Thursday, January 3, 2008

El Calafate

"While you're writing a real postcard to your real girlfriend, I'll be posting a virtual postcard to the Internet!"

This is what I told Stu over ice cream an hour ago and, yes, I laughed at myself after I said it. I am at least slightly self-aware.

Hey, anyway . . . Weather's here, wish you were beautiful, etc. Hope things are great with you in your hemisphere!

Say . . . I sure took a lot of pictures of ice!

White ice . . . blue ice . . . clear ice . . . brown ice. Practically every color of the rainbow! As long as your rainbow includes white, clear and brown.

When we got into Río Gallegos at 1am on Wednesday, there was still a faint glow of sunlight on the horizon. Aside from that, the great thing about Río Gallegos — besides the bartender at the Café Central on the main drag — is that you can spend only 12 hours there and not feel like you're leaving too soon.

By 2pm, we were on a bus headed to El Calafate. We got lucky with our hostel room here. Not only was it available, but it was 10 pesos cheaper than I had been told it would be. Good thing we saved money there, because everything else here is stratospherically and almost comically expensive.

The town of El Calafate is about an hour and a half from the Parque Nacional de los Glaciares. We caught a bus this morning that had us at the park by 10am. Guess what? We saw a glacier. The Perito Moreno Glacier to be exact. It was great. How long do you think you could look at a glacier? A few hours maybe? That turns out to be the right answer, since the cheap bus that gets you there by 10am drives you back to town at 1pm.

Yes, you can see a few other glaciers if you take different excursions. You can take a boat to view the glaciers. You can hike on a glacier. But we didn't do any of this. We didn't have the right gear for some of the excursions. And it's probably also fair to say we were a little "excursioned out" after our Mendoza trip.

So ultimately I came like 2000 miles to look at something for about three hours. On top of that, we spent a lot of money and choked down some lousy food.

But we also had a lot of fun.

I'm glad I did it once — which sounds about right for a once-in-a-lifetime trip.


doug said...

Lousy food? Did you go La Tablita?

Dan said...

We did go to La Tablita. But we also had to eat four or five other meals in El Calafate and between the price and the quality of the food, it was enough to drive us to tears.

Basically, if either of us has to look at ham and cheese again, we might lose it. (Though it's true that the ham and cheese was offered two ways: with or without a giant slab of beef.)

La Tablita was the only good meal. Not cheap, but nowhere was cheap. At least La Tablita was expensive and good. We had a good time there, too. Swapped some really embarrassing stories and practically closed the place down. So thanks again for the recommendation.