Saturday, 31 March 2012

Salta

After a 24 hr bus journey I've arrived in Salta. It has an old colonial style and feels like Latin America. I've met up with Michael (Swiss) guy and Agatha (French girl and tango partner in BA, unfortunately that isn't euphemism). Planning to hire a car for a couple of days and go for a tour of the local area.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

No Guinness

Just a Toucan. Unfortunately this was in a bird park and not the wild. Beautiful birds and they have a lot of character. Hope to see one in the wild.

Iguazu Falls - the Brazilian side

Having been up close and personal with the falls on the Argentine side it was time to get an overview on the Brazilian side (plus probably visit to Brazil on the trip).
Still stunning, hard to say which I preferred, stewards' enquiry needed.
Extra points to Brazil for the non PC photo.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Iguazu Falls

On the Carl Warner scale of waterfalls (private joke that school mates, aka the Gr8, will hopefully appreciate) Iguazu falls must be at the top; total relaxation.

Not sure what the collective noun is for waterfalls, a cascade? Anyway the waterfalls were spectacular. It looked like a film set, and a CGI one at that. Could have a scene from Avatar.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Postage stamps

It's a real mission to buy picture stamps in Argentina. Just been sent across town to another post office for them. Having traipsed cross town the girl behind the counter just prints the non picture stamps out and I'm stuffed, I have to use them. So apologies if you receive a postcard without picture stamps, I really did make the effort but to no avail.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Boca Jrs 2 - 2 Lanus

We were stood on the terrace behind a goal and opposite the hardcore Boca Jrs fans. The band struck up and there was plenty of flag waving.
First 40 minutes were fairly uneventful and there was a mad 5 minutes and Boca went in at halftime leading 2-1. The pace was a bit slower than the premiership and their first touch let me down a bit.
There was something we could borrow for the premiership; the referee had a can of spray paint which he used to made a circle for where a free kick should be taken and would then pace out 10 yards and draw a line behind which the defensive wall should line up. The paint would fade and disappear in a few minutes.
Lanus equalised early doors in the second half, and then had a third disallowed for offside.
With 20 minutes to go Boca found themselves down to 10 men after a player got a yellow card for insulting the ref, so he told him what he thought of that and got a red.
Boca didn't have the energy to win the game with 10 men and it ended 2-2.

Boca Jrs v Lanus

Off to the footy this evening to watch Boca Jrs v Lanus (other team from Buenos Aires). Going on an organised tour as the only alternative is to buy on the black market and it can be a bit naughty in the ground if you're in the wrong area.

More red meat and a bit of tango

Went to local cheap all you can eat grill. The black pudding (or blood sausages out here are great, not dry like back home).
Followed up a trip to local tango club. Not a tourist show but where the locals go. Obviously not the same spectacle but really good atmosphere. Having had a quick lesson from a hottie in the hostel did take to the floor. Probably on par with Widdie; I like to think that Len would given me some words if encouragement but definitely not a SEVEN. It would have been a DIS-ZAR-STER from Craig.

Lomo at La Brigada

Slap up meal of steak and chips at La Brigada in BA. Waiter cuts the steaks at the table with a spoon!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Buenos Aires

My first day in Buenos Aires and first up was a much needed haircut. Managed to avoid getting a mullet.
Once shorn I went on a bit of walking tour. The cemetery is pretty interesting, all overground mausoleums. The only place in the city that cats were hanging around (proves that they're a bit creepy).
Happened upon a bar showing the Arsenal game. They played Mersey beat songs none stop throughout the game in the bar. Luckily it failed to inspire the Toffees.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Another rough day at sea

The last day at sea and still blowing a gale. Rock and roll all day and all of the night.

The weather is a bit naughty

Bit rough in the Drake Passage. A side wind of 35 knots makes breakfast interesting; chairs and coffee cups tumbling about. The ship pitches and rolls along at 10 knots a hour and we are confined to indoors as the decks and windows are getting a wash from the waves.

100 years to the day since Oates staggered out the tent saying, "I am just going outside and may be some time.".

Another chap from Lloyds

I've met another chap who used to work at Lloyd's. He retired from the market 10 years ago. The real coincidence is that he used to work with Kevin Wilkins at Atrium (the first bloke from Lloyd's I met when watching the rugby).

Pleneau island and Paradise Bay

Still a bit overcast as we head back up the Lemaire Channel and stop at Pleneau Island. We cruise around the icebergs in the Zodiacs searching for wildlife and see a quite a few seals. There was a bit of a snow flurry and it definitely feels like the Antarctic.
Landing on Pleneau island we are treated to more Gentoo penguins but you don't bore of them. The youngsters were practising their swimming in pool in the rocks, going absolutely bonkers.

In the afternoon we anchor in Paradise Bay and the sun tries to come out. We chase a humpback whale around the bay but it gives us the run around.

We pick a clear piece of iceberg up in our zodiac and I suggest we make vodka luge out of it for the BBQ night that evening. All this ice and they have never thought of it before. Anyway, it goes down a storm and the tour leader said that they were going to store some ice and make one as part of their Equatorial crossing the line ceremony.

Crossing the Polar circle

We cross the Polar circle after breakfast and celebrate on deck with bubbly. The weather is a bit naughty and so the planned landing at Detail island is abandoned.
The station base there was abandoned in 1957 after only 3 years. The had to leave in a hurry as the ship could only get within 20 miles of the base. They packed hurriedly and set off across the ice with the dogs. When boarding the ship one if the dogs bolted and headed off across the ice back to the base. There was no time to try and fetch the dog and so the ship had to depart without him.
Two months later a lone husky turned up at the base at Horseshoe island. It was the escapee, well fed and waggling his tail after the trip across the ice. A plucky dog.
The weather worsens and we have to turn around and head north. No trips today so they happy hour at the bar instead.

Lemaire Channel, Petermann Island and Vernadsky base

The weather is overcast for the Lemaire Channel but we see another ship ahead of us. Later we land on Petermann Island; more Gentoo penguins but a a few Adelie penguins. There is a monument on the island for 3 Brits who disappeared after visiting the island in the 1980s. The snow is covered in green and red algie.
Sea gets choppy but the crew still manage to take us to the Vernadsky base. We still the old British hut used from 1947 to 1954. The hut is pretty much as it was the day the left. Jars of Marmite still on the shelves. Must have been a tough posting. Only 5 there at a time for 15 months; must have been a tough posting. Then over to the new station, built by the British but sold on to the Ukraine who now run it. We get shown around and get I get my passport stamped, along with some postcards.

Landing on the continent of Antarctica

We land at Neko harbour on the continent of Antarctica. That's continent number 7 visited and a life's ambition realised. Stunning weather.
Coming into the bay a humpback came up for air and then dived under the ship. Managed to capture it all on film.

Cuverville island

Cuverville Island is just off the continent of Antarctica and is home to a large colony of Gentoo penguins. After landing on the island we go for a cruise around the bay in the zodiac. We see a leopard seal bobbing about but another boat saw one take a penguin.

Deception Island

Spotted a few Humpback whales on the way to Deception Island (too obvious a name to be a bond villain's lair). Deception Island is horse shoe shaped and you have to pass through the wonderfully named Neptune's Bellows to reach the sheltered waters of Whalers' Bay.
The remains of the whaling and Antarctic stations punctuate the shore line. At the height of whaling the whole bay would have been full of whale carcasses.
I took the opportunity to take dip in the Antarctic waters. It was a little fresh but the volcanic activity in the area takes the edge off it.

Drakes Passage

There's a bit of a swell as we enter Drake's Passage but it could be a lot worse. I haven't found me sea legs yet (I'm convinced I packed them), but don't feel too rough. There are lectures on board on sea birds, the history of Antarctic expeditions and also Antarctica weather; all very good. One percent chance of seeing the southern lights following the recent solar activity.

Half Moon Island

Our first landing is at Half Moon Island.
We are treated to Strap chin and Gentoo penguins, grumpy fur seals and a solitary elephant seal. The penguins are amazingly tolerant of us intruders.

Robert Island - South Shetlands

We sail past Robert Island which forms part of the South Shetlands. Father will be pleased to note that they are using charts from the Hydrographic office.

Awful smell on the Bridge

There's an awful smell on the ship's bridge.

I think it might be the Captain's log...

Plancius heads south

I board the Plancius in the afternoon and we set sail for Antarctica through the Beagle channel.
There are quite a few youngsters among the 100 passengers (I include myself as a youngster), including a Swedish girl who has cycled from Alaska! It has taken her 2 and a half years. My observation that it is all down hill (at least on the map), doesn't raise a laugh.

Officially in Antarctic waters

We crossed the Antarctic convergence line between the warm and old ocean and so are officially in Antarctica.
We were treated to a sighting of a few Fin whales, which are the second largest of the whales. There were also some Hourglass dolphins darting about. Black browsed albatrosses have also been cruising past the ship along with cape petrels.

South West London Massive

The South West London Massive are on the ship to Antarctic. There is a couple from Balham and a chap from Tulse Hill.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Crabbing in Ushuaia

I don't think they have a crabbing competition down here. Wouldn't want to get nipped by one of these king crabs!

Countdown

6 days in Ushuaia is 4 too many, especially when I'm trying not to spend any more money.
I'm being entertained by Bruce Chatwin's, "In Patagonia". I'm a bit of a cliche, but I can live with it.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Souvenirs

Getting a bit bored of Ushuaia now. It was throwing it down this morning. It cleared up by lunchtime so i headed into town which is full of tasteful souvenir shops. Pink penguin anyone?

Monday, 5 March 2012

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Ushuaia southernmost city in the world

By the sign at the port it suggests that the British aren't too welcome around here. No aggro from the local argentines though.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Off to Antarctica

Just booked up to go to Antarctic! Trying not trying to think about the cost. 12 day voyage to the Antarctic circle, setting off on 9th March so I've a few days in Ushuaia to fill.

The big question is: will they serve Arctic roll on the ship?