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South American Explorer

Vantage Deluxe World Travel

January 26 - February 17, 2005

 

This travel adventure started out in a snow storm.  It had snowed

for several days in Owego.   I had to use the snow blower to clean

the drive way so my friend Russ could get near the house to pick

me up for my ride to the airport.  There was about 12-15 inches

of the white stuff the morning of the January 26th.  It was a great

day to travel to South America and warm weather.

My flight schedule took me from Binghamton to Washington first,

then a short hop to Atlanta.  My flight to Buenos Aires left Atlanta at

8:40 pm.  This nine hour over night flight arrived at Buenos Aires,

where it was sunny and in the mid 80's at 8:35 am.  Not a bad

change in weather!

 

The tour Route

 

This is the Marriott Plaza Hotel where I stayed for the first three

nights of this trip.  It was a grand old hotel located in downtown

Buenos Aires.  The temperature was in the low 90's when

I arrived on the 27th.

 

On the afternoon of the first day, we had the traditional

city tour by bus.  Buenos Aires is a beautiful clean city with

many sights to see.

The entrance to the Recoleta Cemetery. This was our first stop

on the tour. There were hundreds of mausoleums in this cemetery.

Many famous citizens were buried here.

This is the Duarte family mausoleum where Eva

Duarte de Peron is entombed.  It is a very popular spot to visit

in the cemetery.

This mausoleum is a family tribute to a daughter who passed

away at a young age.  There are flowers everywhere

in the cemetery.

The pink building in the rear of the photo is the Government

house or Casa Rosado, the Presidential Palace.  The balcony in the

middle on the second floor is where the Peron's addressed

the people of Argentina.  The movies Evita also used this building

as a set for speeches of Evita Peron (Mondona).

Looking across Plaza de Mayo at the Banco Nacion.  The Piramide

De Mayo is in the front of the picture, it was the first monument

erected in the city in 1811.  The plaza is the site of frequent

demonstrations by the citizens, mainly women.  The afternoon

we were there our city guide moved us rapidly through our

sightseeing as there was a rumored demonstration planned for 5 pm. 

The people were demonstrating for information about the

disastrous night club fire that occurred last December.  There were

barricades store nearby and as we left many policeman

were assembling. 

Colorful buildings and shops are found throughout the La Boca

district.  There were many open air cafes long its busy streets.

This is a photo of one of the original harbors in Buenos Aires. 

It has been replaced by several new harbors designed

for today's ocean ship traffic. 

Standing in front of a La Boca district bar.  It was very tempting

to go in for a quick one.

Day two of the trip begins with a bus ride to a side trip to

an estancia (ranch) in the beautiful countryside of Argentina. 

We were greeted by a gaucho (cowboy).  We were give a

glass of wine upon arrival had time to look around the ranch. 

Some of our group opted for a wagon ride around the ranch

while others rode horseback.

This is not a gaucho!  This is as close as I got to horses.

After lunch we had a musical show featuring tango dancing

and songs of Argentina.

After the show, we were treated to a demonstration of gaucho

horsemanship as they herded groups of horses.  And lastly, the

gauchos performed the daring feats of horseback riding.  They

would ride at full speed while spearing a ring hung from the

frame in then picture. 

 

This trip end our day of sightseeing.  We had the evening free, so I

opted for a steak dinner at the Las Nazarene restaurant in

downtown Buenos Aires.  What a meal!  It was one of my

best ever.  I had a pound plus prime filet cooked to order. 

 It was so large I could not eat but half of it. The cost was

22 peso's or about $7.33.  The cigar I purchased for after my

meal cost more than the food and drinks I enjoyed. 

The 29th of January was a free day, so off I went to

sightsee and shop. 

The Southern Big Ben Tower in Buenos Aires.  Also know as

the British Tower.  After Argentina's defeat at the Falkland Islands

the tower became known as the Remembrance tower by some

citizens.  This tower is also known as Torre de los Ingleses; it

dominates Plaza Fuerza Aerea Argentina.  The photo is taken

a little on the crooked side.  It was the photographers fault. 

It is still an interesting building.

The War Memorial to the soldiers who lost their lives during the

Battle of the Falkland Islands.  Note the eternal flame on the wall

on the left side.

 

 

Across from my hotel was the Plaza San Martin.  It was a small but

busy plaza.  It was a favorite spot on their lunch hours.  Above is

the General Jose de San Martin monument located in the plaza.

There were many pieces of art that blended in with the 300 different

trees of species planted in the plaza.  Above is the sculpture

"The Doubt" by French sculptor Louis Cordier.

After our free day, we had a side trip to a Tango Show including

tango lessons and dinner.  It was a great evening and the photo

above shows a very talented couple doing their tango steps.

Downtown Buenos Aires, looking toward Calla Florida (street). 

The street is a pedestrian thoroughfare with many shops and

eating places.  It was fun to walk up and down Florida Street.

It is Sunday morning, January 30th, and we are leaving our hotel to

board the Norwegian Crown.  Due to the fact we cannot board until

after 3:00 pm, I have elected to take a side trip on the Tigre Delta. 

We traveled for an hour to a restaurant for lunch in a boat like the

one in the foreground.  This is the delta of the Parana River which

 flows into the Rio de la Plata. 

This is a museum that has covered a typical River Delta House

or Camp to preserve it for future generations.

The restaurant we dined at we had a very good meal.

The water was cocoa brown all the time.  As we sailed up the delta we passed swimmers in the River.  I could not understanding swimming in the muddy water.

After our delta tour, we ventured to the Norwegian Crown at the port of Buenos Aires. 

 

We sailed away in the early evening for Montevideo, Uruguay.  The distance between ports was 126 nautical miles.  Over night the weather turned to rain and high winds.  My morning trip was a city tour and we did not venture off the bus because of the wind and rain.  Below is a picture of the Parliament Building.  It was the only shot I took all morning.  On the way back to the ship, I visited an internet station on the docks.   It gave me a chance to catch up of my messages.  I also was able to up date my family on how the trip was going.  The afternoon was spent watching the weather and reading. 

We were to sail away from Montevideo at 4:00 pm.  Our next port of call was to be Puerto Madryn, Argentina.  The trip was 705 nautical miles in length.  About 6 pm the ship's captain came on the PA system to announce that due to high winds the harbor at Montevideo had been closed until 6 am the next morning.  So we celebrated our second night on board while docked in the harbor.  We were uncertain as to how the weather would affect the schedule for the rest of the trip.

This shot is taken out of my state room portal window.  I am in

quarantine in my cabin because of gastrointestinal "bug". 

I called it food poisoning.  I was fed via room service and was

assured that the "bug" would last only 24 hours.  Luckily we

were at sea so I did not miss much.

 

I have been declared by the ship's doctor from South Africa, as

cured and can run about the ship.  I feel very tired and sleep

most of the day.  But as luck would have it the "Bug" hits me

during the early evening of the 2nd.  As you can guess I am

back in my cabin for another day of "bug" treatment.  By now

the whole deal is getting old!  The fifth day of cruising is a port

of call at Puerto Madryn, Argentina.  I am not allowed off the

ship.  Hence no photos.

This is what one does at sea when the sun is high in the sky.  There

were even swimmers in the pool.

The 4th of February, I am declared cured one more time and can join

the un-ill passengers.  As you probably guessed the "bug" was not

through with me.  I became ill around midnight and had to call the

Medical Center on ship for more medicine.  The next morning I told

the ships doctor either cure me or I am flying home!  This is when

he finally gave me some antibiotics and I started to feel better. We

were at sea for the 4th and headed for the Falkland Islands for a

port call one day later than originally planned due to sailing delays. 

I was in my last day of "bug" quarantining, so I missed my

visit to the Islands. 

Here is a photo of the Falkland's.  It is a bleak island with little to see. 

Port Stanley is around the bend and I could not see it for a photo.  I do

not why any two countries would go to war over this section of the

world.

On February 6th, I awoke feeling much better.  We were at sea for

the day as we headed for Cape Horn.   Cape Horn represents the

southern most point of exposed land in South America.  Cape

Horn is 1080 miles north of the Antarctic Circle.  It has turned cold

and windy.  Everyone who is interested has bundled up and are

on deck to photograph the cape.

 

Bring on the Cape!  That's the cape in the far background.

Cape Horn

After sailing past Cape Horn and turning around we sailed back

by the cape.  The ship's Captain and First Officer conducted a

ceremony on the poop deck to commemorate the sailing by Cape

Horn.  Here they are pouring warm ocean water over the heads

of the passengers who wanted such a designation.   Don't ask,

I am not that gullible!  We all got the Norwegian crown certificate

noting this sailing event. 

 

It is Sunday, February 6th and its time to watch the Super Bowl. 

It was interesting to note that whenever a commercial break

occurred the broadcast went silent, so we were spared all

the hot shot commercials that go with the game.

Our next port of call was Ushuaia, Argentina.  This was our last

Argentinean port.  Ushuaia is squeezed between the dramatic

mountain peaks and the blue waters of the Beagle Channel. 

It is on the island of Tierra del Fuego.  This photo has the port and

mountains in the background.  A beautiful sunny day

awaits our visit.

I did not have much time to explore Ushuaia as I had signed up for

a morning tour to ride on the Train to the End of the World.  Above

 is the narrow gauge locomotive that pulled the train coaches along

it route.  Ushuaia was the location of the infamous Argentinean prison

and the railroad was built by convicts.  We ended our hour long ride

at Tierra del Fuego national park.  The park was created in 1960.  It is

located in Southwestern Tierra del Fuego province up against the

border with neighboring Chile. 

Looking back at the Beagle Channel from the National Park shoreline.

We sailed away from Ushuaia at 12:30 pm so we would have the

afternoon to sail north on the Beagle Channel.  While this made for

a short port of call.  the afternoon sail provided beautiful sights.

The Francia Glacier.  Just stunning.

The Almenia Glacier.  The mountain and glacier scenery was so

spectacular that discovered at the end of the afternoon

I had taken over 100 photos.

 

The Espana Glacier.  There was a huge stream of water coming

out of the glacier on the left side.  During our afternoon sail

we saw a total of 6 beautiful glaciers.

Sunset at the end of a perfect of sailing along the Beagle Channel.

February 8th, we are visiting Punta Arenas, Chile.  We docked early

at 7 am.  Punta Arenas is many times called "the end of the city at the

end of the world', it is a city of 100,000 people and the hub of the

Magallanes.

Interestingly Punta Arenas never experiences the extremes of cold

found in the remote places of the Northern Hemisphere.  As in the

case of all ports of call for our sailing group we are cautioned

about eating local foods and in particular local seafood. 

After my bug experience I only ate on shipboard.

I signed up for a morning city tour of Punta Arenas.  Our first stop

was at an open air exhibit at Patagonia Institute, research

center of the University of Magallanes.  Musen Del Recuerdo

(Museum of Memories) was very interesting.  It was fun to walk

around and check out the various steam driven

machines on display.

 

As part of our city tour we next stopped at the Museo Regional

Maggiorino Borgatello Salesian Museum.  This museum is run by the

Salesian Friars and contains remnants of the Indian cultures that

once thrived in the area.  The displays were very interesting.

After the museum stop we headed for another mausoleum filled

cemetery near downtown Punta Arenas.  This one was different

from the one in Buenos Aires as it was not as crowded.  Above is

a monument dedicated to seafarers. 

This is a memorial statue to an Indian man who supposedly helped

a lady with health problems and after she died she had set aside

money for this memorial. All the little plaques on the walls are thank

you from people who had their prayer answered after

visiting the memorial.

A statue to the explorer Magellan located in the Plaza de Armas in

the heart of town. 

Docked at Punta Arenas when we were there was the MS Laurence M.

Gould.  It is a specialized vessel used by the United States Antarctic

Research Program.

The Norwegian Crown waiting to set sail at 6:30 pm for Puerto

Montt some 1070 nautical miles away.  Tomorrow, February 9th,

we will be sailing through the Straits of Magellan and then into the

spectacular Chilean Fjords. 

Another beautiful South American sunset end a great day of

sightseeing and sailing.

It is around four o'clock in the afternoon and we are sailing in the

Strait of Magellan for most of the day.  As you can see we are

approaching a glacier that is calving small ice bergs. 

We have sailed up to the Amalia glacier.  This is a gift of the Crown's

Captain Emil Sivert Holthe who decided to take an extra trip not on the

itinerary!  What a beautiful sight.

A full view of the Amalia glacier in the fjord of Chile.

We closed out the day with more beautiful scenes of the

Fjords of Chile.

The morning of the 10th brought more sunshine and fabulous scenes

to enjoy as we continued to sail northward.  Were at sea part of the

day and then sailed into the Patagonia Channel.

Can you find the whale that just blew the water out his breathing

hole?  As we sailed along the bridge kept telling us of whale

sightings.  I was fortunate enough to catch this shot at the right time.

Beautiful mountain scenes as we sail along.

On ship board today was the Chocoholic Buffet served between

3 and 4 pm.  I did not attend because it would require leaving the

outside deck and missing the beautiful scenery.  I also liked to

believe I have finally matured when it comes to eating chocolate. 

Another beautiful sunset!  Our days on board are rapidly drawing

to an end.  We disembark on the 13th at mid morning.  Our next port

of call is Puerto Montt, Chile.

For my visit to Puerto Montt, I elected to take a day long tour to

Petrohue Falls and the Village Frutillar.  Above is a picture of the

very wild falls in this park.  On the upper reaches of this River

there are very challenging rapids for rafters to try.

Volcan Orsorno viewed from the Saltas de Petrohue.


Another view from Petrohue Falls.

After a nice lunch at a restaurant in Frutillar, we visited this local

museum which had a water wheel driven grist mill. Then to the ship,

where we were over an hour late.  I'll bet the Captain was steamed.

As we sailed away we saw hundreds of Puerto Montt citizens on

the nearby shore line enjoying the warm day.  There were little

boats everywhere.

Beautiful sunset reflection of the clouds as Friday, February

12th closes. 

Saturday, February was a day at sea with little photo

opportunities. 

It is early Sunday morning and we are preparing to disembark at the

port of Valparaiso, Chile.  The Crown docked at 6 am and we were

the last group of passengers of the ship at 9:45 am.  It was great to

not have to rush off the ship.  We were treated to a city tour

of Valparaiso before bussing to Santiago.

The bus tour of Valparaiso was non stop, so photo opportunities

were very limited.  We did stop at this beach area for a chance to

take some photos.  From here, we bussed on to Santiago with a

lunch stop at a small village.  After leaving the village, the bus

climbed over a high mountain pass in the coastal mountain

range of Chile. 

The Santiago Marriott.  Neat hotel!

Santiago is located in a valley, the surrounding mountains make

the setting very beautiful.

On the second morning in Santiago, we had our usual city tour. 

 It is a beautiful city with many interesting buildings.   We arrived

in the main plaza in time to see the changing of the guard.  It was

impressive with their military band and two

companies of soldiers.

Santiago's Cathedral located downtown near the

government buildings.

After the city tour we had a free afternoon.  I decided to some

shopping at a very large shopping center near the hotel.  This

is a large sculpture outside of the shopping center.

The next day we headed for the Andes Mountains and a visit to

the famous Portillo ski resort.  This day long trip took us

through the Chacabuco Mountains en route to the Aconcagua

Valley.  The valley is a major growing area for peaches and grapes. 

It was a very scenic ride.

Along the road were found many memorials to accident victims.

These were placed here by family and friends. 

Some homes were reached only by footbridge across this mountain stream.

After several hours of travel we reached a point where the bus had

to climb over a mountain pass to reach the ski center.  As you can

see we climbed up many feet.  There were a total of 28 switch back

curves to negotiate in this climb.  There were many trucks

using this route over the Andes Mountains.

Skiing begins in June and lasts until September.  This place gets

buried in feet not inches of snow.  The altitude is about 12,000

feet and very thin air.  If you look hard you can se a ski lift in

this photo.  The surrounding peaks reach a height of 20,000 feet.

Standing in front of the lake at Portillo ski center.  It is green

because of the copper in the water.

A last look at the Andes!

After our day long tour to the Portillo Ski Center, we had a

day of leisure before departing Santiago for home. 

Sunset as viewed from the airport window. 

Thus ended a great 23 day trip around South America!