Monday, November 29, 2010

Museo Historico Nacional Gaucho dancer spins his spurs
Religious dancing at Santiago's cathedral holy day.

One of the dancers at the religious festival on Santiago's holy day.

Since travelling from Valparaiso to Santiago by bus, we have spent an enjoyable couple of days taking in the city sights. We visited a heap of museums, including the National History, Pre Columbian, Post office (ex governor's palace and presidential palace) and the Basilica de la Merced with its Easter Island artefacts. We loved the main square around which these buildings are located with the fountains, jacaranda trees etc.
The cathedral was very interesting as when we visited it on Sunday, it was a holy day and the dancers included bears (not real ones), devils(?) etc and statues being blessed. I don't think even the pope could understand South American catholicism.
We also climbed a local mountain/hill that included forts, fountains and young Chilean lovers. We celebrated our ascent with an ice cream!
Jean departs for Sydney and we head off for Easter Island the next morning.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Our hotel in Valparaiso. We have a wonderful view over the harbour. The little balcony on the left is ours.
Toy cars in the central square.

The MS Veendam departs.
Our cruise has come to an end and we are back on dry land although it seems to be rocking a bit. It could be our sea legs adjusting or it could be that we are in Valparaiso, one of the shakiest cities in the world.
Still lots of evidence of building damage from the earthquake earlier this year. Our accommodation is a quaint old converted teahouse, perched precariously on the hillside. The views are spectacular, including at night where it looks like fairyland.

We have been on several walks around the city, travelling down by ascensor - a bit like the scenic railway. Ours was the first built in 1883 and still going strong. They are all over the city which is built on the side of a very steep hill.
We have visited the churches and squares, public buildings and small outdoor markets.
We particularly like the district around our hotel which has a bohemian feel rather like Montmartre in Paris. There are lots of old mansions converted into small hotels and restaurants. There are many artisan's workshops and painters displaying their work. The place has a real buzz.
We are off to Santiago today.

Puerto Montt - Old German Homes

Another new jetty idea for Conjola
Robert at the grindstone

Early settlers' pram

The two volcanoes on the other side of the lake became visible in the afternoon from the ship.

Photos from Punta Arenas , Darwin Channel and Broujo Glacier

Magellan penguins. Obviously not as cold as we were!
Sea lions in the Darwin Channel

The Broujo Glacier

Ice totally surrounded the ship.

Photos from Ushuaia

Backdrop to the city of Ushuaia
The Five brothers,,,,,,,,,.very cold brothers!

The end of the Pan American Highway.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Horn panorama

Cape Horn is actually on the Southern most island of South America
We were fortunate to have clear weather and moderate seas so the ship was able to go in close to The Horn.

Anti Whaling

20,000 whales killed by one many in total?

Falkland toilets

The people from the Falklands are not without a sense of humour.
The other funny sign was outside a Stanley read "husband creche"

Read the book

We have visited the read the book.

Happy Feet Pictorial

A group of Gentoo and King penguins. The Kings are larger and have yellow markings
A Gentoo caring for its egg

Baby King..wearing its fur coat...and its mother..or is it father

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Little Piece of Germany

Afrer proceeding up the Chilean coast, at times through 20 foot seas, we have passed through the Chilean fiords and a series of channels including the Darwin Channel to reach Puerto Montt. The highlight on the way was the Boujo Glacier where the face of the glacier reached the end of the fiord. It was spectacular but viewing conditions were far from optimal. We could not
get in to visit the Amalia Glacier due to poor weather.

From Puerto Montt we visited Lake Llanquihue the largest in Chile where we visited a series of towns established by early German settlers. behind the lake we could just make out the Osorno and Kalbuco volcanoes. The artefacts and buildings were very much like german towns we have visited including Lutheran churches and pastry shops selling kuchen.

Sorry still no photos. Next post Valparaiso in 2 days.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

More Happy Feet

What do you do on a Sunday in Punta Arenas? We decided to go and visit some more penguins. We travelled by a converted landing barge for 2 hours across to Magdalena Island and had a wonderful time looking at the Magellen penguins. They were absolutely unafraid of humans and frequently walked across within six inches of our toes.

They live in burrows but were mostly standing round watching us. None were dancing. We also saw many down on the beach and even the ones in the burrows nesting could be clearly seen. There were about 75,000 breeding pairs.

The weather was absolutely freezing and very very windy. When we walked up to the lighthouse, we were almost blown away.

At the moment we are in Punta Arenas town, having visited the markets and taken in the sights. Sorry again that there are no photos. When we get a chance we might send a few photo blogs.

The End of the Road

From Ushuaia we went on a trip on the furthest point south accessible by road. It was the end of the Pan American Highway. It was over 3,000 km from Buenos Aires and over 17,000 km from Fairbanks in Alaska.

We saw picturesque lakes and bays. Any further south and we would have fallen off the end of the world.

Ushuaia claims the title as the world´s most southern city. Chile claims Puerto William which is located further south and where we stopped to pick up a pilot, for the title. The Argentineans say it is just a town.

We took in lots of further south claims.... the most southern train station, traffic light etc but not the most southerly dogwash.... we had seen that in New Zealand.

Sorry for the absence of photos to back up these claims but there is no wifi available in Punta Arenas.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Happy Feet

We visited the Bluff Cove Penguin Rookery on the Falkland Islands where the penguins are considered to be the best in the world possibly outside Antarctica.

We travelled by 4 wheel drive over private property avoiding the mine fields left over from the Argentinean conflict of 1982 to reach the rookery in a secluded bay. We saw lots of Gentoo penguins sitting on their eggs. The Gentoo is the 3rd largest penguin species. We also some King penguins, the 2nd largest species. The largest is the Emperor found only in Antarctica. The Kings had last season's chicks with them which were as large as the adult birds but covered in brown fluff which some were shedding.

It was a magical spot and we took lots of photos despite the fact that the wind was sop strong we had trouble holding the camera still.

Later we looked at their small quirky museum and refreshed ourselves with tea and homemade cakes. We travelled back to the tender in the 4 wheel drives just managing to avoid getting bogged.

We caught the last tender back to the ship.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

News From the Falkland Islands

Have just arrived in the Falkland Islands at Stanley. Lucky we arrived in almost summer because it is very cold and we are wearing parkas, scarves and gloves.

Unfortunately we missed Montevideo because just as the ship arrived near the port, we were notified that a boat was on fire in the harbour and the port was closed all day. Such a shame!

We have spent the last three days at sea relaxing, reading, eating and having a great time. Last night we dined at the Pinnacle Grill which is the top restaurant on the ship. It is worthy of a Michelin star - Bulgari china, Reidel glasses and the most stunning food.

We have spent the morning walking round Stanley. It is very British. We passed places like Thatcher Drive and the houses and pubs are very British. We have seen Government House the Falklands war memorial from 1982 and will soon be heading off on a tour to a penguin rookery where we hope to see three different species. Hope to send you the photos later.

Tomorrow we go round Cape Horn.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


We spent a relaxing day at Tigre at the river delta. We spent a hour or two on the river watching the passing parade. Took about 200 photos of the jetties and the river craft.
Have some great ideas for Conjola!!
We went on the coastal train and visited a beautiful Cathedral and some great markets
Today we sail for the South with the first stop at Montevideo

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Colonia was like a step back in time to the days of Portuguese and Spanish rule. A relaxing day...except we walked miles!

Mothers protest for the missing

La Boca streetscape

Tango at La Boca

Colonia del Sacremento

Yesterday we had a delightful day in this historic town built in the 15th century.

We travelled across to Uruguay by batquebus (high speed boat) and spent a delightful day strolling round this remnant of a colonial past. We visited about 6 museums, all very small and specialised. eg. Portuguese house, Maritime, old tiles etc.

The old town is full of interesting little laneways that are great to walk round except for your feet on the cobblestones.

We had morning tea with fresh local pastries and lunch at an outdoor cafe where were joined by Lally, the restaurant tortoiseshell cat.

You will be pleased to know there were lots of friendly dogs and not a sign of rabied mongrels.

Sorry no photos but Internet connection is very weak.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

La Boca

Today we visited La Boca with its colourful street market, restaurants, artists, dancers and shops. The whole area is buzzing and vibrant, lively and just a great place to spend a few hours.

We saw tango exhibitions, listened to singers, laughed at the spruikers all assuring us that their restaurant, shop or exhibition was the best of all.

In the afternoon, we watched the parade of mothers in the Plaza Mayer who gather every Thursday to remember their family members who "disappeared" in the troubled political times of the late 20th century. It was very moving.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Return to Buenos Aires

We returned to Buenos Aires from Rio very late on Monday night and it was nearly 2 am by the time we made it to bed. Tuesday morning after a late breakfast, we decided to walk to the nearby Congress building which was built in the early 19th century. It looks very impressive with a square and park in front of it. The roof has wonderful cupolas, statues and a tower on top. The front doors and gates were closed but we walked around the building and found the side entrance which is obviously the one everyone uses. There was no tour inside until 4 pm so we decided to explore further.

Diagonally opposite was the Congress Museum which contained a wall of interesting political cartoons. We recognised some of the world characters portrayed and understood the message even if we could not read all the words.

There was an interesting collection of old furniture, including a desk and chair used by Evita as well as a dummy wearing one of her outfits.

As we walked back we passed one of the many bars which are all over the part of the city where we are staying. The sign says it all.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sugarloaf at Sunset

Sugarloaf in the fading light taken from the intermediate cable station

Sunset from Sugarloaf
Sunset over Copacabana .
We returned to the hotel to share a bottle of icy Rose and then out to dinner
Tomorrow we return to Buenos Aires.

Girl from Ipanema

The girl at Ipanema.
The beer seller at Ipanema.

Ipanema Beach is the next beach south from Copacabana. After our morning visit there, we returned to Copacabana for a swim.... sorry no camera so no cossy shots!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Raining in Rio

We awoke to rain this morning so decided to go and see the city highlights rather than the wet beaches.

We caught the Metro to Carioca in the downtown area and visited this beautiful musical theatre with its gilded cupolas. Surrounding the square where this is, are many beautiful historical buildings including the Museum of Fine Arts and the National Library which is celebrating its bicentenary this year.

As a complete contrast we walked over to the Metropolitan Cathedral. This is extremely modern and about the height of a 15 to 20 storey buuilding. It is built as a huge dome with full height stained glass windows.
It was most unusual.

We saw many very modern buildings in addition to the beautiful historic reminders of the colonial past.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Jesus Over Rio

We headed off from our hotel by local bus, then up the Corcovado very steep hill by cog train - the only one in Brazil, then an elevator and two escalators to reach the top. Hardly walked a step!
The view from the top is amazing with 360 degree
views over Rio. We could see the city centre, Sugarloaf and the famous beaches of Copacobana,
Ipanema and Leblon. It was one of the most spectacular viewpoints that we have ever seen.
The statue is equivalent to a 13 storey building in height and considered to be a marvel of engineering. The head was sculpted by one artist and the hands by another who used her own hands for the model.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hanging Out at Copacabana

Rob on Copacabana feeling like the
Japanese businessman on Bondi Beach
in his suit.

Some of the locals letting it all hang out. The man with the umbrella is the swimming costume (optional) seller.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Food Glorious Food

You may recall we reported on the marvels of our hotel breakfast in Bratislava when we were offered beer, coca cola and rum balls at the buffet as well as all the usual fare.

Today in Brazil, we were disappointed that none of these appeared at the lavish breakfast buffet but we were delighted to see among the cereal, juice, fried eggs etc. a very large creme caramel which we enjoyed as dessert at the end of our meal.

We did not try all the cakes on offer but there were some very tasty small warm cheese buns and some "ham pies" - rather like a quiche which would have been a very tasty accompaniment to a glass of wine!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Brazilian Panorama

We visited the Brazilian side of the falls today and whilst it is much more limited in scope, you get a wonderful overview of the falls. I have tried to create a panorama by stitching 3 or 4 photos to give you an idea of the size of the falls. This one is called "The Devil's Throat". Still learning how to use the new camera. Might try reading the instructions!

We caught a local bus from Puerto Iguazu to Brazil. We went through the Argentinean border formalities with ease but on the Brazilian side, we were the only people on the bus staying in Brazil so we were left at Passport Control and were picked up by the next bus in 15 minutes. An international trip for just under $2!

Staying tonight in the town of Foz do Iguaca and flying tomorrow afternoon to Rio.

Creatures of Iguazu

We quickly discovered that the beauty of Iguazu
was not only in the falls but in the
flora and fauna. The prize sighting
was a grande toucan which we watched for five minutes before it
eventually flew away.