Arrived to Ushaia this morning, 5000km from my previous location of Salta, after passing via Buenos Aires airport where I had an awkward 7 hours sleeping on a tiny bench in a cafe! Ear plugs and eye mask to the rescue once again! We even had a brief layover in El Calafate to pick up more passengers... but considering the total distance travelled, the 200 euro LAN airline ticket seems like really good value. LAN is a good airline with nice staff, so at least the flight was comfortable!
This is the most southerly CITY in the world... but not quite the last outpost of civilisation before you reach Antarctica, that title goes to the small town of Puerto Williams.. crossing into Chile... which is about an hour away by boat.
The original plan was to stay here for about a day and then spend 2 days down in Peurto Williams before heading back to Ushaia to catch my flight to El Calafate, but things have changed somewhat...
For one, getting to Puerto Williams is outrageously expensive. I wasn't aware of this ... there's only so much you can research about a location before deciding to go there ... but Ushaia is very expensive and a return boat trip to PW would set me back around 250 dollars! Considering I would only be going for one night, that's a little high.
Secondly, on arriving here I read up on Puerto Williams and there doesn't seem to be much on offer beyond the small town and being able to claim that you are ACTUALLY at the southernmost point of civilisation. There is, of course, a huge trek of the island that many people venture there for, but that requires at least a week to complete!
Finally, and most importantly, Ushaia is beautiful!
It hasn't got the elegant colonial architecture of Salta, but the bleach white snowcapped mountains that ring the city and protect it from the harsh southern winds ... from which Peurto Williams is not protected I might add ... plus the crisp fresh air remind you of just how far south you have come!
It's very much an alpine village, and there is even a ski resort nearby. Cedar wood houses with steeply inclined roofs line the streets, plus the entire town is fronted by the stunning Beagle Bay which has an almost mirror like reflection today with it's calmness... apparently it's not always calm though!
Being an outpost town, though, it does have it's fair share of frustrated looking teenagers loitering around the place, but that's to be expected... and in fact adds to the authenticity of the remoteness of this place.
Lots to do here too.. including visiting a nearby glacier, and penguin/sea lion colonies...
Today I paid a visit to the old prison. The city was originally founded as a penitentiary, and the prison tells a remarkable story of the inmates. Some of them famous.. and others, quite disturbing, including a serial child killer. They even had paper mache models of some of the prisoners, including our child loving friend there, who is quite freaky looking. My favourite part of the museum is a very haunting wing that's been purposely left untouched, with dim lighting, so you can get a real sense of what it must have been like to stay in the tiny cold dark cells. It gets very cold here I can tell you.
So I've decided it's much more worth my time... and money... to stay in Ushaia and actually ENJOY my time at the bottom of the planet!
btw... I'm staying in a hostel DORM tonight (shock horror) as hotels here are ridiculously expensive (like in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile) and I got a great 40 peso/night deal with the Refugio del Monchilero. The room I'm staying in has 6 beds but thankfully only one of the other beds is occupied so it's like having a large twin room for next to nothing.