Tuesday, February 3, 2009

In Ushuaia, Planning for Antarctica: Jan 28 to Feb 3

NOTE: Those of you who have been following this blog since I left in September may notice a change in the description. Originally (until today), the tag line was ¨Steve Barnett's Trip to the Bottom of the World (Panama to Tierra del Fuego 2008/2009¨. But now I´ve moved the goalposts... and the description is now Panama to Antarctica. Who knows what it might become int the future?

But back to today´s news:

My arrival in Ushuaia was great, but not without problems. The hotel that I had booked had a place to store my bike, but no way to get the bike up the stairs into the storeroom. The owner could not have been less helpful (he was definitely of the “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” philosophy). I asked him if this meant I would have to go somewhere else and his answer was “I guess so”. No offers of assistance. A pox be on his progeny! May his wife smell of elderberries! I did find a very helpful hostal a few blocks away (the Pueblo Viejo, which I highly recommend) and was properly ensconsed.

The next morning I started working on preparation for Antarctica.

I contacted Alicia and got my paperwork for the boat. Unfortunately, they had changed the room that they had promised me and I was now in a triple with a shared bath. Certainly not the palatial acommodations I had come to expect for my substantial discount. Fortunately, Alicia has pull with the cruise company and got me switched back to a nice double. (I did meet the guy whose place I took, and he was not a happy camper in the triple. Asi es la vida!)

I spent the next few days catching up on email, buying a few last minute pieces of warm clothing, and eating fantastic lamb washed down with a good Malbec. The city itself is small, full of cruise boats and tourist shops, but with quite a nice view. The surrounding mountains are full of glaciers.

I also had plenty of time for the two museums in town. One is built in the old prison, and is an interesting perspective on Ushuaia, which was originally a penal colony.

The museum is also an art gallery. Seattle has its art pigs, Chicago has its art bulls, so of course Ushuaia has its art penguins.

Finally February 3 arrived, and I was off to a new part of the adventure. My travel agent, Alicia, took me down to the ship (what service!) and I boarded the Polar Star to head for Antarctica… truly the End of the World!

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