Manta

Tuesday 13th February

Manta

Manta is the second largest port in Ecuador and is situated in the bay of Manta. The Republica del Ecuador is slightly larger than New Zealand and twice the size of England. The U.S dollar became the legal currency in September 2000. Ecuador is bordered in the north by Colombia and by Peru in the east and south. The so-called Panama hat actually originated in Ecuador and not in the Central American state as the name would suggest, more of that later!

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We had booked another P&O tour today, so it was with high hopes that we set off to our meeting place at the Curzon theatre to see what coach we were on.

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Our first stop was around the corner from the ship to where they made the tuna boats.We were both amazed at the fact that they used bamboo as scaffolding.

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A little further along  from the boatyard was the fish market (and good cod we have seen a few of those this trip!)

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The pelicans were certainly enjoying the attention from all the tourists vying  for their attention and the perfect photo opportunity .

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Whilst we were there the local mobile shop turned up, sadly everyone was well shod and not in need of any flip flops.

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Our main destination on this trip was the Pacoche Forest Nature Reserve for a trek to see the howler monkeys and the flora and fauna. Before the trek we were treated to a couple of exhibitions. The first was on how to make a Panama hat.

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I didn’t realise how long they took to make. The top of the range ones can take up to six months to make, these feel so smooth and light but will cost you anywhere up to $1000.

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Whilst we were there a hat was put through the finishing touches

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And then modelled by a willing volunteer!

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As a person known for his sartorial taste and elegance I thought I should purchase one of these hats to enhance my already smart appearance. I think I succeeded don’t you?  So that was $40 well spent.

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Next on the agenda was to see sugar being extracted from the sugar cane. Maria the donkey worked the press and in a short amount of time we were able to taste the juice.  Very nice and unsurprisingly sweet. This is then boiled down to make molasses, which again was nice to taste.

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So then, so far so good. We set off on our trek to see the wildlife. P&O had organised about four coaches to this park, so there were about 160 people wandering around.  There was a sign saying quiet please so as not to disturb the animals. This didn’t, and couldn’t, happen with so many people altogether at one time in one spot. So we didn’t get to see anything.  These things happen I suppose…………….

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But the real problems began when we were led to the pathway down into the jungle…..

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The paths were as you would expect in a jungle – just mud. The problem was that with this amount of people descending these slopes it soon became treacherous…………

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With at times only a thin rope to hold on to it became more and more difficult, so much so that it wasn’t uncommon to see mud stained knees and bottoms! It was difficult for me  and nearly impossible for the 80 year olds with their sticks! (they were given fair warning that it would be hard going, however they had paid and weren’t going to give up!)

It wasn’t all that bad, however, and on the few occasions that we had some flat ground I was able to take a few photos of the flora.

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Hooray, we survived………with very muddy shoes!

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Francesca, one of the ship’s official photographers, wasn’t  best pleased with the day as her party had to turn back as it got too dangerous, and she didn’t get her photos!

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On our way back to the coach this pair emerged from the undergrowth dressed in camouflage gear, giving an unusual salute………

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They denied have been to any unauthorised meetings, but I didn’t like the way they marched off!

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Callao

Callao

Saturday 10th February

Lima was founded by Francisco Pizarro, the conquistador who defeated the forces of the Inca Empire and delivered South America to Spain. Callao was formed by Spanish colonists in 1537 and soon became the main port in the Pacific for Spanish traffic with virtually all goods produced in Peru, Bolivia and Argentina being carried over the Andes by mule to Callao, to be shipped to Panama, carried overland and then transported to Spain via Cuba.

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Our first destination today was the pre-Inca temple at Huaca Huallamarca, this was a short walk from the nearby shopping centre where the shuttle bus had dropped us off. The girls were only too pleased to miss out on shopping in favour of seeing a bit of culture.

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It’s amazing that all this was made from mud; it’s just as well it doesn’t rain very often in Lima!

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This is a photo of the lovely guide at the temple. She was so proud and pleased to be able to convey her passion about her country and its history to us interested visitors.

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After our temple visit, our next destination was the centre of old town Lima. We made our way to the bus stop where a collectivo (a kind of shared taxi) stopped, and Kevin negotiated the fare of 10sol (about £2.50) for the 30 minute ride into town!  Although there are traffic lights they also have traffic cops pointing the way to go.

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This is the Plaza Mayor where you can find the Archbishops Palace, the Government Palace and the Cathedral amongst many other spectacular colonial buildings.

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Jane, Kev and Val didn’t know which to look at first!

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I’m not sure if it was for our benefit but there was an extremely large police presence in the city, especially around the main square.

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I took a lot more photos today trying to catch that special shot that I could enter for the on-board photo competition.

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I did ask the policemen before taking a picture, I didn’t want to end up in a Peruvian jail!

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They had to send in reinforcements when they heard Kev was in town!

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Some of the local shops left a lot to be desired, but Jane and Val were still keen to go in!

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Another policeman happy to pose for a picture.

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Not far from the city centre you can see the run down shacks in the hills.

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The contrast between rich and poor is all so very easy to see!

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This chap seemed to be enjoying his Saturday afternoon, waiting for his young lady to turn up…………..

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However this young lady seemed a bit fed up waiting for her young man!

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This sign put a smile on Janes face!  Pisco sour is a traditional South American drink.

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In this bar however, there was no free pisco tasting and we had to pay for  it.  The cheek of it!

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We stopped for lunch in this old fashioned bar.

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And the ham rolls were superb!  I was amazed at how much ham you can put in one roll………. lovely!

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The owner of this fine establishment was rightfully very proud.

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We saw a lot of these trikes around town , quite an efficient way of moving goods.

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At the end of the day there is nothing better than to watch the sun as it gently disappears behind the containers on the docks…….

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Right then it must be time for dinner!

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Arica

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Thursday 8th February

Arica

This is the northernmost port in Chile and is very close to the border with Peru.

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Every time  you leave the ship in Chile you are told not to take any fruit or food off the ship by the crew and as you arrive at the customs you are again advised with the help of a big sign what not to bring ashore. So thats why I still wince when I hear the snap of a rubber glove after what poor Barry the apple smuggler went through!

I’ll let him tell the story when he feels able! (this actually happened at a previous port but I didn’t have this photo then)

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Our first stop after we left the port was to climb El Morro. This is the big hill that overlooks Arica. There was a fierce battle fought over this hill during the war of the Paciffic, the combatants being Chile and Peru.

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It is a long hard walk up the steep slope and on a hot day it really takes it out of you! As you can see, the land is very arid in this part of Chile and some years it doesn’t rain here at all!

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Just in case you weren’t aware of what country you were in, they have kindly placed a discreet flag on top of the hill to help! If you cant see it, its the one right behind me.

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The view from the top is worth all the effort and gives me yet another chance to use the panoramic button on my phone!

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The top of the hill is a national monument and there is a museum, statues and a few artefacts left from the Pacific war.

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Here is a picture of a fisherman telling the size of the one that got away.

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Here is a picture of me being silly in front of the fisherman.

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This is a picture taken by me of Kev taking a picture of Val being silly in front of the fisherman.

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Jill and Barry were a bit more respectful!

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This building was once the Peruvian embassy and is now a national monument and is preserved as one of the few colonial style buildings that have survived the many earthquakes which are prevalent in this area.

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This Cathedral was designed and built by the french architect  Gustav Eiffel.  He is of course famous for that iconic building in Paris, I think its called the Arc de Triomphe.

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This bird seems to have the right idea sitting in the shade very close to some water.

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A view of the harbour with the ships at anchor and the parched landscape taken from the top deck of the ship.

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As  we set sail the last tourist boat came out to bid us farewell.

Goodbye Chile I will always remember you for the many happy people I met during my visit to your long narrow and varied country!

 

 

 

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Coquimbo

Tuesday 6th February

Coquimbo, an important port with one of the best harbours on the coast, is the gateway to the nearby city of La Serena.

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We decided to stay in Coquimbo and to wander around this very busy port. We could see all these houses/shacks perched on the hill from the ship. It didn’t look particularly inviting as we disembarked.

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However there was plenty of police presence to reassure us.  Any worries we might have had were soon put to rest.  Everyone seemed very pleasant and cheerful and waved from their cars as we walked along the pavement.

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When we alighted from the ship we took a right turn towards the old fort whilst most of the other passengers turned left and went in to town. After 1/2 an hour of not seeing anyone else from the ship Jane was a little concerned that we might have made an error of judgement by coming this way.

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Most of the houses had seen better days, although the had good views of the Aurora!

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… and could do with a little refurbishment!

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We were glad that we had made the effort when we finally made it to the fort, and we did eventually see some fellow passengers.

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The wildlife here was great to watch………

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And as there weren’t that many people around the pelicans were content to just sit around and sun bathe.

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This particular rock is affectionately know by the locals as “bird shit island” I’m sure they have a reason but can’t for the life of me think why!

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This ship had also seen better days but the birds seemed to like it!

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On our way back from the fort we decided to head on in to town.   As luck would have it we got the opportunity to walk through another fish market and cod knows you can’t get enough of those, although Jane said she has haddock nuff of them and thought this plaice would be different.  (I always like to crab a chance to talk pollocks, sole destroying isn’t it?)

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After walking around the shops Jane decided that she would like a fine dining experience so she chose KFC and we were both very disappointed!

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Walking back to the ship we bumped in to my mate Nigel Marvin and he told me that he had just seen an Inca Tern and that we should follow him and we might be lucky enough to see one as well. When we got back to the sea front he was delighted to see more of these lovely birds. Nigel says that they are in his top ten favourite birds in the world, quite an accolade!

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So now that I am a fully trained naturist (i think thats the word) here are a few shots of the wildlife.

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I’m not sure of the name of these birds with the large bill but they do make an unusual noise when they cross the road!

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These are those Inca terns again and I was trying to get the Chilean flag fluttering in the breeze to give the photo some gravitas, better luck next time!

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It’s not quite the same!

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Inca tern in action!

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This is a South American egret

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The seals certainly know where there’s a free lunch!!!

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They just love to put on a show!

 

 

 

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San Antonio-Day 2

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Monday 5th February

After our long journey to Santiago yesterday we thought that today we would stay close to the ship and explore San Antonio. We had a later start than usual today and by the time we had walked to the local harbour the fishing boats were in full swing and ready to unload their catch.

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As you can see it’s a very busy little port and it was very interesting to see all the day to day bustle going on. The boat in the left of the picture was taking out the locals for a trip around the outside of our ship, it was very unusual to look down and see so many people waving at you whilst you were having dinner!

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We walked along the coast to the outskirts of town and the scenery changed a lot. Lots of rocks with the sea crashing over them, great to watch on a day like this.  Whilst walking along the coastal road a fair few of the passing cars gave us a honk of the horn and a wave, at first it was a little disconcerting but it seemed everyone was genuinely pleased to see us. I was pleasantly surprised at the very friendly greetings we received from all the Chileans in all the shops and restaurants, although the service in the department stores was a little on the slow side!

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I’ve said before I’m not a great fan of graffiti, and especially in an inappropriate place. However I thought this was rather good!

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The fish market was interesting and very aromatic but the best bit was just outside………

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The fish mongers tipped buckets of fish heads and other waste in to the sea every so often. This attracted the local seals for a free meal.

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Which in turn attracted the attention of the local dogs……..

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Which then caused a few amusing moments as the dogs ran into the water barking only to then quickly turn on their heels as soon as the seals barked back!

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At every port of call this seems to be the busiest spot. This is the passenger terminal, the place with the free WIFI !

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San Antonio- Day one

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San Antonio 4th February 2018

San Antonio is the gateway port for Santiago, the capital of Chile. We had planned an early start to catch a bus to the city, but while on the shuttle that was taking us to the bus station, the tourist guide asked where we were heading (which was Santiago) and offered to take us there and show us around for $20 each. Considering that P&O were charging £65 per person just to take us there and back, we felt that we were getting a bargain!  The rest of the passengers also agreed so off we went, without the guide just the driver.

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The only major problem was the the driver hadn’t bothered to learn English! But us plucky Brits managed to save the day, and with some careful hand signals and some writing down of the 24hr clock and pictures, we managed to get by!

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One of the best views of the city is from the top of San Cristóbal Hill. The minibus could only get us 1/2 way up so we had to walk the rest. As you can see from the facial expressions it was quite a challenge in the 30c heat!

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This is the view from the top of San Cristóbal Hill. Well worth the effort.

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The statue of the blessed Virgin Mary on top of the hill has a fantastic panoramic view of the city of Santiago below.

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So would Kev and Val if only they turned around!

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The view from another angle, if you look carefully you can see Janes bright white trousers as she climbs back down again.

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After the climb my face was as pink as my shirt, Jane remained looking perfectly cool!

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This is the main square early on the Sunday morning before things really started getting going!

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It really did start a llama bells ringing when I saw this animal out on a Sunday all on his own.

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Its a reflection of how things change…. Chile is now one of the more affluent countries in South America and you can see immense wealth and extreme poverty side by side.

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This is the top of Santa Lucía Hill right in the centre of the city, not as high as San Cristóbal Hill but a lot closer to the action and you could see a lot more of what is going on, and hear all the hub-bub of the city.

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A panoramic view from the top of Santa Lucía Hill.

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This police lady was guarding the President’s Palace, I don’t think I would like to mess with her, but maybe on second thoughts…….!!

 

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The Glaciers

The Glaciers

31st January 

The Amalia Glacier

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After a days cruising the Chilean Fjords we arrived at the Amalia Glacier at 4pm. As we arrived the weather was a little (ok, quite a lot) overcast!

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So as Barry found out the driest place to take a photo was on deck 7 as this has a covered walkway.

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But not wanting to miss anything I stayed up on deck 13. I got soaked and I’m not sure that I got any better pictures!

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It was definitely the more civilised option to be on the lower deck.

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Just before we were going to leave the rain stopped and it got slightly brighter.

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You could really see the iridescent shades of blue stand out against the grey background.

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Thursday 1st February 2018

Pio XI Glacier

We arrived at this glacier at 8am after a calm overnight cruise (i’m writing this as we have just re-entered a rather rough Pacific!) I was told we had plenty of time here so I took a few photos on my way to the gym. After my 1 1/2 hours in the gym (yes really) and whilst I was in the shower I heard an announcement saying we were just about to turn around and leave this lovely place. Well I really had to rush to take my usual 500 photos.

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Cormack took this great photo of the pair of us.

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You can always find Cormack on the ship as he is always wearing his bright orange hat, maybe not on formal nights though!

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The chefs were allowed out for a quick photo opportunity.

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As we left you could really see the luminescence of the glaciers as we departed.

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Whilst I went for a lecture on the state of American politics and Trump’s first year as president, Jane, Kev and Val decided to stay on deck in the vain attempt to see a whale.

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Well what do you know? They spotted three orcas swimming along together! Jane assures me that on the photo above to the left of the bow waves you can see one of them. Well the jury is out as far as I’m concerned!!!

(STOP PRESS…… We saw 3 Orcas whales tonight whilst we were having drinks, majestic!)

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Jane also took this shot and if you look carefully you can just see a small sailing boat dwarfed by the huge mountains!

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Punta Arenas

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Punta Arenas

30th January 2018

Punta Arenas looks over the Strait on Magellan to Tierra del Fuego- the most southerly point of land before you reach Antartica.

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As everyone else was doing the typical tourist pose I thought I should do it as well!

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Punta Arenas (sandy point) is the southernmost city in the world, and is located in one of the wildest, most remote regions of the earth.

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Apparently if you touch the toe of the Indian in the main square of Punta Arenas, you get to return to the city some day. They didn’t tell me they meant the statue but I got it right eventually !

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This is the cathedral in the main square. A couple from the cruise (Peter and Tina) found the front doors locked then saw a line of people entering from the back door, they joined the queue of soberly dressed people only to find themselves confronted by an open casket and funeral taking place when they finally entered the building .   A hasty exit was made!

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The square is surrounded by fine colonial style buildings.

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This lovely Ford Mustang took me by surprise in a city of  mainly 4X4s. The owner was proud of his car and pleased to have its photo taken.

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This dog is looking longingly at the sea gulls for a chance of some early lunch, but I don’t think he stands much chance!

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Told you……..

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Even the graffiti here has a nautical theme!

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They said we would experience four seasons in one day in Punta Arenas and they weren’t wrong!  The sun was shining when we started on the chair lift and then two minutes later it started to hail and the wind really picked up. No chance to get our waterproof trousers out of the rucksack so we just had to sit there and get wet!

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However when we arrived at the top the sun was back out again and we were dry in no time.

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What a great view over Punta Arenas and the Straits of Magellan.

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You can even see the Aurora.

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It was great to have a long walk out in the fresh air away from the busy town.

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Even though the sun was shining it still wasn’t warm enough for Jane to take her bobble hat off.

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It was a great walk across open land…….

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And through wooded valleys.

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Apparently you can eat this lichen but I didn’t try!

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From a distance this tree stump looked like a bear. Sadly there was no persuading Jane to stand in front of it for another classic photo!

 

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Where has everybody gone?

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Oh, thank goodness for that we are saved!

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On they way back to the ship we passed some of the locals’ houses  With all the wind they have here its very difficult to keep them looking tip top.

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Rounding the Horn and the Magellan Straits

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Cape Horn

27th January 2018

This is the light house at Cape Horn. A very bleak and foreboding place, the weather here can change four times in one hour, sunny, rainy, foggy and windy. We were very lucky because the day before there had been 8-12 metre swells and we had been warned to expect bad weather.

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However, as you can see, it was like a summer’s day in Cornwall!

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This Sculpture high on the cliff is of an albatross, and if I had had a zoom lens you could see that it was made of many sheets of steel made to withstand the 120 mile winds.

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In the old days of sailing ships if you passed around the horn from east to west you were entitled to wear a gold earring in your ear (either the left or right, I can’t remember) and one in the other if you passed west to east. Cape Horn is an island (I didn’t know that!) and we sailed around it both ways, so apparently Jane is going to by me a pair of gold earrings!!!

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Within minutes the sun had gone in and the wind had picked up.

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Then 5 minutes later the sun was back out.

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This is their summer……

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God only knows what it would be like here in the winter!

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This is Nigel Marvin our TV wildlife expert. I was asked by a fellow passenger if I knew what a particular bird was from a photo he was showing me, I apologised and said sorry I didn’t have a clue, He looked puzzled said thank you and went on his way. I saw him the next day and asked him if he found out the name of the bird, he had and his wife said that he had mistaken me for Nigel! Nigel was sat by us as this conversation was going on and now every time we pass he asks my advice, what a nice chap!

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To avoid the choppy waters of the Pacific Ocean we are going through the Beagle Passage and Magellan Straits.

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Even these safer routes can be dangerous if the weather is bad!

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Dolphins………..

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These little fellows had so much fun, they followed the ship for hours. They certainly kept everyone onboard entertained and I took loads of photos. Mercifully for you I have just added a small selection!

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The next morning we were passing through the Magellan Straights

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And the glaciers .

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Beautiful….

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Even when the weather changes…. Squall coming in!

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The Falklands

Port Stanley.

The Falklands.

Port Stanley is the capitol of the remote Falkland Islands. They lie some 300 miles to the east of southern Argentina in the South Atlantic. This isolated dependent territory of Great Britain is 8,000 miles from the home country.

We had had a big discussion on what to visit whilst at this destination.  Jane wanted to see the penguins at Bluff Cove and I wanted to see the battle fields, so after much debate I decided that what I really wanted to do was see the penguins!

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We had been told that there was only a 50-50 chance that we would be able to moor up and get the tenders down at Port Stanley as the weather is often too bad and it wouldn’t be safe to do so.

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We were very lucky and the wind dropped enough for us to get ashore. We did need all our warm clothing as although it was very bright and sunny the wind was very strong and cut right through you.

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We managed to get off the ship quite early and had the benefit of seeing the town without the crowds. The tourists are more than welcome here and are the 2nd most important income source after fishing and before farming.

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There are many brightly coloured buildings in town and the red roofs really stand out on such a bright day.

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A short walk along the front brings you to the memorial which commemorates the 1982 Falklands war.

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This statue of Margaret Thatcher stands close by (with apologies to Mr Kevin Shakeshaft!)

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The gardens look more British than those at home!

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This cathedral has a cross made from whale bones.

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Jane was glad of her woolly bobble hat!

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This is Government House.

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The main supermarket in town gets most of its supplies from Waitrose and Tescos……….however the prices are considerably higher than you would pay at home!

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The first part of our trip to Bluff Cove was in a minibus and when the tarmac disappeared we swopped over to 4x4s. Jane passed comment that the gravel tracks weren’t too bad and that we didn’t really need land rovers to get us there……….

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Then the gravel disappeared……….

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Then it got rocky……..

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Then we had to find the big bridge……

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Now the traffic is getting a bit heavy!

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We made it! It was great to get up close and personal to all the penguins and it was just so easy to take lots of photos.

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We have a wildlife expert on the ship called Nigel Marvin.  He has made many T.V. series, some with David Attenborough, and has given lots of very interesting talks on the various wildlife we will encounter.  (More on him later.)

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So armed with all that knowledge I set off to be an intrepid wildlife reporter !

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Lunchtime!

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Not sure what that is in red (but its not Jane)!

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Ssssshhhhhh! Everyone else is asleep !

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All alone ……

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Nobody cares!

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Do you fancy a swim?

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Oh well, if you’re not coming I’m off!

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Wait for me…..

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Maybe not , its a bit chillier than I thought!

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Back to the minibus.

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The buildings in Stanley are all painted in bright colours.

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….. well, for the most part anyway!

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I’m sure I’ve seen these two in the Tintin movie!

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There was such a long queue  to catch the tender back to the ship that the security officer in charge of the shore embarkation said he would come and get us from the pub when the last boat was about to leave. What a great bloke!

As we were sailing out the sunset was lovely. This gave me the opportunity to take a few shots for the onboard photo competition.

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