Category Archives: Patagonia

For Your Viewing Enjoyment

Bridge to Las Torres

*I just realized that the first line of this post got deleted, including the link to all our photos. Here it is again:

I have finally uploaded my Patagonia photos, which you can view here. The ones labeled Patagonia 2007 are Martin’s and the ones labeled More Patagonia 2007 are mine, but really we shared cameras for several days in order to save battery power, so they’re kind of all mixed up. Except for Red Rocks 2006 and the professional wedding photos, the other galleries are still incomplete.

P.S. I’ve tried several times to upload photos to my blog today and WordPress isn’t letting me. I’m really frustrated! I also really miss Blogger’s feature that let you choose small, medium or large format for your photos. With WordPress, I have to open the photos in Photoshop, resize them, resave them, then upload them. ARGH.

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Patagonia

Re-Entry

It’s been almost a week since we returned, and I am finally getting back on schedule, partly thanks to Daylight Savings Time. I was so jetlagged that the first couple of days back I woke up at 4:15 a.m. and couldn’t fall back asleep. Then I started sleeping in until 6:30 and maybe tomorrow I’ll sleep as late as 8 a.m. I don’t know if it was just the jetlag or complete exhaustion from all our hiking and traveling, but I didn’t want to do anything at all this week. I read, wrote and watched a lot of TV over the weekend. I’m still working on getting my photos organized, but Martin has already uploaded a bunch of his to my SmugMug account, which you can view here. Some last notes about Patagonia …

I plan to post the itinerary of our trip because when we were planning our trip we had NO IDEA where to go. We knew nothing whatsoever about Patagonia up to two weeks before we left. Then I got online and typed “Patagonia” into WordPress and came up with an itinerary some Canadian guy had posted on his blog. We pretty much copied his itinerary, even some of the hotels, with a few small changes. We skipped his cruise to from Punta Arenas to Ushaia because it was too expensive, we did an extra hike (to Cerro Torre) in El Chalten, we got a charter bus straight from El Calafate to Torres del Paine to avoid spending two nights in Puerto Natales and we did Argentina before Chile. Until I read his blog, I’d never heard of the W or the Fitz Roy hike or the Perito Moreno glacier.

Patagonia was a little different than I expected, but every bit as spectacular. We didn’t see any penguins, although we could have if we’d gone down to Ushuaia and taken a boat somewhere from there. There were fewer glaciers than I expected and yet the weather was colder than I thought it would be (and there are plenty of glaciers, just not everywhere you look, like I had imagined.)

I also hadn’t expected the Italian food! So much meat, but also so much pasta and pizza. We read somewhere how much beef is consumed by the average Argentine and it was something absurd like a 1/4 every day of the year on average.

Wines we liked: Nieto Senetiner Malbec, Callia Alta Syrah-Malbec, Luis Bosca Merlot Saurus Merlot and Trapiche Syrah (reds) and Torrentes (white) in Argentina and Casillero del Diablo Carmenere in Chile. My favorites were the Caillero del Diablo and the Saurus Merlot. I think the Luis Bosca is better in a Malbec and I wasn’t that crazy about the Trapiche, but the Nieto Senetiner Malcbec and the Callia Alta were also pretty good.

Leave a comment

Filed under Patagonia

Day 16: Last Day in Buenos Aires

five-cool-rooms-ii.jpg

Last day at Five Cool Rooms 

We woke up at 9, had breakfast, checked out and wandered around Palermo. There was a T-shirt I had wanted to buy and we needed to get some wine for Martin’s step-dad’s 70th birthday, but everything was closed because it was Sunday. After walking in circles and going back to the hotel to check e-mail, we met my friend Aditi’s friend Maria and her husband and son for lunch at a local cafe. The food was good, despite the gross wet dog smell near our table on the sidewalk, and Maria and Fernando were great. After lunch we stopped at the hotel to call the taxi company to see if they had found my cell phone (no luck), then took a cab with Maria and her son to get some ice cream. After two scoops on a sugar cone, we walked to the Malba modern art museum, where Maria and Martín left Meghan and Martin to fend for ourselves. The museum was wonderful, much less “Latin” than I expected, very much like any contemporary art museum you’d find in the U.S. I wrote down the names of some of the artists I liked and will add them in later.

After the museum we took a taxi back to Palermo, where we had tea in this great coffee shop/book store not far from our hotel. By that time I had started reading one of Martin’s books, “The Places In Between” by Rory Stewart, a book about a Scottish man who walked across Afghanistan through the mountains in January weeks after the Taliban fell. Great book. By that time all the shops had opened, so we bought some wine and looked at some clothes (my T-shirt was gone), then looked for a place to eat.

We had dinner at a hip bar called Pazz or something like that (the food was so-so). Our table was a sort of booth with free-standing sofas as seats. When I sat down on mine, it fell backwards off the platform the tables were sitting on and I landed much like I’d landed when the wind blew me over, lying on my back, legs in the air. Fortunately, the platform was just a few inches off the ground and I didn’t get hurt.

We took a car to the airport, checked in, flew home, and voila, end of trip!

Leave a comment

Filed under Patagonia

Day 15: El Calafate to Buenos Aires

el-calafate.jpg

El Calafate 

Saturday, March 3, was our last day in Patagonia. We had a 12:33 flight back to Buenos Aires, so we got up early, packed, had breakfast, bought some last minute gifts and T-shirts, and were in our taxi at 10:45. Although we had asked the woman at our hotel twice to check on the status of our flight and she said there was no change, we got to the airport at 11:05 to find out that it was delayed until 4:30 p.m. We checked in our bags, then took a taxi back to El Calafate, where we spent two hours on the Internet (sifting through hundreds of e-mails), wrote postcards, tried to change our Chilean pesos to Argentine pesos (no luck on the weekends), made some phone calls, and returned to the airport at 3:30. After using our vouchers to eat lunch, we went to our gate where we waited until 8:30 p.m. to get on our flight. We were all trapped up there with no restaurant, no airline employee to tell us what was going on and no idea when our flight would leave. But it did finally leave, eight hours late, and we arrived at our hotel in BA at 3 a.m. So much for our last night in BA! It was the beginning of the tango festival, and we were hoping to see some tango that night, but instead went straight to bed.

Leave a comment

Filed under Patagonia

Day 14: Perito Moreno Glacier Trek

glacier-trek.jpg

The “Big Ice” trek on the Perito Moreno glacier 

March 2 was my birthday! I turned 37 (gulp!) as we were on a bus to the Perito Moreno Glacier to do the “Big Ice” trek. You can either to Minitrekking, a 1.5 hour hike on the ice, or Big Ice, a four-hour trek on the ice, and we paid the $123 each fee (with park entrance) to do Big Ice. It was, after all, my birthday. Once we arrived at the park, we did the tour of the balconies that Martin and I had already done on our first day in Argentina. This time, though, we saw that the small ice bridge that had formed between the glacier and the land had collapsed while we were off in Chile. The way it works is a solid ice bridge forms, then the water builds up until it ruptures the bridge and all the ice collapses back into the lake. These big ruptures happen about every two years around Feb or March, but they had one last year, so another isn’t due until 2008. The smaller bridge that collapsed while we were in Chile doesn’t count as a rupture.

We hiked about 1.5 hours along the side of the glacier, stopping along the way at three points to 1) drop off stuff we didn’t need 2) get fitted for crampons and harnesses and 3) put on our crampons and harnesses. They gave us some quick advise on how to walk up and down hills, then we took off following Guillermo (Willy), one of our three guides. Glaciers are WET! I was expecting it to look like a big undulating ice cube, but it was more like hard packed snow, or ice that had melted, then refrozen into a crust, full of crevasses and rivers. You would get to a crevasse that was only about six inches or one-foot wide but many meters deep—sometimes empty but often filled with water—and the ice would be a bright blue beneath, and just walk over it. At first I thought, “They’d never let you do this in the U.S. this is NOT safe!” There were holes everywhere, and we must have crossed two dozen little rivers. The rivers were really snaky, unlike regular rivers, creating what looked like mini water slides, except that those slides dug further into the ice until you couldn’t see them anymore. I took a bunch of pictures of one such sinkhole. We had lunch by a small lake and then I had to wait for the others to hike over a hill (glaciers are VERY hilly) so I could take off my harness and pee. NO one else had to pee. I guess I drink too much water. I felt like I was at the North Pole all day. It was SO much fun hiking on a glacier! There is a glacier trek you can do at the Lago Grey glacier, too, but we didn’t know about that and didn’t have any leeway with all our hotels, buses and flights already booked. I don’t know which one is better, but I would recommend doing both because that’s what you fly all the way to Patagonia for—the glaciers.

We ate that night at my favorite Patagonian restaurant, Casmiro Biguá (the fancy one) and I, once again, had the sea bass on grilled vegetables. We tried the more expensive Luis Bosca Merlot, but I liked the Saurus better. I think Luis Bosca is better in a Malbec, but we didn’t want Malbec with our fish. We shared a to-die-for chocolate soufflé and slept like bears that night.

2 Comments

Filed under Patagonia

Day 13: Lago Grey to El Calafate

boat-to-hosteria-grey.jpg

Boat ride from Refugio Grey to Hosteria Grey 

We woke up at 8, packed, ate breakfast downstairs (lots of toast, but no eggs this time) and waited outside for our boat, which was supposed to arrive at 9:30. We had a hell of a time organizing transportation back to Argentina, and each transfer depended on everything running on time, so we were stressed out when our boat still hadn’t arrived at 10 a.m. We were supposed to take a boat across Lago Grey (with a tour of the glacier on the way), catch a bus from there to a point in the park called Administración, catch a charter bus from there back to El Calafate, Argentina. At 10:10, our boat, which looked like a little old-fashioned tug boat, anchored about 50 yards from the shore and sent a dinghy to get us. After unloading the lifejackets, the people in the dinghy drove it to a point on the shore closer to the refugio to drop off supplies, then came back to get us once we were suited up. We took the dinghy to the tug boat, did a tour of the ice bergs and glacier, rode across the lake, took another dinghy to a dock on the shore, hiked up the beach and up a road to a shuttle bus, then took the shuttle bus to Hosteria Grey, where we waited for a second bus to take us to Administración. The bus was too full for us, so after having some tea, a pickup truck took just Martin and I 20 minutes down the road to Administración, where we waited another hour and a half for our charter bus. There was nothing to do at Administración except watch a nature video of the local wildlife eating each other (which was pretty interesting), so we spent most of our time outside fighting over a cute stray cat who kept our legs warm while we sat shivering in the cold (it was warmer outside the building than in.) Our bus finally showed up around 3:45 and we arrived back in El Calafate at 9:30 p.m. The large charter buses are incredibly comfortable (just like Greyhounds in the U.S.), so the time passed quickly as I finished the third novel I had brought on the trip and Martin took pictures of every guanaco (llama) we passed. We had dinner that night at Casmiro Biguá’s less fancy restaurant, which is also delicious, and I had lamb and grilled vegetables. I’ll write more about the food in Argentina in a separate post.

Leave a comment

Filed under Patagonia

Day 12: Lake Pehoé to Lago Grey

refugio-grey.jpg

 Refugio Grey
The hike from Lake Pehoé to Lago Grey was supposed to take 3.5 hours. We started out behind a group of about 20 Scottish trekkers, some of them in kilts, and passed them up. We hiked quickly to try to stay ahead of them, but before long the French guy who had slept on the couch was bypassing us. I couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t carrying a pack, not even a day pack, and his friend was, then I realized his “friend” was really his porter and that he was traveling alone. The French guy would run up a hill, the porter trailing closely behind, stop to take photos, then run on ahead again. After about two hours we started to grow tired of our pace and stopped to eat lunch on a rotting log in a wet valley. It had been raining on and off, a light rain, but we were used to hiking in the rain by that point. We soon caught glimpses of Lago Grey, more a deep silver beneath the heavy storm clouds, and the icebergs that make it so alluring. We continued along a ridge above the lake until we reached the refugio, which was right on the lake, where I asked if we could please trade our room in for a tent (so we wouldn’t keep the whole refugio awake again.) The woman showed us to a room with just two beds—our own room!—so, although the walls didn’t reach the ceiling and Martin’s snoring would still wake up the lodgers in the next room, we felt better staying in a private room.

Because there was no ladder and you had to do a bit of climbing to get to the top bunk, I took the top bed and Martin the bottom. From the triangular window next to my bed I could see out through the rain to the grassy back of the refugio below. We got hot chocolate, took naps, then lay in bed to read until the rain stopped. Then we hiked out to the closest mirador, or vista, to look at the lake. From there we hiked out on the wet rocks to the point to get a better view of Glaciar Grey. From the other side of the point we had a close-up view of two ice bergs the size of small cruise ships. Pretty cool. On the right side, smaller ice bergs collected against a gravel “beach”. After we came off the point, we hiked down to the beach to sit on small icebergs along the shore. There is a trail that takes you 1.5 hours up the Paine Circuit to a camp called Los Guardas, from where you’re supposed to get a good view of the whole glacier field. But by the time we got back to the refugio and found the trail, it was 5:30 and dinner was at 7. I was sad to miss a view of the ice field, but I was dead tired and didn’t want to miss dinner, so we returned to our beds to read.

Like at Refugio Los Cuernos, our dinner was beef stew with rice, this time with lemonade and hot bread rolls. We met another guy from B.C. and an older couple from Australia who were traveling around the world for a year. Chuck and Anne showed up for dinner, too. The French guy and the German guy from our room the night before had shown up during the day and mysteriously disappeared by dinnertime. We figured they took one look at Martin, one look at the thin walls, and decided to push on to Los Guardas. Just as we were finishing dinner, the Portuguese couple from our bus ride to Chile walked in. They had just crossed the John Gardner Pass and had harrowing stories to tell. They hiked with a group of Israelis through thigh-high powder, two of them taking turns making tracks for the rest of the group to follow. They had to climb up and down 50-foot ladders with full packs and said going down was especially frightening. They were cold and wet and exhausted, and just about to start the W! I was glad we hadn’t gone for the whole Paine Circuit. We went to bed right after dinner and Martin didn’t snore at all.

Leave a comment

Filed under Patagonia