A Travellerspoint blog


Salta Argentina

Getting High in Northern Argentina

sunny 30 °C

Day 42. Salta Argentina.

Our one bedroom apartment is just perfect, with room to put everything away. Just five blocks from the the main square we are really happy here. Salta is a lovely town. Very clean and everyone is laid back. The main square is surrounded by many restaurants and museums which we shall explore later.
The traffic here is wild however. Even on a green light pedestrians don't seem to have the right of way, you must really be careful when crossing the road.
Our first stop was the tourist info center and then a travel agent to book some tours for our time here.

The people, dress and items for sale are more Bolivian now as we get closer to the border.

While having our lunch in one of the outdoor cafes we and the other patrons are serenaded by different groups either playing guitar and singing or groups of men playing pan pipes and drums. Children are often coming up to patrons selling small items and in some cases begging. Adults too are selling small items such as necklaces, coca leaves, shoe shines and other things. They are not aggressive in the least however, as they leave if you say no. Salta is a lot poorer than other places we have been.

Many young families here, but not sure if they live here or are vacationing. There appears to be a baby boom as we see lots of toddlers, infants and pregnant women. Breastfeeding while walking or sitting in crowded area is quite acceptable here which is great.


some graffiti art near our hotel



Day 43.

In the morning we went to one of the museums in the square, the modern art museum. It did not cost money, which is a good thing because only one small room was open. It had large pieces of paper on the wall with what looked like finger painting by children on it. But with modern art you can never tell.

In the afternoon we were picked up by our arranged mini van and had a tour of the city with 7 other tourists. This time of year is off season for foreign tourists as it is the rainy season. We were the only English speakers on the bus and the guide did her best to narrate in both Spanish and English, but I noticed that the Spanish explanations were much longer.

The city of Salta has just over 600,000 people so when we took the tour we could see how big this city is. In the area we are in it seems so small. We are at 3750 feet in altitude and doing okay with that A drive to the top of San Bernardo hill takes us higher to the top of where you can ascend by cable car. It offers a great view of the city but the day is getting cloudy and starts to rain
Locals walk, run and bike up this steep hill as a form of exercise If you still need more before going back down there are stationary bikes at the top.


Day 44.
The Museum of High Mountain Archeology was another on the square that we visited today. This was a small museum housing Inca treasures, but one of the best that I have seen. There is a very long story here, but the Readers Digest version is that in the early 1990s a team of archeologists found three child mummies on a mountain top in the area. They were from the Incan times and aged 6, 7 and15. The Incas wanted to unite the different regions, even countries, so young children who were of nobility in their area, would be chosen to marry one of another region to unite man with the gods. After the ceremony the children were given a potion that would put them in a coma like sleep and then they would be buried, facing different directions.

Because these children were buried in the mountains and it is so cold they are almost perfectly preserved 500 years later. The boy still has coca leaves in his mouth.
Custom was to also bury them with many items that were also recovered at the site in almost perfect condition.
Only one child is on display at a time, to keep them preserved, and in a climate controlled display.

We watch a film of the excavation as they had a fellow from National Geographic on the dig with them. It was fascinating. Sounds gruesome I know, but it really was amazing.
We were not allowed to take pictures so I copied this from the internet. We saw the boy on the right.


Day 45

Another tour day in a mini van, this one had 16 Spanish speakers aboard, plus us. Cachi is an area south of Salta and to get there we travelled through many hills and mountains.
Driving through a few small towns on the outskirts of Salta we see many fields of tobacco and corn.
The landscape changes to forests of cactus, hundreds of years old, growing with deciduous trees which I have never seen together before. This area gets a lot of rain in the summer, (now), and everything is very green. The first half of the journey the road is paved, but then turns to gravel. Water coming down from the mountains, over the roads which create a waterfall over the edge. We would slowly drive through these creeks and see that the road is being eroded away by the water. Large rocks are on the side of the road from the mountains above.
A lovely couple from Buenos Aires kind of took us under their wing for the day, he an ex teacher felt we needed help with everything. We probably did.
Lunch was in the small town of Cachi, I had some Quinoa and a salad and Doug tried goat stew. Both were okay but nothing we would want again.

This woman was in the main square banging the drum and chanting and then saying prayers for the tourists who visit.


The elevation is 8300 feet and to try and acclimatize our guide suggests we take coca leaves. We purchased a bag from one of the sellers around the square yesterday and you don't chew it but rather take three leaves, which look like fig leaves to me, and put them in your cheek. You keep them there for a couple of hours and then replace them with more.
They make you very thirsty however and so we went through a lot of water. They also act as a diuretic which can be inconvenient trying to find a place to pee in a desert with only small bushes and cactus.
The trip back had us in thick fog and pouring rain. The roads were one lane switchbacks through the mountains, so adding the fog and rain to that was un nerving. I was glad to be at the back of the van where I could not see anything. I slept most of the way back.

All in all an enjoyable but very long day, we did not get back until 7PM.


Day 46

Siesta time is in most cities in Argentina. In Salta everything except resteraunts pretty much close up between 1 and 5PM. After re opening they will stay open until 9. Restaurants don't open for dinner until 9PM and stay open until at least midnight.

Off of the main square are pedestrian streets which are like huge open malls. A big police presence, people on the sidewalks selling everything from socks and sunglasses to popcorn and cotton candy. It is like a mosh pit at a rock concert it is so crowded. Seriously, and this is on weekdays as well as weekends. So many people out shopping.

Argentinians are the most patient people on the planet I think. I mentioned the line ups for everything. Well tonight I found a blouse I wanted to buy, there was a huge lineup for the change rooms so I just tried it on over my top and decided to buy it.

There were three checkers at tills and each one had 20 people in line. The fellow who was checking out our line was so slow it was un real. But nobody got impatient or said anything, they all just stood and waited. I could use some of that in my life

I am dreaming in Spanish now. I don't understand anything that anyone is saying.

Day 47. Salinas Grande

At 7AM we were picked up by Lewis our driver in a Ford SUV for our tour north. Rather than come back to Salta we are taking our luggage and will stay in a town that is at the end of the tour. We are joined by two young girls, Kim age 20 from Switzerland and Isabel age 18 from Austria. They are lovely young women and as they speak English our driver gives the tour mostly in English.

Again we are traveling though the mountains and the scenery changes a half dozen times during the day. Unfortunately I think that the lovely meal that I had last night was not so lovely after all. I was sick as a dog all day today and it was not the best day to be spending 12 hours in a truck. Our driver was wonderful however and stopped many times for bathroom breaks where we could.
On the way we saw a lot of cactus again, many llamas, donkeys, horses and guanaco, which are smaller and more delicate looking than llamas

The elevation was up to 14,000 feet and at this point we went for a hike up a hill to see
some ruins of pre inca times. The ruins were fascinating and we even had two condors flying overhead. The elevation however was a bit tough, especially when I was not feeling well anyhow.
We stopped in a small town for lunch where Doug had a quinoa soup and a Llama stew which he said was good. I stuck to water.



We had a flat tire one the way down one of the gravel roads. We were wondering what would happen if we had another, as we only had one spare and we did not pass too many other vehicles out here.



Our final destination of Salinas Grande was fantastic. It looked like a huge lake frozen over with ice. It is however solid salt, meters deep. Walking on it is a bit unnerving, I kept expecting the ice to crack as there is a layer of water on the top.

They extract salt from the lake as well as lithium. Borax is also mined in the area as well.




Purmamarca was over the mountain and 40 minutes away, our home for the next two nights. The hills are called the hills of 7 colors because of the many colors of the rocks. Our little cabin at the foot of the small mountain is just perfect and I was so happy to arrive and flake out in bed.
Doug went into the small town to have dinner but food was not in the cards for me today. I slept for a long time. It gets quite cold at night.


The last one is a copy of a post card because we could not stop the truck to take a picture.

Day 48 Purmamarca

A much better day for me today, thank goodness. I woke thinking I was in the Amazon, it sounded like parrots outside. Yes it was. Flocks of green parrots flying all over town. Strange really.

I just love this town. The population is 2000 and the elevation is now at 7625 feet. After breakfast we walked up into the hills for a hike for a couple of hours. One the many things in my shopping basket full of ailments is mild COPD, or lung disease. I have a hard time breathing when going up hill as it is, so throw in an 8000 ft attitude and it was a challenge to say the least. We stopped every few minutes to catch our breath, Doug felt a bit winded too, but not like me. It felt like I was hyperventilating and my arms and face were tingling. The sun was strong but not too hot. We were so lucky to have an almost cloud free day.

The scenery is gorgeous. After a while we reached the top and then I felt adjusted to the elevation. The trail did a loop and ended up on the other side of the town. The streets and shops are postcard prefect. Everything is in pristine condition and there are so many colorful goods for sale.
The main square is lined with tables of alpaca goods, hats, jewelry and trinkets. A tour bus has just arrived, a day trip from Salta most likely. After they leave the streets are quiet again, not many tourists here.


Tonight we will head back into town for dinner when the restaurants open at 830PM. It is hard to get used to eating so late.

So now it is off to Bolivia tomorrow. Don't Cry For Me Argentina, we had a great time in your country.

Posted by debbep 18:38 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Buenos Aires and Cordoba

sunny 28 °C

Day 30, Feb 01, 2014. Buenos Aires

10AM was our scheduled departure time from the ship and we walked down the gangway to pouring rain. A tent was set up at the bottom where umbrellas were handed out. Yesterday when we returned to the ship in the sweltering heat we were given ice cold towels. Nice touch.

A waiting bus took us to the terminal where we found our luggage and grabbed a cab to our hotel.

The sidewalk in front of our hotel was torn up and three men were working in front of the entrance doors. Our hotel staff greeted us and apologized profusely for the inconvenience of no electricity. in the middle of the night the lines 'blew up' and they were now fixing them and should be done in a few hours. I have heard this story before and was concerned it could turn in to days.

The manager assured us that this happens quite often. The electrical lines are old and rather than maintain them the city electrical company decided to just fix them as they break.

We are given a candle and are shown to our room on the second floor. It is a lovely room and we are glad that it is not has hot as yesterday as the air conditioning is not working.

Soon after we grabbed a cab and headed back to Recoleta to the 'Belle Arts Museum' (museum of fine arts). Not having any expectations we are blown away by this small building.
Admission is free and although there were three floors, the second is under construction.

Starting on the third floor we find ourselves at a temporary exhibit called 'Madre"
Large black and white photos in three rooms of the faces of women aged 50-70 I would guess. They are the mothers of young people, mostly boys, who went missing after a demonstration in the 70s. I have never seen portrait photography this amazing and so sorry that I did not bring my camera. The expressions on their faces and in their eyes was so moving.

Downstairs contains a very impressive collection of wonderful Argentine art as well as many of the European masters which was a surprise. Rembrandt, Goya, Mattise, and Van Gogh just to name a few. There was a very strong connection to Europe in the arts.

Later in the evening we walked the pedestrian mall, Florida Street, to people watch and get some exercise. The rain was merely spitting now and the temperature comfortable.

Dinner was at a restaurant near our hotel and we went back there twice more during our time here.

I had a salad and Doug ordered a steak. Argentina is known for it's beef, free range and grass fed it did not disappoint. Covering the plate it was about 10 inches long and 5 inches wide. The cost for his meal, with salad was only $13.

Cattle ranching is becoming less and less in Argentina. One of the last places where cows are able to graze the fields freely is not as lucrative as growing soybeans. Per square foot you produce more soybeans than beef on the land here. The future is unclear for the beef industry.

Day 31.

We walked for hours exploring our area. A church and then the Parliament buildings were in the first area we stopped. There is so much history here and there were large pictures of many of Argentinas past leaders hanging in the Parliament. There was even a picture of Che Gueverra. I had my pictures taken with these two guards but it is quite fuzzy.


I had really hoped to be able to see a concert at the Opera house but it seems that the entire city of Buenos Aires almost closes shop in February. It is the equivalent to our August and many locals go to the beach or mountains to escape the heat.

We opted for a tour of the building instead and it was fantastic.

Our guide, Emmanuel, was a student there and was very informative and had a great sense of humor. The theatre took over 32 years to build and seemed to have a bit of a curse on it, so they thought. The first two architects died at the age of 44 as did a few of the workers. From then on any worker about to turn 44 would quit. It took a lot of convincing to finally find a third to finish the job. He was told he would be safe as he was age 65, but taking no chances he said he would do it but not take a salary.

When it finally opened, the price of a ticket to a show was about three months salary of an average worker. It was a place where the rich and politicians would come. Most people came to the Opera house, not for the show, but to be seen and to see who was there and what they were wearing.
The building itself is very ornate and beautiful but not gaudy. It reminded us of a combination of the Hermitage and Marinski Theatre in St. Petersburg.

Every chair, drape, carpet and piece of wood was designed in a way to accentuate the acoustics. When you hear a show at the Opera house it is unlike any show you have ever been to according to our guide. He was so passionate about this place. If I were to ever come back to Buenos Aires I would plan it around a concert here.

Day 32

Today we explored the area of San Telmo. Yesterday Buenos Aires was like a ghost town, there were only tourists on the street as it was Sunday. The day before it was the same. It seems that in Buenos Aires people love to go out at night, and they don't start until midnight and go to 4 or so in the morning. So on Saturday and Sunday a great deal of the shops are closed and everyone except the tourists, are sleeping

Today however is Monday and the streets are packed with people. Argentina is in a financial crisis right now. The peso has dropped considerably since we have arrived. You would never know it however, the locals are still out with lots of bags of their purchases and filling cafes and restaurants.

We are only able to withdraw $1,000 pesos a day, the equivalent of $140 CAD which is inconvenient and expensive with the service charges added to each withdrawal.

Police have a very big presence and almost every store has a security guard. We have never felt unsafe however. We find the people here all extremely friendly and helpful when asked questions. A young man from Belgium who is staying at our hotel remarked how the Argentinians are so relaxed and laid back. No one is stressed out. It is true, they never seem in a hurry, I have never heard a raised voice or cross word from or to anyone.

When two people meet they do the fake kiss on the cheek. Co workers, people who know each other on the street, men to men, women to women etc. Everybody seems generally happy to see someone they know.

Line ups are for everything. In the morning we see maybe 100 people or more lined up at the insta banks all over town. There are even more lined up inside. Line ups for grocery lines, movie theatres, and post offices. But no one ever complains or looks annoyed. You never hear anyone say
"Come on......hurry up already!!" They all just stand and patiently wait.

San Telmo is an area of antique stores. Items are sold in areas here. If you want appliances you go to one area of Buenos Aires, another for cameras, somewhere else for eyeglasses etc.

Here were many antique shops. Most were closed today however as yesterday, Sunday, was a big day for a lot of antique flea markets in the streets etc.

Lunch was at a square where two young people were dancing the tango for donations. They were quite good, but on the cruise ship we were fortunate to have a couple who performed a number of times for us and I can not imagine anyone could be better than they were.




Day 33

Palermo Soho was the place we explored today. It was quite a distance so we ventured onto the subway to take us there, which is very inexpensive to ride.

After walking around for a few hours we went into a botanical park which was an oasis in the middle of all the traffic and heat.

We see people all over with cups full of green leaves and a metal straw coming out that they suck on. It looks like a big Sherlock Holmes pipe. We thought it was a drug pipe, pot or something, and were thinking how liberal they are here. Old and young were using these early morning until late afternoon.

I saw two girls on a park bench chatting and indulging so I went up and asked. They thought it was quite funny that I thought it was pot. It is Yerba Matte tea.
They put the tea in the cup, pour hot water over top from the ever present thermos and then drink through the straw. You can not get these in cafes, only use your own. As a matter of fact you can not buy a cup of Yerbe matte tea in any cafe.

Back to the hotel on the subway. It was so hot out, over 33 and 100% humidity. The subway was packed to the gunnels. It was a sardine can sauna. No one else had a bead of sweat on them and I looked like I just stepped out of the shower. How do they do that, look so cool all the time?


Day 34.

Another day of walking the city. We purchased bus tickets for our trip north tomorrow.
I mentioned how wide the roads are here, but last night when we were walking I counted. You can not cross on one light, it takes at least three of the six total to make it.

There are five lanes of traffic going east, then a boulevard and a walk sign. Then four more going east, two bus lanes going east, then two more going west. Another boulevard and a walk sign. Then 4 lanes west, boulevard and then 5 west. A grand total of 22 lanes in the city. This is only a few blocks from our hotel and not a freeway.

You really have to look both ways here to get across without getting run over.

Day 35, Feb 5.

The bus to Salta left on time at 10:30AM . Travel by bus in Argentina is like travelling by plane. We purchased the more expensive seats ($10 more) for the downstairs part of the double decker bus. The seats are two across, an aisle and then one single seat. They are wider than normal and recline 150degrees. With only four rows downstairs it will be quieter and the bathroom is on this floor as well. You can almost lie down in the seats and there is a foot rest.

The bad thing is of course that the seat in front of you also reclines 150 degrees.A young girl and her grandma sat in front of us and grandma had her head in my lap it seemed pretty much the entire trip.

The air conditioning stopped working about a half hour into the trip. It was so hot it became unbearable. The 10 hour journey was not as enjoyable as I had hoped.

Day 36. Cordoba.

Cordoba is a city with four Universities. Unlike Buenos Aires the sidewalks are in good repair and there is no garbage in the streets. There are a few older buildings but for the most part it is very modern and young looking. We walked every day for four or five hours to explore

Day 37.

We are staying in a hotel that encourages families and there are many young children and babies with their parents. It is great to hear young children playing and having fun. The other hotels were so quiet where people barely spoke at breakfast.
Again we walk the city but it is very hot.


This statue is an optical illusion. The statue is actually two feet above the water.

Day 38

I am so tired of wearing the same clothes day in and day out. A large, air conditioned, mall was nearby by so I went to look for a new top or blouse. Every store int he building was very small and the clothes hung perfectly on the racks with spaces in between. They all looked like very exclusive boutiques from West Van or Robson Street. .
These little boutiques also had every size, up to size 6. The fashions were all geared to the young thin student. I am not sure where the fat people that I see shop, they must send them all out of town, as I have never seen any clothes over size 8 since we have been here.

Day 39.

Yesterday we took all of our clothes, pretty much everything, to a laundromat around the corner from our hotel. He said they would be ready at 7:30PM. The sign on the wall said ' Monday to Sunday, 9AM to 8PM'
We showed up at 7:45P and he was closed. The sign on the door had something different. Monday to Friday, 9-7:30P. Yesterday was Friday. We have a bus ticket for Salta on Sunday. Well that sucks.
We figured that four days was already one day too many for Cordoba and now we were here for one more. Thankfully we could extend our stay here one more night.

Another very hot day. We went to a movie at the mall, (air conditioned). It was '12 Years A Slave' , an amazing movie.

Day 40.

Cooler and rainy today. We went for a walk and later back the the movie theatre to watch 'August' with Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. Another amazing movie.

Day 41.

Standing in front of the laundromat at 9AM we were so worried that the fellow would not show up on time. We changed our bus tickets to leave today and only had a one hour window. A flood of relief when we saw him walk up at 9:15.
Our 10:30 bus never left until 11:30AM. We used a different company this time and got the two seats at the front which was much better. This bus has a steward who served a small lunch and keeps the bathroom cleanish,although sitting at the front meant we could smel the unpleasant bathroom during the trip. My only complaint.

Movies play on the bus. The first one was 'My name is Khan' which we had wanted to see for a few years now. Great movie. The second one was ' 12 Years A Slave' !' I worked on my blog and slept through most of that one as we had just seen it.

One reason we took the bus was to see the scenery but the steward came back and asked us to close our curtains to keep it cool on the bus.

There were non stop movies. We also saw three more, two really bad ones with terrible swearing, 'Heat' with Sandra Bullock and then the 'Internship 'with Vince Vaughn and finally ' Despicable Me ' which had Spanish subtitles and was also in Spanish.
I read , played solitaire and slept through the last few.

We were served an airline style dinner and finally arrived in Salta at 1AM. We are going to spend a week here I think. We have a lovely one bedroom modern apartment and the elevation is now at 3700 feet. We hope to climb gradually before reaching La Paz which is at 14,000 feet.

The weather looks good outside so now we are off to explore the north of Argentina.

Posted by debbep 18:41 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Cruise around Cape Horn in South America

Day 18.
Hurry up and wait. Max and Anne, the Aussies, joined us for breakfast again and we sat and talked for over an hour. They were great company in the morning and we will miss them. Check out time was noon so we took our time packing and enjoyed lounging in the room and surfing the free wifi.

Down the hill for a small lunch and then we hung out in the park to people watch until 2:30PM. There was a very large police presence and barricades being put up for the race in a few hours. The Dakar race moved to South America five years ago because the drivers were being shot at in Dakar. This will be the first year that it finishes in Valparaiso.

Our taxi picked us up at 3:15 which was great and we say our goodbyes to Uve, our hostess. Our driver took us down the hill and the opposite way from where we thought we should go. We just needed to trust however that he knew where he was going.

Arriving at a large warehouse looking building on the water we see many people milling about and a young man with a trolley comes to collect our suitcases.

Princess Cruises? I ask

Yes seƱora.

He left with our bags and we went to the lineups to check in and deal with paperwork. At the end of the building we were directed outside where we find a large bus.
Oh, that is why I can not see the ship.
It was in the Port that we thought it was at after all, they just don't have enough room for the processing there. The road to the ship hugged the coast so the Dakar race barricades were not an issue and we arrived and boarded the ship in no time.

Our room is located mid ship on the 11th floor and is lovely. Smaller than our last cabin but that is because we have a balcony this time.

We just had dinner at the buffet and then explored the ship for an hour or so. A talk about the ports we will be visiting was being held so we attended that for 45 minutes and then to our cabin to unpack. Ah, unpacking everything in our suitcase for 2 weeks. What a treat.


Day 19. Sunday Jan 19th.

A light breakfast at the buffet and then I went to join in the Zumba class. The instructor was very high energy and a lot of fun. This was the most intense Zumba class I have ever done and he also threw in a couple of Bollywood dances as well which I loved. I was exhausted at the end, but in a good way. I look forward to it again in two days.

Doug and I sat in on a basic Spanish class. They will happen for the two weeks and get harder as we go along. It was good because he told us how the same word is pronounced differently in Mexico, Spain and South America.

The dining room was open for lunch so we chose a table for 8 and were joined by 6 others. Two separate couples from the States, one originally from southern India, and two women from Israel now living in Toronto. We had a pleasant lunch and it was great to meet new people.

On our way back to the room we realize how hot it is outside and decided to take advantage of the weather and enjoy one of the four pools on board. The one by the gym was adult only and no one was in it. We found out why. It was not heated and quite cool to say the least, but once in it was very refreshing.

We flaked out in the room for a few hours and then Doug was happy to find that the football games were on our tv and also in the lounge and outdoor theatre . I sat on the deck and listened to music and played solitaire on my iPad quite happily.

Tonight is formal wear night, but we just went up for a buffet diner at half time so that Doug could get back to his game. I went off to a show in the theatre of dancers and singers but found it rather boring I am afraid. The costumes and talent were good, but I felt like I was at a Lawrence Welk Show. Not my thing.

I was going to hang out in the lounge area but everyone was dressed to the nines, except me, and I felt a little out of place so I went to the room and watched a movie while Doug watched the second football game on the big screen by the pool.

Day 18.
Port Day. The morning finds us at Puerto Mont, Chile. We can not dock here as they don't have a pier big enough, so they 'tender' you in. This means that they anchor out in the harbour and you board the covered life boats to get ashore.

As we just spent 8 days in this area we decided to stay on board today and continue to relax. Doug got a haircut and I am working on my blog. Any more relaxed and I may be comatose.

This cruise is quite different from the last one. For one thing there are a lot of South Americans on board. Now why that would surprise me I don't know. But a lot of folks don't speak any English. Everything on the ship is written in English but a lot of the verbal talks are English and Spanish.

Not as many Americans it appears. A number of Canadians and Europeans (mainly English and Swiss) but a lot of people from Argentina it seems
Most people are fit, some very thin, and it seems to be more formal and quieter than the last one. The ship has 2500 passengers and it is easier to get around than the Carnival cruise. It is very crowded as the ship is sold out. As a matter of fact it must have been oversold, as we got an offer to change to next year that was quite inviting, but the email came where we were already in Santiago.

The staff on the other ship were from all over the world. On this one they are predominately from the Philippines with some from Peru, Mexico and Thailand.
Apparently Filipino and Spanish are similar and therefore a lot of the staff speak Spanish as well as English.
I will reserve my final review at the end of the 14 days however.

Most days are similar. Breakfast, then I go to a Zumba class, Spanish lessons and there are some educational talks on the landscape history and animals of Patagonia which is very interesting. Lunch followed by a decaf cappuccino in the lounge and then a few hours in the cabin napping.
Dinner is in the dining room where we sit with 6 new people each night which is usually good, and then some form of entertainment such as a dancing/singing show or game show. Back to the cabin to read, sleep and start it all again the next day.

Port days of course add a diversion to the itinerary.

Today the ship was really rocking. Up until this point it was almost like glass, you could hardly tell we were on a ship.
We were in very rough waters now and at times the ship was creaking and groaning so much it felt like it may snap if half. But of course it didn't, it is quite used to these waters. But I am not. Surprisingly I am not sea sick and quite enjoying the big waves. Who knew?

Day 20.
I woke at 4:30AM and the ship was still. We had stopped and I opened the curtains to see a land mass beside us but it was too dark to make out.

I had set the alarm for 7A but at 6:30 I heard the captain come over the loudspeaker in the hall way. We had arrived at Amalia Glacier early. Opening the curtains revealed a large glacier a short distance from our ship. Big pieces of ice were floating by.

Quickly getting dressed we went out onto our balcony and marvelled at the amazing scenery. Today alone was worth the price of a balcony stateroom. We cruised very slowly by and then the captain did a 360 so the people on the other side could see as well. Gorgeous. The waters are very calm here.

Not so this afternoon. We went out on deck 7 and the ship was being pounded by the huge waves. It was so windy that we could barely get the doors open. It was very exciting.


Day 21. Port Day. Punta Arenas.

Again the ship anchored out and this time we did go ashore and climbed onto the tender for the 10 minute ride to the dock.

We had not purchased a shore excursion and had planned on just walking around the town. A young man met us outside the pier and suggested a taxi to Otway Sound to see the penguins. There were two women from England there as well, so the four of us shared a cab for the one hour trip, mostly by dirt road, to the Sound.

We were so happy that we made this decision. At the end of the road we had to get out and walk for a km along the ocean on boardwalk paths. The scenery was breathtaking. A very harsh and windy area means that the vegetation is very low to the ground and colors of yellows greens with patches of white and blue flowers.

Magellanic penguins were right beside us. They are known as the jackass penguins, not because they are so funny, which they are, but because they bray just like donkeys. Chicks are two months old and almost as big as the parents but have a fluffy brown down and look very fat. They will be fed until March and then the parents will take to the waters again and leave them behind to fend for themselves. At this point their down will be gone and they will be able to swim and leave shortly after.

The male penguins will come back to the site in the Spring (our Fall), a month before the females to get the nest ready. They have 'burrows' in the ground and the males spend time cleaning them out and making a nice home for the little woman. When she arrives on the beach somehow she will find her mate from among the thousands who are there and then she inspects the new home. If she does not approve, she will go off and find someone else with a nicer home for her and the new family. So they mate for life, as long as he can provide a good home to her liking.

A few hours were spent in town walking through the Plaza de Armas and then to a very modern hotel for some lunch and free wifi before catching the tender back to the ship.


Day 22. Port Day, Ushuaia.

We did not arrive at port until noon so we enjoyed breakfast lunch and Zumba beforehand. The ship was able to dock today so we walked down the gangway and the pier into the town. We are now in Argentina. Having not made any plans we went ashore to see if we could arrange to join a tour to the national park. No such luck, they had all left.
A taxi stand was close by and as we were looking at the rates a young man said "hello" in English.
" Are you a driver?" I ask.
Yes Mam
" And you speak English?" Hooray. We arranged a price for a few hours and he drove us through the national park dropping us off in areas so we could do some small hikes in the hills and along the lakes.
You can find many t shirts and hats with " fin del mundo" or 'end of the world ' printed on them. This is where the Alaska highway ends and is the southernmost city before Antarctica.

There are a number of fox walking around, looking for handouts from the tourists. They are about the size of a labrador dog and beautiful colors of reds and browns. I actually had a fox fur coat that looked exactly like that when I was in my 20s and living in Alberta. I felt so guilty looking at this beautiful animal, thinking that he must know and was looking at me saying "murderer!!"
I have seen the light since then Mr. Fox.

We are in mid summer here. The temperature is 12C and when the wind is not blowing it is quite pleasant. The average high is 18-20C and the winters get down to -10C. The many lakes we see are rarely swam in as they are all glacier fed. Ushuaia is at the foot of very rugged mountains with the Pacific Ocean on the other side of the city. The town of 100,000 relies solely on tourism.

Beaver were brought here from Canada in the 1800s to breed for the fur trade. The fur changed in this climate however so the fur was not good to use. With no natural predator there are now many beaver and they wreak havoc on the forests and rivers cutting down trees and damming rivers. Bloody Canadians!


Day 23. Cape Horn.
What a rough night. It felt like the ship was being assaulted from all sides at points. The winds were over 80 miles an hour and waves coming from a different direction at times.

Woke a few times in the night to take some ginger pills to settle my queasiness. I had a bit of a panicked moment at times but remembered that the captain has done this many times.

Coffee arrived at our room at 7AM and we sat in our cabin and watched as we went around the Horn. I did not realize that Cape Horn is an island just below the tip of South America. It was named after a Dutch business man who sent his son on a ship here and was one of the first to successfully go around it.

The land is very barren, a light house is at the end and the huge waves are crashing on the rocks. I can imagine being in a much smaller wooden sailing ship of years gone by. The wind is howling and all the outer decks are closed to passengers. Once again we are so happy with ourselves that we splurged on a balcony as we sit in our bathrobes, drinking our coffee and watching as we sail around the Horn.

We are crossing from the Atlantic to the Pacific and back to the Atlantic.

Once we round the corner a ways the seas die down. The captain came on and said that the last few crossings have been very calm and that we were lucky to have experienced the real feel of rounding the Horn. I agree, now that it has calmed down.

Tradition has it that sailors who survived the trip would get one ear pierced and have a free drink a the next stop. I am trying to convince Doug that he needs to pierce one ear to commemorate achieving his goal of sailing around the Horn.


Day 24. The Falkland Islands.

Once again we are tendered in. The ship anchored quite a ways off land and we were very lucky that the seas were fairly calm this morning. Quite often the shore excursions are cancelled because of high seas. On one occasion the passengers got ashore but had to overnight as the tenders could not get them back.

The morning started off with a drizzle but improved as the day went on. Summer weather of a pleasant 13C but a very strong wind made it feel cooler at times.

The main town of Stanley has around 1500 residents with another 1000 living on the outlying farms. Sheep farming is the main industry followed by tourism during the summer months of November to March.
A very barren looking island. Not much in the way of any vegetation other than low ground cover.
The island is British and feels as though you are in a small English seaside town. The British flag is flying and there are lovely flower gardens in front of the modest homes.
The cars drive on the left, the currency is the British pound and folks speak with a proper English accent.

In Argentina you need to refer to this as "the Malvinas" and not the Falklands. The 'conflict' in 1982 between Argentina and England left casualties on both sides, but mostly on the Argentine side. There is a long history here of different counties laying claim to this land. I am personally not sure why anyone would want to live here, but that is just my opinion.

We had arranged a tour through the ship and 14 others joined us on a van which took us out to a sheep farm where we transferred to four waiting 4x4s. The terrain was very rough and nothing short of this land rover would make the journey without getting stuck in the huge potholes and fields of mud. We are travelling over miles of sheep grazing area and going no more than 10 miles an hour. I sat in the front and asked our driver, Mike, many questions about life on the Falklands. There is not much grown here so everything is imported and very expensive. They don't eat much in the way of fruit or vegetables so I would not do well here at all.

Oil exploration is coming to the Falklands, with an offshore drill to be located south of the island within the next couple of years. The population is divided on whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Finally, feeling banged and bruised, we arrive at our destination. The coast line of Berkeley Sound is home to a rookery of Rockhopper penguins. These are the smallest of penguins, only around 21 inches high and weighing in at 5 lbs.

Most of the adults are out fishing and will return later in the day to regurgitate their un digested fish to feed the babies.
A few dozen adults are left to be the 'babysitters' to the hundreds of brown fluffy chicks. Born in December a lot are already moulting much of their down and getting ready to leave the nest in March. The parents will leave first and then the babies will follow. They stay in the water until November when they come back to nest again. Mating for life they always come back to the same place.

Not a pleasant smelling animal that is for sure. These guys have a chirping sound and get their name because they hop from rock to rock with great agility. Yellow eyebrows and head feathers set the Rockhopper apart from the others and they are quite endearing. A rope is laid on the ground and we must stay on one side of it. The penguins however are very curious and they don't follow the rules, coming right up to us. I was crouched down taking a picture when one came right up looking into my camera lens.
It was so windy that my camera was bouncing around while I was trying to video, but we really enjoyed our time here.

The hour passed far too quickly and then we had to make the rough trip back to the farm and then to Stanley. After exploring the town for a couple of hours we made our way back to the ship on the tender. We were so fortunate to have such a calm and almost sunny day.

Day 25.
Sea day. A relaxing day meeting more new people. Breakfast was spent with a hilarious couple from New York.
Our lecture today was on the life of Evita, or Eva Peron which was great as I am currently reading her biography. I guess I don't need to finish the book now as I know how it ends.
Doug went to an art history lesson and I went to Zumba.

Day 26. Puerto Madryn Argentina.

Last night at dinner the captain came over the loud speaker which was unusual. By the tone of his voice I thought he was going to tell us we were sinking or boarded by pirates or something.
He informed us that the dock workers in Puerto Madryn are striking and although we will be able to get off the ship they will not let us back on! Our stop there has been cancelled and he decided that instead we will have another sea day today and then an extra day in Montevideo Uruguay.
This is just fine with us as we were not really excited about the stop anyhow.

Spent the day relaxing and I got a haircut. Formal night tonight so we got to wear the outfit we have been packing around for the past month. We are going to ditch them now. Doug's suit jacket and my skirt and top will be left on board.

Day 27, Montevideo Uruguay.

Time change last night. We lost an hour so my Zumba class this morning seemed very early.
Our ship docked at noon and after lunch we wandered into town to do a self guided walking tour for a few hours. This is a very old city and it must have a real connection to Coca Cola because I have never seen so many Coke signs or paraphernalia anywhere else.

The president of Uruguay is quite the guy. He drives an old VW, lives in a modest home, refusing to live in the palace, never wears a suit and donates all his salary to charity. He is in his second term of 5 years.

Over a million and a half people live in Montevideo and one of a few cities in South America that does not have a 'shanty town' around it. There are a number of pedestrian walkways lined with palm trees, many old colonial style buildings and it feels safe to walk here. The humidity is 100% today and although not too hot it is very close feeling.


Day 28, Montevideo

The hop on hop off bus started it's route very close to the cruise terminal so after breakfast we walked out to catch the 10AM bus. We did not get off but rather did the entire 2 1/2 hour trip. Montevideo is huge, and there is lots of traffic on the roads. Beautiful parks, lovely buildings and a few beaches were passed on our tour. The commentary was informative and we enjoyed the day.

The plan was to come back to stay five nights in Montevideo after we spent a few nights in Buenos Aires but we cancelled our reservation. We felt that we had seen enough for now and did not want to spend a day travelling back again.

Back to the ship to relax and start packing. We are reaching the end of our cruise already. Our luggage has to be out in the hall before 6PM tomorrow, but we will be in Buenos Aires all day so started tonight.

We sat out on our deck as we sailed away at 5PM towards Argentina. We will put our clocks back again tonight.

Day 29, Buenos Aires.

This massive city comes into view early this morning as we go out onto our balcony. 9AM finds us on a hop on hop off bus to explore the city. I don't think that either of us have ever been to such a huge city before. Buenos Aires has a population of over 11 million people and the city is spread out over many miles. Some of the main city streets are 10 lanes wide with millions of cars, busses and trucks.

It is hot. 89% humidity but the temperature is in the mid 30s. We sat on the top of the open air bus and looked forward to going down the shady tree lined streets. Buenos Aires as many different neighbour hoods and we hopped off at the Recoleta area. During the time of Eva Peron this was where you knew you 'made it' if you hung your hat in an apartment here.

A very charming area with a lovely park and an art museum we will come back to see. We stopped for a very refreshing iced leamonaid in a lovely little cafe and then went across the street to visit the Recoleta cemetery.

Similar to the cemeteries in New Orleans, the graveyard was full of above ground crypts. But this was like a city with old crypts that reminded me of the small temples in Burma, up to modern granite ones with glass doors and stairs down to the crypt.

A lot of money was spent in here, it was truly amazing. There are many trees and it looks like a park.
Eva Peron is buried here with her family under her maiden name Duarte.

Back on to the bus we decided to check out where our hotel is located and walked around that area for a bit. We are happy with the location.

A very long and hot ride back to the cruise terminal and after a rest and dinner we went up on the pool deck and watched an outdoor movie. The breeze made it very pleasant.

This is the last night on the ship. We sailed 4606 miles on this trip and saw some amazing scenery. We will miss the comfort of our room and having all our meals brought to us, our room cleaned for us every day and not having to drive anywhere. I can see the allure of cruising.
I just figured it out.....food cooked for you, your room cleaned, never having to drive anywhere. It's like being a kid again.

Now we will explore Argentina.

Posted by debbep 17:56 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 3 of 3) Page [1]