Monthly Archives: December 2018

2011119 – San Antonio & Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires from our balcony.



Monday

Our hotel.

Disembark today. After 16 days we’ve both had enough. Our new world record for cruise endurance.

Start the day with breakfast in the cabin, save the battle of the breakfast crush and lineup. Thought we’d have it on the balcony but not really warm enough so we eat inside.

Being in a Neptune suite we can disembark at our leisure. Process is vey efficient apart from the Chilean gestapo wanting to inspect the contents of my suitcase and wendy’s handbag.

Walking out of the port towards the bus station we come across a bus to Santiago ready there and waiting. Saves us a walk to the bus station. Superb bus, very efficient and less than £10 for the two of us for 70 mile journey.

Our room.

Santiago bus station is a typical 3rd world cesspit, but we eventually get picked up by an Uber for a 40 minute drive to our hotel. Have to say Uber are really cheap, saves on local currency, no problems tipping and very efficient. Apart from one driver who had never been a boy scout and was totally incapable of reading a map. His business model seemed to be based on expecting us to walk and find him.

Check into our 5 star Hotel Cumbres in a pleasant area of Santiago. We’re a tad early so have to wait in the luxury of the business lounge with free drinks and nibbles.

Our room very roomy and 5 star quality.

And the stupidist design of salt and pepper pot ever. – worhty of an honourable mention. Try picking them up / scraping them off the table.

We have a stroll around the neighbourhood for some lunch. Usual screw up with not having what’s on the menu. End up in the restaurant next door having the best Empanada’s we’ve ever had. Really need to get the recipe for these Chilean forgeries of a traditional Cornish pastie.

Have a walk down to the main Plaza Aramas. Good job really as despite our bus tour saying “mobile tickets” you have to get a wrist band printed off at designated locations – stuff the customer yet again, good job I read the small print.

Hotel welcomes us with a free Pisco Sour – apparently a famous local drink. Evening meal is in the hotel out of sheer laziness. Not the best meal ever. I try the flaky lambs tongue. Nothing to get excited about.

Tuesday

Pretty good breakfast. Then we set off to pick up our

Hotal pool.

Hop On Hop Off bus tour. Booked by Viator but completely loose my marbles trying to find a map of the route so we know where’s best to pick up the bus – no map, yet another example of complete lack of common sense and customer care. Why am I surprised.

Finally find the bus stop, not that they can be bothered to put a Turistik bus stop sign up. Hello customer in need of some basic consideration. Think about it not really rocket science.

Funicular ride to yet another statue.

Anyway bus tour’s not bad, at least we get a good overview of Santiago. A massive, sprawling high rise city and the modern part – well away from the bus station – is quite civilised.

Get off at the Funicular for ride up to see yet another statue. Yes, you guessed it religious. This time it’s the virgin Mary. Have a pleasant stroll around with Wendy whining that it’s too hot.

Yes another religious statue.

Lunch is beer and empanadas – not nearly as good as yesterdays.

Then it’s back on the hop on off for the rest of the city.

Too weary tourists are glad to get back to our 5 star first world bubble.

Dinner in the restaurant next door where we had those awesome Empanadas. Not nearly as good as the Empanadas.

Wednesday

One of the top tourist attractions, but it goes backwards and has a mind of it’s own.

Going on a “Wallace Arnold” tour to Vile de mar and Valpariso today. Picked up at the hotel and have a 40 minute ride to the bus, in the chaos of Santiago’s traffic. Slower than a herd of turtles stampedin’ through peanut butter. Then it’s nearly a 2 hour ride to Vile de Mar. Our tour consists mainly of Spanish speaking geriatrics and as a result the ratio of Spanish to English from the tour guide seems to be about 80:20.

Famous house in Valpariso.

Stop at a beach for 20 minutes. God only knows why we needed so long. Then stop at a very nice beach side restaurant where we decide on a cheese board and a cake each, and for me a couple of beers – sin every day now. The cheese board was enough to feed a family of 10 and the Key Lime pie and chocolate cake was ginormous. But we soldier on.

Then we drive up to Valpariso. The old part is a Unesco heritage area. Very colourful, with a walking tour. In the main the place seems to be rusting to pieces.

More of shanty town Valpariso.

Then it’s another 2+ hours back, plus a 30 minute taxi ride, in yet more traffic than muslims at a stoning. Get back about 19:30, so in all we’ve had an 11 hour day. We chose this as we wanted to see the UNESCO area of Valpariso and avoid the heat of Santiago, but by the end of the day we’d had enough. Glad we saw Valpariso but these “Wallace Arnold” expeditions really aren’t our idea of bliss. Would rather do our own thing.

Neither of us feel like venturing out for dinner as we’re both stuffed from our sinful lunchtime excess and have had enough of Dago land. So we opt for room service. Phone down to a dyslexic Spanish speaker who claims he speaks English – not in his wildest dreams. After much repetition and frustration he finally repeats our order back to us. Not that it makes an iota of difference as he screws it up on two counts. Then spend 5 minutes waiting for reception to figure out how to answer the phone and hopefully put the SNAFU right.

Funicular.

Fall asleep through yet another episode of “House of Cards”, better know for it’s overly complex, back stabbing, bitchy plots and counter plots. You really need an “Idiots Guide to House of Cards” to figure out who’s screwing (not in the sexual sense) who.

Thursday

Yet another famous square I can’t remember the name of.

Lazy start to the day with breakfast.

Drinking Pisco – Chilean fire water.

Congratulations to Chile who have managed to create an extra queue by having passport control on the way out of the Country. No doubt the UK could learn a thing or two on how to increase airport misery by adopting this.

Mind you their equivalent of the TSA leaves a lot to be desired. The dolly bird scanning my haversack seemed more interested in checking her nails out. Very lackadaisical.

Discovered this lush wine here in Chile, so our travels haven’t been wasted.

Cute.

“Carménère is a dark-skinned grape variety originally from the vineyards of Bordeaux, and which has found a particularly suitable home in Chile. Its name is often spelt Carmenère (including in the latter country), and without accents by some.
A late-ripening variety, Carménère needs high levels of sunshine and a warm summer to reach its full potential, but in the right environment it can produce fine, deeply colored red wines, with the attractive meaty plumpness of Merlot and the gently herbaceous, cedary notes of Cabernet Sauvignon.”

Need to keep an eye open for it.

Give up on trying to get an Uber as they don’t allow them into the airport. Settle for a taxi £30 instead of £20 with Uber. But you can’t beat market forces, technology and ultimately Uber will win. It’s a great service. You see the price in advance; can see taxi coming with estimate for how long; no problems with currency or change; no problems with tipping; can see your progress; all paid by your credit card.

Hotel room not what we expected. First world problem as room has no sitting area, no bath robes, no chocolates or coffee machine as per the booking.com website. Of course I complain.

The views from our balcony of the Obelisco de Buenos Aires on the main boulevard (widest in the World, at least 0 lanes wide) are stunning. We’re smack in the heart of Buenos Aires.

Friday

A big flower.

Breakfast is a joke. It’s a continental breakfast, the worst we’ve ever had to swallow. The hotel seems to think that by putting minuscule portions of everything out it’ll save them money. Take for instance milk to go on cereal, there’s a small jug of about 300ml or 2/3 a pint for a restaurant of about 40 people. When that runs out, as it does every few minutes, then a waitress has to go and get some more. Oh I forgot there is a boiler full of hot milk to go with ample coffee. Orange juice has about 2 pints out and the glasses are not much bigger than shot glasses. A single standard kitchen kettle for boiling water.

Our suite.

Tackle the manager about our room and the lack of the luxuries we’ve paid for. He’s very impressive and manages to upgrade us to a Junior Suite – “the most expensive room in the hotel” he says – which gives us what we paid for in the first place, so we get our sitting area, bath robes and chocolates. To be fair he’s very professional, turns a problem into an opportunity, under promises and over delivers. Even takes us to view the suite personally, making sure we’re totally satisfied with it and assists us to move our luggage.

We decide to do the hop on / off bus tour. You can pay on board apparently, but what they forgot to mention is you can only pay in Pesos. Fortunately they let us travel free to the next stop where the office is and we can join a 20 minute cue inside a sweatbox.

Amazon watch out.

Apart from that cock up the tour itself is very good and doing all the routes takes us about 5 hours, by the end of which we’re tourist piefagged with facts about Buenos Aires. Bear in mind it is our second tour around this trip, although the cruise tour was nowhere near as comprehensive. Fortunately this one did not include yet another Tango show. Quite surprised how good the tour was as there quite a lot of negative comments on TripAdvisor. Just goes to show how dodgy it all is.

For dinner I’ve discovered a small Argentinian steak restaurant about 10 minutes walk from the hotel. Which although small and not exactly 5 star looking provides two of the best steaks we’ve ever had. Even Wendy is impressed. All the staff spoke pretty good English and were very friendly and helpful – be careful you’ll be letting your Country down. And to top it all two steak dinner, with veg and 4 drinks comes to under £30. No wonder it was rated 10th best in Buenos Aires on Tripadvisor.



rant header

 
It is the fitness craze that might prove tricky to explain to an alien, though it has been embraced by celebrities including Ozzy Osbourne, Kate Beckinsale and Khloe Kardashian.

While you do yoga poses such as downward dog or bridge, a goat stands on your bottom or stomach.
The American farmer behind the exercise regime known as “goat yoga” has now written a book about it. It began when Lainey Morse, from Oregon, started inviting her friends for “goat happy hour”; they would drink wine and play with the goats.
When a friend, who was a yoga instructor, joined in, she suggested running a yoga class in the goat field.


Saturday

Japanese Gardens.

Up for another disappointing breakfast. The Macdonalds across the road is very tempting but our breakfast is included in the price.

Decide on a 3 mile walk to the Japanese gardens. A very pleasant walk it is too. Some elegent, although a tad busy, boulevards. Have to say we didn’t go through any seedy or threatening areas. Really impressed with Buenoa Aires.

Japanese gardens are small, busy but quite impressive. Even try some Jasmin tea, very fragrant.

Japanese gardens.

Then we pick up an Uber to the famous, oldest cafe Tortini. There’s a small queue outside, but I’m feeling relaxed so we risk it. Wendy tries the famous hot chocolate where you dunk a chocolate bar in. I try the hot chocolate with Cheerios and Dolce Leche. Although screw up by putting some of the Dolce Leche in the hot chocolate. Either way it is delicious, sweet and enough calories to turn you into a Michelin advert.

Cafe Tortoni.

In the evening we’ve deen advised to keep off the streets because there’s a local derby football game on and the avenue we’re on will be teaming with rowdy scrots. The massive police presence supports this opion. We have room service. Yet another disaster. Only bring half the order and when they finally deliver my Emenadas they’re a tad burnt.

We really should have gone out as there’s no crowds. Turns out the game was cancelled due to the fans being violent and threatening the players coaches. River Plate vs. Boca Juniors Copa Libertadores final postponed again after fan violence.

Sunday

Buenos Aires at night from our balcony.

Yet another crappy continental breakfast – another good reason to get out of the EU to stop promoting continental breakfast.

Then we pack. Try and get an Uber to the airport. First two accept but speak some gibbberish to us and cancel. Don’t think they want to go to the airport. Finally get another gibberish speaking Uber driver whose only English word seems to be “cash”. But he does understand the word “No”. Get to the airport for about £14 instead of typical taxi fare of £30, but Uber really should do something about cancelling after accepting, just wastes your time.

Bag drop is not too bad. Good job we’d checked in online though as the queue for online check in is horrendous. And of course in line with South Americas principle of making life even more miserable for passengers we have to queue to go through passport control. Fortunately security quite sloppy and easy.

Goodbye Buenos Aires. Goodbye South America.

Check into airport lounge and have a few drinks, or in Wendy’s case a lot of her own brandy.

Flights pretty good. Foods pretty good, even better than Virgin. Wine choice is awful but a few miniatures and a couple of sleeping tablets and I’m out of it for most of the flight, much to the amazement of the young girl sat next to me.

Flights on time and Bretts there to pick us up.

Amazing isn’t it veggies can pre-order there special vegetarian meal so why can’t I pre-order a meat meal?

It’s certainly been interesting down here on the edge of civilisation. We‘re really more into a first world 5 star bubble of opulence and civilisation. Spoilt I know. Glad we’ve seen it all, especially from our floating gin palace, but we certainly won’t be coming back.

Now to plan next year, either Japan and China or South Africa and Safari.



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Man shall not live by bread alone. But he had better not put any butter, ham or cheese on it for fear of causing offence.
Idioms involving meat, dairy products and animal cruelty will be culled, or rather removed, from the English language as veganism causes people to eschew such phrases as “bringing home the bacon”, an academic claims.

Such distressing references have abounded in English speech and literature for centuries. They range from taking a bull by the horns to letting the cat out of the bag or putting all one’s eggs in one basket. Dr Johnson, the great lexicographer, not only documented such terms but once declared: “Any of us would kill a cow, rather than not have beef.”
Nevertheless, Shareena Hamzah, a researcher at Swansea University, predicts that the lexicon will change as awareness grows around vegan issues and there is more widespread discussions about cruelty, healthy eating and the effect of demand for meat on climate change. This could involve the use of harm-free verbal alternatives already advocated by the animal rights charity Peta for use in schools. For instance, “flogging a dead horse” becomes “feeding a fed horse”.

Rising “veganphobia” means that vegans must be given the same legal protection from discrimination as religious people, a campaigner has said.

20181111 – Falkland Islands – Civilisation At Last


Sunday

Penguins and civilisation at last.

Falklands today – civilisation at last. Up early for breakfast and then we’re on the Bluff Cove Penguin tour at 08:00.

Mini bus to a car park then a land rover across the moor like, peaty landscape. By the end of the 20 minute drive we’re all shaking like a dog shitting hammer handles. Landscape reminds us very much of Belthorn, only really fit for sheep. Weather is sunny, not too cold but a tad windy. Better than at home.

More Gentoo penguins than Muslim at a blasphemy riot, but only a smaller colony of about 20 King penguins. There was a five hour tour took in more different varieties of penguins but involved 4 hours driving, a goodly portion of which would be in a Landrover, thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster we passed on that little escapade.

More British than Britain. I bet they’re not bothered about BREXIT.

Then get back to Port Stanley just in time for the two minute silence, which everyone observes apart from a German couple. Typical they start the bloody wars, then just because they had their arses well and truly kicked both times can’t even have the civility to observe a few moments silence. Sausage chomping scrots.

Have a stroll around. Can you believe it we visit a gift shop. Then a super market. Not just any old supermarket but a Waitrose. Place is a bit like 1960’s Britain. Photograph a few war memorials.

Then it’s back to the ship. One of the better day trips, Wendy got to see her penguins and everyone spoke English.

Monday

Cape Horn with 18 foot waves.

Day at sea. Sail around Cape Horn. We get our moneys worth going around the Horn with 18 foot waves to liven things up. Fortunately my pewk tablets do their job and I can even tolerate the gym. All quite exciting in a bizarre way.

Tuesday

Not sure what this is.

Ushuaia, Argentina today. The most Southerly “city” in the World. The city at the end of the World but no one drops off.

Get off the ship early and have a stroll around the city. Reminds us very much of France. There’s a cruise ship in town but not an open shop in sight – true French style entrepreneurs.

Being lazy souls we’ve signed up for a tour to the Tierra Del Feugo National Park. Quite a stark location. Our tour guide is obsessed with Beavers – thats the animal kind. By the end of the NP tour I’m at the point of being ready to throttle her if she mentions Beavers, and the problems they’ve caused, at least one more time. Im sure the whole coach would welcome her demise. Then when she’s done Beavers to death she starts on the parasites. No not the unemployed scrotal variety to be found in the UK, but the parasites that live on the trees.

Post box at the bottom of the World.

To be fair it was quite an interesting tour. The trip along the Trans American highway to the end at the bottom of the World just about sums up South America, not a square foot of blacktop, tarmac, concrete or any other substantial road surface. Just compacted and dusty gravel.

Then it’s back to the gin palace for an early departure to cruise Glacier Alley, Beagle Channel 
and Cockburn Channel. But not before a cocktail party with free whisky, champagne and you can borrow some real diamond bling for the formal evening. Cheeky bar steward asked was I getting dressed up for the formal. I replied “Yes, I already am”. That shut him up.

Wednesday

Town square.

Punta Arenas, Chile today. Sadly we booked a tour. This city was so much more civilised than Brazil, Uruguay or Argentina, but desperately struggles to justify a tour. Trip to an interesting little museum; up a hill to have an over view of the city; a Sarah Braun house tour; and the town plaza. Just love the marketing expertise of the locals. Get off a city tour bus and they try and sell us a city tour!

Next cruise we’ll stick to our guns and do our own thing. Much cheaper and we can avoid Museum and Cemetery fatigue.

Statue of Magellan – I think, i’d lost the will to listen by now.

Our guide is devastated when we say we’re staying in town. “But you’ll miss the most beautiful cemetery in South America”, my silent retort is “good”, we’re just about had enough cemeteries to last a life time. Good god we don’t even go to our parents grave this often.

We go to a local Tavern where we have lunch; a few local beers; and because Wendy doesn’t like her Daiquiri I even have to finish that off. Then it’s a stroll around town before getting the free bus back to the port.

Back to the ship / boat / gin palace for a cruise down the Strait of Magellan.

Thursday

More from the penguins.

A boring sea day with bugger all on the entertainment front other than some inane talk on “Yachts of the Rich and famous”, another even more esoteric talk on “Concertinas” – just what everyone talks about all the time – and that’s the highlight of the day. We’re cruising down the Canal Sarmiento towards yet another glacier, the Brujo glacier. Hopefully this one is a bit more spectacular than the ones down Glacier Alley – not a patch on the Alaska Glaciers.

Lunch reveals yet another “there’s note so queer as folk” moment as a woman comes to sit down at ta dinner table, but there are 4 drops of water on the table. Wow she has a hissy fit with her husband, as if it was his fault. Then summons a waiter to swab them up. Heaven help her in the rain.

Glacier in Glacier Alley – I think.

Meanwhile it may be an opportune moment to comment on the infestation of Germans on this ship. Even on a freezing sea day they’re there with their towels on the deck chairs at the crack of sparrows; sprawled out on all the settees in the lounges and chairs; and even drown out what few Americans we have on board. Next cruise needs to have fewer friggin arrogant and rude Germans. Limit their numbers and don’t allow any onboard that voted for Angela Merkel. For a nation that is allegedly so efficient it amazed me how the ones on our fixed dinning table had major issues in telling the time.

Wendy with her penguins.

You may have noticed that very little has been said about evening entertainment. That’s because in the main it was dire. Tango dancing 3 nights; Saxophone player 2 nights; song and dancers 2 nights; 1 bongo player, juggler and feats of strength.


It can be a tad depressing on this floating gin palace full of geriatrics, with walking stick and zimmer frame hell. Average age must be about 65. Then depression sets in as you realise you’re one of them, but so much better than the alternative.

Friday

Chilean fjords.

Another sea day.

Have breakfast delivered to the room, only coffee, tea and a smoothie, but that way you get a couple of free Mimosas to help keep my alcohol levels topped up during the day.

Yet another glacier.

There’s a talk on the next port of call Puerta Montt. Have to say the port talks are pretty good. Pity the ports of call aren’t as good. In the main they’re mostly bereft of anything worth seeing, to put it in comparison, it’s like offering a Round Britain Cruise to have a day trip to Blackburn.

Wendy faffs about whether to buy a pack of lip gloss. Shall I, shan’t I – for gods sake just buy them. Then she goes to watch an auction, she finds the stupidity fascinating.

Exploit the 16:00 happy hour to buy a couple of glasses of wine at almost reasonable price and then take them up to dinner. Where there’s a will there’s a way and it gives me great delight to circumvent their rampant greed.

Dinner with our usual two American couples.

Wendy watches the show while I sit in the lounge, watching the sea go by and nurse a glass of wine. A much more stimulating experience than watching yet another mediocre song and dance performance. Mind you to be fair if they served up a top Broadway cast and musical I’d probably still go for watching the sea go by.

Saturday

Welcome to our little shithole.

Puerto Montt today. On the basis of the previous tours being mainly some Chicken Shit little dump, even worse than Blackburn, we decide to do a walking tour on our own.

Wow this place is a real shithole, the armpit of civilisation.

Thank god we’re leaving.

Manage a 6 mile walk. Stop for a beer. Really nice to see a Salvation Army collector, jingling his bell, outside one of the main stores. Most of the shopping centres seem half empty. Street traders are scratching a living everywhere. Selling everything from seaweed; trinkets; sink plugs; dubious looking fruit and vegetable; toothbrushes – probably second hand. The main activities seemed to be washing broad beens in filthy brown water, scooping them into a plastic bag ready for resale.

Back on board our opulent first world bubble by lunchtime.

Dinner with our usual two American couples again.

Sunday

The shitholes only claim to fame and it’s enough to give even adults nightmares.

The final sea day. For breakfast we venture to the Pinnacle restaurant, reserved for Neptune suite guests, where I can get kippers. Very formal waiter service rather than the bun fight in the Lido restaurant.

Interesting talk on El Nino, although I do keep drifting off to sleep.

Wendy gets packed.

Dinner with our usual two American couples, almost fixed dining.