, miss you lots.

Hasta luego amigos xxxxx
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