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Travelogue: Journey to the end of the world

Preparation:

My initial interest in Argentina started after I read an article about Ushuaia. It has indeed a reputation of being the "End of the world" and a jumping off point to Antartic expedition. I tried to put in a trip which would also include a couple of other places like Buenos Aires, Tigre delta and the Pampas. It was not easy to find a budget airline ticket to Argentina. I choose to fly by United from Tucson to Buenos Aires through Chicago ($965). I used gotolatin.com to book my accommodation at Hotel Waldrof in Buenos Aires ($30/day). This hotel location is good as its very close to Florida street. You can also walk to Plaza de Mayo. Local travel agent Ripio Turismo were easy to work with. I got my flight tickets,day trips and accomodation in Ushuiah from them. In addition to that I used my Lonely planet guide book extensively.
 Day 01 (Saturday Nov 20 2004)

My United Airlines flight from Tucson left at 3.30pm for Chicago. After a 3hrs flight to Chicago I had a 1hr layover. I was surprised to see that the flight to Buenos Aires was over booked. There were many Argentineans getting back home for Christmas and Thanksgiving. My seat was allocated to another person also. After things got sorted out. I was ready for the long flight (12hrs).
Had a quick dinner on the flight. The lady sitting next to me had many good tips for travel in Argentina.
 

Day 02 (Sunday Nov 21 2004)

My flight landed in Buenos Aires at 11.30am. The immigration procedure was swift. I was out at the baggage claim in no time. I took a Airport shuttle bus to my hotel (A$15).The counter for the shuttle bus is just outside the baggage claim. After checking in at Hotel Waldrof I took a stroll in Florida street which was just 3 blocks away. I walked the full length of Florida street which ends in Plaza de Mayo. The other landmark was the Presidential place.
I signed up for a Tango show (A$100) in the evening at El Viejo Almacen. The shown was brillant. This place also happened to be one of the best in Buenos Aires for some authentic tango. Later in the evening I had a nice steak dinner with potatoes and wine near Florida street.

             
 


Day 03 (Monday Nov 22 2004)

I booked a city tour today from Buenos Aires vision. They picked me up from the hotel. The city tour does give you a feel of the huge city. The tour included visits to Obelisk, Plaza de Mayo, La Boca, Retiro, Palermo and Recoleta.
La Boca is the most colorful barrio in Buenos Aires. The houses are indeed colorful. This was a place for new immigrants arriving in Argentina.
There was a brief stop in Boca Jr soccer stabium. Soccer superstar Maradona started his career here. He is still a hero in Argentina.
In the afternoon I spend some time in busy Florida street and in the Galerias Pacifico.
             
I tried dinner at the food court in Galerias Pacifico. There is a huge selection of good Argentinean food at a reasonable price. Knowing some spanish goes a long way here. This mall sports many upscale stores.
 
Day 04 (Tuesday Nov 24 2004)

The day started with a long drive to the city of San Antonio de Areco in the Pampas. This was a 3.5hr drive from Buenos Aires. I wanted to spend the whole day at the ranch (Estancia La Cinacina).
The tour started off with a welcome drink at the ranch. The Gaucho (cow boys) were off to show their skills in riding the horse. The group was given an opportunity to try horse riding.

 
 
I was surprised at how difficult it was to even climb onto the saddle. The Gaucho took us for a slow ride around the ranch. The group was taken into a nice colonial home in the ranch. Sumptuous lunch was served with wine. The beef was cooked over a open charcoal pit. The different type of beef cuts which were served was Chorizo (Sirloin: very popular cut), Costilla (T-bone), Lomo (Tenderloin). I would highly recommend this trip if you want to taste the best Argentinean beef.
The afternoon was spend lazing around the ranch. I tried horse riding again. The most popular drink in Argentina " Mate" was served with the evening snack. This was the only time I got to try it. You don't usually get Mate in a regular restaurant. The drive back was long especially after a couple of hours stranded in the evening rush. I was back at the hotel. What a long day it was.
Day 05 (Wednesday Nov 25 2004)

After a quick breakfast at the hotel.I checked out and took a cab to the domestic airport (A$10).My flight to Ushuaia was to leave at 11.30am. The domestic airport is a little confusing as all the departure and arrival information are in Spanish. You have to get to your gate to see what's going on. I had a 4hrs flight to Ushuaia with a brief stop at Rio Gallegos. As you get close to Ushuaia the scenery is breath taking. Snow capped mountains and just the feeling of being at the end of world. 


         

After a long delay I finally managed to get my baggage out. I met my tour guide from Rumbo Sur tours. They had booked my accommodation at Hostal del Bosque and the day trips in Ushuaia. Since it was summer in Argentina the sun was up even at 8.30pm. After checking in at the Hotel I went down to the Av San Martin to check out the nice restaurants and souvenir shops. The shops here close by 8.00pm. I was also told that the city was safe at any time of the day. Had a nice steak dinner with Argentinean wine at Hostal de Bosque restaurant( $20).
Day 06 (Thrusday Nov 26 2004)

The schedule for today was to see Terra del Fuego national park in the morning and in the afternoon do a 4hr cruise in the Beagle channel.

Started the day early at 8.00am. The tour bus drove us to the " End of the World" train station. From here I took the scenic train which runs inside the national park. It makes many stops for photo opportunity. I was sharing the cabin with tourists from Venezuela and Spain.


                 

After the train ride. The hike in the national park begins. This is easily the best part. The park is beautiful and really remote. You get pretty close to the Chilean border. The hike lets you get up close with nature. There was a brief stop in one of the log cabin restaurant for a drink.

After lunch in Ushuaia I was at the pier to board the Beagle channel cruise. The top deck is the best place to enjoy the scenery as the cruise pulls out of Ushuaia harbor. The first landmark on the channel was the light house. Two more brief stops were scheduled in the penguin island and Sea lion island. The trip back was really turbulent. The winds were blowing at more than 60miles/hr. The tossing of the boat led many to throw out. I was also not feeling too good.

After the exhausting cruise I had a nice barbeque lamb dinner in one of restaurants in Av San Martin.  What a great way to end the day.
Day 07 (Friday Nov 27 2004)

Got up at 5.00am today to enjoy the early morning stroll in Ushuaia. It was the best time to take some clear photo shots at the harbor and at the downtown.
Checked out of the hotel at mid day and after a 3hrs flight I was back in Buenos Aires. I used a pre-paid taxi (A$15) to get back to Hotel Waldrof.
For dinner I took a cab to Palermo for some good Argentinean steaks. Taxis are a good way to get around the city and they are not expensive.
There are a lots of pubs and restaurants around Palermo Viejo and especially in and around Plaza Serrano.

Day 08 (Saturday Nov 28 2004)

Today I signed up for a half day tour to cruise on Tigre delta and also ride a coast train along Rio de la Plata to the beautiful San Isidro city on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.
The morning started off with a light shower which held on till mid day. The cruise in Tigre was good with a splendid view of Parana river.
The next part of the trip was to board a beautiful tourist train called " San Isidro express" to San Isidro city.


The main attraction were the Spanish church and a handicrafts market. I picked up a mate gourds (used to make mate) and a couple of souvenirs from the market.

After a late check out from the hotel I had to kill some more time in Florida street before heading back to the airport for my return flight to Chicago. It does take a long time to check in as every passenger goes through screening from the airline security.
Day 09 (Sunday Nov 29 2004)

I landed in Chicago at 6.00am after immigration clearance and baggage claim I had to wait couple of hours for my onward flight to Tucson. Looking forward for more trips to South America.
I have some more information of this trip in my Travelogue. To see more picture from my trip check out the Photo Gallery.

2004 Raman Srinivasan. All rights reserved