Antarctica: Arrival in Ushuaia
Hello from Ushuaia & Tiera del Fuego, which literally translates to “Land at the End”. It is the southernmost part of an occupied continent in the world! Our flights from NYC were quite uneventful – we flew from LaGuardia to Atlanta to Buenos Aires to Ushuaia. We could have flown directly from NYC to Buenos Aires, but we could fly Delta if we connected through Atlanta.
Landing in Ushuaia was so cool – I looked out the window while making the descent and saw the mountains of Patagonia surround me.
Upon our arrival in the airport which was a wooden structure and reminded me of a ski lodge, we grabbed our bags and headed out to meet our tour operator. Since we had already gone through customs in Buenos Aires, we didn't need to clear them again.
Since we were going to spend so much time in Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego, we decided that it would behoove us to purchase a comprehensive package from a tour operator, Tierra del Fuego Aventura, which included everything from transfers to & from the airport to various tours while we were in the city before and after our cruise.
We immediately found someone in the waiting area with our names on a sign and were brought to a van which took us to our Airbnb. It was a short drive of less than 15 minutes, but we had the opportunity to get a download of everything Ushuaia and even stop at the Ushuaia sign.
Our Airbnb was centrally located, about two blocks off of the main street in Ushuaia, Av St Martin, and was very easy to access. It was a two bedroom apartment, which was perfect as my brother and I were going to work remotely for a day before the cruise for Antarctica left.
Shortly after we dropped our bags off and unpacked a bit, we decided to head out to explore and exchange our money for Argentinian pesos. The interesting thing about Argentinian currency is that there is a "black market" for US dollars where you exchange large US bills for Argentinian pesos at a significant arbitrage. The Argentinian peso is significantly less stable than the US dollar, hence the desire to hold US dollars for people that live in Argentina. This time, we got around 100,000 Argentinian pesos for $200 USD compared with 46,000 Argentinian pesos if we had converted our money at a bank. This essentially meant that our dollar was worth twice what it actually is worth, according to the government. The place that we exchanged money at is a hotel called Antártida Argentina. There was a premium for larger US bills than smaller US bills in our favor. Given this arbitrage, we decided it was prudent to use cash as much as possible instead of card during our time ashore.
Once money was exchanged, we went to grab lunch at a pirate themed restaurant that had fantastic reviews, Taberna Del Viejo Lobo, which was located in a pirate themed history museum. The food was fantastic and the views of the harbor were stunning. We then walked a bit and decided to grab a coffee / hot chocolate and pastry at a small chain of restaurants in Ushuaia called Tante Sara.
We then headed back to the Airbnb to relax a bit for the afternoon. The apartment was everything we could have wanted, a bit dirtier than we would have liked, but all things considered the price was right, the space was perfect and it was clean enough. Best of all, it had fantastic views!
We walked a bit more around town that evening before heading to dinner. The town is very hilly, essentially built into the side of a steep hill, and seems to be in a period of transition. Once you get off the main street and head up the hill, there are many places with broken down sidewalks, no sidewalks at all or brand new sidewalks. There are also many new, modern buildings being constructed throughout the entire downtown.
We hit the sack shortly after we got home because my brother and I had work the following day. We had some spotty WiFi issues the following day, but I had anticipated that and was able to make it through the workday. When I logged off, I was officially on vacation!
To kick off our formal vacation, we went out to dinner at a restaurant that was highly recommended across TripAdvisor, Yelp & Google Maps, Maria Lola Resto. I made reservations so we were guaranteed a table and they even gave us something along the window so we could see the harbor. It was raining, so the view was a bit obscured, but it was still beautiful. The food & wine was very good, but the dessert was the highlight!
After dinner, we retired to bed because the itinerary of tours that I booked for our group in Ushuaia kicked off on Tuesday morning!