Monday, February 13, 2017

Back to Where it All Began. Punta Arenas.

View of  Punta Arenas and the Strait of Magellan from Mirador Cerro la Cruz.

The next leg in our trip took us back to Punta Arenas where our time in Patagonia began a week ago.  I cannot believe that it has just been a week; we've done and seen so much in that short amount of time.  I will really miss the beauty of Patagonia.

Flash back to this morning when we woke up in Puerto Natales.  It was another cloudy day.  I think it's typical to rarely see the sun, even in the summer time, here.  The dark skies make the already not so pretty town even less pretty.  Having spent a few days here, I can fully understand why people paint their houses all sorts of bright colors to cheer things up a bit.


By around  8:15a, we were back at the bus station which I have to say is small but very modern.


So far, our experience with the buses in Chile is that they're very prompt in departing. Our 8:30a Bus-Sur bus pulled out just a few minutes ahead of time and it was relatively full.  Again, I had purchased our tickets so far in advance that I was able to get Bro and I front row seats :-)  In reality, you can easily purchase tickets the departure - we've not been on any bus that was fully loaded with passengers.





Shortly before arriving into Punta Arenas, the driver made two quick stops to drop off passengers.  Three hours and 20 minutes after leaving Puerto Natales, we arrived back into Punta Arenas where the sun was shining brightly.  It was a beautiful day,  this last day of ours in Patagonia.


I had booked us into a small hotel -  Hostal Joshiken , located in the heart of downtown just a few blocks from the bus station.    I knew it was an easy walk and should've just looked at Google Maps versus following the directions.  Ms. Google took us a bit of round about way to get to the place.  In any case, we made it!  After settling into the room, Bro only had one thing on his mind - lunch at the Mercado!  More seafood and I already knew exactly what he was going to be ordering up.  For anyone coming to southern Patagonia, I would highly recommend skipping anything meat and going right for the seafood!

There's barely a handful of restaurants inside the mercado and tables were beginning to fill up.  We did a cursory of menus but let's be serious.  We already know of one place and we like their food so why not just go back?  And so we did.....



Since it's our last day here, we decided to go hog wild.  To share, we ordered a pastel de jaiba, (Chilean crab casserole which I would describe as a warm crab dip) and ensalada de centolla (King Crab salad).

Pastel de jaiba and ensalada de centolla

....like he needs to read the menu.

As you might expect, that was not enough food for Bro so he ordered up the one dish that I knew would be calling out to him.....the merluzza aka Chilean Sea Bass.  I have to admit, the fish was really delicious - the meat was fresh and sweet.

Chilean sea bass.

It was such a beautiful day so naturally, we decided to just stroll about town.  It's a beautiful day in Punta Arenas today, so different from our first day here when we walked around the cemetery in the rain.


On our way to the Mercado,  I had popped inside a souvenir shop.  After seeing all the yerba mate cups in not only Chile but also Argentina (and I was told the drink was also popular in Uruguay), I decided to get one as my souvenir for this trip.  For some reason, I got fixated on the cups that are made from an actual cow hoof.  The shop had quite a variety to choose from but since they were all the same price, I settled on the largest hoof!


I think it's cool but Bro thinks it's a very politically incorrect souvenir to have.  The cow was probably slaughtered to feed a human so why not keep the hoof and use it to make something unique?   I wasn't able to really negotiate much of a discount but the shop owner was willing to throw in the bombilla for free. So here is my one and only souvenir from this trip!


From the souvenir shop, we made our way back to Plaza Muñoz Gamero.   Though it was a nice day for a walk, I have to admit, we were feeling a bit lazy.  It's been go, go, go these past few days and I think we both needed to just sit and chill for a bit so we found ourselves a nice bench, with a nice view of the statue of Ferdinand Magellan, and plopped down to soak in the sun and just people watch.  It was the perfect way to just zone out for a while.



Br o had read in Lonely Planet that there was a hill that you can climb for a nice bird's eye view of the city.  The landscape here is pretty flat so it wasn't hard to spot the hill.  We really had no idea where were going so we just followed our instincts.

A series of steps eventually led us to a small plaza area that indeed offered a nice view of the city. Having strolled the streets, I could now recognize the places we had been to.   We sat here for a while too.  I enjoy being on the go but every now and again, you simply need to just relax and calm your system down.




A week ago, we had already decided where we were going to have our dinner at - La Luna which is one of several restaurants located on Bernardo O'Higgins street.  We had checked out the menu as so we even knew exactly what we would order - seafood, of course!

The place has very colorful and eclectic decor but it's a casual dining spot which suits us perfectly!





We decided to share an order of abalone (locos) as our appetizer.  Sadly, Chileans are not the best of cooks so the shellfish was boiled and served in thick slices.  It was accompanied by a spoonful of mayo and potato salad.  I have come to the conclusion (probably a very wrong one) that Chileans love mayo.


As you might expect, Bro ordered the Merluzza austral which came with a shrimp sauce and rustic mashed potatoes.  It was a good portion of food.  Homey and quite delicious.  I would've gladly eaten this plate of food.


I ordered the Ostiones a la Parmesana aka scallops in a cheese sauce.  It was a scallop casserole. 


There were TONS of big, sweet sea scallops in the dish!  It was such a rich dish that I had to share it with Bro.  No complaints from him :-)


In my opinion, the best meal we've had in Chile or Patagonia.  Far less costly than the lamb and sweetbreads dinner we had in El Calafate and much more satisfying.  We both left the restaurant happily full.

It was a late dinner for us.   It was almost 10p by the time we made it back to our hotel and while it was quite a long walk, it was a fast walk!  Once the sun had set so had a chill in the air.  The wind did not help matters any.

It's hard to believe that our time in Chile has come to an end. Tomorrow, we fly back to Santiago and from there, it's onward to Buenos Aires.   It's rare for me to say that I'm not sad to be leaving a country but I have really fallen in love with the landscape in Chile....from Atacama to Patagonia, it's been nothing short of spectacular.  I can only hope that I will get to come back one day.  Until then,

Goodnight from Punta Arenas!