The trip from El Chalten to Ushuaia was always going to be a pain in the arse but after 7 hours of hiking we really didn't feel like it. We had to wait in El Calafate until 3am in order to arrive in Rio Gallegos (again) for 8am; another wait at the bus station then onto Rio Grande, then another bus to Ushuaia. Along the way we had to cross in and out of Chile which meant getting our bags searched, throwing away all food and getting a visa, then doing it all again in reverse. When the bus driver told us about the food, the German guy next to us couldn't eat all of his sausages and fruit in time so was trying to get everyone else to help. The 1990s dance megamix DVD that was on the bus will now always remind me of Tierra del Fuego.
The scenery was really barren and stark from Rio Gallegos to Rio Grande but from then on it was stunning. Crisp rivers flowed through gigantic snow capped mountains and lush pine covered hills as we wove our way through the windy roads down to Ushuaia.
We arrived twenty-six hours later in the town that claims to be the most southern 'city' in the world, which is disputed by Chile, of course. Was throwing it down with rain when we arrived so we just took the first room that was offered to us by the marauding hoards, luckily it turned out to be really nice, run by a family right on top of the hill overlooking the town. We had five days in Ushuaia before our flight so decided to spend some time chilling out and catching up with people. There isn't much to do in the town apart from buying duty free perfume and chocolate so we went to the maritime and the prison museum. The prison was really interesting but they must of run out of exhibit ideas at the end, there was one on 'prisons of the world' including our very own Galleries of Justice in Nottingham. Very odd.
We spent most of our time in Ushuaia going in and out of cafes, and eating in the seafood restaurants. We met a Californian fire fighter one night who was travelling around South America for 9 months, Ushuaia was his first stop and he didn't speak a word of Spanish, not even how to ask for the bill!
Nick walked up Glacier Martial but I didn't fancy it so he went on his own and I'm glad I didn't in the end, it looked pretty tough. He bumped into the German lads from El Calafate on the way up as well as the German sausage guy from the Rio Gallegos bus, who had walked up in shorts and trainers. The snow was really thick so he didn't make it to the top though, wimp.
The 13th was Nick's birthday so we decide to take a boat tour out to the lighthouse 'at the end of the world' (you quickly learn that everything in Ushuaia is at 'el fin de mundo', bars, shops, toilets; the gimmick wears thin pretty quick) to see sea lions and cormorants. It was freezing and full of irritating middle aged Europeans who were shrieking at everything… at ten in the morning. We considered a couple of Jack Daniels to make it pass quicker but they were bloody pricey. On the way back from the pretty disappointing trip the clouds cleared over the mountains and we could see the full scale of them compared to the town, and they were beautiful. Pristine snow covered the range behind the town and reflected the sun back onto the sea making everything glow.
That evening we ate at a posh-ish restaurant (Nick wanted to do a runner again) and went for cocktails at (yet another) Irish bar.