Argentina and Antarctica 2008/2009:
Day 3 - Ushuaia


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Antarctica 2008: [Day 1 - Buenos Aires] [Day 2 - Uruguay] [Day 3 - Ushuaia] [Day 4 - Drake Passage] [Day 5 - South Shetland Islands] [Day 6 - Antarctica] [Day 7 - Antarctic Peninsula] [Day 8 - Antarctic Sound] [Day 9 - Drake Passage] [Day 10 - Cape Horn] [Day 11 - Ushuaia] [Day 12 - Iguaçu] [Day 13 - Iguazú]

Tuesday, December 30: We awoke early and joined our fellow travelers for breakfast before boarding our bus to the airport at 5:30 AM.
While waiting to leave, we caught this shot of a red light about to turn green. Those thoughtful Argentines let you know when the green light will be coming by showing the yellow light simultaneously, just like they do in Sweden.
Fast-forward past the trip to the airport and the three-hour flight to the exciting part -- landing in Ushuaia.
Ushuaia is located at the southern tip of South America, and even in the height of summer, the mountains are covered with snow and it is cold here.
Here are the aforementioned snowy mountains as viewed through a tour bus in the rain. We took the optional trip to Tierra del Fuego National Park instead of spending the full day in Ushuaia.
As we drove through town, Debbie was ecstatic to see lupines of all colors in full bloom everywhere we looked. You'll see what we mean soon enough.
But first, back to our trip to lovely Tierra del Fuego.
It was a rainy welcome, but not unexpected, as Ushuaia has lots of rainy weather in the summertime.
Our lovely guide, Tammy, educated us and showed us the sights while keeping up our spirits in the cold, wet weather.
Here is an area that either used to be a beaver dam or is a peat bog.
Here's the river Lapataia.
We stopped at a visitor center on Lake Roca.
Orchy risked rusting his tiny pipecleaner arms and legs long enough to get this shot of him. That's Chile in the distance!
We spotted a rabbit and were delighted until we learned that they are one of many species introduced to the area that have gotten out of control.
Here's beautiful Lake Roca. That's Chile on the left and Argentina on the right, by the way.
Here is a pretty little flower that grew on short shrubs throughout the park.
This sign marks the end of Highway 3, which is the end point for people who want to drive the Pan-American Highway from Alaska in North America, through Central America and South America to here. Orchy prefers to fly.
Here's a closeup of some of the moss and lichens found in the area. Look closely for a few tiny flowers as well.
The scenery at the end of the world is gorgeous, especially in the surreal foggy conditions.
It was raining, but we enjoyed our walk along the lakeside anyway.
We'll always stop to get a picture of a babbling brook.
This poor tree is covered in false mistletoe, a parasite that makes the tree look like it is decorated with green pompons.
Our next stop was the post office at the end of the world.
Wait, that sounds very familiar. Hey! We saw this on the "Amazing Race!" We were giddy to find ourselves in another location we'd previously seen on the show.
Here's the interior of this very crowded place. We opted not to mail anything from here, but ended up sending postcards from Antarctica a few days later.
Here's the lakefront ...
... and here are the local inhabitants -- horses who seem to have free range of the land, ...
... including this little newborn.
Our guide passed around photo books of wildlife and local history. We had seen two of these birds earlier, which are named Chimango Caracara, and are members of the falcon family.
Our tour ended at the Ushuaia waterfront near the city center where we had three hours of free time before we could board the boat at 5:00 PM. We were able to fill the time, but we pity the folks who didn't book the tour and had three more hours to fill than we did.
Here's a handsome fellow.
We were starving and our guide told us that king crab was a local specialty, so we headed to Tante Nina Restaurante, which featured waterfront views and an outline of a crab on the front so we knew we were in the right place.
We stuffed ourselves on calamari, cheese bread, Coca-Cola Lights, and king crab casseroles ...
... while watching Maersk containers go by.
Next, we headed into town, which is set on a hill with the mountains in the background.
The main shopping street is Avenida San Martín, and this Godoy name means something to Tom so he got this photo.
Here is Avenida San Martín, with souvenir shops and outdoor gear and garment shops.
This was the entrance to a series of military buildings. Notice the lupines in the garden.
Not large enough for you? Here they are close up. We were so fortunate to have visited during peak bloom time, which only lasts a couple of weeks, like we did in Iceland.
We bought a stone penguin figurine next door, and a small thermometer keychain here at this souvenir shop. It registered sixty degrees both indoors and out in Antarctica so we doubt its accuracy.
This is looking back to the waterfront from Avenida San Martín. Notice the Maersk containers down the street.
Here they are again, with more lupines for your viewing pleasure.
And more lupines.
And still more. Seriously, these plants are gorgeous. No wonder Debbie spends so much time and money every year trying in vain to get these to grow in the scorching Indiana sun.
Where in the world is Orchy? He's in Ushuaia and here's the proof.
This is a bust of Evita. Of course, this requires a photograph, and if more lupines end up in the shot, so be it.
Docked tantalizingly close, Hurtigruten's M/V Fram looked regal in the distance framed with lupines.
At last! It's time to board! We confirmed that our cabin did indeed have an unobstructed view (but still wasn't worth $3000 more than the identical cabins next door with a slightly obstructed view, but that wasn't an option for us when we booked). Here's one view, ...
... and here's the other. We were satisfied with our room but still not thrilled that it was on the promenade deck, nor that it was not the full suite that was pictured on the website when we booked this category. (The website was still incorrect for half a year afterward. Grrrr.)
However, when we went to the front desk to activate our account, we learned that upgrades were available. For junior suite holders like us, we could upgrade to a full suite for 400 NOK/person/day, which worked out to about $800. When we inquired about the upgrade, we were given a key to check out the available room to see if we wanted it. Sure, let's check it out.
Yes, this is room 601.
Imagine our surprise to find that our upgrade was for the largest cabin on the ship and the only one with a separate bedroom.
Bear with us, because this tour will take a few minutes. Here's the view from the bedroom toward the main room. There are two full closets, additional shelving, bedside tables, and a TV.
The bathroom was identical to the one in the junior suite, with a curved shower door, ...
... and a floor-to-ceiling cabinet next to the sink, with more storage underneath the sink.
This is the view looking back at the entrance with ample room for hanging coats and stacking winter gear, ...
... here's the view of the main living room with a huge flat-screen TV, ...
... the view of the desk, table and chairs, and a big empty area. There was so much storage, ...
... including floor-to-ceiling shelves next to the window just perfect for storing binoculars. The best thing about the Hurtigruten Suite was that there was no promenade deck right outside. In fact, the only part of the boat visible from the main room was the bridge five feet away if you craned your head to the right. We'll take it!
We got our official Maersk-in-Ushuaia shot before settling into the ship for the voyage.
Dinner was an open seating buffet. Welcome indeed!
Back in our suite, Tom set up his GPS to track our journey. We powered it via the computer most of the time.
In the evening, there was a champagne welcome reception in the Qilak observation lounge on the top deck.
The lounge offered great views of the coast as we cruised the calm waters of the Beagle Channel.
We had great seats up front, but there really aren't any bad seats in the observation lounge and we sat in nearly every one over the course of eight days.
The ship's officers and lecturers were introduced and we toasted to a great voyage.
Something shiny! We looked outside and realized that we were much, much closer to the Chilean side of the channel than the Argentinean side.
So, we bolted outside to photograph the patch of land on which we had nearly run aground.
Our GPS later confirmed our suspicion that we had crossed into Chilean waters. Here's Debbie in Chile. It counts, doesn't it?
Here are the mountains in Chile. We saw them. While in Chilean waters. We were so in Chile. If only we felt like we could really claim it, but we don't.

Our final activity of the day was a late night safety drill. Cruising Antarctic waters calls for special precautions, including full body survival suits. We hoped we'd never have to wear them.

Day 4 >


Antarctica 2008: [Day 1 - Buenos Aires] [Day 2 - Uruguay] [Day 3 - Ushuaia] [Day 4 - Drake Passage] [Day 5 - South Shetland Islands] [Day 6 - Antarctica] [Day 7 - Antarctic Peninsula] [Day 8 - Antarctic Sound] [Day 9 - Drake Passage] [Day 10 - Cape Horn] [Day 11 - Ushuaia] [Day 12 - Iguaçu] [Day 13 - Iguazú]

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