We left Buenos Aires just as the party people came out to play, heading for the southern most point in Argentina, and indeed the world. Ushuaia. Shuffling along the check in queue at 3.30am, we couldn’t help but wonder what possess an airline to schedule a flight as such an early hour. No surprises we nodded off pretty much as soon as we were in the air.
Blearily around 6am we peered out of the windows to spy the most incredible strips of colour, the beginning of a sunrise above the cloud-line and hoped we had seen the last of the rain. Alas not. On our descent the sprawling town came into view, nestled below snow-capped mountains, the tiny landing strip on a small peninsular, was dwarfed by commercial harbour just around the bay.
You name it and they sell it in Ushuaia, last stop Antarctica. Ski clobber (Spyder at that) Timberland, Northface and plenty of serious outdoor shops, duty free stores galore; knick knacks and trinkets you never knew you needed, the town has it nailed! A town that has boasted a penal colony and hosts a small naval base, it felt like a friendly frontier town with cars cruising (well crawling) up the main street, San Martin, in the early evening with pop tunes (80’s stylie) blaring and windows down. Not sure if the lads were checking out the chicas or not, but it made us giggle.
With cruise ships stopping to disgorge their passengers, several times a day during the summer season (our winter) there are plenty of places to eat. From king crab and blow out seafood dining experience at Kaupe (we were saving this for our return from Antarctica) to more regular Argentine asado grill restaurants serving up the local fave of Fuegian whole roast lamb, there is something for everyone. With something of an overload in red meat already, we settled on a simple fish supper of calamari plus perfectly grilled hake and salmon at Chiko’s.
One thing’s for sure, although booze is cheap, food is not a cheap commodity in these parts with a lot of products shipped down from BA and other areas. Our supermarket sweep of the biggest of the local supermarkets revealed why there is little in the way of salad or veg served… The fresh produce aisles were a fraction in size, compared to the other sections; limp and sad leaves were left abandoned, next to a tiny selection of cucumbers and plump yet squishy tomatoes. None of them keenly priced. Beetroot and squashes looked liked they had survived their journey and we did manage to find a great little red that came in a Tetra Pak … Perfect for trekking and camping!