The trip is kind of like when I took my kids to the Galapagos. Each day you think can’t get better and then it does.
The routine seems the same, Ali makes a wake up announcement about 7:30, 15 minutes later , Vladimir announces that breakfast is open. It is only open for an hour. We stand in a short line, eat order coffee.
We have very little Internet so I will try this post when I can and follow up with some pictures.
We got on the boat called Plancius around 5 pm. We had stopped off for a drink. We had to walk down a very long pier, past a huge luxury boat. It probably had 3000 people on it. We wanted a smaller boat that could offer more shore time and camping. Our boat held just over one hundred people with a staff of 37. We were shown our room and given a key card. Everyone met in the observation room for a briefing. There was a sparkling wine toast and the ship set sail out the Beagle Channel. One side was Argentina and the other side was Chile. We had dinner in a large dining room. Our room was spacious. We had been upgraded to a superior room. Originally we had twin beds, now we had a double bed and a sofa. I wonder who will get the sofa bed? It wasn’t too bad. We decided to watch Jaws and have a few drinks.
Before we left Ushuaia, we stopped for wine and beer and rum to bring on the trip. I brought Fireball and Peter brought Screwball.
The Expedition leader, Ali, made announcements and sightings on the PA system. As in breakfast, lunch and dinner and when and where we were to be. Kinda annoying.
Lectures and present in the observation deck, sweets and bar opens at 4 pm. The penguin lecture was awesome as was the one about alien life. Somehow we missed one on the ice.
First day we saw a lot of Albatrosses. Their wing span is 2.5 meters that’s 7 feet! Reminded me to read Jonathan Livingston Seagull for the fourth time. Great book, great lessons in life at any age. Also sighted Fin sharks and Chin Strap penguins. Everyone gets very excited to see something new! We are a Little’s jaded since we petted the whales in Mexico last year.
Valentines Day we saw our first icebergs. The blue ice is mesmerizing. Zodiac to the shore where we saw Gentoo and Adelile Penguins. Also Weddle, brown and Leopard seals. Kissed a rock to commentate landing on Antarctica. More penguins and Leopard seals.
After lunch we were lucky to see Killer Whales, also having lunch. Valentines dinner and A Shackleton documentary followed by the movie War Horse. Last few minutes of being 59!
They woke us up early to see some whales. After breakfast, back on the zodiacs to Neve landing. Explored a little. Peter almost stepped in a seal. Videoed three happy penguins. Champagne in the room before lunch. A great Birthday so far!
Magellan called this area the “Land of Fires” because of all the fires here lit by the native people,probably because it was cold.
Breakfast was disappointing as we guessed, weak coffee, fake OJ, fake cheese and fake ham. We went to get the car and stopped off at a coffee shop for some to go Joe. Took the luggage to the check point and decided to check out the glaciers. Winding roads and lots of wind and beautiful views. It was not an hour and a half drive.
Hiked up a bit then had a beer at the chalet. It was a former skiing place but no longer.
So probably not too much posting when we get on the boat. We get on the boat around 5 pm and it leaves at 6pm. First two days at sea crossing the Drake. Might have some weather! So excited!
We are at the southern most tip of the Americas. It’s a beautiful town, filled with shops to buy outdoor gear, restaurants, gift shops and ice cream parlors.
We got a taxi to the hotel, exchanged money at a great rate 360 vs 190! Walked a bit tried to get on a train to the actual End of the World but rented a car instead and drove to the National Park. Saw wildish horse on the way there and back. Hiked a bit, Found a grocery store for wine and beer and champagne for my upcoming birthday. Shhh it’s a secret! Then had a beer and empanada. Back to the very basic hotel, Hotel Monaco. A little R and R.
We laughed when we saw several very serious people with very large cameras. Peter stepped on a stick and scared the bird away.
Yesterday we arrived in Buenos Aires in the morning. I had a spectacular view of the sunrise on the plane. It was like the sunrises in the Dominican Republic, where the sun just pops up. Not sure I will see that this morning as we are starting to head more to the right.
Yesterday, after we landed. It had been a 9 ish hour flight. I never even checked how long it was from Dallas. We stopped at an airport restaurant and had water, coffee and a beer. Got some money from the ATM which I always do and we negotiated a taxi to the hotel. The room was almost ready, but not quite. After dropping our luggage off, we took a taxi to one of my bucket list items, the Recolate Cemetery where Eva Peron was buried. I have been a big fan of the great operetta, Evita. I can’t imagine how many times I have seen it and/or listened to the music. Most recently sang, “Don’t Cry for me Argentina,” at a dinner with my investment group. I wasn’t the only one that knew all the words at that dinner and I am pretty sure that my travel companion and brother knows all the words too.
The cemetery was huge with many mausoleums built for families. Many were two stories and very ornate, with marble, metal and wood carvings
The room was ready if we wanted to have a double bed, so we waited and they comped us a beer. Took a little nap and then walked around looking for a spot to eat. We had been recommended a place just across the street but it looked like a Denny’s. No chains restaurants for us. Finding nothing and not having internet, we went back to the hotel. Found a spot and started to walk but ended up in a cab. Now that it was later there were more places open. Most people go out after 8 for dinner.
After the cemetery we taxied to the location of Evita famous speech/song the Casa Rosada. It was closed so we only have a picture of where she stood on the balcony. Next stop was supposed to be a colorful street with markets. It was siesta time so there wasn’t much open. We stopped at a local restaurant and had a beer and empanada and then it was time for our siesta.
Peter overheard someone at the hotel exchanging money for a much better rate than we got in the airport. He looked up on the internet that several countries including Argentina have black market exchanges rates at nearly double what we were getting at the ATM. We excused more money.
We ate at Los Chanchitos Parilla. It was a very typical local restaurant. There were very few people when we arrived but it filled up very quickly. I had looked up a few words for meat ahead of time, but the menu was in Spanish that was not what I learned. Our waiter was not very patient with us. We ordered wine and water, and then navigated some meat. Most options were supposed to be shared. Peter had a ribeye and I had tenderloin. The wine was great, Argentinian, of course. It was fun to people watch and see what they ordered and the waiter finally warmed up to us. We bought another bottle to take with us and took some meat home too. The waiter wanted us to take the fat of the meat home too. As we started to walk back, we heard some live music. We couldn’t get in with the wine so we taxied back to the hotel and slept until our 3 am wake up.
We had asked one of our taxi drivers to take us to the airport at 3:30am and he actually showed up and the hotel had a little to go breakfast and coffee for us. At the airport it just took a few min to be sure we were in the right place. Now on the 3 hour flight to Ushuaia
At the airport in San Diego ready for this adventure to begin! Just through security. We have balls! Screwball and Fireball! There might be some exciting weather. I read something about being strapped into beds. What???
What a last day! We awoke early to go to the Floating Market. When we walked out of the hotel, the entrance was flooded. Maybe rain, maybe a leak. The other entrance was fine.
We stood outside waiting for a taxi. It was about 5:30 am. Several people came up to us including one aggressive lady, I liked her but Julie was becoming a native quickly. People are so pushy here. Seriously they just barge in ignoring that you might actually be in line before them. We had to show a couple people the way. So Julie grabbed a taxi and the guy spoke some English! He gave us a price to drive us to the floating market and he knew someone that would take us on a boat. Too good to be true? It was a short drive to the market, the city was waking up. We stopped in a parking lot then walked gingerly through trash and puddles and sure enough there was a boat! He helped us into the boat, especially me since my knee was so swollen. We had mentioned that we wanted coffee and Pho and maybe see the noodle making shop! He did exactly that! We saw people on the Mekong River selling their wares from smaller boats. We saw lots of tourists on bigger boats. Our skipper spoke a little English but he took us to a floating dock that sold stuff and then Pho and coffee. So fun and so delicious. Then he went to the Noodle factory where we saw noodles made and we even got to try out the process.
The time and cost and the trip lasted exactly what he quoted so we asked if he would like to drive us to Ho Chi Minh City, about a 3.5 hour drive. We had tried a private company but they didn’t call back until we had already left. He said yes so we went to the hotel and packed up and off to HCMC.
Once we arrived at our hotel it was time to find a rabies shot. Let the fun begin! I found a private English speaking hospital and yes they had the rabies vaccine. It was about 2.5 km away. We asked if we could walk but the hotel said no and that we should take a taxi. So we arrive at the hospital. The person that I talked to said go to ground floor then they said the third floor. Ground floor was check in area so we went up to first floor. They told us to go to third floor to infectious disease area. We did and there were some very sick people lying in beds, some two per bed, it looked like an African clinic. So nurses station told me to go pay. Cashier said, no vaccine at the hospital. I explained that I just called 30 minutes before and they said they had the vaccine. After a long time waiting she gave me a different address, not that I could read her writing. She sent me to customer service. Talked with two young girls and then their supervisor. She wanted me to fill out a complaint form. I just wanted a vaccine. She wrote down the same address as the last person. I asked her to call and see if they had the vaccine. She called and yes, they have it. Next taxi drops us off at the right address for the Louis Pasteur clinic but the entrance is on the other side of the building next to trash like this.
Two guards are at the clinic and they tell us that no one is working today. He even goes into the building to check. They give me a third clinic! And show us where we are. And where the hospital is. It is close to where we were trying to eat the first night. We taxi again. We ask nurses on several floors and they finally send us to a different building. Check in there and they keep my passport for sooo long. It’s dirty and people are sick
They want my birthdate, my height, my weight, telephone number, name of the hotel that I am staying at. Dr comes over asks what I want. Says ok, then pay for that conversation with him and the shot. Two and a half hours!!
Next cab to the area that we wanted to eat at. It was good. Back to the hotel, pack and organize and realize there is a sky bar so we have a drink there and then on to the airport. We didn’t have the same flight back, but we met up before my flight. Hers was delayed. We met in Tokyo. She was able to get on her flight but mine was delayed 5 hours and then cancelled altogether. And you can’t get out of the airport because of covid. After many phone calls and waiting, several of us were escorted through security and through quarantine procedures which were crazily over staffed. We had to walk from one end of the airport to the other . QR codes, show passport, show boarding pas. My knee was really hurting and the monkey bite oozing. Then a bus took us from Hanada Airport to Narita. No food in the airports! My original flight was delayed until Monday night so I am happy to only be delayed 2.5 hours.
Arrived at Narita I’ve an hour later by bus.I had a couple hours to spare. Looked for food. Not much to choose from. McDonalds was the choice. Just woke up from my nap on the flight. Another fantastic trip in the books. Wow a little different than others. Looking forward to normalcy. More pics to follow
I always like to see how many modes of transportation I can take when I travel. So far: airplane, stand up bus, sit down bus, sleeper bus, sleeper train, taxi, shuttle, motorbike as a passenger and as a driver,small transport boat, ferries, sleeper boat, hmm. Maybe more. Just need to be in a rickshaw