Sunday, 23 February 2014

South American Adventure - Day Four, Sunday 23rd February 2014

Early morning call at 07.45am.  We are getting a bit blasé with the two hour check in and starting to cut it a bit fine.  Paul decided he was going to nip down the road to get a McCafe coffee, but came back empty handed as they were shut.  We had used all the powdered milk up yesterday, and not enough time now to order some more and put the filter machine on.  Oh well – we will have to get one at the airport.

We checked out and ordered a taxi from the front desk.  They organised a hotel car for 134 pesos – we got 11.4 to the dollar yesterday, so well under £20.  When we came from the airport, the taxi charged us 280 pesos.  I somehow think we had been “done”.  Probably less than £10 extra, but it was the principle that sticks in the throat.  It was a metered taxi, so we probably were taken on a lovely loop around the city to get to the hotel.  This time the roads were empty as it was a Sunday morning.  Didn’t stop the driver going as fast as he possibly could in between red traffic lights – and there were a few.  I am surprised we haven’t had any scratches or scrapes so far, they all seem to think they are Fernando Alonso.  We are leaving from the same airport we came in to – but the domestic bit instead of the international.  Must have been where our illustrious guide was waiting for us when we arrived a couple of days ago.  Still can’t believe that!

The queue to check in for our flight to Trelew was enormous – all domestic flights with Aerolineas Argentinas were using the same check in desks.  This is why you need to be there two hours before!!  I was heartened by the fact that when one of the flights was closing and there were people on it in the queue, they pulled them out to the front to check them in.  They wouldn’t leave us behind – would they?  We got to the front of the queue no problem though.  For some reason, domestic flights only allow 15kg of luggage.  Not going to happen with us – Paul was dead on the 23kg we had for most of our flights, but mine was 27kg.  He had dutifully weighed it for me before we left home, and told me I had to unpack 4kg worth.  That wasn’t going to happen.  What I need is what I need.  One of us sticks to the rules, and one of us flies by the seat of our pants!!  I was prepared to hand over my credit card for the oodles of excess baggage costs, but the check in guy just smiled and told us to have a good flight.  Good man!

It was plain sailing from here, through security and up to a lovely coffee shop where a latte was a latte, and a muffin was a muffin.  Things were looking up!  The flight boarded a few minutes later, and we actually took off early.  A very pleasant flight of just under two hours.  The snack was a box of bags – one biscuit bits and two biscuits.  Filled a hole!  As we made our way South, the scenery dramatically changed.  The water got a whole lot bluer, and the towns and cities disappeared.  The land was so flat!

We arrived in a beautifully clean and tidy little airport.  There was one baggage carousel that started almost immediately, and we collected the bags ten minutes before we were due to have landed.  Result!  Phillipe from Eurotur was duly waiting for us, sign in hand, and we loaded the bags into his four wheel drive and off we went for the 40 or so kilometres to Puerto Madryn.  The road from the airport is one long road from Buenes Aires in the North to Ushuaia in the South – virtually the length of the country.  There were no turn offs before Puerto Madryn, so it seems it is very difficult to get lost here.  There was a dead cow by the side of the road – it had been hit by a car or truck.  Looking to the left and right there is nothing but flat grazing land as far as the eye can see – and only the one road we are on.  How stupid can cows be? Phillippe did say that one of the volcanoes in Chile erupted last year.  The ash was blown this way, and it shut the airport for 100 days.  They were having to drive customers back to Buenos Aires or on to Ushuaia by car – sixteen hours to the north and over twenty hours to the south.  We arrived at Puerto Madryn in just over half an hour.  We drove through the town and he pointed out various fish and meat restaurants should we wish to indulge.  The Hotel Territorio is right at the other end of the town, on the coast overlooking the bay.  There is a beautiful walk all the way into town via a sidewalk next to the beach.

The weather is again glorious – around 25 degrees.  There are a few sunbeds overlooking the bay – one of them had my name on for a couple of hours.  Paul went to sleep for the afternoon – just can’t understand it.  Anyone would think that I have organised a packed itinerary!  Phillipe said that it may rain this afternoon – it hasn’t actually rained in Puerto Madryn since last October.  It had rained in Trelew, but didn’t get as far as here.  Didn’t get as far as here today either.

We went into town for dinner tonight – and decided to walk.  Well I did, and Paul just followed.  He would have preferred to take a taxi. It was a beautiful evening, and the beach was virtually deserted.  There were a few people walking their dogs, and a lady cycling along the sand, but apart from that very few people.  The tide was on its way out, and seemed to be going out in front of our eyes.  Just left birds paddling in the pools that it left.  There was a stage set up on the edge of town, and a band was just starting to play.  It got better the further we walked from it!  There were football pitches set up along the edge of the beach, and loads of local children were playing.  There was an area where teenagers were skateboarding and body popping.  This place really does have a good atmosphere.  It took around an hour to walk to the restaurant that Paul had his eye on from earlier – Ambigo.  They did good prawns apparently.  I did say that the walk was a lot better than getting the taxi – not sure if the answer I received was a positive or a negative!!  The menu was all in Spanish so it was going to be hit and miss what we actually had. They didn’t open until 7.30pm – we arrived at 7.25pm from our walk so perfect timing.  They had free wifi so I thought it might be a good idea to use google translate from my phone,  But the wifi needed a password – and that was just a step too far!  We just guessed.

The food was good – and including all the drinks came to 330 pesos – around £22.  Very good value for money.  The sunset was lovely – red sky at night and all that.  Should be a good day tomorrow then.  The taxi office was right across the road – no-one here speaks English!  Paul put a Spanish twang onto the name of the hotel, and she immediately understood where we wanted to go.  Result.  The taxi fare was 35 pesos - £2.  This country is certainly good value for money!

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