Saturday & Sunday Nov 19 & 20 2011
After a quick breakfast we said farewell to the Fierro Boutique Hotel and were whisked away in a cab to the domestic airport. When we had checked the flight at the hotel, it was reported to be on time. There were long lines at the check-in and we began to meet other QUARK passengers who noticed our luggage ID tags. At least we were all in the same boat and our apprehension about the unreliable Argentina airlines was abated a bit. The plane actually left almost on time (by Argentinian standards!) - only an hour late.
It was a long trip from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia (almost the equivalent distance from Chicago to San Francisco) and we landed three hours later on an island runway. Quark representatives greeted us and a Quark bus took us to our hotel - The Albatross - hopefully not an omen of our adventure!
Ushuaia is a small city and the most southerly city in the world. But not to be outdone, Chile has built a town (not a city) a bit further south to be able to claim that title. Most of the Antarctic Ships leave from Ushuaia and it is mainly a tourist town with gift shops, restaurants, and travel agencies lining the streets. After checking in, we had an orientation and information meeting with Quark, and then we walked around observing places to eat and the harbor. We picked up a few souvenirs since the shops would be closed on Sunday. We ate in the hotel dining room which was rated highly on Trip Advisor. King crab is abundant in these cold waters and we had a delicious soup with large chunks of this tender seafood floating in a succulent broth. We were able to connect to the outside world via the internet which was a bit on-and-off.
We had most of the next day (Sunday) to further explore Ushuaia since the boat had just come into the harbor at 7AM and was not ready for us until 4PM. We passed a protest by a union group that had set up a tent with a fire in a barrel - reminded us of the "Occupy Wall Street" in the USA. Lunch was in the "Irish Pub" - a great place to eat. After one last "provisioning" at a local store, we flung our backpacks on our shoulders and headed to one of the Quark buses that took us to the ship.