Antarctica – January 31, 2018…Rough seas…Balance of photos from Grytviken, South Georgia…

The sun is reflecting on a glacier with King Penguins at the shore.
It isn’t easy walking about the ship, more than we’ve encountered since the 17 meters, 50-foot waves on the Norwegian Epic in April 2013. For details on that wild Atlantic Ocean crossing, please click here.
View of the sea from Grytviken, South Georgia.
During breakfast and lunch today, the staff had quite a time keeping glasses and dishes from flying off tables and trays. Our own chairs and table were sliding across the floor while we all laughed at the drama. 
Doorway to the Carr Maritime Gallery (museum).
In a meeting this morning when the Captain Patrick Marchesseau announced that weather conditions are expected to improve which will enable us to get to Elephant Island by tomorrow. Also, he mentioned, weather providing we may have an opportunity to go where few cruise ship ever go…the Antarctic Circle.
Whaling boat and a variety of whaling equipment.
However, in this part of the world weather is highly unpredictable so we can only wait and see what happens over the next several days. The cruise doesn’t end until February 8th, so that we may have ample time for many more exciting adventures.
Hand-cranked air pump for divers.
With today as yet another sea day and with more photos we’d yet to post for Grytviken we decided to extend yesterday”s post with more photos from this unique settlement. Grytviken is a plethora of historical information regarding the whaling industry from many decades ago.
Cooking apparatus and boots with nails to stabilize walking on ice, whale oil, and debris.
With our passion for wildlife, it was sad to see all of the boats and equipment used in the slaughter of these magnificent animals. The heart-wrenching experience of walking through the settlement only softened the shock by the playful Fur Seals we encountered as well as the many lounging Elephant Seals in our path that made us laugh with sheer delight. 
Navigational device.
As the cruise continues, we find ourselves entrenched in our little group of new friends, spending meals and happy hour together. The commonality we all possess of being experience world travelers allows for some exceptional conversation.
Vertebrae from a whale.
Amid all the story-telling, the laughter flows with ease from comments made by both our new friend Marg and of course, Tom who is always quick on his feet with humorous interjections. Add hysterically funny Marg to the mix and we’re all rolling on the floor throughout the day and evening.
Various preserved specimens.
Marg wanted me to mention that she kisses our cabin door leaving a lipstick print when she passes by to her and husband Steve’s cabin down the hall from us. Each day, the cleaning staff washes it off, only to have a new imprint the next day. We howled. We couldn’t be having more fun!
Books and local wares in the Grytviken shop.
The staff goes overboard to ensure we’re all having the utmost experience on this luxury cruise. Unfortunately, based on their high prices for luxurious accommodation, I doubt we’ll be able to cruise on Ponant in the future.
Ropes and pulleys for the whaling boats.
Let’s face it, traveling the world full-time, now for five years and three months, does leave us in a constant state of minding the budget. Luxury cruises such as this, although quite pleasurable, leave us in a position of having to strictly tighten our belts for extended periods. This doesn’t appeal to us over the long haul.
Grenades and harpoon heads are used to kill whales.
We’d rather live within our means and be able to choose quality experiences, including vacation/holiday rentals, dining out from time to time, renting cars, and overall living a little more relaxed lifestyle.
Tom thought this rock formation appears to be a turtle.
This cruise held so much appeal to us due to the itinerary, which included being able to board the Zodiac boats for many landings along the way.  There are several other cruises to the Antarctic but most of these don’t allow the passengers to disembark the ship.
An empty Zodiac boat ready to load to more passengers to take ashore.
This aspect alone was enough motivator to prompt us to book this expensive cruise, and we’re glad we did. Fortunately, we both accept that this upscale type of cruising isn’t the norm for us, and we’ll continue to be content on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise Lines’ many smaller ships. 
Example of the interior of local housing during the whaling days.
On all of our past 21 sailings, we’ve had an opportunity to visit many stunning ports of call and meet equally beautiful people, many of whom we continue to stay in touch, building lifelong relationships.
King Penguins were standing in shallow water.
Last night, after dinner, we headed to deck three lounge for another fine evening with our friends, dancing (not me so much), sipping beverages (I’m still not drinking wine due to the antibiotics I’m still taking for my knee). What a night! The captain and many other crew members joined in the wild dancing on the dance floor.
The Grytviken shop with various equipment on display outdoors.
Speaking of my injured knee, yesterday I started another antibiotic, a French drug for staph infections. Voila! Within six hours, the redness and inflammation began to subside. I have to take them for two more days and then I’ll be done, hopefully fully recovered. It’s looking good.
What a face!
In the next hour, we all have to bring all of our outdoor clothing, gloves, and boots to the main lounge to vacuum everything to remove any potential contaminants or bacteria that may be on our clothing we might carry from one landing to another.
Two adorable Fur Seal pups enjoying the warmth of the sun.
Afterward, we have one more Antarctica seminar today and then we’ll shower and change for yet another fun evening. Need I say, we’re having a fabulous time surrounded by that which we love: wildlife, nature, scenery and good friends.
Wi-Fi permitting, we’ll be back with more tomorrow! Stay happy! Stay well. 

Photo from one year ago today, January 31, 2017:

Cute.  We took this photo through the glass of the window in the living room in Huon Valley, Tasmania when we happened to see this rabbit on the shore of the Huon River.  For more photos, please click here.

Antarctica – January 30, 2018…Grytviken, South Georgia…An abandoned whaling town…Sailing around the storm…

This group of Elephant Seals found comfort in sleeping together in a ditch.

The world…it baffles, it entices, it enlightens, and it surprises in one way or another almost every day. It spares nothing in attempting to capture our attention while we, in our amateurish or professional manner, attempt to capture it in photos in hopes of retaining memories to last a lifetime. 

Some of the King Penguins were molting while others were not.

Antarctica keeps “giving and giving.” this trip to Antarctica has been at the top of our list for photo ops (along with our upcoming adventures in Africa). And, in our less-than-professional photo-taking manner, we thrive on these opportunities with such enthusiasm we can hardly contain ourselves. 

We walked along this beach in the rain to the small settlement ahead.

Taking photos is important to us to share them with all of our worldwide readers and maintain them for our reference, our family, and generations yet to come.

Tom, with an iceberg in the background.
The younger seals seem eager to pose for a photo, but the older males chase after us, prepared to attack if necessary.  We had to scare a few off by clapping our hands and yelling.

Above all, standing on the very ground where so much is happening takes our breath away as we live in the magic of the moment, anticipating nothing more than what is before our eyes. With heart-pounding enthusiasm, we embrace every moment, later reviewing our photos, hoping to find those fantastic captures that genuinely tell the story of our current experiences.

A young seal was sleeping atop a plant with a grouping of Elephant Seals in the background.

Sure, an expedition cruise is not expected to be perfect. We’ve had to forgo three landings due to bad weather, which we’d looked forward to on the itinerary. Last night, we had to sail away with bad weather on the horizon, missing two landings scheduled for today. 

A lone Fur Seal was posing for a photo.

Instead, the captain decided we’d sail directly to the Antarctic Peninsula, where we’ll spend the next several days, finally amid the massive icy environment we’ve so longed to see.  As a result, we’re at sea today.

She was so relaxed, a bit of drool dripped from her mouth. A bath would be nice.

Yesterday morning, we embarked on the Zodiac boats to Grytviken, South Georgia, an old whaling village since gone to ruin. As we wandered through the historic town, we couldn’t help but feel sorrowful for the millions of whales slaughtered for financial gain. 

This is the first of a few icebergs we spotted in Grytviken and the first so far on the cruise.  Guaranteed, more will follow.

This Elephant Seal was sleeping in the ditch without his friends.

Evidence of this travesty is readily evidenced in this small settlement with the remnants of the storage tanks and processing machines and equipment. 

Among the ruins were multiple shipwrecks photos of which we’ve included here today. A small group of 10 to 20 people occupies the location during the summer months (less in the winter months) to facilitate ship passengers stopping to inspect the settlement. 

We were served a shot glass of Irish whiskey with the suggestion to take a sip and pour the remainder over Shackleton’s grave, a local tradition.

There’s a shop, a church, a post office, and a few museums, all of which we visited during our few hours at the location. It was exciting and quite unusual, especially the many Fur Seals and Elephant Seals that live amongst the ruins of a long-abandoned business.

No sip of Irish whiskey for me, but I poured mine over Shackleton’s gravesite.
Here is information about Grytviken, South Georgia Island, from this site:
Grytviken is a settlement on the island of South Georgia, part of a British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic. The settlement’s name is Swedish in origin, meaning “the Pot Bay.” The name was coined in 1902 by the Swedish Antarctic Expedition and documented by the Swedish surveyor Johan Gunnar Andersson, after the expedition found old English try pots used to render seal oil at the site.
It is the harbor’s best harbor, consisting of a bay (King Edward Cove) within a bay (Cumberland East Bay). The site is relatively sheltered, provides a substantial area of flat land suitable for building, and has an excellent freshwater supply.
Her companion is fanning her with widespread fins and tail.

The settlement at Grytviken was established on 16 November 1904 by the Norwegian sea captain Carl Anton Larsen as a whaling station for his Compañía Argentina de Pesca (Argentine Fishing Company).  

It was phenomenally successful, with 195 whales taken in the first season alone. The whalers used every part of the animals – the blubber, meat, bones, and viscera were rendered to extract the oil, and the bones and meat were turned into fertilizer and fodder. Elephant seals were also hunted for their blubber.

The following year the Argentine Government established a meteorological station. Around 300 men worked at the station during its heyday, operating during the southern summer from October to March. A few remained over the winter to maintain the boats and factory. A transport ship would bring essential supplies to the station every few months and take away the oil and other produce.

An adorable seal climbed a wall to see what the commotion was all about.
Carl Anton Larsen, the founder of Grytviken, was a naturalized Briton born in Sandefjord, Norway. His family in Grytviken included his wife, three daughters, and two sons. In his application for British citizenship, filed with the magistrate of South Georgia and granted in 1910, Captain Larsen wrote: “I have given up my Norwegian citizen’s rights and have resided here since I started whaling in this colony on the 16 November 1904 and have no reason to be of any other citizenship than British, as I have had and intend to have my residence here still for a long time.”
The first iceberg we’d seen since leaving Ushuaia a week ago today.  More will surely follow as we head to the Antarctica Peninsula.
As the manager of Compañía Argentina de Pesca, Larsen organized the construction of Grytviken, a remarkable undertaking accomplished by a team of sixty Norwegians between their arrival on 16 November and commencement of production at the newly built whale-oil factory on 24 December 1904. Larsen chose the whaling station’s site during his 1902 visit while in command of the ship Antarctic of the Swedish Antarctic Expedition (1901–03) led by Otto Nordenskjöld.
On that occasion, the name Grytviken (“The Pot Cove”) was given by the Swedish archaeologist and geologist Johan Gunnar Andersson. They surveyed part of Thatcher Peninsula and found numerous artifacts and features from sealers’ habitation and industry, including a shallop (a type of small boat) and several try-pots used to boil seal oil. One of those try-pots, having the inscription ‘Johnson and Sons, Wapping Dock, London’, is preserved at the South Georgia Museum in Grytviken.
Me, with an iceberg in the background.
Managers and other senior officers of the whaling stations often had their families living together with them. Among them was Fridthjof Jacobsen, whose wife Klara Olette Jacobsen gave birth to two of their children in Grytviken; their daughter Solveig Gunbjørg Jacobsen was the first child ever born south of the Antarctic Convergence, on 8 October 1913. Several more children have been born in South Georgia: recently even aboard visiting private yachts.

The whale population in the seas around the island was substantially reduced over the following sixty years until the station closed in December 1966. By that time, the whale stocks were so low that their continued exploitation was unviable. Even now, the shore around Grytviken is littered with whale bones and the rusting remains of whale oil processing plants and abandoned whaling ships. 

A big male Fur Seal and perhaps his offspring who he was training to be growly at visitors.

Ernest Shackleton Grytviken is closely associated with the explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition set out from London on 1 August 1914 to reach the Weddell Sea on 10 January 1915, where the pack ice closed in on their ship, Endurance. The ship was broken by the ice on 27 October 1915. The 28 crew members fled to Elephant Island off Antarctica, bringing three small boats 

Shackleton and five other men managed to reach the southern coast of South Georgia in the James Caird. They arrived at Cave Cove and camped at Peggotty Bluff, from where they trekked to Stromness on the northeast coast. From Grytviken, Shackleton organized a rescue operation to bring home the remaining men.

An iceberg with our ship in the background.

In 1922 he had died unexpectedly from a heart attack at the beginning of another Antarctic expedition. He again returned to Grytviken, but posthumously, his widow chose South Georgia as his final resting place. His grave is located south of Grytviken, alongside those of whalers who had died on the island.

On 27 November 2011, the ashes of Frank Wild, Shackleton’s ‘right-hand man, were interred on the right side of Shackleton’s gravesite. The inscription on the rough-hewn granite block set to mark the spot reads “Frank Wild 1873–1939, Shackleton’s right-hand man.” Wild’s relatives and Shackleton’s only granddaughter, the Hon Alexandra Shackleton, attended a Rev Dr. Richard Hines service, rector of the Falkland Islands.
A whaling boat shipwreck.
The writer Angie Butler discovered the ashes in the vault of Braamfontein Cemetery, Johannesburg, while researching her book The Quest For Frank Wild. She said, “His ashes will now be where they were always supposed to be. It just took them a long time getting there.”

Update on my knee: It’s certainly not 100% yet. I visited the doctor a second time for another round of a different antibiotic and more anti-inflammatory meds. It’s improving, albeit slowly. 

Another sad reminder is that life for wildlife is not easy.

I can’t wait for this to be healed so I can stop thinking about it and, good grief, have a glass of wine! But, I’ve only missed one outing (out of many more), which required a five km walk, and Tom went ahead without me taking amazing photos.

As for today, right now, I’m in the lounge on deck three while Tom is taking a much-needed nap. It’s nearly 3:00 pm. Since we’re at sea today, little is required other than to enjoy our new friends, which is relatively easy to do in this beautiful environment.

The small Lutheran church in Grytviken, South Georgia.

Update on the pending rough seas: The captain made a good decision when we forfeited two planned landings to instead sail directly to Elephant Island, which we should reach sometime tomorrow. The waters are rough, and walking around the ship requires some holding on one another, walls, and railings. 

But, in our usual way, neither of us are seasick, but we suspect that some passengers may be feeling it when I’m only one of about eight passengers in the usually packed deck three lounges.  Due to the weakening Wi-Fi signal, I’m unable to enlarge a number of our photos to the size we always post. 

Whaling oil processing equipment.

Have a great day! And again, no worries if we aren’t here over the next few days. Likely, we won’t have a signal the further south we sail.

     Photo from one year ago today, January 30, 2017:

Wood handled tools for the “barbie” we spotted at an outdoor flea market in Franklin, Tasmania.  For more photos, please click here.

Antarctica – January 29, 2018…Stromness, South Georgia Island…Rainy expedition…Bad weather on its way!!!

At lunch today, one of the chefs was preparing a beef and vegetable stir-fry outdoors. We all partook of the delicious offering but decided to dine indoors.  It was a little too cold to eat outside for our liking.

It’s Monday, and we recently returned from our first expedition of the day.  Later today, around 5:30 pm, we’re heading out for a second expedition returning around 7:30 pm. 

Today’s view from the aft of the ship as we prepared to sail away from Grytvenik (more on that tomorrow).

Dinner will be late tonight, but we don’t mind. Dining is of less importance to us on this cruise, and although the food is fine, it isn’t as high caliber as we may have expected. 

It’s heartwarming to see how close they hang to one another.

The schedule seems to change daily due to weather conditions, and to date, we’ve stopped at two unexpected locations and moved around the disembarking hours on many occasions.

Macaroni Penguins in Stromness, South Georgia, are known for the pasta-like plumage atop their heads.

Regardless of where we land with the Zodiac boats, we’re sharing the stories and photos in the order of the expeditions to maintain the flow of activities. Still, not necessarily on the specific day, they occur. 

Two Macaroni Penguins were keeping watch. Too cute!

When not out to sea, we make two expeditions each day, ending up with an entirely different experience on each occasion. 

Fur Seals enjoying a swim in the sea, hoping to find lunch.

With several sea days upcoming in the next week, we should be close to “caught up” by the end of the cruise, depending on the Wi-Fi connection, which so far has been much better than we’d expected. 

There were many of this and last year’s offspring on the beach.

If we aren’t caught up, we’ll continue to post during the two days we’ll be back in Buenos Aires between February 8th and February 10th. It should all work well. 

Seals on the beach close to the old ruins of buildings from the whaling days of decades past.

If we aren’t done, we will continue to complete the cruise photos and stories once we arrive in South Africa for the required number of days to complete the cruise photos. 

We were warned to stay away from the larger males.  They can be nasty if they’re crowded and feel they or the pups are in danger.
Although, once we arrive in “the bush,” a whole new world of photos and stories will be stockpiling that surely we’ll be anxious to share. What an excellent problem to have facing us!
King Penguins with fluffed up feathers after time spent in the cold sea.

The biggest issue has had the time to prepare the posts when we just so darned busy, heading out on the Zodiac boats twice a day along with dining and socializing, which now has become a regular part of our routine, having found wonderful people as part of our select group.

Mating calls coupled with sounds of pure joy by King Penguins.

That’s how it goes when cruising, meeting people that share some common interests with whom we spend most of our free time. Need I say? It’s quite fun. 

King Penguins are second in size to Emperor Penguins, whom we won’t see this time of year. They mate later in the summer season, long after we’ll be gone.

As for the cruise, we’re enjoying the luxury ship and the superb service. We find that the ship’s only 194 passengers are extra pleasant in its small size.  

We were free to wander about the grass with the many seals and birds.

There are no long queues for meals and only short waiting times to disembark for activities, get beverages, or any other attention provided by the well-trained and sophisticated staff.

Again, as shown in prior posts, not all survive the harsh conditions and possible predators.

For us, this cruise wasn’t about luxurious cruising. It is entirely about the opportunity to see this magical place. Only so many cruise lines offer the chance to get off the ship via Zodiac boats to explore the various points of interest up close and personal. 

Many cruise lines offer a “cruising only” Antarctica experience which wasn’t all-encompassing and exceptional for our desires. So, we bit the bullet and paid the “big bucks” to sail on Ponant Le Soleal for the comprehensive Antarctic adventure. 

The landscape is littered with remnants of the whaling history in the area.

Often, I find myself practically squealing with delight over the sights before our eyes, wondering how did we get so lucky to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience?

Propellers from an era long past.

Today’s photos are from yesterday afternoon’s visit to Stromness, South Georgia, another stunning area of this majestic island filled with wildlife numbers beyond our wildest imagination. Here’s a bit of information about Stromness from this site:

“Stromness is a former whaling station on the northern coast of South Georgia Island in the South Atlantic. It was the destination of Ernest Shackleton‘s rescue journey in 1916.

The name Stromness comes from the town of that name in Orkney, Scotland. It is the central of three harbours on the west side of Stromness Bay, South Georgia. The term “Fridtjof Nansen” or Nansen appeared for this harbour on some early charts, but since about 1920, the name Stromness has been consistently used.

In 1907 a “floating factory” was erected in Stromness Harbour, the land station being built in 1912. From 1912 until 1931, Stromness operated as a whaling station, the first manager of which was Petter Sørlle. In 1931 it was converted into a ship repair yard with a machine shop and a foundry. It remained operational until 1961, when the site was abandoned.

In 1916, Ernest Shackleton and a small crew landed on the unpopulated southern coast of South Georgia at King Haakon Bay after an arduous sea voyage from Elephant Island in the 22-foot (6.7 m) lifeboat James Caird. Shackleton, along with Tom Crean and Frank Worsley, trekked across South Georgia’s mountainous and glaciated interior to reach help on the populated northern shore of the island.

All men were rescued from Elephant Island. After 36 hours of crossing the interior, they arrived at the Stromness administration center, which also was the home of the Norwegian whaling station’s manager. This building has been dubbed the “Villa at Stromness” because it represents relative luxury compared to its surroundings.

In the decades following its closure, Stromness has been subject to damage from the elements, and many of its buildings have been reduced to ruins. However, recent efforts have been made to restore the “Villa” and clean up debris from the rest of the site to make it safe for visitors. Outside of Stromness is a small whalers’ cemetery with 14 grave markers.”

A Zodiac boat, after dropping us off back at the ship it heads out to collect more passengers after the expedition ends.

Now, as I finish today’s post, mid-afternoon, hopefully, able to upload it within the next hour or so, we’re back out to sea and will share this morning’s visit to one of my favorite spots so far, Grytvenik, South Georgia. I can’t wait to share those stunning photos!

Thanks, Honey! This is one of the disinfecting solutions we must use to clean our ship-provided rubber boots to clean off any debris that may contaminate other areas.  There are also rectangular buckets with long handles scrub brushes we use to scrub the boots before walking through this solution.  Tom continually cleanses my boots for me.

Tom just returned from an informational update on what is yet to come, to discover we’re in for some seriously rough seas (over 16 meters, 53.49 feet), and our itinerary is changing. We’re fast heading south to Antarctica. Suppose you don’t hear from us for a few days, no worries. Bad weather could impact our satellite service.

Enjoy your day, dear readers, and thank you for sharing this adventure with us.

Photo from one year ago today, January 29, 2017:

Much to our pleasure, we engaged in a lengthy conversation with Miffy and Don, the owners and creators of this unique product, Smoked Salt Tasmania. For more photos of the fair, please click here. They may be reached at Facebook: Smoked Salt Tasmania.

Antarctic – Sunday, January 28, 2018…Elsehul, South Georgia…Morning cruise on Zodiac boats…

This elephant seal on Steeple Jason Island didn’t care for our photo-taking antics.

It was an early start to the day when we had to be dressed in our heavy gear to embark upon a 75 minute Zodiac boat cruise of Elsehul Island located on South Georgia Island. Initially, the plan had been to leave a little later in the morning, but the captain decided it was best to go out earlier rather than later with bad weather on the horizon.

About one in 1000 seal births results in this light color resulting from low melanin production. Although not albino, the offspring of these seals may also be the light color or not.

Awakening at 5:15 am, we showered and dressed in our multiple layers to keep us warm in the potentially high winds and colder temperatures than we’d experienced in over five years. We had no trouble getting up and ready, heading to deck three lounge to wait for our designated color “blue” t0 be called to board the boats.

A male fur seal keeping watch.  We were warned not to get too close to the males. They can readily become agitated and can attack.  Their bite can be dangerous.

One of our readers wrote asking how hard it is to board the somewhat wobbly Zodiac boats, especially in rough weather. As part of our safety procedures during an expedition cruise, one section consisted of getting on and off the ships and ensuring we don’t tip overboard on the fast bouncy rides if we’re in rough seas. 

This Elephant Seal didn’t look so happy.

Thick ropes are surrounding the perimeter of the Zodiac we can hang onto in rough seas. But, as shown in our photos, sitting on the outside edge of the boats doesn’t feel exceptionally stable. It would be awful to plunge into the ice-cold seas in this part of the world. Getting off and on has now become second nature, even with my injured knee.

Lounging fur seals, adults, and pups.

In addition, we’ve continued to go through a series of decontamination procedures each time we board and disembark the 10-person boats. Keeping Antarctica free of germs and contamination from outside areas is vital to the preservation of wildlife and vegetation in this protected area.

Basking in the warmth of the sun.

Prior to boarding the boats, while wearing our boots (provided by Ponant) we are required to walk through a disinfectant liquid that clears any bacteria or organisms we may have picked aboard the ship. 

A watchful eye for the family…

After our expedition, we not only walk through the liquid again, but we stop at a station where there are large pans of disinfectant and long-handled scrub brushes in order to clean the boots from any residual guano or vegetation. 

King Penguins were standing by the shore at Steeple Jason Island.

In addition to the above, yesterday afternoon, each deck was scheduled at a specific time to bring their parkas, boots, gloves, scarves, and hat to the third deck lounge to vacuum each item to remove any residual items that may have become attached to our outerwear.  

An affectionate family interaction.

We appreciate and respect the diligence with which the cruise line honors these actual eco and conservation laws as a part of the honor of being a visitor to this majestic place.

Four King Penguins were contemplating their next move.

Over these past five days, since we’ve boarded the ship, we’ve become a part of a 10-person group of passengers with whom we hang out, meet for happy hour and dine each evening.  

We observed a total of three of these rare light-colored fur seals.

The instigators of these great group of people have been perpetrated by new friends and US citizens Marg and Steve with homes in Montana and Arizona. Marg’s bubbly and charming personality certainly designate her as the most competent of social directors.

Penguins were lining the shore.

Our group consists of five couples; two from Australia and three from the US. It’s a perfect mix of varying ages (from 30’s to 70’s) and lifestyles, making the conversations and laughter flow with ease.  On most cruises, we tend to single out English speaking people (duh, makes sense, right?) and as always, we’re having a great time with our new friends.

It was a pretty scene in Steeple Jason Island.
I asked guest services to print a copy of the countries from which the 194 passengers hail, and it reads as follows:
Australia               37

Canada                 29

China                    2France                  55
Germany               3Hong Kong            12
Luxembourg          3New Zealand          1
Spain                    2Switzerland            23
United Kingdom     11USA                      16
Total                    194
King Penguins were hanging out on a hill.

Most of the passengers from Canada, Luxembourg, and Switzerland speak French. Adding those citizens to the French group accounts for 110 passengers who speak French. This French ship starts all announcements in French but is accommodating in providing information shortly after that in English.  It’s working out fine for those of us English-speaking passengers.

Tom noticed a “face” formation in these rocks.  Do you see this too?

I have to rush and wrap this up.  In less than 40 minutes, we have to be dressed in the warm weather gear and ready to go for our next excursion in Stromness in South Georgia. Due to bad weather conditions, the actual “port of call” has been changed to a small historical town with plenty of wildlife. We’ll be back with more soon. Stay warm. Stay well.

Closeup of King Penguins.

Photo from one year ago today, January 28, 2017:

Many carved statues were overlooking the Huon River in Tasmania. We stopped to read about each of them. For more photos, please click here.

Antarctica- Saturday, January 27, 2018…Tom’s photos…

Tom certainly got it right when he captured this Black Browed Albatross chick with what appears to be a smile. 

Today, we’re heading to South Georgia Island, a popular stopping point on the route toward the Antarctic Circle. We’ve yet to see snow-covered islands and glaciers. Soon enough, that will come. But, it’s a long way from Ushuaia, and today is the only day five of the 17-day cruise.

The beautiful scenery in the Falkland Islands.  Notice the birds flying above.

Many of our readers have written asking about the status of my injured knee. As it turned out, yesterday at 5:00 pm, I visited the ship’s doctor, fearful that the infection wasn’t improving after four full days of antibiotics. Thank you all for your thoughtful concern. 

Penguins fill the hills.

Bound and determined, I wasn’t about to be missing out on any of the many upcoming Zodiac boat excursions, and with another sea day to recoup, I felt I had no choice to see what was going on.

It’s fascinating to see how penguins love to stay close to their family members and friends.

My leg was turning red further up my thigh, several inches from the original site of the infection. It wasn’t in a specific line creeping up my leg, as one might expect from “blood poisoning.” Instead, it was in bright red blotches, each of which was tender to the touch. This was worrisome. I had no idea what was going on or how to treat it.

They’re never far from easy access to the sea.

This is cruise number 22 for us in the past over five years, during which neither of us had ever visited a ship doctor, not even when we contracted awful coughs, colds, and cases of flu. Fortunately, we’ve never had norovirus or seasickness requiring medication from the doctor.

A lone Caracara.

After a comprehensive exam of my knee, my leg, my groin, and mid-section, he determined I have the equivalent of phlebitis, inflammation in the vein in my leg, and lymphatic system, which, if left untreated, could be a disaster. He determined it hadn’t spread to any other parts of my body and was localized in my leg. 

Black Browed Albatross in a massive colony.

He prescribed a strong prescription anti-inflammatory drug that must be taken with food three times a day and continuing the antibiotic for at least four more days. Although concerned with the diagnosis, I was especially relieved when he said I could keep walking as long as I can tolerate it. 

A lone little bird.

Even with the pain these past many days, I’ve participated in the long walks on the excursions, although I continue to walk gingerly due to the pain. Tom has been patient and helpful as always, hanging on to me as we’ve navigated our way over the rough, rocky, and uneven terrain. 

Here’s a young chick making a little noise while atop their elevated nest. That’s amazing! This is unreal…the Black Browed Albatross on Steeple Jason Island remove tall grass from these massive “pod-like” structures, adding mud and vegetation to make it a free-standing pod on which they can nest. 

I’m scheduled to return to the doctor tomorrow at 5:00 pm to decide the next course of treatment if there has been a sufficient improvement. We’re hopeful when this morning I noticed the redness and tenderness had improved about 20%, not a significant amount but enough to make us feel optimistic.

More chicks and parents sitting atop their raised pods.

During this last outing on Steeple Jason Island in the Falkland Islands, he took all of the photos while I watched my footing using the walking sticks that the ship recommended we all bring with us. Tom, as sure-footed, as one can be, hasn’t needed to use them. Hence we only brought along one pair.

It was stunning to see all these Albatross atop these pods in their massive nesting grounds.

We failed to mention any information about the Falkland Islands in our enthusiasm to present our photos and with the sketchy Wi-Fi signal. Here’s a bit of data from the ship’s newsletter, to fill in the blanks:

The varying species can easily hang out together, as shown in these photos of Penguins and Albatross.

“The Falkland Islands have a rich history embracing maritime trade, sealing, whaling, as well as cattle and sheep farming. The English navigator, John Davis, aboard the “Desire,” made the first confirmed sighting of the islands in 1592. 

The first landing is attributed to the British Captain, John Strong, in 1690 at Bold Cove, Port Howard on West Falkland. Early visitors were sealers, whalers, and penguin hunters from different corners of the world. Many imported, domestic animals were left at various locations as a food source for future voyages.

A preening chick on the nest.

Cattle spread rapidly throughout the islands. Travel was on horseback and South American gauchos made their mark. Stone and turf corrals were constructed, and remains of these can be seen scattered across the islands. particularly on East Falkland.

It is “wildly” congested in spots!

The year 1833 saw the re-assertion by British for its sovereignty. By 1845 the capital had been moved to its present site and was named Stanley, after the Colonel Secretary, Geoffrey Smith Stanley. 

A bird of prey, the Caracara awaits the next opportunity for a meal.

Stanley became an important port for vessels involved in whaling and rounding Cape Horn.  Settlements and farms were built across the islands, and sheep farming took over from cattle ranching as a mainstay.

The ship’s naturalists set up a perimeter of flags for us to walk. This curious Caracara had to investigte the flagpole.

Falkland Islanders participated in both World Wars. The World War I Battle of the Falklands has commemorated the monument on Ross Road, while the Cross of Sacrifice commemorates World War II.  For 74 days in 1982, Argentine troops occupied the Falkland Islands. 

There are over one half million Albatrosses on this island.

A British Task Force was sent to recover the islands. Fierce fighting took place on land, at sea, and in the air, with several Islanders aiding the British military. Ultimately, Argentine Forces surrendered to the British Forces.”

As mentioned above, today’s photos were taken by Tom while we were at Steeple Jason Island in the Falkland Islands. He’s becoming quite the photographer!  For more information on this island, please click here.

They seem to go on forever.  What a sight!

Tomorrow’s post will be arriving later in the day since we’re heading out again, in the early morning, on the Zodiac boats to South Georgia, where we’ll certainly be in for quite a surprise which we can’t wait to share with all of you.

Have a fabulous day filled with many wonders!
Photo from one year ago today, January 27, 2017:
This fish mascot wandered about the Australia Day celebration for photo ops. For more photos, please click here.

Antarctica- Friday, January 26, 2018…More from the Falkland Islands…Saunders Island…

A small group of Gentoo Penguins heading out to sea for a morning swim and hopefully a bite to eat.
Each day, during this exciting Antarctica cruise, we’ll be attempting to post activities from the previous day’s expeditions, including wildlife, scenery, and ship photos. 
The temperature was above freezing, but the heavy gear kept us warm and protected from the harsh winds. Like all of us, Tom was wearing a life vest which is mandatory while riding on the Zodiac boats. There are two Gentoo Penguins by the shoreline.
Soon, we’ll start posting some food photos, but right now, we’re thinking less about our luxurious cabin and meal and more about nature is sharing with us in this stunning winter-like wonderland, so far removed from any world we’ve ever known.
Me and a few Gentoo Penguins on Saunders Island in the Falkland Islands.

Currently, our world revolves around getting outside on the Zodiac boats to see the treasures of this most unusual place on the planet, leaving us with memories we’ll treasure until the end of our days.  Getting enough rest to partake in all of the activities has been a bit of a challenge with my still recovering infected knee, not yet 100%.

We enjoyed seeing the interesting markings on the Magellanic Penguins.

Although, my FitBit has been smoking as we’ve managed to do over 10,000 steps a day over some rough terrain; hills, rocky patches amid steep climbs and inclines. No doubt, the knee is sore, but I’m hopeful it will continue to improve now that we’ll have two days at sea to rest and recoup.

Two Gentoo Penguins were figuring out how they’ll spend their morning.

This cruise is less social for us than many other cruises. Half the passengers don’t speak English. Many came together in groups, leaving but a handful with whom we can engage. As it turns out, this cruise is less about socialization and more about learning about this majestic environment. We’re doing fine amid this social structure.

Two Gentoo Penguins were rushing along the shore, deciding if they’ll head into the sea for breakfast.

We’ll have plenty of time for socialization upcoming in South Africa when invitations for social events have already started rolling in. In the interim, Tom and I, in our usual manner, are having lots of fun together every moment of the day and evening. Even the setback of my knee hasn’t hindered the quality of the time we’re spending together.

A King Penguin parent was feeding its newborn chick.
Closer view of the newly hatched chick.
This small ship, Ponant Le Soleal (Soleal, meaning “the ship that shows the way), is bright white and varying shades of grey in a calming and pleasing contemporary design. Only five years old, it sails along with the greatest of ease. 
This photo, if carefully examined, illustrates a King Penguin, near the center of the group (slightly to the left) with a newborn chick which they were feeding from time to time, next to another penguin whose chick had died.
Every so often, the mom/dad with the live chick gets into a scuffle with the parent with the dead chick.  So sad to see.

Of course, we’ve yet to experience the Drake Passage in its entirety, where the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans meet for the roughest waters in the world. We’ll see how that goes on this tiny vessel.

Finally, the frantic parent with the dead chick turned away.

The fact that we’ve been able to post a few times has given us great hope that we’ll be able to stay in and out of touch as we continue for the two remaining weeks until we disembark in Ushuaia to fly back to Buenos Aires for two nights before we make the two-day flight to South Africa. We’ll need to be rested for that.

King Penguin parents overseeing the feeding and safety of their chicks.

The ship’s Wi-Fi is very expensive at US $250 for 18 hours, giving us approximately one hour a day of use. Tom has stayed offline except to send his blind brother Jerome the daily post as they occur minus the photos. 

This is a Brown Skua.

The remainder of the metered Wi-Fi time consists of preparing posts as quickly and as error-free as possible offline, then uploading them with photos and with as many corrections as possible. 

These Magellanic Penguins were headed out for breakfast.

Unfortunately, I don’t have enough time online to conduct research and provide links (other than our own) to share with you, as we often do. Half of the 17-day cruise will be spent visiting islands, glaciers, and ice floes, while the remainder will be out to seas, such as today and tomorrow. 

A well-padded King Penguin.

We intend to share every aspect of this cruise, including photos from every outing on the Zodiac boats, the essence of this type of expedition cruise. We’ll make every effort to ensure all of our readers will share in this adventure with us from their armchairs at home or desks at their office, minus the cold, minus the rocky ground, and; minus the steep inclines. 

A Gentoo Penguin swooning toward the sky.

For us to be able to do this with all of you means so much to both of us, adding an element to our experiences that feels as if you are right beside us.

Due to the cold climate, plants such as this may take decades to grow to this size.

Last night was a formal night, and as always, we did our best to fit in with dressing appropriately. Some women wore evening gowns, but only a few men wore tuxedos. There was a fixed menu in the dining room, which the chef accommodated my diet, which worked well and was the best meal we’d had on the ship to date. 

More beautiful slow-growing vegetation. Humans mustn’t touch or disturb any plants of vegetation in Antarctica, which may take decades or even centuries to grow.

After dinner, we headed to deck three to watch the most lively group of dancing passengers we’ve seen to date. What an enthusiastic group! Most were French, and they sure knew how to “boogie” to the music.

Many seabirds are killed as a result of humans fishing in their waters.

Tom and I love to dance together. Last night we danced a few times, with me dancing while standing in place. One can do a lot while wildly flailing their arms on a dance floor.

A hard reality in the animal kingdom…they don’t always survive the elements.

I appreciate your patience as we stumbled through the at-times-challenging Wi-Fi connection, which we anticipate will only get worse as we sail further south to the “real” bottom of the world. Stay tuned, folks. We’ll be back with more.

Photo from one year ago today, January 26, 2017:
Tom is standing next to the Australian flag at the entrance to the Australia Day festivities in Franklin, Tasmania. For more photos, please click here.

Antarctica- Thursday, January 25, 2018…Our first penguin photos…The Falkland Islands…Aaaamazing!!!

A one or two-year-old Rock Hopper Penguin on New Island in the Falkland Islands has yet to grow his full plumage.

As we expected, the Wi-Fi signal on the ship is touchy. On our first full day out to sea, we anticipate arriving at our first so-called “port of call” at the Falkland Islands, one day earlier than scheduled.  

Rock Hopper Penguins.  Pinch me…is this happening?

Tuesday night, after an enjoyable dinner (fully accommodating my dietary restriction) in the main dining room with two good Aussie couples, we tried on the complimentary red parkas, which we’ll take with us when the cruise ends.  

A colony of penguins.
A family gathering.Rock Hopper penguins with one of their offspring.
Most likely, we’ll add them to the other winter clothing we’ll be shipping back to our mailing service in Nevada to store until another cold-weather adventure in years to come.
There are thousands of Rock Hopper and Imperial Shags penguins on New Island.

The crowd on this 200 passenger ship, Ponant Le Soleal, are mostly seniors like us although many, based on the outrageous fares we all paid, are much more “financially possessed” than our middle-income selves. But, like most people we met, we all seem to blend well, mainly based on our mutual world travel experiences.  

Rock Hopper and Imperial Shags.

Of course, we never meet anyone that “does it” quite like us, although we’ve found many of the passengers are traveling more than they’re staying “home.”

About half of the 200 passengers hail from France or other French-speaking countries.

A Zodiak boat is bringing passengers back to the ship after they explore the island.

The remainder is from Australia, the US, the UK, and various parts of Europe. Many speak no English or very little. Why should we expect them to speak English when we don’t speak their language. I’m having a hard time not saying “hola” when people walk past. After all, we’ve spent the last six months in Spanish-speaking countries.

A female Uplander Goose.

The staff is perfect at arranging like-language speaking seminars and dining tables, allowing for free-flowing conversations. I’m finding I understand a great deal of the French language, more than I’d expected, from my four years of studying French 55 years ago in high school. I always say our brains are like computers storing information that may be retrieved decades later if we try hard enough. 

A male Uplander Goose is wandering about.

Jumping back for a moment: Once we arrived in Ushuaia, our bags were whisked away to be placed in our cabins. An English-speaking 30-minute city tour ensued as we headed to an Accora Hotel located at about 2100 feet in the Andes Mountains, surrounding the historic and beautiful city, for a fabulous buffet lunch.  

Another male Uplander Goose.

Having been in Ushuaia in mid-December on the South American cruise, we found ourselves reveling in the beauty of this remote location. Details of this lunch and time in Ushuaia are described in more detail in yesterday’s post.

Me in front of the museum on the Falklands Island of New Island.

By 4:15, we began the quickest boarding process of our past 21 cruises in the past five years.  Within minutes, we were escorted to our cabin by sophisticated English speaker porters who handled our carry-on bags. 

Tom, in front of The Museum on New Island in the Falkland Island.

Once in our luxurious cabin, which was only about 200 square feet, we were pleased with our fourth deck (out of six decks) choice. With tons of closet and drawer space, we were utterly unpacked with our bags neatly tucked under the king-sized bed by dinner time and after the mandatory muster drill.

A shipwreck on the shore at New Island in the Falkland Islands.

The first night we sailed away by 6:00 pm, arriving the following day at New Island of the Falkland Islands, which are the photos we’re sharing today. We are both wildly in awe of being in this part of the world, never taking a single moment for granted.

An old stone stove in the museum.

This is one of those times we keep pinching ourselves, asking, “How did we get so lucky to be here?  How did we ever manage to save enough to pay this outrageous cruise fare? I guess we can say we bit the bullet and sacrificed many amenities and extras we may have included in our lives in the past.

This bird, a female Kelp Goose, found a bit of kelp to nibble on.

Soon, when we arrive in Africa, we’ll tighten our budgets to afford the many tours we’re hoping to embark on while on the continent.

For now, we’re reveling in this experience, wrapped up in every luxurious moment, every bit of wildlife and scenery we’re gifted with the opportunity to behold.
Our first trip on a Zodiac boat. A maximum of 10 passengers is allowed on the Zodiac boats. The boat ride is bouncy, windy, and wet, but our waterproof clothing protected us from the elements.

Above all, we’re incredibly grateful to be sharing this and then, of course, with all of you, our dear readers/friends. As mentioned earlier, if you don’t see a new post, keep an eye out. We’re making every effort to stay in close touch with new photos each day. We can’t wait to share more penguin photos!!!

We’ll be back soon! Stay warm!

Photo from one year ago today, January 25, 2017:
This Tasmania Devil posed for our photo while at Wild Wings Wildlife Farm in Gunns Plains, Tasmania, the first we’d seen. For more photos, please click here.

Final expenses for 31-nights in a hotel in Buenos Aires…We’re off to Ushuaia!…

Due to the poor signal in this crowded Wi-Fi cafe in Ushuaia, we cannot upload any photos.  As mentioned in earlier posts, we’ll continue to make every effort to maintain our usual style of posts.  Would you please excuse any typos and formatting issues?
Yesterday was quite a busy day, and today won’t be much different. By the time you see this post, we’ll be at the airport getting ready to leave Buenos Aires to fly on a chartered plane to Ushuaia, Argentina, where we’ll board Ponant’s Le Soleal to begin our expedition to Antarctica.
We’ve been excited about this for a very long time. The situation with my knee put a bit of a damper on our enthusiasm. Still, now that I am on meds to hopefully alleviate the discomfort, we’ll be able to settle in on the cruise and enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
Getting out the door in the middle of the night wouldn’t be my preference. For Tom, after 42.5 years on the railroad, he was used to getting up and out the door at all hours of the day and night. But, now after retirement, even he cringed at the early hour.
Today, we wanted to share two important aspects of the 31-nights we spent in Palermo Soho Buenos Aires, Argentina; one, the reasonable expenses we incurred staying in the Prodeo Hotel, a fine boutique hotel two, a short review of the hotel itself.

First, let’s start with the expenses we incurred in total for the 31-night stay in the Prodeo as shown below: (Due to a poor Wi-Fi signal, we’re experiencing formatting issues):
 Expense   US Dollar   Argentine Pesos 
 Hotel – 31 nights $                  2,480.00 47,076.69
Flight – Round trip- inc
in cruise
                  –               –
 Taxi   $                       65.31 1,239.75
 Groceries & Dining
out- inc tips 
 $                     987.87                     18.752.28
 Laundry  $                        56.00 1,063.02
 Tips for hotel staff   $                     158.05 3,000.19
 Pharmacy & Misc.   $                     477.52 7,157.48
 Total   $                  4,224.75 59,537.13
 Avg Daily Cost    $                     136.28 1,920.55

We’re thrilled to have spent this amount while staying in a hotel and dining out every night, the exception when we purchased groceries for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day when most restaurants were closed or only offered outrageous prices on fixed price meals, not suitable for our budget or, my dietary restrictions.

This was surely a bargain compared to the cost for groceries, rental cars, and vacation/holiday homes. And we imagine that a traveler desiring a month in this fascinating country could even do better with proper planning and careful spending.

Would we return to Buenos Aires in the future? Possibly, with our plans to return to South America in the distant future for some specific sites we’d like to visit such as Machu Picchu, the Galapagos, and the Pantanal. 

A contributing factor to our enjoyment in the area has been the quaint and charming Prodeo Hotel, a contemporary boutique hotel, architecturally interesting in a fantastic location, staffed by some of the most OK people in the land. We generously tipped all of the staff members who made this stay memorable.

During this less-than-busy summer season in Buenos Aires, there were many days we were the only hotel guests. However, whether it was a whole house or the only guests, we were always treated with the utmost kindness, generosity, and attention.

As shown in the above expenses, we booked the hotel through a corporate rate at US $80 (ARS 1,532) a night, a reasonable rate for this busy city with many other hotels twice as much or more. No doubt, our extended stay helped us with pricing, but the competitive nature of boutique hotels does allow for some special pricing from time to time. It never hurts to ask.

Any issues while we were here? The power went out four times when the city was having problems.  Our bathroom sink wouldn’t drain, but after a few hours of bringing it to staff’s attention, it was repaired. 

Housekeeping was inconsistent at times, but our room was always clean and well-kept. The complimentary breakfast was repetitive, most of which we don’t eat (fruit, granola, cakes, bread, etc.). We appreciated the daily sliced ham, cheese, and hard-boiled eggs. Tom enjoyed the coffee while I sipped on my turmeric tea concoction each morning. 

The atmosphere is pleasing, comfortable, and inviting.  The bar has many types of beverages from fine wines to eclectic beer and serves some traditional Argentine empanada and other types of local food (none of which I could eat).  We never dined in the bar/dining room but enjoyed drinks from time to time.

The intimate hospitality by far surpasses what one may find in a large hotel, and we’ve discovered we mainly have found smaller hotels tend to suit our needs. We highly recommend Prodeo Hotel for your next visit to Palermo, Buenos Aires.

Small did OK getting up at 2:30 am and getting out the door in time for our 3:15 taxi to the airport. Check-in was a bit challenging and time-consuming, but Aerolineas, an Argentine airline, was seamless. Moving right along, we’re currently sitting at a tiny table at a tiny little bar with Wi-Fo in Ushuaia.

We both watched a free movie, Hacksaw Ridge, a stunning film on our individual monitors during the flight while the 3.5 hours passed quickly. Once we collected our bags, we were off to the bus with our Ponant group of passengers.

After a ride through the gorgeous town of Ushuaia, recognized as the most southerly city in the world or “the bottom of the world,” we headed to a local Accor Hotel for a magnificent buffet lunch with many foods I could have.

At our assigned table of English-speaking passengers, we met two fun couples and had a taste of the lively conversation yet to come with our cruise mates, most of whom are serious world travelers.  Not necessarily like us, but world-traveled, nonetheless.

We’ll be back with more as Wi-Fi allows, hoping to be able to stay in touch with all of you!

Take care until then!

Photo from one year ago today, January 23, 2017:

Andrew and Ian Smith, father and son and innovative owners/managers of Willie Smith Organic Apple Cider and Apple Shed, including restaurant, cider shop, and museum. (Not our photo). For more photos of this popular landmark in Tasmania, please click here.

Hospital visit for the knee…Favorite photos from Buenos Aires…12 hour countdown until departure…What if we can’t post due to a poor signal?…

Our favorite graffiti art.

The Minnesota Vikings game last night was hard to watch. They were brutally beaten, leaving us fans sorely disappointed with but a tinge of hope for the future, as always.

By the time we got into bed last night, it was after midnight. We both had a bad night’s sleep. As soon as I got into bed, I noticed my leg was throbbing, more swollen and red. I got up several times to ice it with no relief at all. I don’t think I slept for more than three hours, and Tom didn’t do much better.

Fireworks on New Year’s Eve from our hotel rooftop.

While preparing today’s post this morning, I told Tom the pain in my knee was worsening by the minutes since last night. With so little time remaining until our 3:15 am drive to the airport, I knew something had to be done.

We grabbed a taxi and headed to the large local private hospital recommended by our hotelier Alessandro, Santorio De Los Arcos, which was only a five-minute ride. Within an hour, I was seen by the doctor, examined, and diagnosed with an infection.  

An adorable little e parrot is sitting atop a birdbath.

No wonder my knee was red, hot, and swollen, keeping me awake almost all night. The entire bill for the emergency room visit and the prescription came to a total of US $62.68 (ARS 1,200)! I wonder how much that would have cost in the US or other countries with outrageous medical costs.

The pharmacy is located next to the hospital. Tom left me seated in a wheelchair in the lobby while he got the prescription for antibiotics filled. Sure, I don’t particularly appreciate having to take antibiotics, but I’d also despise having an infected leg situation escalate while in Antarctica. 

Carved-in-stone wall art.

I can’t express how grateful I am that we went to the hospital this morning. , When I fell, the skin broke slightly. When we returned to the hotel, I washed it with hot soapy water and used hydrogen peroxide. Hopefully, the meds kick in soon, and I’ll be on the mend and able to participate.  

This wasn’t enough prevention to avoid an infection appearing three days later. If we’d gone one or two days earlier, the infection wouldn’t have been apparent, and I wouldn’t have been given antibiotics. Whew!  Safari luck!

More fantastic wall art on the side of a building in Palermo.

Tonight, we’re hoping we’ll be tired enough to be able to fall asleep by 9:00 pm to awaken by 2:45 am to head out the door. By this time tomorrow, we’ll have arrived in Ushuaia and at a local upscale hotel where we’ll have lunch and spend part of the day.

By 2:00 or 3:00 pm, we’ll be escorted to the pier in Ushuaia, where we’ll board the ship and check-in for the 5:00 pm sail away. It won’t be until we’re on board that we’ll be able to figure out the Wi-Fi situation and sign up for a plan suitable for our needs. 

My favorite meal was at La Cabrera, where we dined five times during our 31-night stay in Buenos Aires. The small side cup is unsweetened buttery pumpkin mash.

There are many comments in the Ponant cruise documents that the Wi-Fi signal will not be good once we’re a distance from Ushuaia. As for tomorrow’s post, we’re still hoping to have time to prepare it today and set it up for an automatic upload at the usual time tomorrow. It will contain the final expenses for 31-night in at the Prodeo Hotel and a short hotel review.

Tom ordered this massive steak four out of five times at La Cabrera.

Please keep in mind that we’ll be preparing a post daily for the 17-days we’ll be on the ship (actually, it’s 16-nights, but the cruise line refers to it as 17-days). Certain days, perhaps three or four in a row or more, we won’t have a good enough signal to upload the posts. 

Once we receive a good signal, we’ll upload the posts for each of the days we’ve missed. However, we’ll only be able to upload a few photos with each post, if at all. Once the cruise ends, we’ll upload more of our pictures and any remaining posts we’d yet to upload. 

Tom, at the botanical garden.

All in all, there will be 16 or 17 days of posts until we return to Buenos Aires on February 8th, where we’ll stay for two more nights until departing for Africa. During this period, we’ll make every attempt to get “caught up.”  If we don’t have enough time to do so, I’ll finish the missing posts with photos once we get settled in Marloth Park. once we get paid in Marloth Park

This is similar to when we were on safari in the Masai Mara and the Serengeti in Kenya in 2013.  We had an awful signal and couldn’t get most of our stories and photos uploaded until we were back in Diani Beach, Kenya.  But then, we posted a new story with photos each day for many days.

After Tom’s excellent haircut at a little nearby barbershop.

Of course, we’ll be bombarded with new and exciting current events as they occur in Marloth Park during this period. No worries, we’ll keep it all separated and easy to read.

Thanks to all of our readers who wrote to me offering prayers and warmest wishes for a fast recovery. That means so much to both of us. And, once again, we’re disappointed to be sharing another medical issue, but, as we’ve always promised, we make every attempt to “tell it like it is.”

Me, at the botanical garden.

Please continue to check back each day for new posts, and don’t be discouraged if an expected post isn’t available. Please know, we are thinking of all of you and passionately taking Antarctica photos, excited to share them with all of you.

The mausoleum for the famous Duarte family,y including Evita (Duarte) Peron’s remains.

Hugs and best wishes to all of our friends/readers! Stay well! We’ll “see” you again soon! (Hopefully, by tomorrow with the final expenses).

                                             Photo from one year ago today, January 22, 2017:

I had to take all of our photos as we arrived in Hobart, Tasmania, while the car was moving due to a lack of shoulder, which is always challenging. For more photos, please click here.

Working on it!…One and a half days and counting….Wrapping up payments due…Tonight’s the big football night!…

Mini-mart next door to a small apartment.

Over the past few days, after taking a lousy stumble and injuring my knee on the uneven sidewalk in Palermo Soho, Buenos Aires, as we began winding down our last few days until leaving for Ushuaia. 

The Argentine people love color, especially on the exterior of their buildings.

Tom’s packing is almost completed, and by tomorrow, we’ll be able to bring down the bags and boxes we’ll store at the hotel during our time away on the cruise.

I’ve been obsessively following the R-I-C-E protocol; rest, ice, compression, and elevate, which is recommended during the first 72 hours of an injury, switching to heat if needed, and forgoing the ACE bandage. 

The hotel along the boulevard.

From the time we’ve made our way down to the hotel lobby in the past two mornings to work on the day’s post until bedtime, I’ve faithfully iced my knee for 20 minutes once an hour, except for the few hours we were out to dinner last night at Rave Restaurant.

I was fine while walking, albeit gingerly, the three long blocks to the restaurant and back. While there, sitting on a banquette with no one else in the restaurant, I was able to elevate my leg during our leisurely dinner. It’s improving with this diligent protocol.

An apartment building with shops o ground level.

Last night, back at the hotel, we moseyed down to the bar to lounge in the big comfy booth with more ice on my knee while we sipped on wine for me and beer for Tom. We’re trying to use the last vestiges of the beer and wine we have on hand.

Pigeons are everywhere here, on the street, standing on outdoor dining tables and chairs, hoping for a dropped crumbs or food residue on tables.

It seems that each night as we’ve dined in restaurants, I wasn’t able to finish my half bottle of Malbec. We’d cork the bottle and bring it back to the hotel to drink at a later time. Invariably, these partial bottles accumulated, and I have more wine than I can drink. 

A restaurant served barbecue, referred to as Parrilla, in Argentina.

When we first arrived, we purchased one bottle of wine from the mini-mart, a decent Malbec for US $6 (ARS 114) we’ve yet to open. Tom bought two-liter bottles of the local beer for US $5.90 (ARS 112). 

The big “E” stands for “entrada,” which translates to the entrance in English. 

Prices on alcohol both in markets and restaurants in Buenos Aires are very inexpensive. One can order a good glass of red wine in a restaurant for around  US $3.95 (ARS 75) and a liter bottle of beer (with an ice bucket) for not much more.

Lion statue adorning the entrance to a home.

After so many years as a non-drinker, it’s been enjoyable having a glass of wine with dinner every so often.  But, tonight, with the big Minnesota Viking game, we plan to drink only water with dinner since we’d like to have wine and beer during the game, attempting to put a dent in what we have left.  

Tattered cloth signs falling over the building.

Since the game doesn’t start here until 8:40 pm and, neither of us drinks more than a few glasses, we decided to wait to celebrate until we’re situated in the bar with Tom’s laptop fired up to the game. We’re hopeful for a great outcome, but as all Minnesota Viking fans so well know, we shall see how it goes.

Yesterday, we paid our hotel bill in full since we’re leaving very early Tuesday morning (3:15 am) and wanted to have this out of the way. Also, as we prepare the final expenses for our 31-nights in Buenos Aires to be posted on Tuesday, we wanted the total handled and out of the way the day we fly away.

It costs slightly over US $10 (ARS 190) for an ATM transaction of any amount. Plus, there are machine limits of a maximum of US $158 (ARS 3,000).  During weekends, it’s not unusual to find the ATMs out of cash.

Also, two weeks before arriving in Marloth Park, it’s necessary to pay the second half of the three-month rental for the vacation home, a total of US $2,465.08 (ZAR 30,000, ARS 46,791). We spent the 50% deposit a few weeks ago.

Realizing we may not have a sufficient Wi-Fi signal during the cruise to handle the transaction online, it made sense to pay it yesterday and have it out of the way and never have to give it a thought. 

The railroad tracks near our hotel.

Yesterday’s outlay was almost US $5,000 (ARS 94,908). Still, now our only significant upcoming expenses for the next few months will be the car rental (which we’ll pay in full at the Mpumalanga/Nelspruit airport on February 11th when we pick up the car), groceries and dining out, Kruger Park entrance fees and fuel for the rental car.

There are several tree-lined streets such as this.

Of course, during those three months, we’ll be booking other adventures in Africa as we make plans for traveling to other countries. We’ll work with dear friend/property manager Louise to book other houses in South Africa (which we’re using as our “base”) as we go in and out over the one year on the continent.

Most streets in Palermo Soho are one way.

Well, folks, I must take a moment to address our Minnesota Vikings fans…our fingers are crossed, for them, for all of us. We’ll be live online on Facebook during the game on my laptop. Please stop by to comment, grumble or cheer. We’ll be right there with you!

Enjoy the day!

Photo from one year ago today, January 21, 2017:

One year ago in the Huon Valley in Tasmania, Anne, our property owner, explained that the whirring helicopter blades dry the netting to save the cherries from spoiling after the rain.  Who knew?  For more details, please click here.