Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bel & Ushuaia: The End of The World

Here I´m sharing some of my pics of Ushuaia, where I spent Christmas day.

My friend Natalia is a stewardess. She does local and regional flights and she ussually is scheduled to spend a few days in the destinations. Some are interesting, some are not at all. The good thing is that when they have this "postas" over the holidays (Christmas, New Year, and I think Easter, as well), they are allowed to bring a plus one. This is of course subject to seats availability. Thankfully, this Christmas she was going to Ushuaia, and she asked me to come!
Of course, I would have come with her even if the destination was not worth it. This was a short stay, only 24hs but It was one of my missing spots in Argentina, so I was really happy... So, I can say I went to the end of the world back and forth for her :)

Ushuaia is the Southernmost city in the whole world. It´s located in the Province of Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire), in a wide bay on the shores of the Beagle Channel.

We were flying on Dec 25 in the morning, arriving Ushuaia at noon, and going back on Dec 26 at noon, arriving Buenos Aires in the afternoon.

Packing was challenging. You would say... how much can one girl need in 24hs... Well, let me tell you... Summer is very intense in Buenos Aires and most of the country, but Ushuaia is below 0°C most of the year, even in summer!
So, the plan was to get to the hotel, and book a ferry tour around Ushuaia seashore. There were different length options, but I wanted to get to know the city as well, so the idea was to take the 3-hour excursion that included the famous End of the World Light House and some birds islands.
Then, we were having tea around the city, do some sithseeing and then heading to the hotel for the Night tour in the National Park to see how squirrels adapted to the ecosystem by building natural dams with rotten trees....
On the following morning, the idea was to wake up early to see the Prision of the End of The World, just before getting picked up at the hotel, with the rest of the crew.
Rain was forecasted so I needed rainy boots, and some warm clothes to change in case I get wet. Things were going to get dirty in the National Park, but I also needed nice clothes for dinner, and a new set of clothes for the morning. Although I´m very practical when it comes to packing light, I needed a carry on.

As I said, this was how we meant to spend our 24 hours, but things don´t always come as expected...

We ended up spending Christmas´Eve with my family and then I spent the night at her apt, where we were going to be picked up by the cab arranged by the airline.
We woke up relatively early and kep crossing our fingers on the cab so that there will be seats available for me.
Things in the checking counter were not easy, the staff was in a bad mood because of having to work during the holidays. I had to checked my luggage even before knowing wether I was flying or not... Fortunately I ended up boarding the plane :)

During the flight I was prevented that there was some issue with the weight of the plane and that they had to leave some lugagge in Buenos Aires, that was coming in the next plane in the afternoon. I was hoping not to be my case, but of course it was!
We arrived at noon, with a small delay and it turned out that the airline didn´t bring any suitcases. No luggage for nobody!
It was freezing in Ushuaia! Below 0 and I only had my flat shoes, not even socks, a light sweater and thanks Gosh I had brought my coat with me on tha plane. My boots, my warm clothes were all in my suitcase. Holy crap!

So, we went to the hotel, I was pissed off but trying to focus on the landscapes, and we booked the sailboat tour. I thing I never felt colder in my life. You know how much I love winter and how much I walked through snow storms in New York and Boston, but this... this was seriously cold! Windy, rainy and freezing!

My friend lend me some of her clothes, but she´s much thiner, so I didn´t have many options, and they were not covering all of my skin, hehe

Anyway, the boat was fantastic! We saw a wide variety of birds, we saw sea lions (they really smelled), and walked in an island in the middle of nowhere... The best of all, I saw the Les eclareires Lighthouse, better known as The Light House from The End of The World.

On the way back, I stopped to buy some souvenirs in the port. And found nice Christmas postcards... I bought some to write later...

We walked around the city, looking for open shops to buy some clothes, just in case my luggage didn´t arrive on time to do the night excursion, but everything was close! It was Christmas´time after all...

We phoned the hotel to see if they had received my luggage and they said they did receive some suitcases although they think mine was not among them... :(
We walked along the coast and then Natalia wanted to take me to have some tea at her favourite coffee shop. But it turned out it was close as well.

We ended up having tea in some other place, very nice, and headed to the hotel.
Of course my suitcase didn´t come... The airline was saying that maybe it was coming in the night flight, but... we had to cancelled the Night excursion. The weather was awful! It didn´t stop raining, and the cold was intense. I was really looking forward to see the squirrels in action, but it would probably come with pneumonia for me ;)

So, we just had dinner. It was supposed to be only us, but some of the crew joined us and they met some other crew while waiting for our reservation, and we ended up being a large group. It was kind of boring. My friend didn´t like most of the people, and it was really easy to understand why.

On the way back to our hotel, I was hoping to receive my luggage but of course i did not :(

The morning after was not better... We called the airline again and, at this point it was obvious they didn´t know where my luggage was. We repeated the description of my suitcase: beige, with a purple strip on a side, but there were no traces of it. I was beginning to worry I was never going to see it again...My new boots, my new purse, my favourite sweater, were going to disappear of life...
I was so pissed off that I didn´t even take a shower, hehe. What was the point if I was going to use the same dirty clothes!!
It had stopped raininig and it was sunny at times but it was so cold it made us even doubt wether to go the Prision Museum or not. We ended up going, and it was so worth it!

In late XIXth Century, the prison opened and received the first inmates, ussually dangerous prisoners relocated from other prisons in Buenos Aires, and it closed in the mid of XXth Century, because of the unsafe conditions in which the inmates lived.
About 1990 the former prison become a museum. It´s divided in different areas: maritime, naval, and the most touristic part: the one that recreates the life in prison.
The prison part is divided in two: one that´s almost falling apart but that preserves the reality of how the prison ended looking, and another part,that has been restored as it looked back then.

They had natural size figures pretending to be prisioners... and they were ridiculously bizare!

I made some time to write the postcards and I sent them in the Prision mailbox!

The sun was shining when we left the prison... A perfect day to sail was beginning but we had to leave :(
When we went back to the hotel, my lugagge hadn´t still arrived.
So, we took the shuttle to the airport. And this time I passed the line with my friend and the rest of the crew. So fun! I saw some of the airport crew offices and my friend asked once more about my luggage. They had no idea where it was! Just in case, she was taken to the lost lugagge room, and as soon as she entered the room: she found it! It took her one second to spot it!
I was so glad to be reunited with my belongings! My boots, my leather purse, my everything!
And I boarded the plane and came back to the heat of a normal Summer, where no coats, boots or sweaters are needed.

Hopefully, next time I visit Ushuaia I will have better luck with my luggage and I will get to see all the things I missed!

Enjoy your holiday season!

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