The One Less Traveled By: a chronicle of my yearlong sabbatical


El Calafate, Argentina
February 26, 2010, 2:05 pm
Filed under: Argentina

I arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina on the morning of February 6.  I checked into a great hostel called Hostal Tita, located near to the Palermo neighborhood, one of the best and trendiest in BA.  I spent a bit of the day exploring the Palermo neighborhood before escaping the humidity back in the hostel.  Argentina is quite famous — rightfully so — for its beef, so for dinner I ducked into a small, nondescript local parilla (grill house) for dinner, and had an unforgettable  hunk of bife de chorizo, a cut similar to a New York Strip, that was seasoned with nothing more than salt and rivaled the best steak I’d had in New York, and only cost about ten bucks.  That and a bottle of Malbec and I was good to go.  That night I went out with another American and a group of Colombians.  I fought through the jetlag from my overnight flight and managed to party until the sun came up.  The next day I slept in until about 3, and then two locals I met at the club the night before showed me around Puerto Madero, another nice neighborhood, and we had a few beers.  I went back to the same parilla for the same dinner that night and got ready for my flight the next day to El Calafate.

El Calafate international airport

View from the terminal

El Calafate is a smallish town in southern Patagonia, near the very bottom of Argentina, which exists primarily to serve the ton loads of sightseers who visist Glacier Perito Moreno (and, for me, served as meeting point with my buddy Alex and transfer point to El Chalten).  I was there two days.  The first I paid a visit to the glacier and did the “mini-trekking” tour, that involved a two hour walk on the ice.  The glacier itself is fascinating: its one of — if not the — fastest advancing glaciers, moving on average 1.5 meters per day.  It is also a stable glacier so that while it cleaves huge chunks of ice into the surrounding lake, it grows up top at the same rate.  At one point I was a chunk the size of a 10 story building thunderously cleave and crash into the lake.  Quite a sight.  The next day I met up with Alex, my climbing partner for the trip to El Chalten, and we spent a leisurely afternoon at the local bar/bookstore/cafe sipping microbrews.  (There are some incredible beers being made in Patagonia – reason alone to make the journey.)  Both of us were antsy to get to El Chalten and the next day we were on our way.

Lago Argentino - the largest freshwater lake in Argentina - from the I Keu Ken hostel in El Calafate

Glacier Perito Moreno

The passenger ship on the right holds hundreds, to give you an idea of the scale of this beast

It was a rainy day...

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