All the general posts I added during our 2012 trip have been moved from the front page to this page and will be in chronological order. Most of the content will be left intact.
Our Next Trip
We are finalizing plans for our next trip. We depart from Chicago on New Years Eve for Buenos Aires then make our way from BA to Bariloche in the northern part of Patagonia for a celebration of the wedding of our son and his wife. Bariloche is Ceci’s home town and the celebration will be attended by us and her family and friends. They were married two years ago as a requirement for US permanent residency. This will be a celebration that her family can participate in.
After the celebration, Judy and I will head south to the high southern latitudes and explore more of Patagonia.
Arrived in Buenos Aires
1 January 2012
Judy and I arrived in Buenos Aires this morning (New Years Day) on time at 0645. We celebrated the new year at 30,000 ft. The cabin crew passed out champagne and the pilot interrupted the ‘video entertainment’ to count down the last 10 seconds on BA time and we toasted the New Year then tried to sleep.
It is a long and grueling trip. We bussed to Chicago on 30 Dec – 8 hours – then stayed overnight at my son’s apartment. We took the transit train to O’Hare the next day to fly to Maimi and change to LAN bound for BA. We are now sitting at the huge bus terminal in BA waiting for our 20 hour bus ride to start. We were able to get another bus two hours earlier than our schedule with better seats and amenities.
Looking forward to seeing Banio (now Quique) and Ceci and Ceci’s family and friends. I have not taken my cameras out yet, so no photos to upload.
Arrived in Bariloche
2 January 2012
Judy and I arrived in Bariloche two hours early. The bus was very comfortable and the food was better than the airlines. We called Antonio from the bus terminal and he and Ceci came to pick us up. Cordero (lamb) for lunch. This afternoon we will go to another friends house where we will be staying. We are tired after three days of continuous travel. The 20 hour bus ride was much more pleasant than we expected.
6 January 2012
Today is the big celebration of the marriage of my son Quique, aka Eric Banio, and Cecelia Calabria. It will be held in conjunction with a curanto. See details under the Argentina menu.
6 January 2012
The volcano that erupted in June in Chile spewed volcanic ash many miles from the source. Bariloche (well under 50 miles away) was covered in several inches of ash shortly after the eruption. Ash is still everywhere. The volcano is still spewing ash but not in the quantities seen after the eruption. When the wind is from the NW, ash obscures the sky and the mountains. As the wind shifts, the skies clear and the mountains are again in view.
In the days after the eruption, stones of volcanic pumice the size of golf balls were seen floating on the waters of Lago Nahuel Huapi and can be found above the shore line on many parts of the lake.
The ash is rich in nutrients and local people say that it has been a good year for gardens and flowers. There has been no rain for a couple of months and it is very dry and dusty – more dusty that usual because of the ash. They are forecasting rain for the upcoming weekend.
7 January 2012
Here is the cabaña we are staying in. It is an easy walk from Ceci’s family.
Today was a lazy day. We went to see the friends where we stayed for the first couple of days and Quique made pancakes with banana and walnuts. We came back and collapsed and took long naps to unwind.
9 January 2012
This beautiful flower is called Amancay in this area and is the Spanish name. It is of the genus Alstroemeria and goes by that name in the US where it is often sold as cut flowers and in floral arrangements. It grows wild all over the place here. Quique and Ceci had vases of Amancay on all the tables for the curanto dinner. In this area, I have only seen yellow flowers but there are other colors, whites and reds, elsewhere such as in Colombia.
Ash and Pumice
Yesterday we hiked to the top of Cerro Llao Llao then to the bottom of the mountain to a beach. From the top, we could see streaks of ash from the volcano on the water.
When we got to the beach we could see what was actually floating on the water. It is pebbles of pumice, which is very light and fragile. It was washed up about 1 1/2 meters onto the shore.
In El Chaltén
17 January 2012
After two days of bus travel, we arrived in el Chalten last night – after 10:30. The road was a mixture of paved segments/fast travel and unpaved/bumpy and slow. But shortly before sunset, as we approached el Chalten, we were treated to one of the most spectacular mountain ranges I have ever seen – anywhere! El Chalten – FitzRoy peak – is visible from the hotel we are in for one night. Today, we have to move from the hotel to a dormitory like hostel.
The town is new – only about 25 years old – and was built to establish Argentina’s ownership of this part of Patagonia.
I tried several times to upload a picture of the mountain range, but I keep getting I/O errors so that will have to wait until I get a better connection. Not likely to have one for several days.
We will spend 4 nights in el Chalten then bus to el Calafate where we spend three nights.
28 January 2012
We arrived in Ushuaia about midnight last night and disembarked for the last time this morning, after 4 nights on a cruise from Punta Arenas, Chile, to Ushuaia, Argentina. The highlight of the cruise was going ashore at Cape Horn. We walked to the monument honoring the thousands of mariners who have perished over the centuries attempting to round the horn. It was moving. The monument features an albatross that is visible from all points.
We made several excursions ashore, shuttling between ship and shore in a fleet of Zodiacs. The guides were well versed in the flora and fauna of Patagonia. One excursion was to Tucker’s Islet, home to penguins, cormorants and the devious skuas that lurk among the penguins waiting for an opportunity to snatch an egg or an unguarded chick.
Another excursion took us ashore to the Pia Glacier. It rained and we were soaked (our high quality foul-weather gear is still on Allegro). But it was still a beautiful experience. We returned to the ship and started down a beautiful channel known as “Glacier Alley.” We saw one glacier after another for hours. The crew served treats and drinks typical of the country that each glacier was named for.
The last excursion took us on a hike rising 180 meters to some spectacular overlooks in Wulaia, on Navarino Island. We returned to the ship and set sail toward Ushuaia. On the way, a small pod of minke whales was sighted and the captain diverted to follow them, allowing us to take pictures and shoot some video. They remained close for 15 or 20 minutes.
We departed the ship, found our hostel, then walked back downhill to the harbor. We found the yacht club pier, looking for a boat hailing from Cornucopia, WI. We had last seen the skipper this past June in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Since then, he had sailed the boat from St. John’s to Buenos Aires via Cape Verde, then down to Ushuaia. He had departed a couple of weeks earlier for Antarctica but the boat was damaged somewhat by a wave and he decided to return to Ushuaia for repairs. We had heard they had returned to Ushuaia, but we were still a little surprised to actually find them, and we had a nice visit aboard.
We plan to spend 4 nights in Ushuaia, then fly to BA for a night, then to Chicago and Minneapolis, arriving home on 4 February.
5 February 2012
We got home last evening. It took us four days to get from Ushuaia to Minneapolis. Fortunately, we had previously made airline reservations from Ushuaia. It can be hard to get out of there by air and by bus. The plane was absolutely full.
After leaving the cruise ship, we spent 4 nights at a hostel near the top of the town – long uphill walk to get there.
We did a hike in Tierra del Fuego National Park one day, visited the maritime museum another day then took a bus to Tolhuin, a village 100 km north and over the mountains. There had been a fresh dusting of snow the night before the bus ride. On the way back, it was snowing quite hard. Not unusual for Minnesota in January, but this is mid summer in the south (think August).
We found a corner restaurant that served a ‘milanisa napolitana’ with French fries. Plate came with a big helping of fries overlapping the meat. The portion of meat that was visible was quite large. When I moved the fries around, I found that the ‘milanisa’ covered nearly the whole plate! The restaurant was a couple blocks off the big tourist street and most of the customers were local. It was very tasty.
I found it interesting that many of the street signs, in addition to street name and numbering sequence, also displayed latitude and longitude depending upon the street orientation.
Some calculations: On the outbound part of the trip, I estimate that we covered over 8150 miles. That is miles between towns and does not count any side trips and excursions while there. I couldn’t find a site that calculated road distance from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia. I got a rough straight line distance of 155 miles but we did the cruise by ship and took a long side trip to Cape Horn so that distance is much higher. The return from Ushuaia covered at least 8350 miles. We flew most of the way and the leg from BsAs to NY had a stop in Santiago, Chile. The last leg was about 350 miles on the Greyhound from Chicago to Minneapolis. The air tickets were hundreds of dollars cheaper (each ticket) flying from Chicago to BsAs than from Minneapolis. The RT Greyhound tickets for two were $100. So we took the bus.
We are back from a great trip. I have many hundred pictures and a few hunderd video clips. I will NOT be putting all the pictures up in my albums. I will put enough up to tell the story of the trip and will put a link to the albums in this blog, probably under the ‘Argentina’ menu. If you are interested, check back. It will take me days and weeks to go through the pictures and select and edit the good ones. I will be putting some videos up on YouTube as well and will also put links in the blog. I will also modify and streamline the menu structure and will add content as I think back on the trip.
The two highlights: The wedding celebration in Bariloche and actually setting foot on Cape Horn.
Thanks for your interest and check back. We are starting to think about and plan our next major trip – not telling where it will be but the initials may possibly be NZ.