…contd from Part I
What had seemed like an eternity passed by quickly. It was 1 pm by the time I made it back to the hostel. I was allotted a bed, shown the room & given directions to the toilets & shower area. No ensuite bathrooms here unlike the European or American hostels!
I took stock of the surroundings, dumped my suitcase in the room & headed out to hunt for chicken or eggs (or both) for lunch. Big challenge here!
My search was restricted to St. Martin Av which was in close proximity to my hostel. After browsing through the menus of many restaurants I reached one called Bar Ideal which was serving pollos (chicken) & entered the premises with a victorious smile.
Further exploration of the menu led me to an option of fried eggs with boiled rice & I decided to undertake another experiment with my palate & taste buds! Bread was served complimentary as a side which is customary across all restaurants in Argentina.
I somehow tolerated the odd combo, paid the bill & stepped out. The toy castle shaped building of Bank of Patagonia caught my attention & I couldn’t resist taking a quick picture.
The temptation to explore the town further was strong but I felt overcome with fatigue due to lack of sleep over the last 48 hrs & headed back to the hostel. Arranging my things quickly I hit the sack. Sleep didn’t happen (maybe I was still jetlagged ; Argentina is 8.5 hrs behind IST) but I managed to get some rest.
The alarm rang at 5 pm. I dragged myself out of bed & headed to the kitchen for a cup of tea but couldn’t find any milk. Thank God for my Girnar tea pouches! Foresight, foresight 🙂
My heart wanted to step out again but the body felt drained by now. There was so much still left to be seen! The consolation was that I also had time the next day till embarkation at 4 pm for further exploration of the town.
By 8 pm & I couldn’t decide if I was hungry or not. Maybe somewhere in between. It was cold, raining & windy. I wouldn’t have stepped outside in Delhi in this weather but knew that I had to fetch some grub. Buckling myself up to face the onslaught of weather I stepped outside again. I definitely didn’t want to eat anything heavy & so headed to the nearest supermarket to find some noodles which I could cook in the hostel kitchen. The shelves there were full of pasta but no noodles. It wasn’t probably a very popular option there! I decided to turn to St Martin Av again & browsing some more menus reached the restaurant Moustachio which seemed to offer something close to my requirements.
I settled down for a potato & egg salad, got it packed & hurried back to the hostel where a helpful Argentine roommate helped me find a soup in the kitchen. I prepared the soup & sat down to have my dinner. The salad turned out to be a waste & I could hardly finish it. I figured it was still the jet lag!
(Oh by the way, food here in Argentina is expensive by Indian standards & a no frills meal can easily set you back by 400-500 pesos (about 450-550 INR)).
Post dinner I went down to check out the shower area & made a mental note to get up early the next morning & finish my chores before the rush began. With that I called it a day.
It turned out to be a restless night. One person in my 6-bed dorm started snoring & very soon it turned into a symphony with another joining in with his /her own notes!
The alarm rang at 6.45 am & I thanked God for bringing this night to an end & got out of bed.
There were already a few hostellers by the time I made it to the kitchen after freshening up. I wasn’t exactly feeling hungry but still boiled a couple of eggs & fixed myself a breakfast of muesli, orange juice, bread & coffee.
I was ready by 10 am & completed my check out formalities. The hostel experience had turned out to be good & I was wondering if I should stay here on return too rather than moving to a new place. Gustave at the reception confirmed that they had a lower bunk bed available for that date & I decided to check out my booked future hostel before taking a call.
Storing my luggage in the designated area of the hostel lobby I stepped out. The weather was partially overcast. My itinerary began with the Maritime Museum which was located just a couple of blocks & a turn away but the high entry cost of 1500 Pesos turned out to be a deterrent & I decided to give it a pass.
Next I headed to recce my hostel booked for the return date from the cruise. Reaching there I found my current hostel to be far better in almost all aspects & decided to cancel this future booking. I then walked back to my hostel to inform Gustave of the same, made the payment & secured my booking. That done, I logged on to my Booking.com app & cancelled the other hostel booking which still hadn’t been paid for. That’s the advantage with this website if you make your reservations well in advance.
All this had taken a good 1 hour & it was almost 11.30 am by now. I had another job to finish. Apprehensive that I might not have enough spare time on the day of return for gift shopping, I wanted to check out the souvenir shop ‘La Ultima Bita’ of which I had read so much about. That took another 30 mins or so which brought me closer to 12 pm by the time I commenced my journey to the waterfront.
The downhill walk to Av. Maipu was easy. The waterfront presented some great views of the different ships anchored at the pier. One may be surprised to know that an average of 400 ships make harbour at Ushuaia between Oct & Apr every year on their way to Antarctica! Yes, that is how popular Antarctica voyage is!!
Further walk brought me to the iconic wooden signboard with which a photograph is a must on any traveller’s list of to-dos here.
A few hundred yards ahead lay the St Christopher shipwreck.
St. Christopher Shipwreck is a grounded boat that was part of the British Royal Navy in World War II. Built in 1943, the rescue tug played a role in the war before being sold, used commercially and then getting snagged on shore in Ushuaia in southern Argentina.
Despite being part of the British Navy, the St. Christopher was initially built in the United States. The British initially knew it as the HMS Justice. After being sold for salvage operations in the south of Argentina, it suffered engine problems and was eventually beached in 1957.
On the other side of the road the town presented a pretty picture framed against the backdrop of the jagged snow covered peaks of the Andes.
I continued to walk & finally reached my destination, the bold white letters spelling ‘ Ushuaia’. There were already a few people posing & taking pictures & I waited for my turn.
It was nearing 1 pm & I had to grab some lunch before heading back to the hostel to get some rest & hopefully complete some journal writing before the departure for the port.
I had hit the St Martin Av. almost at the other end of the lane which offered me a much wider selection of restaurants & I managed to find a chicken sandwich (which was actually a footlong!) at one of the cafes. I got my food packed & headed back to the hostel checking out more souvenir shops on the way.
But God had other plans for the afternoon! Back in internet coverage when the messages started coming in I realised that the tour company with which I was trying to fix up my later trip to the National Park wanted me to visit their office personally due to some online payment issues. The distance was 1.3 kms one way & time was short. I gobbled half of the sandwich & hurried to the address provided. The office on the 9th floor offered me a panoramic view of the bay area.
Like the rest of Argentina Ushuaia also boasted of its own wall graffiti & paintings & I encountered these two on return.
It was 2.40 pm by the time I reached the hostel & I still had about 50 mins before leaving for the port.
Sleep was out of the question so I used the time to make calls home as I expected to be out of commnunication for the next 10 days. At 3.30 pm I & a few others from my hostel who were also booked on the same ship stepped out for the port to board our ship for Antarctica.
The biggest adventure of my life was about to begin 🙂