I knew when I saw L’Austral docked in Ushuaia the last time I was there that I should recognize the name. The ship itself looked like a high end expedition ship heading for the Antarctic. It wasn’t till today when walking Punto Arenas after taking the first tender in that I started to twig that the ship was most certainly related to South American, even tho she is flagged from a French Cruise Line.
What caused the recognition? Not the Bay of the same name altho I have since looked it up, French Polynesia is not exactly next door. Rather it was all the beer signs touting Austral Cerveza with this town on bold letters. The town itself lays claim to being the largest most southern town on this continent which means it has to be both larger and a bit further south than where we docked yesterday. Chilean Beer. Ok. Looking it up in Wiki? Duh, brewed right here in Punta Arenas.
I spent a couple of hours just walking around. The town is built on a hill side looking down on the harbor. It holds the distinction of being the largest town the furthest south in the world. Set out on a grid, it is cold at the end of the summer. All the streets are one way with the lowest numbers being up on the hill and increasing toward the water. Lower numbers toward the east, increasing west. The stores here feature wool, sporting goods, sensible shoes. The school uniform looks like track suits. No skimpy fashions here, the weather ranges from cold to brutal. It will not surprise you to learn that the town had its start like so many others as a prison colony.
Meanwhile, streets are flat, wide and the trash containers are all at waist high level. At first I thought it might be related feral animals till it hit me that snow plows play a significant roll. Being able to reach and empty trash is not an insignificant issue in a place with 153 days of precipitation per year along with humidity in the high 80s.
None of the Internet locations in town do wifi, but the local Best Western has a restaurant with wifi, good coffee and huge sandwiches. Now to see if I can find post cards and I will be all set. Chile doesn’t take foreign currencies and the ship has our passports which makes changing money a bit challenging.