“Pic of the Week”, September 21, 2018: Views from Ushuaia

09 Ushuaia 2-2014

Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world.  It lies on the tip of Tierra del Fuego, off the Beagle Channel, and is surrounded by the Martial Mounts. This excellent location allows you to enjoy dramatic scenes of the sea, mountains and forests of southern Patagonia.

We spent a few days in Ushuaia after completing a memorable cruise through the Patagonian fjords.  The weather was quite changeable and scenes of the city were often dramatic, especially when viewed from the hill where our hotel was located.

Ushuaia has a modern international airport and is the closest deep-water port to Antarctica.  The last photos below are some of my favorites, with “Godbeams” of light penetrating the heavy cloud of a clearing storm.

(Click on …

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“Pic of the Week”, September 14, 2018: Floralis Genérica, Buenos Aires

02 Floralis Genérica, Palermo

Floralis Genérica is one of the best known and most impressive monuments  in Buenos Aires. It’s a sculpture of a massive flower (18 tons, 23 meters high) made of stainless steel, aluminum and concrete.  Floralis Genérica is located in a beautiful 4 acre park at the Plaza of the United Nations in Recoleta.  The park has walking paths that allow you to view the sculpture from different angles.

This impressive artwork was donated to the city in 2002 by architect Eduardo Catalano. It has a mechanism (which may or may not be working) that opens and closes the flower’s six gigantic petals, depending on the time of day.  When all is in working order the flower closes …

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“Pic of the Week”, February 2, 2018: Shopping in San Telmo

00 San Telmo shopping

San Telmo is one of the more popular neighborhoods for shopping and dining in Buenos Aires.  The city, at its prime in the late 19th century, is now in what could most kindly be called a state of “elegant decay”.  There are a lot of old shops in San Telmo, which is especially well known for its antique market.  

My favorite store was one that sold these unusual leg lamps (see above), which brought a smile to my face as I remembered the famous scenes involving a similar lamp from the classic film, “A Christmas Story“.  A small craft market surrounded around one of San Telmo’s squares, great coffee shops and produce stands.

My wife and I spent the better part …

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“Pic of the Week”, June 23, 2017: Mate — South America’s caffeinated drink

04 El Tigre, Argentina 2014 (96)

If coffee is the morning beverage of North America (and most of the world for that matter), my limited experience in South America was that many people preferred a type of locally grown herbal tea called Mate (pronounced mah-teh). Mate, also known as yerba mate, is rich in caffeine and is especially popular in in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Southern Chile and Southern Brazil. A small amount is exported and sold in other countries, including in the Middle East, but mate has its home in southern South America.

The drink is prepared by steeping a handful of dried yerba mate leaves in hot water. As the beverage is consumed, more hot water is added to the same wet mate clump over …

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.All Trips / Argentina / South America

The Parana Delta and El Tigre, Argentina

03 El Tigre, Argentina 2014  (5)

El Tigre is situated an hour’s train ride from Buenos Aires, a trip that will cost you less than US$1 (departs from the Retiro station — linea Mitro).  You can also get there by taking a cab (more expensive but faster).  We enjoyed the slower train journey and were treated to an interesting assortment of vendors, panhandlers, and train performers all plying their business.  Trains sure are a great place to people watch.

We visited El Tigre as a day trip but I wished we’d stayed overnight so we could have explored the islands around it.  The region is green and lush and built astride a river which was flooded when we visited (the Parana River is prone to flooding).   El …

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.All Trips / Argentina / Chile / South America

Patagonian Roadtrip: El Chalten to Torres Del Paine

01-El-Chalten

It’s hard for many people from the “Old World” to envision the vast people-less places of the Americas, especially the closer one travels to the poles.  It’s equally empty in northern North America (Alaska, the Yukon and Northwest Territories) as it is in southern South America (Patagonia).

There are stretches of road in these remote areas regions where you might not encounter a petro station for hundreds of kilometers (don’t worry, signs will warn you in advance so you’d need to be a fool to run out of gas).  No towns, often not even a rancher, to be found as far as the eye can see.

When visiting Patagonia, we made a rather long drive from Argentinian Patagonia to Chilean Patagonia.  A …

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“Pic of the Week”, July 8, 2016: Guanacos, Patagonia

El Chalten 2014 (6c) Guanacos

I’d the impression guanacos were not that common an animal in South America.  Yes, they were there, but like the Andean Condor you’d have to be lucky to see one.  After visiting Argentina and Chile I learned this impression was totally wrong.  They’re as common as corn in the fields of Iowa on a summer day,   As common as mosquitoes on the Canadian tundra after the spring thaw.  They’re everywhere!  These guanacos were standing beside the road and didn’t move when our tour van stopped for these photos, unconcerned about our presence.

Guanacos are related to camels and between 1 and 1.2 meters (3 – 4 ft) tall  at the shoulder, weighing a surprising 90 kg (200 lb).   Their color is very bland compared to their cousins, …

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“Pic of the Week”, June 3, 2016: La Leona, Argentina

El Chalten 2014 (50d) La Leona

La Leona Rest Area and Countryside Hotel is 110 kilometers from El Calafate, on famous Patagonia Route 40, about half way between El Calafate and El Chaltén.  It’s an isolated place in an isolated region — the Patagonian steppe.  La Leona consists of a small collection of buildings sandwiched between the La Leona River and Route 40, and is close to Lake Viedma.  The main building was constructed in 1894 by the Jensens, a family of Danish immigrants.

It was at this spot that Francisco P. Moreno (Argentinian scientist, explorer and namesake of the famous glacier) had previously been attacked and wounded by a female cougar (known locally as a “lioness”).  Because of this incident the river that flows beside the …

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