Friday, 15 January 2010

DIARY 1-7 January 2010 ANTARCTICA CRUISE, FALKLANDS, BUENOS AIRES

Travel Trivia Question of the day - What is the second longest river in Africa?

FRIDAY 1 JANUARY 2010 -   Happy New Year- Having stayed up until 3.30am seeing in the new year I am not surprised that Steve does not want to get up and join me for breakfast at 8,30am.  His wake up calls is the start of the games at 10am.  We are doing really well with the games and so far have won 1 sweatshirt, 2 hats, 6 t-shirts and 2 mugs.  Unfortunately the trivia is a different story and the team Steve goes with consistently come in second. At computer classes a lady next to me has noticed my blog and asked if we could meet up for lunch as she is a “lifestyle coach”.  Steve & I meet up with Yvonne & Jim at the Rotterdam.  She asks many questions about how our lifestyle evolved in order that she may help others and asks if she can link her clients to my blog.  I am rather amused by all this as I don’t
think we have lifestyle coaches in England and could never imagine diverting “trip money” to visit one in order to be encouraged to travel!  Yvonne is surprised that I have not had a personality profile done whereas I am surprised that in spite of her having one done and being a lifestyle coach she still hasn’t arrived at a point of living the life of their dreams.  Reckon it is a job I could pull off should we ever have the need to work though. 
HAL 12 AT SEA


SATURDAY 2 JANUARY – We wake up anchored in the FALKLAND ISLANDS just off Port Stanley.  Our knowledge of the country comes from news during the 1982 conflict so we are keen to look around.  All the tours to the battlefields and other sights are overbooked so we will have to settle for a wander around town.  We previously made arrangements for Steve to have his stitches removed at the hospital and although they have already been taken out he would like a second opinion on progress.  HAL know about this and do a great job making sure we get an early tender ashore.  The first few houses are traditional style brick terrace with beautiful English country gardens but an odd feature of brightly painted corrugated roofs.  Further along all the buildings have the same roof construction but are nearly all prefabricated off metal and other than brightly painted are not that attractive.  The hospital is much like a very old British one with a mixture of traditional features inside but up to date equipment.  At the nurses’ station they are expecting us and soon deal with Steve’s hand.  Over the last couple of days the healing has accelerated and nurse says he no longer needs to keep it wrapped up but must exercise it.  Steve still has lots of tingling in it but she thinks that is a good sign.  The area of the stitches is difficult to move as there are such huge scabs forming but I am sure a bit of mini golf, basketball and bean bag tossing will help that along.   Although it is the middle of summer it is a cool, drizzly miserable day.  Continuing our walk along the shore we pass “the 1982 Liberation Monument”, “Royal Marine Monument”, Government House, “Battle Memorial” and wreck of the Jhelum Ship from 1849  en route to the Falklands Islands Museum £3.  Although we knew Falklands was a British colony it is still strange to be using our money, seeing cars (almost all Land Rovers) driving on the left, people talking English and so many things the same as Britain.  It is good to chat to the locals and learn a bit more about the islands and life here.  Seemingly like Britain many years ago where no one locks doors and the only problems are a few drunks at the pubs.  One of the museum guides explains that when you are out driving round the islands and need the toilet you just stop at any house, if no one is home you use the loo then just leave the owners a “thank you” note.  The island population is around 2300 and 1800 live here so the rest is very remote. There is a good whalebone display in the garden of Mike Butcher, an ardent anti-whaling campaigner; he also has a reindeer there.   We walk the back streets past some interesting buildings and call in to “The Rose” pub for a drink.  There is a huge “Waitrose” supermarket where I have to buy some Cadbury’s chocolate.  Getting back onto the ship takes us over 1 1/2hours as there are big lines for the tenders and everyone wants to leave at the least minute as our shore time has been so short.  Set sail an hour and half late at 2.30pm and pass the beach of penguins as we head out to sea.  The Italian Canaletto restaurant is free but you must book ahead.  We’ve arranged to eat there with Gordy & Gayle and enjoy a different type of meal.  The skies are now blue and we have beautiful warm sunshine but unfortunately Captain tells us we still have a GI problem on board so won’t be able to use the swimming pool etc.  AT 7.30pm we have been invited to watch Jessica & Gerry renew their vows after 41 days of marriage.  It is held in a cordoned off area of the Crows Nest and a couple from the Philippines, Helen & Arnie, are doing the same thing for their 25th wedding anniversary.  We are the only guests and feel quite honoured as we get to meet and talk to Captain James Russell-Dunford personally.  AT the late show ventriloquist Ken with his duck Casey are very funny. 
HAL 13 FALKLAND ISLANDS

Answer to previous blog trivia question - Nevada, presumably people were pawning their teeth in order to gamble!





SUNDAY 3 JANUARY – Today we are invited to the “Captains Brunch” at 11.30am so I decide to skip breakfast.  I spend a lot of time trying to delete and sort the hundreds of photos we took in the Antarctic.  The morning quiz is “dingbat” style with a picture that relates to a well known saying.  Steve, Gerry & Jessica finally break their duck and, come first and win water bottles.   At the brunch we all say a quick hello to the captain on the way in.  Out of the 1300 passengers 700 are “Mariners” and have cruised with HAL before so the event has been split over two days.   After our formal evening meal we enjoy a second show by Celeste and husband John.  Gordy & Gayle had a flood in their cabin and have been given a coffee card as part of the compensation so they treat us to a gourmet coffee at the Exploration Bar to round off the day.
HAL 14 AT SEA

MONDAY 4 JANUARY – I decide to watch a cooking demonstration on making an apple strudel and although I am unlikely to ever be in a place where I have all the ingredients and facilities to make one I do enjoy the entertaining presentation.  We meet Gerry & Jessica for lunch in the Rotterdam; they are jumping ship tomorrow as they have to get back to work.  The afternoon talk tells us a little of the highlights of Buenos Aires and we are glad that we will be able to return as it sounds very interesting.  We join Mike & Lenora for the Indonesian afternoon tea, didn’t realise they ate scones with jam & cream in Indonesia!  Our Aussie neighbour Robyn invites us round to share her bottle of champagne before supper.  She is a lone backpacker and a really plucky lady in our opinion.  The ship enters the River Plate and we see the Montevideo as we cruise up towards Buenos Aires.  The evening show is a mix of the duck, comedian and guitarist, the duck being the best in our opinion!  Loved his joke about us all sailing on the Virus Dam!
HAL 15 AT SEA





TUESDAY 5 JANUARY – Buenos Aires capital of ARGENTINA and our first sighting is of piles of containers at the port.  Disembarking is very quick and a shuttle bus takes us to the end of the port area.  We are visiting a Couchsurfing friend and I negotiate the taxi fare down from A$50 (8.50) to A$35 (£6).  Sandra lives in an apartment in the Palermo district and we enjoy the drive there although we must re adjust to the Argentinean style of driving.  Sandra is Uruguayan and has recently been on holiday there so has lots to tell us for our upcoming trip.  After catching up on a bit of Internet we set out for a walk.  It is an extremely hot day, 35C, so we try to find shade wherever possible.  Walking past a huge and impressive mosque we notice you can do a tour on Tuesday and Thursday at 12.00.  With only 20 minutes to wait we figure it should be worth in – wrong, it is beautiful outside but the tour is a kind of Islam recruitment programme!  The Rose Park within “Parque Tres de Febrero” is really attractive with a central lake and statues of famous people including William Shakespeare.  The parks seem to link one into another and all have fantastic sculptures.  In the Recoleta area we are lucky to find the butterfly exhibition is still on at the Centro Cultura de Recoleta.  An outdoor area has been closed in with net curtains and then filled with butterflies.  Nearby is the attractive Basilica de Nustra Senora del Pilar but the main reason for visiting this area is the cemetery.  Within it the star attraction for tourists is Eva Peron’s family mausoleum.  It is actually far less impressive than many of the others.  We amused to see a few tombs with air chimneys and others with door knockers!  This is a very wealthy cemetery and if the family does not pay its dues the coffins are removed and the mausoleum is sold to someone else who then removes the original names and starts adding their own family.  Unfortunately it is just too hot to spend as long there as I would have liked as the narrow paths are stifling.  Sandra finishes our tour down on “Florida Street” with the expensive shops selling polo gear and other things we would love to buy – not.  Steve is feeling the effects of the heat and with walking around his hand is aching so we decide to get a taxi, A$14 (£2.35), back to the ship.  You can tell by the cheaper price of the taxi just how far we have walked.  We intend to return to Buenos Aires in a few weeks time and will then do the central tourists sights so today it has been lovely to chat to Sandra and see the area where she lives.  Back on board we are really happy that the swimming pool is open so we can cool down.   We skip the evening meal in a favour of the 7.30pm create your own pizza session.  It is held at the back of the ship on the rear open deck and they are putting up a big screen to show “Evita”.  It is a balmy night and we settle down on the sun loungers with our pizza.  They are doing a half price beer special during the movie so we take them up on the deal.  Unfortunately the sky is looking stormy with lots of lightening but even before that becomes a problem the mosquitoes drive us in to the regular theatre where they are showing the same movie.  When we head up to the geography quiz in the Crows Nest the heavens have opened up and we are just turning to leave the port.   We come second again, got beaten in the tie breaker of how many countries border the Mediterranean Sea, we threw in 18 but the answer was 21.  Mr & Mrs Show is great fun.  Arnie & Helen from Manila take part along with newlyweds and a Dutch couple married for 44 years, the winners. 
HAL 16, BUENOS AIRES


WEDNESDAY 6 JANAURY – We have to put our clocks forward 1-hour (2 hours behind GMT).  Waking in the early hours the river is very rough and there is a strong wind.  It comes as no surprise when the Captain announces we will be late arriving in Montevideo URUGUAY.  Things get worse and by breakfast time we are still in the river opposite the city.  The port was closed due to bad weather and Captain is hoping they will re open it soon.   A pilot comes aboard and the port opens but the wind suddenly gets stronger again and we have to back off and abandoned the landing.  We return to bed and fester to the extent that we even order a room service lunch.  The laundry is now open and we manage to get one load done, very reasonable at $2 (£1.20) was and $1 (60p) to dry.  With Jessica & Gerry no longer around I am recruited to the trivia team, now renamed “missing Gerry & Jessica” and now can’t even make second place!  Arriving on board ship we were given gift vouchers for a free meal at the Pinnacle Grill, normally a $20 (£13) pp surcharge.  It is a very posh restaurant and the steaks are magnificent, huge, tasty and tender.  The desserts are also amazing and I manage to get through a vanilla soufflé then 2 of the chocolate volcanoes.  Unfortunately I had forgotten all about the evenings “Dessert Extravaganza” at the Lido Pool so can only look and drool over the chocolate fountain and gateaux.  At least the Motown Hour in the Crows Nest helps me work a bit of the overload off.
HAL 17, ABORTED MONTEVIDEO LANDING


THURSDAY 7 JANAURY – Along with our morning newspaper we get a letter from the Captain, apologising about us missing Montevideo but telling us we will all get our port fees refunded plus a free glass of champagne with dinner tonight.  He also talks about our cooperation during the virus outbreak and as a token of appreciation they are having an open bar from 4.30-8.00 on Saturday.   This may be a problem as we are in port that night so it will be obvious who gets drunk whereas at the moment we all look like we’ve had a few as we stagger around the ship!  I will have to have an extra drink to celebrate as it is also my sister Netty’s 50th birthday – how’s that for an excuse?  We enjoy an afternoon card session with Vic, Gwen & Louise followed by drinks in their cabin before our last formal evening meal.  Wind up the evening with the movie then the late show.
HAL 18, AT SEA

Trivia answer - The Congo in Africa

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4 comments:

Kevin and Ruth said...

"...but the tour is a kind of Islam recruitment programme!"

I would have had a good time with them!

Anonymous said...

Il semble que vous soyez un expert dans ce domaine, vos remarques sont tres interessantes, merci.

- Daniel

Tours of Antarctica said...

Interesting dairy. Eventually i have also made diary from 31st to till date which consider my memorable days. I have enjoyed whole week in south pole with my family. Even we had enjoyed white Christmas with wine. Your last session reminds my mid-night dinner which i had enjoyed with my whole team.

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