Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Antarctic Adventure #19 - BA to Iguassu Falls, 31 Dec 2019

Antarctic Adventure #19 -BA to Iguassu, Falls, 31 Dec 2019

Woke to a beautiful sunny day in Buenos Aires.  Another early morning, we had to have our luggage out of the room by 8:20am, but we elected to leave our bags at the hotel & just take some carry on for our 2 nights in Iguassu Falls.

 As our bus departed the Panomerican Hotel, we saw crowds of people & realized they were all gathering for a big outdoor New Year's Celebration.  Shame to miss that!
 Flew out of the International Airport again, but we made it there easily - no traffic on this holiday morning.

It was an easy 2 hour flight from Buenos Aires, north to Iguassu.  Landing you could see that this is the greenest place in the world!  We landed and had stairs to walk into the airport.  Just as we got inside, the skies opened up & it poured!  But by the time we got our luggage to go to the bus, it had stopped & the sun was back out!

Our local guide, Romera, met us with the bus at the Iguassu Airport.  First thing she taught us was that Iguassu is a native name meaning "Big Water."  It certainly is that!!!  This is our second visit - we were here in 2016 as a pre-trip to the Wilderness Patagonia trip.  As we crossed the bridge of the Iguassu River, which is the border of Brazil & Argentina, she pointed out how the barriers are painted - blue/white on the Argentine side, green/yellow on the Brazil side. 

 We drove straight across the border into Brazil so we could explore that side before dinner tonight.  It's a short trip, only 2 nights here.  Can't waste anytime!  Took a while to get through immigration to leave Argentina & then to pass into Brazil.  We never even had to get out of the bus - Romera did it all for us.  We were grabbing a snack at the Brazilian Iguassu Falls National Park Visitor's center by 4pm!  I immediately got to start my Iguassu bird list with this pretty guy.  Still trying to ID him. 

More later, but wanted to wish everyone Happy New Year!  We are enjoying our 30th Anniversary out on our balcony at Iguassu Falls, Argentina  It's been a beautiful day.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Antarctic Adventure #18 - off the boat & back to Buenos Aires, 30 Dec 2019

Antarctic Adventure #18 - Off the Boat & back to Buenos Aires, 30 Dec 2019

 Can't believe we're back in the real world.  Wow!  This adventure was incredibly special.  Still have a few days left - we spend the last 2 nights at Iguassu Falls.  Today we had a very early morning, up at 4:30am!  The morning at Ushuaia was incredible.  50 degrees & blue skies.  Calm too. 

  Off the boat by 7am & headed to the airport.  Couldn't stop snapping pictures.  What a day in Ushuaia.  Wish we had another couple of days here.

Flew back to Buenos Aires.  

Landed to 85 & rain.  Very rough flight - felt like we were back doing the Drake Shake!  Too funny!  But we were all groggy anyway.

Just here for 1 night, but they gave us another incredible room (almost said cabin!).  On the 11th floor with a view of the Obelisk.  Gonna spend a quiet night & flying to Iguassu tomorrow morning.  Gonna try & get some of the previous blog pictures loaded since I have fast internet here!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Antarctica Adventure #17 - Beagle Channel, 28 Dec 2019

Antarctica Adventure #17 - Beagle Channel, 28 Dec 2019

Can't believe it's already the last day of our expedition.  We have anchored in the Beagle Channel - The port of Ushuaia is full due to the high winds.  Some boats can't leave.  Claudia told us that just outside the channel, the winds are gusting to 60 knots!  That's where we were supposed to be.  Inside the channel it is windy, but nothing like that - probably 10 to 15 knots.  Lots of white caps, but it's close to 50 degrees!  Still hoping to see some dolphins before we disembark tomorrow!

I haven't said anything before about our meals on board.  Both breakfast & lunch were buffet.  And what a buffet!  In the mornings we could get eggs done anyway we wanted, besides all the fruit, sweet rolls, a special dish each day like Eggs Benedict or French toast, several choices of breads, muffins, cereals, or bagels.  Then at lunch there was always some sort of pasta, a hot open faced sandwich, & usually 3 meat dishes besides the salad options.   Even though we were pretty much at full capacity (98 passengers & I think 78 crew), there were plenty of places to sit.

 Claudia gave us our disembarkation briefing & also handed out our certificates for both landing on the Antarctic Peninsula (we got to do it twice!!!) and for surviving the Drake Passage - both ways!

 During the afternoon, a lot of us enjoyed wandering the outside decks - drinking in the sunshine & listening to our Excursion Leaders talk about various topics.  Dani gave us some history about Darwin's voyage - had no idea that both he & the Captain were only 25 years old.  Hard to imagine they could accomplish so much at such a young age!  Took lots of pictures - the beauty was simply amazing.

Chilean Skua - kind enough to sit quietly so we could get close up pictures!
 Tried to take lots of bird pictures, but they just wouldn't cooperate.  Mostly saw the Black Browed Albatross, Antarctic Terns, Chilean Skua, & Kelp Gulls.
The ships flag is from Malta.  They said it was mostly for tax purposes.  Certainly looked beautiful against the blue & white sky.
We had a Captain's Bon Voyage Cocktail party.  He made a nice speech thanking us for joining him & the crew on the voyage.  They gave away a gorgeous map with the route, signed by all 4 of the Excursion leaders, all 4 OAT Trip Experience Leaders, the Captain & his top department leaders, and it was all done in caligraphy free handed by Iggy - on of the Excursion Leaders.  Wish I could have gotten a close up of it - truly a special gift.

 Our last dinner on board was fabulous.  Among other choices (grilled prawn, Indian, a pasta dish), there was Filet Mignon!  It was awesome!  Way too many dessert choices, but most of us got Baked Alaska.  They had the standard parade of course.  Robert, the Hotel Department head even introduced the 2 Kitchen assistants (dish washers!).  He said that was how he had started many many years ago & he thought it was important to point out that regardless of how good everything else was, if you didn't have clean dishes, you couldn't serve anything!  How true How True!
Got a picture with our favorite young waiter, Oleksandr (called Sasha), from Kiev, Ukraine.  He was only 20 & was completing his 4 month of the standard 6 month contract.  He has an adorable 20 year old girlfriend back home that teaches English.

After we finished our leisurely last supper, the cabin attendants surprised us a display of all the cabin creatures they had been decorating the rooms with.  Amazing that such a small staff could do so very much!  I did complain to our attendant that he had never given us an alligator!  He said it required 5 towels to make it!

 We spent our last evening aboard dancing to our entertainer, Saul (pronounced SawUul).  He was amazing.  Loved the bar - no dance floor per say, but we danced on the carpet all around.  He was very eccletic with his music.  Covered all the bases, but we particularly liked the Cha & the Social Fox.
There was another boat anchored with us in the channel.  Maria mentioned the next morning that it was a traffic jam in the Beagle Channel & she had never experienced that before!
Took one last photo before closing the curtains in our cabin.  What a glorious evening.  We had to wait until about midnight to leave for Ushuaia.  Totally smooth sailing, we weren't even aware of any movement.  Supposedly docked sometime during the early morning.