OFF THE BEATEN PISTA: Milonga at the Fin del Mundo
Happy 2008 to everyone from Ushuaia, Argentina, a small island at the southern tip of the continent and about 1000km from Antarctica. So, yes, while you guys in Buenos Aires are sweltering in the summer "horno" (oven), I´m sitting in front of the hotel computer in ski pants, undershirt, and cashmere sweater.
We decided to ring in the new year here because The Boyfriend just became a new "abuelo" (grandfather) to a bouncing Ushuaian baby boy. (No, no, don´t think of me as a grandma. TG is eternally youthful and glorious!) Since the BF is not the slobbering grandparent type, we were able get away and do some exploring, which included hitting the local milonga! For those of you on your way to or from an Antarctic cruise, this would be a fun way to take in some non-penguin oriented local scenery.
"Milonga del Fin del Mundo" may sound rather apocalyptic, but our visit turned out to be a pleasant surprise, a great way to beat the cold and break in my new dance shoes. We made a reservation for a table right on the waxed ceramic tile pista (killed my knees-you may be better off with dance sneakers) from which we were able to scope all the locals (and some foreigners) dance into the light-filled wee hours of the morning. The crowd is a mixed bag of usual white haired and suited up men, tourists, locals anywhere from their pre-teens through their 50s, most of whom fall in the average dancer category. This is not Buenos Aires, so you should probably expect some invitations "al lado" instead of from across the room. By all means, accept! The milonga takes place every Sunday night from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. at the casual Nautico Restaurante (Maipu 1210, Tel: (54-2901)430415) that boasts a great view of the Fuegian (as in Tierra del Fuego) bay and the surrounding mountains.
We stayed at the Las Hayas Resort Hotel for a few days (Luis Martial 1650 Tel: (54-2901) 430710/8), a decent 3.5-4 star hotel at the foot of the mountains with a killer heated pool and fantastic views of the bay. Next to the Resort runs a yellow-marked hiking trail that you can follow all the way up the mountain until you reach the Cumbres del Marial, an adorable ski resort (aerosillas are across street from the hotel) that houses an equally adorable Casa de Te called "La Cabaña" (Luis F. Marial 3560, Tels: (54-2901)424779/434699/434752. Load up on coffee, tea, and baked sweets before your hike back down to Las Hayas or to the road leading to the center of town.
If you managed to work that all off on the 40 minute hike down, check out La Cantina Fuegina de Freddy on San Martin 326 (Tel: 421887) for a grilled merluza negra (LOCAL sea bass) that is as tender and fresh as the chubby thighs of a newborn baby (Sorry for the image! It was the first thing that came to mind!). Seriously dee-lish and worth the 60-some pesos for a slice of pescado heaven. The BF had a terrific king crab soup. The king crab, by the way, is worth ordering just to take a picture. It´s gigantoid!!
Well, folks, I wish all of you the best for 2008. Happy dancing. TG