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Apr 6, 2015

Cruise Travel: TTG in South America - chilling in Chile

Cruise Travel: 
TTG in South America and chilling in Chile

South America trip has been on our bucket list for awhile. We knew it had to be a longer trip to be worth it. So this year we took a cruise on Golden Princess from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Santiago, Chile.

We flew to Santiago, Chile and then took a shuttle to Buenas Aires. By doing this, instead of direct flight, we saved $800 per person. And it was a cry pleasnt 2 hour flight.

Buenes Aires
In Buenes Aires we took a taxi. And asked the driver for recommendation for a local preferred not so touristy place with dinner and flamingo show. We were not disappointed. The guy took us to one place that was supposed to be good, but turned out to not have a show anymore. He walked is over to another local restaurant that had one. We had a great time, great dinner, and a good bottle of wine that we not only drank there but also bought a bottle on the spot. It was an Argentine Merlot Malbec, very good red wine.


This is also were we boarded our cruise.

What we packed:
1 suitcase and 2 carry-ons for 2 weeks for 2 people. It was tight. But also, as it turns out, too heavy per bag. That is at least according to the not so pleasant ticket agent and LAN airline rules. While we checked and double checked everything while packing, we did not think about checking the weight restriction for carry-ons. Some travel advice from that, always check regulations for each airline. They all vary.

More packing info and tips here

Montevideo, Uruguay (City Drive, Winery)
At this port of call we had a bus tour of the area as there were not that many excursions offered. The tour overall was interesting. Found out a lot of information about Uruguay that changed my perception of this country. One interesting and a bit funny part of the narration was that the guide was trying to sell his country as a senior retirement resort. He several times mentioned low crime rates, great free medical services, calm and serene atmosphere.
Part of the tour was a stop at one of the larger Uruguayan wineries. There, we got a tour of the place, sampling of the wines, as well as dinner and a show. The host, the wine maker, told us that they only make fine wines at the place, that all of his is high quality wine. I don't claim to be a wine connoisseur, though we have had our sampling of wines in many travels (California Tripping, Our Last Hoorah... For Now, Winter trip to summer home of the rich and the famous (Hamptons, LI)). And this wine did not taste good. And then the statistic came out that 80% of Uruguayan wine is drank by Uruguayans. That made a lot of sense.

Puerto Madryn, Argentina (Penguins at Punta Tombo Reserve)
In Puerto Madryn was our first trip to the penguins reservation. Here the Magellan penguin come to lay their eggs from fall to early spring. We were very excited to see some penguins in real life. We had no idea just how up close we will see them. As soon as we got there, there were penguins right off the people path. The further we want the more of them were lining the road. You had to look under bushes and into holes to find some of them. One of the things the guide told us is we should look up to them crossing the path and to make sure to stop way before to let them through safely. At that time they make their trip to the ocean to hunt for food. And if prevented from crossing they will miss their meal. We had just one like that crossing in front of us. Though instead of of just crossing he decided to walk up the human path. It was awesome how he was wobbling ahead with a crowd of people following behind. See it here ...
And more pictures here (link to album)

Port Stanley, FK - Bluff Cove (4x4 and penguins)
On this trip I learned quite a bit. Such as there are islands off of South America continent called Falkland Islands. In 1982, there was a war for these islands between Argentina and Great Britain. British won as they currently have the control. The official currency is pound and language is English.
This was our second excursion to see penguins. This time the inhabitants are Gentoo and King penguins. Instead of holes or bushes these ones were out on the rocks and on the beach. To get to the beach we took 4x4 vehicles, which were all Range Rovers. It was a fun ride through unpaved terrain with many ups and downs, rocks, ditches, and other 'obstacles'. It was a fun adventurous ride in addition to the penguins observation. When we got to the Bluff Cove we saw a sea of penguins. They were running and chirping everywhere. Off to the right there was a small, but not in statue, population of King penguins. Their hatchlings were next to them or under them.



Cape Horn, CL
One of the scenic swim bys on the cruise. It was a nice view of the ridges and peaceful nature. However, neither of us thought it was magnificent. It was nice. We got some great shots and took a look for a few minutes, but that was it. It also was freezing cold there. We were wearing 3-4 layers and it was chilly.
____________________
Quotes from the trip:

Q: What country you all from (to bus group)?
A: Ohio
Tour Guide: penguins swim out to feed and get food for their babies
Q: from bus passenger 2 min later - do penguins live near water?

On tender
P1: Who painted the Mona Lisa?
P2: umm
P1: O, you know, we went to his house to see the painting...
P2: O I think it was Galileo, (me - Michael...) I mean that guy, Michaelengelo
P1: they are all like spaghetti to me
____________________

Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego) Argentina
End of the Earth. It is the most southern part of the continent. It was one of the most scenic stops on the trip. This place of dreary skies started out as a prisoners colony, but grew into residential area with skiing resorts and robust tourism.

Punta Arenas, CL
Originally, we were going to visit another penguins colony, though after seeing the last two it was a lot of penguins. And it would be Magellans once more. Instead, we did a tour of the city on own. It was interesting to see the town and we go to see more of it then most tourists. We did start of with very touristy portion, the Plaza Muñoz Gamero. It has many stalls with the local selling a ton of touristy chuchkies, "wool" clothing, magnets and so on. Around the square there were several museums. Originally we wanted to see Museo Palacio Braun Menendez, which we did. However, by a lucky mistake, we first ended up at the house of Braun Menendez, Casa Braun-Menéndez. It was a small mansion with some of the original furniture and other historic artifacts. The actual museum, is actually much smaller with less stuff in it. Right off the plaza is the restaurant, La Tasca, that is recommended, but not the easiest to find. When we came across it, we were not even sure if it was it. It is located on the second floor of a white building. And unless you can spot the small sign, you would walk right by it. When we went up their for lunch it looked like a 2 story walk up building in NY. But then on the right side is a full restaurant. There was no one there at the time. We were the first. We has a great selection of seafood and a pisco sour. As we dined, local patrons came in for lunch as well as other tourists.


We also got a great 360 degree view of Punta Arenas when we climbed up the steps in the middle of the town. The walk and the climb was well worth the view:



Amalia Glacier(scenic Cruising), CL
The weather and therefore the ocean were ruff at the time we were supposed to sail by that glacier. And captain made a call to bypass it and sail around it. While a few folks were disappointed, considering the number of green people walking around, it was the right call. Plus at dinner the night before we saw pretty awesome glaciers that looked even better from my view then the one we missed.

Puerto Montt, CL
This excursion was the most scenic and grandiose. First stop after a short bus ride was at the Emerald Lake. So named for the color of the water which looks bright green. Here we took a very scenic ride on a ferry. It lasted 45 minutes, though it seemed to go by much quicker. We sailed by the Osorno volcano. Seeing it from several sides. We later saw even more sides of it driving to next destination on the bus. The weather was crisp and sky clear, so we got a good view of its snowy top. The water was calm and just as green as the name suggested. We got a lot of great pictures:
Second stop of the tour was a lunch break on a local farm. They had great food and drinks, and we had great time chatting with other folks on the tour. They also had animals grazing near by and we got some up close shots of a bird that looked like Emu, saw sheep, hawk flying by, and goats.


Valparaiso, CL - Errazuriz Winery
Here it was a bus tour through out the area. We drove through the city making a few very short stops for pictures and stretching. One of the most scenic views was up high of the entire city.
The great part about this excursion, besides the tour, was that it also acted as our transfer from the cruise ship to the airport. At the end of the excursion, they dropped us off right in-front.




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