A Travellerspoint blog

The Patagonian Fjords - Sunday, 1 March 2015

Cruising the fjords

We ordered breakfast for 6.00 am as we were boarding the zodiac at 8.00 am for our close up viewing of the Garibaldi Glacier.

At 7.30 am we were anchored in front of the Garibaldi Glacier.  And at 8.00am we were aboard our zodiac for a 45 minute of the glacier, up close and personal.  We heard a few cracks and saw some of it drop into the sea but just as we were about to leave and come back to the ship, a huge bit fell off and crashed into the sea, causing a few waves.  We hot-footed it out of there quick smart.

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Back onboard and Baptiste had morning tea already for us.  He is gorgeous.

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We had a sighting of humpback whales quite close to the ship which caused great excitement.  Our Captain is so good.  He cruised around for quite a while looking at the whales.

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We had lunch in our cabin and had a very relaxing afternoon, reading and sleeping.  The sun was streaming in the window so it was very hard to stay awake.  I woke up in the middle of a tremendous storm with the rain lashing at the window but it was soon gone and the sun came out again.  The weather is quite mild.

Our group met with Rikus just before dinner for a run down on tomorrow's activities.  We will be going through the Kirke Passage at about 5.00 pm which is extremely narrow and the Captain has to wait until there is no fluctuation in the tide for the very small window which will enable him to sail through.  Bigger ships can't do this.  One slip up and we are on the rocks!  It goes without saying that the bridge is closed to onlookers while the ship sails through the Kirke Passage.

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We will be anchored at Puerto Natales tomorrow night and we will be able to go ashore in the evening, for a stroll around the town.  Looking forward to it.

Had dinner in the dining room tonight with Pete and Deb, Shirley and Alex, and Robyn and Ken, all from New South Wales.  Very lively conversation and lots of fun.

We will be hitting rough seas tonight from 2.00 am to 7.00 am, but I am planning to be sound asleep and not feel a thing!

Posted by gaddingabout 13:44 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Santiago, Chile - Monday, 16 March 2015

sunny 32 °C

We are all alone in the hotel now.

Went down to breakfast and there was no Granola. Phil asked the waiter and he said they had run out. They had also run out of tomatoes. So Phil had Bircher Muslei and then after quite a while the waiter came up with a bowl of Granola. They had been to the shop and bought some. The hotels and their staff in Chile are just so bizarre.

We are in one of the top rooms of the hotel and when we phone and ask for ice, or milk or tea bags, it takes about an hour or more before it arrives.

We packed more of our winter things into the spare bag this morning and then hopped in a taxi and took it to the Intercontinental Hotel, just down the road. We will be spending our last night in South America there on 10 April when we return from Peru and they were very happy to store a bag for us. I had already emailed the Concierge from Australia to confirm this.

We caught a taxi to the city centre to MacIver Street where all the opticians are, to try to get the arms on Phil's glasses replaced. The street is full of glasses shops and we were very lucky that the second one we tried spoke English. They put two new arms on his glasses which has made him very happy. They couldn't fix his sun glasses, which aren't broken yet, but will be soon.

You come across these bands in the street all over South America. They are usually very good.

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We walked for hours and hours and miles and miles and spent a lot of time looking for somewhere where to have lunch. We sat down at a couple of places but got up and walked out because the service is non existent and we didn't really like the look of the place. We settled on an Italian place that was offering two courses and a glass of wine for 6,500 pesos which was pretty good value. The lunch was okay but mine was supposed to be sliced fish, battered and deep fried. Well, I guess it was, but it was cold not hot. Quite strange.

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We caught a taxi back to the Hyatt and I did some ironing and washing in preparation for our flight to Quito tomorrow. This is one of the pieces of art in our room. When we were on our guided tour of the city, I saw the original. It was huge but I'm not sure what it means.

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Phil went down to the Business Centre and did some Internet banking.

We walked down near the pool and took some photos and then went up to the 16th floor lounge for happy hour. We do this every evening and after a big lunch, the snacks up there are enough for us for dinner.

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Posted by gaddingabout 13:18 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Cape Horn & the Beagle Channel - Saturday, 28 February 2015

Cruise around Cape Horn and through the Strait of Magellan and the Beagle Channel

Position - 55°54.41'S
067°20.48'W
Sunrise - 6.47 am
Sunset - 8.24 pm

Big surprise today.  This morning when we woke up we were anchored in front of Cape Horn.  Cape Horn is on the southern tip of the American continent.  Cape Horn marks the northern boundary of the Drake Passage.  The point of land is a trophy on the belt of maritime sailors as its dangers made it difficult to sail around it.  The first two people to successfully navigate it were of Dutch ancestry, Jakob Le Maire and Willem Schouten.  Their fateful discovery occurred in 1616.  It gets the name "Horn" from its original naming "Cape Hoorn".  Hoorn was the city in the Netherlands Schouten hailed from.  The Cape has long been an important trade point in the American continent's economy, as a major milestone on shipping routes between Europe and Asia.

We caught the zodiac ashore and proceeded to climb a million narrow steps up to the top.  How special was that?  Not many people have walked on Cape Horn.  It was a pretty hairy going over in the zodiac and we had a few splashes.

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Rikus, Phil and I were together when we did the Cape of Good Hope and now we have done Cape Horn together.

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Back on board and the Captain invited all the passengers to the swimming pool for a group photo to celebrate landing on Cape Horn.

Now we are sailing around Cape Horn and it's getting a bit rough.  Big swell and very strong winds.

Finished reading "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  It was supposed to be the best book ever written but was quite hard to follow and didn't make sense most of the time.  It was quite tedious to read and I was so glad to finish it.

Back in the Beagle Channel and extremely calm waters.  Captain's Welcome Gala Dinner tonight.  We went down to the theatre for cocktails before dinner and had our photo taken with the Captain.  He knows us quite well now so before the photo, the Captain and I had a cuddle and two kisses!  Ooo la la!  Magnifique!

Dinner was nice and it was the same menu that we had for our Gala Dinner on the way to Antarctica.  We have three tables reserved for Scenic Tours which at least ensures that we are at an English speaking table.  Our new group of 21 is really nice.

Into bed by 11.00 pm as we have an early start tomorrow.

Posted by gaddingabout 13:05 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Santiago, Chile - Sunday, 15 March 2015

sunny 32 °C

Slept in a bit and spent a leisurely day, coming and going from the hotel up to the Mall and back. Most of our group is leaving at different times today so we wanted to be around to say goodbye. First to leave was our fabulous guide Rikus (boo hoo), with Shirley and Alec, Peter and Lesley, and Merlene and Gordon at 10.00 am.

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Then at 11.30am, Don and Kate were being picked up by a private car and driven back to Valpariso to board the Celebrity Cruise Ship for their cruise to Miami. Kate was very pleased when the driver turned up early, spoke excellent English and EVEN knew where they were going. There is a really bad bush fire at Valpariso at the moment, but the driver didn't seem too worried about that.

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The last group was leaving at 8.00 pm, after having to check out at 4.30 pm. Because we have such a huge room, we invited them all up here for a farewell drink (help us drink our complimentary bottle of champagne) and to leave their bags if they wanted to.

We made a quick visit to the supermarket to buy some chips via a park and on the way back to the hotel, found a nice place for lunch, where we had a ham, cheese and tomato sandwich. It was almost normal! Phil is ecstactic because everywhere in Chile, they peel tomatoes. I do it at home for him and all his friends laugh, but it seems to be the done thing in Chile. If we could speak the language, we'd ask why but it is just too complicated to even try!!

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We also found a guy in a small booth who fixes mobile phones etc and with the help of an interpreter, asked him if he could fix Phil's tablet. He said yes, so we raced back to the hotel, got the tablet and took it back to him. Before we left the hotel, I used the Interpreter App on my tablet to type a lot of questions for him and he replied on his tablet. Basically, he said he could fix it, but would have to wipe everything, so Phil has decided to do it in Australia where hopefully they can down load his photos etc onto a computer and then load it all back on again when it is fixed. That is what Baptiste and I have been telling him to do for weeks!!

I spent the afternoon catching up on my Antarctic blogs and then the gang arrived at 5.00 pm. We had pink champagne, red wine and some Pisco Sour and had a good chat for about an hour and then they all left to have a snack before being picked up at 8.00 pm

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We went down to say goodbye to them and Jan and Greg were there also. We said goodbye to them as they are leaving at 6.00 am tomorrow morning and we won't be up to see them off.

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We had a drink and a snack at the 16th floor lounge and then fiddled around in the room and went to bed.

Posted by gaddingabout 12:59 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Santiago, Chile - Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Fly to Quito, Ecuador

sunny 32 °C

Tried to sleep in but as usual Phil was up at 4.30 am scratching around so I was awake for a couple of hours and then went back to sleep just when it was time to get up. After breakfast we packed our bags and weighed them. Mine is about 21kgs and we think Phil's is about 26! Last night his watch band broke so we made a quick trip to the Mall to buy a new one. We tried a couple of shops with no luck, but were then pointed in the direction of a little shop that fixes watches and they the right size band and even a few to choose from.

We had an early lunch at the Mall - a chicken and avocado sandwich, a ham and cheese croissant and two cups of coffee and then headed back to the hotel to finalise our packing, pay the bill and check out by 2.00 pm when Jose was picking us up.

Our two very quick, unsuccessful phone calls to 28 Degrees this morning cost about $30 but they'll be hearing about that when we get back to Australia.

We left with Jose at 2 pm and it only took 20 minutes to get to the airport. They didn't worry about the weight of Phil's bag, just put a heavy sticker on it and we said goodbye to Jose, sailed through Immigration and Security and had to find a Departures Board to find our gate number. We will be boarding in a few minutes for our five hour flight to Quito. How we are going to know when to get on is anybody's guess, because all the announcements are in Spanish! We could end up anywhere!

Well, we waited and waited and all the announcements at the airport were in Spanish so we didn't have a clue what was going on. The board said we were leaving from Gate 11 but it kept saying Montevideo Delayed. At least the staff speak English. So I checked with the girl at the desk and she told me that the flight to Quito was leaving from Gate 12 at 5.35 pm. Nice mural at the airport.

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Meanwhile I had been speaking with a couple of Aussies from Adelaide who had just flew in from Australia and after we got off in Quito, were continuing on to Guayaquil. Then in a couple of days time, they were going to the Galapagos too, so we might see them there. They were very nice. Then they were joining Le Boreal and sailing to Panama. I asked them to give our love to Baptiste and showed them a photo of Rikus because I think he will be their guide.

The flight was pretty good and I read most of the way. There weren't individual entertainment systems, just a general one in the aircraft and Phil watched a movie. Usually on South American flights, all you get to eat is crackers and cheese but on this occasion we were given a meal. It was very nice. Phil had a salad, some nice looking sandwiches and a piece of pie for dessert. I had a salad, cold chicken slices and quinoa and some pie.

We arrived five hours later at 8.30 pm local time and were met by the Scenic Rep, Angel. It took about 35 minutes to drive to our hotel and it was dark, foggy and raining. Quito has a new airport because the old one was too dangerous and planes kept crashing into the surrounding mountains. We drove down some very long steep hills to get to the city. It is very cool. Even though we are at altitude, I can't get my head around being so cold on the Equator. It's weird!

The foyer of the Swissotel is very nice with huge bowls of large, long stemmed roses, but unfortunately with no perfume. The staff and the bell boys can all speak English which is great.

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We checked into our room and even though we have been given an upgrade, it is a bit small, but compared to our large suite of rooms in Santiago, anything would look small! There was no plug for the bath, so we asked for one to be sent up. They arrived with an electric plug! Try again and this time we were successful.

There is a lovely bowl of fruit in our room and the grapes were delicious. Time for bed and we couldn't turn one of the lights out. Another call to the Concierge and someone came up and showed us what to do. They'll be glad when we finally get to sleep!

Posted by gaddingabout 09:11 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

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