Port Stanley – Falkland Islands – 31 December 2011

Another fabulous sunny day (about 28-30 degrees?) as we disembarked via Zodiac in to Port Stanley where we met up with Sars (Sarah Clement – Debbie Summers sister) and a fifth generation Falklander.  It was so lovely to see her again and to have a friendly, local face to spend the morning with.  First stop Gipsy Cove where she explained there were still some land mines but the penguins are light enough to walk over them so they don’t get blown up (comforting).  Beautiful beaches in Stanley– pitty the water was so cold.

There are no mistaking the warning signs...

Sarah then remembered she had seen a King Penguin whilst out walking her dog – what a treat that was and knowing we were the first on our ship to see a King Penguin (aka “Kevin”) on this voyage was an added bonus. He just sat, malting, bathing in the sunshine as we took images of every angle. Sarah explained that they can apply for egging licenses – the penguin season is about October/December (some time) and you can get up to 200 eggs. They are large and apparently the white stays clear when cooked and the yolk is a blood red colour. The whites make “fabulous meringues” but she opts out of this as she doesn’t like the taste – or the idea. Penguins raise one chick yet often lay two eggs so I guess it is a popular occurrence.

A ticky-tour through the town, we went to see Debbie’s house (Deb – it’s still standing!)and learnt that the majority of houses are made out of tin as it was lighter to import on the boats so more cost effective. Freaking cold in winter comes to mind. Then again, many are  now double glazed, insulated and changed over heating systems so we take her word for it that the houses are warmer now.

one of many colourful houses in Port Stanley

Not a lot to do in Stanley (other than of course the great outdoors which I imagine would offer plenty – just not swimming – bbrrrr) by way of shopping. Mostly gift shops, one large department store (West Store – clothes, groceries, electrical), no pharmacy, no ATM’s, banks not open on Saturday’s – so I (Dan) jumped on her computer and shuffled some funds around finally so I can settle my bill on the boat – that could have been awkward.

Many of the guests on board the ship took up the challenge of a scavenger hunt – one of the more interesting was to find the secret gnome garden. Turns out there are two inStanley– ours was found at Kay’s B&B – easily 100+ gnomes.  We met Kay who told us one had been “borrowed” by a traveller to take to the Antarctic. No gnome will be a match for our Bruce in the Antarctic.

Bruce hanging out with some Gnomes at Kay's B&B

Of further interest, was Sarah’s childhood memories, (she was 5, Debs about 9) during the 1982 Argentina/British war.  Memories of hiding in hall ways with mattresses against the walls to reduce the possibility of being hit by shrapnel, of being kicked out of their home by the Argentinians and returning to find it ransacked and filthy.  There were other stories that were terrifying but rather personal that I would not want to repeat and can barely think how unimaginably frightening it must have been for them as little kids.   That said, seems our buddy Debs was quite the terror during these 70+ days – Debs did you really use up all the sugar rations for the community by making bad fudge that then had to be reused in people’s coffee? Surely not.  Or tipping over a Land Rover? Surely not. Or taking some of the neighboring kids to a pond your Granny had forbidden you to swim in to then have the need for a rescue.  Surely not.

Enough Said - don't walk past this point!There are no mistaking the warning signs...and yet here is a beautfil, and safe, beach

 
 

Sarah had to work in the afternoon (she runs a PR Firm – Seal PR) in a magnificently bright red and yellow building on the port, so we trotted around the town,

SeAled PR Ltd offices on top floor - can't miss it!

visited Victory Bar (her Great, Great Uncle opened this bar – about two streets up from the jetty – and called it Victory having come back from the UK and the Victory Parade.  Local fish and chips, a cooling ale then off to continue the scavenger hunt.

delicious fish and chips

By this time it was easily 26 degrees outside, the merino was not “cooling” at all and we had to shed layers. A good excuse to stop at the Globe Tavern and enjoy another cold beer outside with other passengers from the Star Princess which was in port (2,500 passengers- about the population of theFalkland Islands).  They had to moor considerably further out and all endured long queue’s to get on their tenders for the ship – more enjoyable for us to just jump in our wet-skins, board the zodiacs and a quick 5  minute sprint across the bay to our boat.

Local Teacher's (?) house - other side of the harbourDave (?) a local celebrity

 

Thanks Sarah for a wonderful day (and the bubbles for NYE) – we hope to return again!

Port Stanley

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Carcass Island – Falkland Islands – 30 December 2011

After a quick lunch on board, we boarded the zodiacs for another outing – alas the wind was up again so no kayaking and we did another shore excursion. An opportunity though to get up close and (respectfully) personal with more penguins and albatross due to their location to the path we took the farm house.

one wonders how long it takes for a letter to be delivered...

returning from Carcass Island to the ship

The sun was still out, we had a wonderful afternoon and again were treated to a cuppa and some lamingtons/scones/tarts etc.  On entering we met Rob – a Falkland Island born native but had been living at the farm since 1974.  We asked if he knew our friend Debbie Summers – “oh yes and her sister Sarah (Sars)”. What a crack up.

Back to the ship and after another chatty meal with fellow passengers we were treated to a magnificent sunset. Our first observed since we boarded.

Next stop –Port Stanley where we meet Sarah (Sars) and finally hand over the gifts from Debs which will help lighten the load of our suitcases.

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Antarctic Log – Falkland Islands – 30 December 2011

West Falklands

West Falklands
Cool dude hanging out on his rock

Land at last! We woke to a lovely sunny day but alas the wind was about 20 knots and as we prepared in hope for a morning of kayaking (oh the joy of sucking on those dry suits) we were advised the wind was too much and to prepare for a day of sightseeing on land.

Our first real sight of penguins – soooo cute! Penguins abounded aside stark white Albatross.

Magnificent Albatross

We hiked over the farmland of some locals to a rocky outcrop where there were large flocks of albatross and penguins co-existing and nursing their fluffy young.

The noise, let alone stench (of pooh and carcass) was horrendous. Pooh everywhere (no wonder they make us clean our boots thoroughly on re-boarding the ship!), but what a treat and a teaser for our time in South Georgia.  We understood immediately why you are advised to bring extra batteries and memory cards – easily THOUSANDS of photo’s between all of us – I mean – how many angles of the one bird does one need?

More penguins and Albatross!

Back across the hill and to the local farm house where we were welcomed with scones and cream, lemon cake, cupcakes all washed down with tea and coffee. The lady of house commented they welcome about one cruise ship a week in the height of the season – we are a small boat of some 100 passengers – the Sea Princess who is also floating around somewhere near us has some 2,500 – can you imagine the scones you would need for that lot!

West Falklands

Best Lemon Cake baker ever!

Supplies come every 6-8 weeks, if they order something, otherwise it doesn’t come. Their closest neighbours –CarcassIsland- (where we were headed that afternoon) – orPort Stanley. Very remote and windswept!

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Falkland Islands

HI All – sorry for the lack of blogs but there isn’t any email on the ship (funny that).  having a fabulous time – can see why they tell us that we will take easily a thousand photo’s – so many angles of the same penguin and albatross.

magnificent country side – somewhat barren though where we went yesterday – West Point and Carcass Islands – need to be a special kind of person to live out there and see a supply ship only every 6-8 weeks!

met “Rob” who owns the farm at Carcass Island and asked him if he knew our friends Debbie and Sarah Summers (Clements) – yes. That was a laugh! (We have a photo for you Deb!).

We are in Port Stanley for the day and Sarah has been showing us around – so a quick bit of internet time on her computer (what a relief – Dad no need to send money now – have transferred what little I have in my bank accounts to the Visa card!) and now off to have some local fish and chips and a beer in one of the local (12!) pubs!

next stop South Georgia for 3 days/nights then on to the ice! if we can, will log in when we get to South Georgia otherwise it will be on our return to Buenos Aires.

Happy New Year!

 

 

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La Boca – Christmas Day – Day 3

Bruce getting some local constabulary assistance

Christmas Day in Buenos Aires. Fab.

Pressies unwrapped, map consulted, checked with Alberto our doorman and off we set in to the 24+ degree day. We haven’t had a lot of luck with the restaurant of our choice being open – today was no different – so we wandered along the Puerto Madero – all revitalised and looking very Melbourne or Sydney waterfront with impressive warehouse conversions and treelined promenades. We enjoyed lunch in the sun and watched tango dancers doing little dancing and more tourist photo’s.

The best part of our day was heading to La Boca which for those who have been you know how fabulous it is – the myriad of coloured homes, locals mingling with tourists, tango on every corner, photo’s of tango dancers on every corner, stalls, music ….

It was Gillian’s first visit and I am sure she took a gizillion photo’s of the houses.  We followed the heady scent of meat bbq’d in a courtyard of a family restaurant (El Praiso) and were invited in by Pablo. I was determined for Gillian to finally try some Argentinian beef.  A little BBQ arrived on our table with some intriguing items (blood sausage – say no more), steak, some other offal thing that was left barely touched, and some lovely steak. Whislt not quite the intro I had hoped for her – we will get there. About 5-6 years ago when I visited BA with Dad, we went to a fabulous family run restaurant for lunch and that was one of my many positive memories of our visit – well – I found it! I have a good sense of direction once I’ve been somewhere so I knew our apartment was in the vicinity – Gillian might finally get to enjoy the steak experience, but that’s tomorrow’s adventure.

Pablo invited us to join him and his friends at Plaza Dorrego (San Telmo) from 8pm for some dancing (not a lot happening for me with the ankle still swollen but off we set).  A beautiful plaza with outdoor seating where you can enjoy dinner and drinks. Music bustling, dancers, performers, drums, warm evening. Fantastic.  The performers and drummers then took to leading us all down some streets and we then jumped in a cab for home. 

San Telmo is a famous suburb – beautiful architecture, cathedrals, plaza’s – we will be sure to return and browse through the shops – this particular area is reknowned for antiques – alas no room in the suitcase but that’s perhaps not a bad thing either.

Picturesque windows

colourful house

A great Christmas Day – very memorable and enjoyable. Tomorrow will be about re-packing our suitcases for the big trip – oh, and trying to get money off my credit cards!

Merry Christmas everyone.

D

coloured window frames

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Buenos Aires – Day 2

Eerie - yes.

What a delight to wake to a beautiful sunny day. That said, it took us a while to get moving having faffed around all morning, contemplating what to wear that wasn’t merino or in a puffer jacket form, looking at maps, consulting the apartment manager, then again with Alberto the building security manager (he knows everything! and speaks English).

We trotted off about 1pm and headed for lunch at Recoleta and the Buenos Aires Cemetery (amazing – more on that soon). Lunch outside under the shade of some umbrellas – we were amused to see some people with thick jackets on – good grief – it was about 22 degrees (positively balmy for us hardy NZ’ers) and proceeded to be charged for sitting outside (‘doh! Italy all over again – does one never learn).

After a cooling ale we set off to wander through the BA Cemetery – WOW.  We met a mexican gentlemen who commented it was the same anywhere but to see Eva Perone’s grave – 10 minutes of discussion about how NZ is nothing like this we swapped cemetery stories and off we went to visit Eva. Quite a constant stream of visitors to her grave.

So many photo’s (if we can figure out how to load more than one on here that will be a good start, otherwise Facebook). It is truly about purchasing real estate in these cemeteries and I guess like many countries around the world you can identify a) those with the money to afford such impressive structures and b) those families who religiously (no pun intended) maintain the plots.

Odd for us to see caskets out in full view – some dating from the 1800’s. A definite “Must See” on your Buenos Aires sightseeing tour.

Off we wandered again through the streets back to the hotel to ensure our big Christmas Eve dinner was booked and confirmed and on to the shopping district to get last minute accessories for the celebration – it is big here.

Joy – Danielle found out her credit cards don’t work in the ATM’s and we can see a panicked call back to the banks on the horizon.  (If Owen is reading this – SEND MONEY..x)

Christmas Dinner – was enoyed at El Viego Almacen – an hour long tango show which was fabulous (we did envy the ladies physiques let alone the men being able to swing their legs up defyingly high), then on to dinner. Awful. We will in due course provide “feedback” to the agent who recommended this “local” experience.  SKYCITY catering would have had a seizure at the steaks that came out – and when did a slice of lettuce ever become acceptable as a garnish?? Tragic. But,we had a lovely Colombian family sitting with us and just before midnight more champers came out and the big countdown with fireworks – having experienced that we would love to see what these folk do for New Year’s Eve! The fireworks were still going about 0130 – great fun.

That was our Christmas Eve experience. Looking forward to Day 3 – Christmas Day here and seeing what will be open to enjoy. Might be more like wishful thinking – if so, we have wine and champers we can enjoy by the pool in the Buenos Aires sun.

bronze statue

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Antarctic Bound

We are on the adventure of a life time (cliche as that is) to the Antarctic. It all started with a bottle of wine, twelve months later and some $20K (NZD) each lighter in our bank balances, we are on our way.
Some said we were mad, most were completely jealous. This will be our story as we take a month off to explore beautiful Buenos Aires, Ushuaia, The Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula.
We WILL find Happy Feet – if not to prove to a little girl that her parents were wrong telling her a shark ate him – and will keep you posted of our adventures.

Bruce is our trusted kiwi companion and you will meet him along the way as well…

Happy travels,
Gillian and Danielle

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