S: 2012 - South America Cruise
FC: South America Cruise 2012
1: South America Cruise 2012
2: The Journey Begins...
3: Uncle Gord's Log: Day 1) Saturday - Feb. 11 Gord, Mom, Bill and Marjorie sat together; Rebecca was in the back of the “bus”. Had a rough landing in Atlanta (Suspected Italian captain) had a 2 hour layover in Atlanta? Had wine/beer and something to eat (nachos and wings) in the airport, bought duty free alcohol for the trip. Boarded plane to Santiago. We let Rebecca sit with us this time, however, Bill’s seat was very tight and he couldn’t get his tray down. So Rebecca, being the kind, thoughtful person she is, changed seats with him and had to put up with his fidgeting (kicking and pulling on the seat) for the entire flight. She said she would not do that again!! Flight took 10 hours. Dinner aboard flight wasn't very good. This took us into Sunday.
4: Day 2) Sunday Feb. 12. Had a hard time sleeping and were beat on arrival. Arrived about 11:00 am ( 5 hours difference from Pacific time) Everyone was beat. We had to clear customs. This included a payment of 132.00$ US (interesting that the Americans had to pay 140.00$ US). We had to fill out an Agricultural entry sheet and weren't allowed to bring in any food items at all. Marj and Bill had to throw out their dried fruits and peanuts before going through customs. We waited a hour at the airport to get the shuttle bus to Valparaiso. We then boarded on a shuttle bus that took us to Valparaiso, which is on the coast where we were to board our ship - Celebrity Infinity. This shuttle took about 2 hours and we drove through country that reminded me of the desert area around Palm Springs. As we got closer to the coast the land had more vegetation and we traveled through a lot of vineyards. | Valparaiso was much bigger then I had expected (I had Google mapped it and it looked much smaller). The city was built on some very steep hills and in some places they had some cable trams to get to the top. When we got to the waterfront we lined up at the Celebrity cruise depot to register. They took our passports and credit card numbers and gave us each a electronic key for our cabins and for charging aboard ship. We had 3 outside cabins in a row. I had cabin 7174, Mom and Rebecca had 7172 and Marj and Bill had 7170. They then transported half way around the port to where the ship was docked. They had put mom in a wheel chair at the depot so we got a special shuttle just for us and they took us to a special entry way for the 'Handy capped' Mom fighting the wheel chair all the way. We signed in at the entry way (smuggling in our duty free) and went to our rooms. The rooms were very nice (I had the biggest balcony). We were able to view the city from our balconies. We also watched them load the ship with lots and lots of potatoes, onions, and carrots (they heard mom was aboard!).
7: After showering (I think we stank after the 20 or so hours of travelling) we went up for something to eat at the Oceanview Café (buffet). We had no problem finding a seat because a lot of people had not even arrived yet. Our luggage finally arrived!! At 4:45 pm, we had to do the mandatory Guest Emergency & Lifeboat drill. Even though we didn't have to go to the lifeboat stations (just the assembly station) and we didn’t have to take our life vests, it was very long because they gave it in 3 languages, English, Spanish and German (we had a lot of Germans aboard, I guess visiting relatives who migrated here just after the war). We then dressed for dinner and headed for the Trellis Restaurant for our first dinner on board. They gave us a lovely table by the window, met our waiters, etc. and decided we wanted to be at this table every evening. By 8:00 pm, I was beat and went to bed. Bill stayed up for a few more hours. Mom, Marj and Rebecca went to the Photo Gallery and purchased the “Welcome Aboard” photo then went to the introductory show at 9:15 pm. I don't know how they did it, however I think Mom was over tired because normally she wants her bed ~8:00 pm.
8: Day 3) Monday, February 13th. This was a day at sea. First Formal Night Uncle Gord's Log: I had a great sleep (~12 hours) I arose at 8:00 am. We got everyone up and went for breakfast at the buffet. Not bad but had a difficult time in getting 5 seats together. Spent most of the day getting acquainted with the ship. Once again we had lunch in the Buffet and we planned dinner for 6:30 pm in the Trellis dining room. Had drinks in Bill and Marj's room (smuggled duty free) at 5:30 pm and then went for dinner. Food was very good and the servers very friendly. After dinner we did some gambling (I lost $40 in about 15 minutes and lost interest). Went the Martini bar (Marj, Rebecca and me). I went to bed.
10: Day 4) Tuesday, Feb. 14th Arrived in Puerto Montt at day break. I got good pictures of the sun rising and of the local volcanoes Osorno and Hornopiren. We decided to have breakfast in the Trellis dining lounge (a la cart) and it was easy to find a seat. We had planned for an excursion 'Chilean Wine and Sausages'. We got off the ship at ~10:00 am by tender and boarded a bus for the tour. While touring the city, we noticed the telephone poles with mega wires hanging from them (took pictures for Patrick). They took us into the 'German area' where we visited the historical German Settler Museum (mom said it was filled with a lot of old rusted junk she could see at home). Before getting back on the bus, we had a little time to sit outside and visit. Here they had two rope swings and somehow, Rebecca convinced Marj to go with her (silly woman!) We then bused into Puerto Varas, on Lake Llanquihue. Here we visited a hotel (Hotel Patagonico) with a beautiful view of the city and lake. This is where we had wine and sausage tasting. (I was actually expecting to go to a Winery for this so I was a little disappointed). However, we toured and walked the city of Puerto Varas and it was nice. Marjorie insisted on putting her foot into the water.
12: We tendered back to the ship arriving around 3:00 pm. We cleaned up and went to dinner at the Trellis Restaurant at 6:30 pm. (not before our traditional illegal drinks in the Mohler room). We even asked for a much larger bucket of ice. Dinner was once again very good; we now got into the habit of asking for 2 appetizers before the main course. This was a casual night. The ladies all received a rose for Valentine’s Day. Once again we went to the casino and I lost money. The ship left port while we were having dinner. It was a gorgeous sunset. We all crashed after dinner
14: Day 5) Wednesday, Feb. 15th. This was a day at sea Uncle Gord’s Log: I got up around 8:00 am and joined Marj and Bill for breakfast in the Trellis. Mom and Rebecca slept in and didn't show for breakfast (they had theirs a little later) We sailed through some Chilean fjords which were very beautiful but the weather was quite stormy and a little chilly. Reminded me very much of the Alaska cruise at this point. Had lunch at the buffet. I had the Asian which I liked very much. Saw a presentation on upcoming stops (Punta Arenas) and then went to dinner. We all participated in a wine tasting at 2:00 pm (mom thought the glassed were a little small).
16: Once again at the Trellis at 6:30 pm (and once again an illegal drink in Bill and Marj's room at 5:30). After dinner, Bill went to the Casino, mom went to bed and Marj, Rebecca and myself spent some time at Cellarmasters. It was a computerized wine bar that allowed you to choose a sip, half glass, or whole glass of any wine. Just prepay for a wine card use it in any of the wine machines. Pretty neat.!
19: Day 6: Thursday, Feb. 16. Second day at Sea - Traveled through the Strait of Magellan. I got up at 8:00 am and joined Bill and Marj for breakfast in the Trellis. Mom and Rebecca joined us a little later at our table. After breakfast, we went to another presentation on Cape Horn. Marj went outside for a walk around the ship and saw a beautiful full Chilean rainbow. Going through the Strait of Magellan, the islands were very close to the ship. Weather in the AM was quite stormy but not really raining. Lunch was at the Burger bar (mom had one without a bun) however, we were sitting outside and mom put up quite a fuss so she and Rebecca found a table inside to sit at and have their lunch. Marj came back with her lunch to take a picture and half the table had left!! After lunch we had another presentation on Puerto Madryn (in Argentina). I had a hair cut at 2:30 (39$ for a buzz cut). Went to my room to type up the first 3 pages of this sheet. The ship dipped out to sea around 1:00pm and the sky is clear and the seas only slightly rough (not enough to cause any sea sickness for us). At 3:30 pm, mom, Marj, and Rebecca went to the Trellis R. for “Elegant Tea”. We were joined by three very interesting “gay” men. It was fun to talk with them and we enjoyed our tea, sandwiches, & cookies.
20: We had planned dinner at Qsine restaurant on the ship. This restaurant had an added surcharge of $40. It was worth it. Its décor was very different, with the lamps and chandeliers hanging upside-down from the ceiling. It had a very interesting format, where the menus were on an iPad tablet. The food groups were sectioned off (maybe about 20 selections) and we each were asked to select our 5 'favorites’. We then selected the 5 most popular in our lists. The Matre de had to sit down beside mom and help her with her iPad. The food came out like tapas and we all shared. We selected 7 courses and we actually had too much. Mom was starting to fall asleep 2/3s the way through dinner and Rebecca had to take her to her room. The wine list was also on the iPad and they had pictures and prices of each wine and when you selected one it would bring up the characteristics of the wine how it was rated. We got to talk to the Captain as well. I think we will go back later in the cruise. It was a long day and we were going to have an early morning so we all went to bed after dinner. | Qsine
22: Day 7 - Friday, Feb 17, Sailed into Punta Arenas We got up early (6:00 am to get ready for the days tour) I quickly got ready and then ran upstairs and picked up some fruit and Smoked salmon for mom and Rebecca because I didn't think mom would be able to get ready in time. It turns out that they had ordered food to their rooms (Bill and Marj had done the same). I then went back upstairs and got myself some breakfast. I picked up some bananas for us to take in case we needed something ashore. We had to appear at the Theater to get our assigned 'Number' departure time. It was about 1 hour before our numbers were called (the wind was blowing and they were having some trouble with the tenders). It turns out that we couldn't take any fruits ashore and so I had to discard the bananas. I bought some water for each of us (it turns out that they handed out water on the bus). We tendered ashore and got our bus. This was a City and Museum tour. Our first stop was at a settler outside museum with houses and machinery. (Mom kept saying that she’d seen this old stuff before!) The second stop was at the City Cemetery (quite impressive) and then at the Maggorino Borgatello Museum which had examples of the local wild life (stuffed) and a museum of the Indian people (not stuffed)(and I don't think they really exist anymore, wiped out by diseases and hunting). They took us to a site for a panoramic view of the city, the Straits of Magellan and Tierra del Fuego Island; then finally to the town square with a statue of Magellan. We left the bus here and then wandered for a while, went into a tourist centre for some maps and found a restaurant, Sotito’s. They let Rebecca and Marj into the kitchen to take pictures of the lamb on a spit cooking on an open fire. They spoke little to no English so the ordering was by pointing. The food was wonderful. We ordered a variety of foods (squid, lamb, & salmon, along with beer). After lunch mom, Bill, and Gord took the tender back to the ship while Marj & Rebecca shopped for trinkets, and Rebecca made a phone call home.
24: Nap time and then shower and shave (Gord & Bill) followed by illegal drinks in Marj's and Bills room at 5:30. Went for dinner at the Trellis Restaurant. (Another beautiful sunset) We took Mom to her room because she was falling asleep at dinner. It was a long day and we decided to go to bed early after drinks at the Wine Bar. When we got back to our rooms, Mom got a little upset, thinking that we had left her all day. We tried to convince her that she was with us on the outing that day (breakfast, lunch and dinner included).
25: Day 8 - Saturday, Feb. 18th Day at Ushuaia, Argentina (the southernmost city in the world) Had a nice late breakfast at the Trellis and then got ready for our trip scheduled at 10:30. This one was a 6 hour tour to a Penguin rookery which included visitation of a sea lion and cormorant colony aboard a catamaran (we were aboard the catamaran, not the sea lions and cormorants).
26: We got some great pictures of the sea lions, cormorants and the Magellanic penguins. There were even a few Gentoo penguins mixed in! Outside, it was quite warm going, however, with the wind it was extremely cold returning, even with the sun shining. They weren’t very organized aboard the boat. The seats were hard and the boat was very crowded. Food was poorly organized and costly. I guess that we were expecting too much for 124$ per person. Obviously, at 3 hours out, the 3 hour return was long and we were glad to get back to the ship. (Marjorie enjoyed it!!)
28: Once on the dock, the wind was strong walking back to the ship and thought mom was going to blow away a couple of times. Rebecca and Marjorie stayed back long enough to make a phone call and purchase some alcohol. They took it into a bathroom and poured it into water bottles to smuggle it back on board ship. I don’t plan on doing this again – was a little nervous!!
29: Once again we got ready for our illegal drinks at Bill's room (thanks to Marj & Rebecca) and then dinner at 6:30 pm at the Trellis. Mom said that she was tired and wanted to go to bed but we decided that we wanted her to accompany us to the Martini Bar (We brought her Spanish coffee along)(we didn't want a repeat of last night where she thought we left her alone). She started to brighten a little and we decided to order her a Cosmo Martini. The waitress was shocked when she saw who was getting it. Mom wrote her initials and birth date in the ice bar. We then went to bed about 11:00 pm.
31: Day 9 - Sunday, Feb. 19- Day at sea however with a stop at Cape Horn Very early morning, as we stopped at the horn between 6:00 and 8:00 am (Couldn't get off ship, and by the temperature outside I don't think anyone wanted to anyway). So we were all up (including Mom) we went to the top deck at the bow to take pictures. It was freezing!!
32: After running up to the top deck (and FREEZING) we returned to the constellation lounge to enjoy the view in the warmth. They were pretty smart in selling travel coffee mugs with Bailey's that morning. You could tell it was pretty early (maybe 7 or so) because Bill still had sore hair from bed.We then followed this with breakfast at the Trellis and then a nap (Gordon & Bill).
33: Gord did a little book reading and Mom had a hair appt at 10:00 am. After that we went for lunch at the buffet. At 2:00 pm we joined a Team Trivia contest – called ourselves “Team Martini” (came in 2nd to some Winnipeggers). We also played a dice game (10,000) for a couple of hours. Back to the room for a shower before our illegal drinks in Bill and Marj's room. Dinner again at the Trellis at 6:30 pm. Once again we had a wonderful dinner. After dinner we got our family picture taken by the ship photographers went to the Show at 9:00 pm. (Boogie Wonderland). It was a musical on Disco. Not bad, had some drinks during the show. Then off to bed.
34: Family Picture Time | We finally convinced the guys to get our picture taken by the photographers on board. They were really excited about it (as one can only imagine).
35: Day 10 - Monday Feb. 20th - A day at sea. I got up at 7:30 and was expecting that the others would be ready for breakfast at 8:00 am. Not So. I knocked and knocked and finally Rebecca came to the door and they weren’t ready (or even close) and Marj and Bill didn't even answer the door (PS. Marj was up but in the bathroom!). I went to breakfast by myself. Buffet was good. I finally got back to my room and sat out on the deck. It's really starting to warm up. It was a beautiful day today. Finally the others came out onto their decks and they were ready to go to breakfast. So I accompanied them and had a cinnamon bun. After breakfast we went down and retrieved our passports, they had been stamped with Argentina entry. We also canceled our trip in Punta Del Este (Uruguay). We figured that we didn't want a long trip and will probably just see the town and beach or organize something when we disembark. We also got a refund on our payment for the transfer from the ship to the airport as we had booked a tour of Buenos Aires which would end up at the airport. We also organized the luggage tags for the trip to the airport. It was now time for lunch. We went to the AquaSpa Café (the first time) for a light lunch (soup and salad). It was good. From here we found a quiet place to read (Gord and Rebecca) and the others went to the casino. Mom seems to like this.
36: We had the usual illegal drinks at Marj and Bills at 5:30 pm followed by dinner at the Trellis at 6:30 pm. After dinner, mom decided that she wanted to go to bed and we tried to get her to come with us to the bar but she insisted on going to bed. When we got to the Martini Bar, there was no one there and we took the best seats. However, they had set up for a special function (“White Night” -where everyone is supposed to wear something white). Neither Bill or I had anything white on but, what the hell, we stayed. It turned out to be a raucous night and we were forced to drink martinis and dance. The bar filled quickly and it was hard to move. However, we held up our tradition on being the last ones out of the bar. We got back to the rooms ~1:00pm. Mom was a little confused and accused us of leaving her in her room all day. I had to talk with her to calm her down. | Team Sambuca | Team Spanish Coffee
38: Day 11 - Tuesday Feb. 21 - A day in Puerto Madryn, Argentina This was going to be a day of casually walking around the city. The plan was to have a simple breakfast, then board one of the shuttle busses that would take us to the City (the ship was docked at an industrial wharf which was on the outskirts of the main city center). Myself, Marj and Bill went up at around 8:15 am for breakfast at the buffet. Mom and Rebecca weren’t ready yet. After breakfast I went back to my room to wait for the others to get ready and finally Mom wanted something to eat (Rebecca was feeling a little under the weather) so Marj and I took mom up for breakfast and coffee. When she was finished, we went back to our rooms and picked up our things (including Rebecca) and boarded a shuttle. Once in town, Marj saw a sign for tours (Bill and I still planned to walk around the city). They found an agent where they booked a 3 hour boat ride to go see the dolphins (mom, Marj, and Rebecca) (Rebecca still feeling poorly and was sick to her stomach). The city was small and very nice, but the sandy beach was beautiful with a lovely long boardwalk & park. Their boarding time was 12:15 pm for their tour and decided that Mom needed some food before going so we looked for a restaurant that was open (and had the right food for Mom). Gees, everyone here in South America seem to eat late, both lunch and dinner. Found a really nice restaurant, Chona. The waiters didn’t speak English but seemed to be able to understand a little English. We certainly pushed ourselves for time at this point, only 30 min. to order, eat, and get the girls to the tour. I ordered a barbeque chicken for mom and a Caesar salad for me. Bill ordered a pizza for himself, Marj and Rebecca. While we were waiting, everyone took this time to go to the washroom. Finally we had to tell the waiter that we didn't have enough time to eat and asked for it to go. As the time ticked away the chicken and salad came (to go) and I smuggled a fork from the table and put it in the bag.
41: Mom and Marj then left because we knew it would take mom longer to walk the distance. We were still waiting for the pizza. Rebecca finally had to leave and after that the pizza came. Bill took it and dashed out the door to take it to Rebecca so they would have something on the boat. I paid the bill (Bill had given me some cash). Bill returned and we decided to walk to where the tour boat was going to leave from. Just as we got there we noticed that the girls were walking back. They told us that it was cancelled due to rough seas. They had been refunded their money. So, now we've got a barbeque chicken, a Caesar salad and a pizza but with no place to eat and it was very windy!. We finally decided to walk back to the restaurant to see if we could eat it there. Bill found a liquor store and bought some more illegal alcohol for the boat. When we got to the restaurant, they were happy to reseat us. They took our boxed food to reheat (I forgot that the stolen fork was still in the bag). They didn't mention the fork and also brought us some tea for mom and bottle water for the rest of us. The food was great once again we did well. They didn't charge us for the water or tea so Bill gave them a second tip. (They must have thought we were complete idiots). Rebecca was still feeling a little under the weather and didn't eat. She took a walk to get some fresh air and we later found her laying down on a cement bench in a park. Bill in the meantime went into the bathroom and transferred his illegal alcohol into a water bottle. After lunch, we walked back to the shuttle bus and got a ride back to the ship. Because Rebecca was still feeling poorly, we changed our reservations at Qsine from tonight to tomorrow night (It's a formal night tomorrow). Everyone relaxed in their rooms till dinner. Rebecca was still having issues (throwing up) so Marj made an appt with the Ship’s doctor. He checked her out and the only thing likely (beside a hangover) was an intestinal bug, so she was given a shot (in the bum) and a couple of tablets and quarantined in her room for 24 hrs. We were asked to monitor mom for the short duration of the quarantine. At 5:30 pm we once again joined Bill and Marj (sans Typhoid Rebecca) for the illegal drink, in this case made mandatory to stave off any infection. 6:30 found us in the Trellis Restaurant, however a little disorganized. Mom and I got there first followed by Bill 10 minutes later and Marj, who was with Rebecca, came about 7:00 pm. Dinner was again very good. After Dinner we looked in on the Quarantine room and then off to the show. Tonight’s show was a juggler/comedian (Steve Carte) which was OK. At the end of the show we were told to move up our clocks 1 hour (for Uruguay) so we were going to lose 1 hour sleep. Off to bed.
42: Day 12 - Wed. Feb. 22 - Day at sea. (Formal Dress night) This is going to be a slow day on ship. Weather looks stormy but cloud appears to be a high cloud and any moisture appears to be bow spray picked up by the wind. 9:00 am (Uruguay time) for a light breakfast. Mom was still in bed and Rebecca is in quarantine. Marj, Bill and I went for eats and when finished, we picked up mom and went for a second breakfast. While in the elevator a 92 year old man came in a wheel chair and offered mom a seat on his lap. We called mom a cougar. I picked up a couple of t-shirts and then back to the room to write up to date info. Time for lunch at the buffet then went to the observation deck to sit and read. We had organized a tour of the kitchens, so we dressed early for dinner. There was certainly a lot of stainless everywhere and everything on a big scale. It was very interesting. Rebecca showed up from quarantine like a phoenix from the ashes. We no longer call her T.R. (Typhoid R). After the tour, we returned to Bill & Marj’s for the illegal drinks.
45: It was time now for dinner. We booked tonight at Qsine. The day or two before when we were eating lunch at the AquaSpa Café, we met a server from Qsine. She talked us into coming back to Qsine and offered us free champagne. When we arrived, we did not see her and ordered drinks. When she saw us, she insisted upon buying our drinks instead of the champagne. How nice!! Since we had already been once, we were like pros with the ordering on the ipads (mom still didn’t like it!) Once again, they served very interesting food, both in presentation and taste. Marj was satisfied with what we had ordered, however, during our desert, she spied a box with 12 compartments holding food that we had not tried. We asked the Matre-de what it was and Marj said that she wanted to try it. Under protests from the others, the waiter went away and brought us our own Box. We were so full we couldn’t possibly eat it but what the hell, Marj tried a few items. After dinner we went to the show. It was a musical called “Celebrate the World” and it was pretty good. We all went to bed. There was a lightning storm during the night.
46: Day 13 - Thursday Feb 23. Arrival at Punta Del Este, Uruguay. We arrived at Punta Del Este at around 7:45 am. It's looking to be 81 deg and Sunny, however there is quite a wind blowing into the city from the ocean. This city is touted as being the Riviera of South America and our plans were to just walk the city and beaches and enjoy the beautiful weather. During breakfast they announced that because of the wind, the Port Authorities had closed the port, so we wouldn't be able to disembark! This will now be another day at sea. We were very disappointed!! The ship headed back out to Sea. However, not to be done out of our sunny weather and tanning, Marj & Rebecca headed up to the top deck, tied themselves down (and the chair down due to the wind) and enjoyed the warmth. Within a very short time (less than an hour), Marj headed in and Rebecca was soon after. Both had redness and lines! Yeah!! We all gathered together again and found a table on Deck 10 to play our dice game. Rebecca bought a bucket of beer and Bill, not knowing, also bought a couple of beer. Marj and Gord got nachos and snacks. We laughed, drank, and had fun till it was time for dinner. Mom ordered Lamb Shank – and it was huge!! Another beautiful sunset.
48: Day 14 - Friday Feb 24th. Arrival at Montevideo, Uruguay. We chose a tour to show us the highlights of Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. (Marj. Monte-vi-DAY-o). We had breakfast at the buffet (Rebecca had her lox & bagels) and then we got ready to leave. Went to the theater to get our departure number and got on a bus for the tour. Our tour guide was a history teacher so he was very informative. These docks are in the industrial area, but we could walk to the ship if we wanted. Initially, I thought that Montevideo must be a pretty poor city. The area we drove through initially looked pretty run down. But finally the tour took us through some very nice areas of town.
50: We saw very modern buildings, Independence Square, lots of statues and monuments (the Oxcart, a traditional way of transportation; The Stagecoach, being pulled out of the mud; The Last Charruas, a group of native people selected to pay homage to the ancestors), museums, and their parliament buildings. They took us to a park overlooking the city – it was beautiful. There were cute little green budgies in the trees. It was a warm day and the beaches looked very nice.
52: We chose to leave the tour close to the port and looked for a restaurant to get something to eat. (El Palenque) Had a hard time finding the bathrooms, but someone showed mom and Marj one – they believe it was the men’s room – but it worked. The food was great and the beer was good. Sitting at the two tables next to us were members of the crew that we recognized (Hi, Steve!). So the place must be popular. After lunch we walked back to the ship. Dinner and more gambling were in order.
54: Day 15 - Saturday Feb 25th - Arrival at Buenos Aires, Argentina We had decided to make this day a casual walk around in the tourist areas of Buenos Aires. We had breakfast and then left the ship for the shuttle busses. The ship docked in the Industrial area and we had to shuttle by bus to the cruise ship terminal. We had a choice from here. Taxi, local bus (forget this one) and special shuttles set up by shops in the tourist area. Just as we got into the terminal, there was a diamond store giving out stickers for their van into town, so we chose that and because of the size of the van, we had to split up into 2 buses Mom, Rebecca and myself took the first and Marj and Bill took the second (actually, Gord, mom, and Becca jumped on first and there was no room left!). It was pretty neat – we didn’t even have to buy diamonds (boo-hoo) and they volunteered to take us back when we were ready to return. Once in town, we got back together and then toured the main tourist street, Florida St.. It was very interesting with a lot of people offering deals in the street, but very high-end international stores also (leather, jewelry, high fashion). Rebecca and Bill bought soccer/football (European football) jerseys, from the Argentine teams and colors. Decided to have lunch and ended up at McDonalds. This was very interesting, ordering off a menu in Spanish (what’s Spanish for Big Mac?). Poor Rebecca didn’t get her meal; a big mix-up; but the service girl took pity on us and gave her a meal (she had already paid for two by mistake! Which I think Bill & Marj had already eaten). After further walking, Gord and Marj each bought cute little Penguins made from a black stone and a pink tummy and beak (Rhodocrosite or Inca Rose – jewelry made of this stone was also found in the Incan tombs), we ended up back at the shuttle van which took us back to the cruise ship terminal. From here, a shuttle bus back to the Ship.
56: Once we were back on board ship we took a little rest and met up for games. Decided to treat ourselves to some yummy margaritas! Tonight was the last of our illegal drinks at the Mohlers and our cabin men had again treated us to lots of ice and appetizers – hoping for big tips!! We put together our money in envelopes for both our cabin men and Olman, our Maitre D at the Trellis R. We enjoyed another great meal, took pictures, and mom had her final Spanish Coffee!! We had to finalize packing our bags which had to be outside our staterooms by 11:00 pm. and only allowed one small carry-on per person for the next days’ excursion. Rebecca was missing a pair of pants out of her room, but other than that, packing went off without a hitch (turns out Grandma had packed them for herself!).
58: Day 16 - Sunday Feb 26th Departure from Buenos Aires, Argentina It was an early start today; we had a tour of the city followed by transport to the airport. Up early to have breakfast, Marj and Bill had breakfast in their room, so did Rebecca and Mom. I went up to the buffet early (about 6:30 am) to have my last breakfast on board ship and then down to the rooms to get everyone ready. We went down to the Rendezvous lounge for assembly of the last tour. Once again, they section us off by bus (we had # 15). At 7:45 am they started to call out the bus numbers and we then headed down to board our bus. It was a beautiful day and hot. The tour guide was very good. First stop was at the Recoleta Cemetery in the city. This was the resting place of Eva Peron. There were many beautiful mausoleums including Evita!
60: We drove down the “widest boulevard” in the world, the 9 de Julio. From here, we went to the Plaza De Mayo, Buenos Aires’ most important square. Here is the Presidential palace, Casa Rosada, the “Pink House” (where Eva made her famous speech), the old Town Hall (Cabildo – now a historical museum), the houses of Government, and a monument to Manuel Belgrano, the creator of the Argentine flag. We toured the square and then off to colourful La Boca where the buildings are painted many different colours (passing by a huge soccer/footfall stadium. At La Boca, we got off here for a mini walking tour on cobbled streets, where Gord got propositioned by a tango dancer – but quickly moved away. Mom, however, quickly moved in for her picture to be taken. This was a very interesting district.
62: We drove through many districts ranging from very rich to very poor. Buenos Aires is a city of approximately 13 million (greater Buenos Aires). We made a stop at a gas station for food, water, and a restroom stop. Here, Gord bought mom Argentinian Bugles – can’t find them in Canada, but Argentina has them “Super Congos mada Queso”. Back on the bus, our tour guide made a drink called “Mate” (pronounced ma-te), a tea like drink from leaves steeped in hot water. It is a drink used as friendship and relaxation and a time to sit and talk. He offered us all a sip – we all gave it a try and found it very interesting. Tasted similar to sweet tea.
63: Next stop was a Gaucho Fiesta with lunch and display of local dancing. The bus drove for approximately 1.5 hours until we reached our destination out in the Pampas. When we reached our destination there were about 6 bus loads of people. We got off the bus and were immediately offered a glass of wine (mom loved) and an empanada (turnover) which mom couldn’t have, then into the front yard for a display of local dancing.
65: From here we went to the horse pen where people were having buggy rides or horse rides. Bill and Marj took the buggy and Rebecca took the horse ride.
66: We then went to lunch where they served barbequed meat (beef, chicken, pork etc), potato salad and green salad. This was accompanied by wine , beer, pop and water. After lunch we were treated to more tango dancing on a stage (omg. More dancing). This is where I finally bought my gourd cup and straw (The locals drink Mate from it). This cost me 40$ (Actually a lot cheaper than in any other store that I had looked. We then went to see the gaucho riding which was very good. We then boarded the bus and we were all off to the airport. This took aprox 2 hours to reach.
68: At the airport, our luggage was waiting for us. We grabbed ours and then went inside and tried to check in electronically. They refused mine and moms so we had to go to the check-in counter. I thought that this was going to be the start of a long process, but when we reached the counter we were # 2 in line. This whole process was painless. We even got through before Marj and Bill. Once ‘through’ we consolidated ourselves and then passed through the luggage check. On the other side we had a bite to eat and then went to our gate. We asked for priority seating because of mom and they obliged us. This worked like a dream, we were able to store our carry-ons and get settled in our seats before the rest of the passengers were boarding. It turns out that there wasn’t enough room for carry on luggage and a lot of people had to check their carry-on. The plane took off at 9:30 pm. They served us a dinner – definitely not even close to the meals we had been eating on board ship.
69: Day 17 - Monday Feb. 27th. Arrival home. We had a quick breakfast on the plane (I don’t know why they bother) and then the plane landed in Atlanta at approximately 5:50 am (11 hrs with a 2 hr time change). This was a very long flight. Tired, we now had to go through customs. First we went through with our carry on luggage. They separated us by US citizen and Non citizen. So Marj, Bill and Rebecca went into one line and Mom and I went into the other. While we were standing, a customs person noticed us in the line and offered mom a wheel chair. Mom fought it but I insisted. So we got out of the line and went to where the wheelchairs were. Mom asked the lady officer if she could go the bathroom first. So the customs officer took her to the washroom, waited for her and then brought her back (in the wheelchair). She then took us to a special line. We were # 3 in line and went through without any issues. We had to wait for the others. Once through we went down to pick up our luggage. I was expecting a luggage check but we ended up just putting the luggage on a conveyor for reloading. Then through the personal check (shoes, belt, carryon, etc) through the scanner and the rest of us through a full body scan. We went to our parting gate (turns out we had the wrong gate number and had to change again). However, we got drinks and something to eat before boarding. Boarded the plane at about 8:25 am for an arrival of 11:00 am (5 hr flight with a 3 hour time change). Got off the airplane and grabbed a wheelchair for mom (you can’t imagine how well this works). Grabbed our luggage and then waited for our limo (Eric and the kids were waiting for Rebecca). Drove to Marj and Bills to get my jeep and to freshen up and then left for the border and went through the Nexus line (no delay). An afternoon nap was in demand.