Friday, March 14, 2014

Ushuaia, March 12, 2014

The  morning starts with the sun rising and the city of Ushuaia in the distance.  I can’t believe we are actually going to make it in today.  Two years ago we were in the exact same position and we were denied entry due to protesters.  This trip we have not seen any protesters with regards to the Falklands in either Argentinian port.

I had scheduled room service today and it arrived promptly and complete.  Bernie just went up to Horizon Court and got his regular oatmeal.  We are both glad the virus level has now gone to Green “normal” and we can serve ourselves completely.

Today is a strange day, Bernie and I are separating to do different things.  I will describe what each of us did.  

First Bernie's Day

I left at 8 am to head ashore and went directly to the information booth which is right at the end of the pier, across the street.  Spoke with a young lady about the golf course – which is the most Southern Golf Course in the World.  The woman said the golf course was 9 km away.  She said there was a bus but he could also take a taxi for about $10 each way.  She gave me a map and pulled out a binder with all the info and noticed the course wasn’t going to open until 10 am and provided him with the phone number just in case. 

Since it was so early I walked around the town and do some window shopping.  Note the stores were all closed with only a few opening around 9 but more opened around 10 am.  I stopped in for a coffee at one of the local shops, a nice place, old style coffee bar, but expensive - $6 for a cappuccino.

Eventually I took a cab out to the golf course, which just happened to be right beside the “End of the World Train Depot”.  There were two guys working on the course and I asked them if the course was open and the guy said 10 am, and since it was 10 he quickly called the individual in charge.  A short time later the guy arrived and opened the golf course for Bernie. 

When the guy arrived he asked if Bernie needed clubs, balls and tees.  All he needed was clubs and provided the clubs (good clubs too) on a pull cart.  He gave me a score card and showed me where to go and it was easy to follow.

It is a nine whole course that you play twice.  It had some really nice holes, even though it looks really simple. 

Unfortunately they had had snow just the day before so there were a lot of puddles on the course.  Wildlife, even this late in the season was abundant.  I stopped many times to look at the amazing view of the mountains all around me.

Be prepared because you are in the southern hemisphere your ball will break on the green different from what you are use to in the northern hemisphere, it perplexed me the entire day. 

Because I was the only person on the entire course I wasn’t held up by anyone except my erratic play and my occasional sip of scotch.  It took me just about 3 hours to play the 18 holes.  When I went back to the clubhouse the guy was there and I paid my fee which worked out to 550 Argentinean Pesos, which at today’s rate would be around $60.  He then called a cab for me to head back to the pier and I arrived around 2 pm with very wet feet and some new aches and pains.  But it was fabulous day and highly recommend it to anyone who wants to tick this off their bucket list. 

My advice if you want to play here is:  bring your own balls and tees, renting clubs is no issue, dress for the elements, extra pair of socks and shoes (you don’t need golf shoes) if you can.  Oh and bring your own scotch to keep your insides warm. 

Vickie’s Day:

I had joined a tour that Craig had organized that was thru Eco Uruguay and Diego.  We met up in Crooners and we were a nice sized group of 9 only.  We went directly down to the pier and right away we were met up with Martin who would be our guide today.  His van was easy to get in and out of and even though he did have a microphone be prepared you will not hear anything at the back. 

We started out at the End of the World Train which is located about 8 km away.  There are a lot of Princess tours here, Independent big tours and many vans.  The place is packed and it is hard to walk around.  Martin gets in line for our tickets (which are included in the price of our tour) and we are train 4.  While waiting for our train we check out the train building and take pictures and chat with fellow cruise friends.

Our train is called and we board the small train.  I sit with my group in a car that I would guess held around 16 people.  The sound system is how can I say “comical” I feel like I am in a ride at a cheap fairground.  It is hard to hear anyone talk cause the noise just blares from above and the voices in the car carry.  The commentary is interesting and is played in Portuguese, English and Spanish.  But it keeps breaking in and out.

We slowly travel along the route which is about 14km long and is single gauge so we have to make a stop along the way at the Macarena falls where we all get out and I climb the stairs to the falls – along with the 100 passengers from the train.  When I get to the top I look and it is nice but I guess I am spoiled by what I see at home.  I make my way back down and take more shots around the train and river and valley.  It is pretty here though.  As we are there another train passes us heading back to the main station.

The ride in total takes about an hour, plus the waiting time at the station so give yourself around two hours to do the trip.  When we arrive at the final destination we all get off and we are now in the Tierra Del Fuego Park and we have to give the park rangers our ticket to prove we entered the park (that was included in the tour too).

Martin is waiting for us here – although you can ride the train back down to the station if you wish.

We go a short distance to the Beagle Channel and take lots of pictures.  Here is where you will find the End of the World Post Office where you can get your postcards stamped and mailed.  Again there are lots of buses and tours here so it is crowded.

Back in the van we make our way now to Lake Roca – which is a National Park and it is so pretty here and we walk along the lake to the main building where we can buy a hot beverage and some souvenirs if we wish.  Again though this place is so crowded and thins out when a few buses leave.

Our next stop is the end of route 3 which travels from then high north in Alaska all the way south through North America and South America.  Here there is a nice boardwalk that takes you out towards the water and the magnificent views.  Lots of wildlife too!  But again there are so many people here I feel like we are cattle.

Back in the bus and we travel back towards Ushuaia where Martin takes us to a few picturesque spots and he is very helpful with telling us all about the area, it’s history, the people, industries, and the government.

We are back at the pier around 2 pm and I really did enjoy the tour.  I would highly recommend Martin.  The downside was all the tourists, and not just cruise tourists, since we were just one ship in, but all the tourists that come to Ushuaia.  Every tourist stop we encountered throngs of people, which made taking pictures and just the ability to enjoy the stunning scenery in peacefulness almost impossible.  The train trip was good, and I am glad I did it but wouldn’t do it again. 

When we arrived back into town Jan and Michael and I headed into town for a bite to eat and some wine.  We enjoyed a lovely mixed plate of barbecue and some local wine.

great meal in town

The main town is a short distance to the pier and easily walkable, although there is a hill to walk up to the main street.

Some comments about the town you may find helpful: 
Many sites are within walking distance to the pier.  The prison, the Governmnet Building, the End of the world Museum, the Maritime Museum and the Yamana Museum (first inhabitants museum). 

There is a double decker bus that charges 75P and will show you the sights around Ushuaia and lasts around an hour and can be found right near the pier. 

Most places here take Argentinian Pesos, but they also take American (but note the Argentinean Peso currency rate really fluctuates).

just at the end of the pier are these tour booths

Once back on board Bernie and relax on the balcony enjoying the lovely sunshine.  Note it was quite cold in areas on the tour and you need to dress appropriately.  Although we are two weeks later on this voyage compared to last time and it sure made a difference in temp.  While leaving Ushuaia we spot a whale not far from the ship, we see it blow a few times and then disappear a nice send off I say.

We decide just to head upstairs to grab a bite to eat (salad for me, still full from the lunch) and then head back to the cabin to see all the glaciers along the Beagle Channel.  I am disappointed that the ship hasn’t told people about the amazing channel cause this area rivals Alaska any time.   

Part way up the channel the Captain does come on to tell passengers about the views but most are in dinner and it is a formal night.

We watch from our deck (cold though) and sit in bed and watch the views too getting up occasionally to take a picture outside.  I strongly encourage you to head out and view this magnificent scenery.

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