Off we go!…Busy day getting ready for our return to Africa…Final Expenses two nights in Buenos Aires…And, a new video of Elephant Seals as well as more new Antarctica photos…

 Elephant Seals is doing some serious power lounging in Grytviken, South Georgia, Antarctica. Check this out for a bit of humor.

Yesterday was one busy day. Not only did we have to open all the boxes we’d left behind to lighten our load for the cruise to Antarctica, but we also had to take out everything we own and repack it literally.

Thousands of Albatross nesting Steeple Jason Island in the Falkland Islands.

Then, we had to check the baggage weight limits for tomorrow’s flights, weigh the bags and move things around as needed. As it turns out, we’ve made it all work, but we will have to pay US $80 (ARS 1602) for our third extra bag. Each of our two main bags is within the 51 pound (23 kg) limit, give or take one kilo or so.

An attractive small iceberg with glacial ice and snow.

Then, we scanned all of our receipts, tossing the paper from the past 20 days since we left Buenos Aires for the cruise, including our cruise bill, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses.

A Humpback Whale, one of many we spotted in Neko Harbor.

From there, we paid our two-night Prodeo Hotel bill in cash (trying to dispose of our remaining Argentine pesos), prepaid by credit card our taxi fare for today’s ride to the airport at US $50 (ARS 1001) using a credit card. 

This left us with enough cash to tip the waiter for tonight’s dinner (cash only for tips) at La Cabrera (we decided we needed to go one last time) and a balance of about US $14 (ARS) for the tip for the taxi driver and possibly a cup of coffee and tea at the airport.  Perfect.

It looks like the King Penguin on the left is nesting an egg.  Or, could it be the chick is tucked underneath the parent’s feathers?

Alessandro, our extraordinary hotelier, printed all the paper documents we needed to have in our possession since we won’t have yet purchased a South Africa SIM card for our phones which included:
1.  Flight information
2.  Rental car contract and information
3.  Directions from Nelspruit/Mpumalanga airport to our holiday rental in Marloth Park. (It’s been four years since we were there, and we needed a refresher.
4.  The address and instructions for getting into the property in Marloth Park when we arrive between 11:00 am and 12:00 pm.

Rockhopper Penguins are so adorable.

Gee…we don’t like having to carry “zee papers” with us, but in this case, without data access, it made sense to us. We didn’t want to be fumbling around with our laptops or phones to find what we need.

During intermittent breaks from preparing yesterday’s post, I ran upstairs to our room, did a little more sorting, folding, and packing. When I returned Tom did the same. By 2:00 pm, we both went upstairs and weighed the bags using our portable scale. So far, so good.

We missed a better shot of this whale’s fluke.  But, when whale watching, one takes what they can get.

At that point I went online to attempt to prepay for the bags only to be given a notice see a pop-up announcing we can only check-in at the counter at the airport nor could we prepay for our luggage (50% off to prepay) which again must be done at the counter. This has happened many times in the past. 

This is frustrating. Why should we have to pay double when we were unable to pay for baggage online. We’ll certainly take this up with the rep when we get to the airport if they attempt to charge us the higher rates.

This Caracara looks ready to find lunch.

Trying to stay positive, we moved on to the next thing, putting together the expenses for this quick two-night stay in Palermo, Buenos Aires. Here are the totals:

US Dollar
Argentine Pesos
Hotel – 2 nights
$ 140.00
$ 50.00
Dining out- inc tips
$ 82.50
$ –
$ 272.50
Avg Daily Cost
$ 136.25
“Orcas, or killer whales, are the largest of the dolphins and one of the world’s most powerful predators. They feast on marine mammals such as seals, sea lions, and even whales, employing teeth that can be four inches long. They are known to grab seals right off the ice. They also eat fish, squid, and seabirds.”

This morning we were up, showered and dressed early after a good night’s sleep. By 8:00 am, we were situated in the hotel lobby for a light breakfast of hard-boiled eggs, ham, and cheese. 

After all the whale watching trips we’d done on tours these past years, to see plenty in Antarctica was a dream come true finally.

Who knows when I’ll get to eat again? Airline food never works for me since the available options never fit my criteria. Oh, well, I’ll be fine. We’ll figure out something for dinner once we arrive in MP when we know we’ll be too tired to grocery shop.

We’ve received similar certificates on past cruises, such as transiting the Panama Canal, etc. We scan these rather than carry them with us.
We each received an Antarctica Explorer Certificate.
Sit tight, dear readers. We’re about to go for quite a ride, this time with more experience and an even greater passion for the world around us. Hop on board!

 Photos from one year ago today, February 10, 2017:

More than 400 pilot whales stranded themselves on a New Zealand beach on the evening of Thursday February 9.
Hundreds of pilot whales were stranded on the beach in New Zealand. at this time last year. (Not our photo). As we think about all the whales we saw in Antarctica this becomes all the more heart wrenching.  For more details, please click here.

Wow! An outstanding evening in Palermo Soho, Buenos Aires…What an exciting deal!…Wine lovers, take note…

Monogrammed cloth napkins and plates were awaiting us as we were seated at La Cabrera last night.

When searching online for possible restaurants in the area, over and over again, La Cabrera popped up in our searches. This was one of the few restaurants open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, offering pricey fixed-price menus at the cost of US $104.25 per person (ARS 2,000, with a recent exchange rate drop since our mention in a prior post).

Tom ordered a local beer while I had a Malbec.  Wine lovers, see our notes below.

With an added tip based on La Cabrera’s purported good service, we could easily have spent US $300 (ARS 5,756) for each of the two holiday nights, especially with added cocktails since Tom wouldn’t have been interested in the included wine offerings. 

Based on our perception of the high cost of dining at La Cabrera, we didn’t give it much thought, although we passed it and its second restaurant located on the same block, many times during our walks through the busy district.

These side dishes are complimentary at La Cabrera. 

Yesterday, while checking the menu on their website hoping to discover their regular (non-holiday) prices (which weren’t posted online), I stumbled across this ad below:

The La Cabrera ad states, in Spanish in small print above the word “Happy,”  that happy hour is daily between 6:30 and 8:00 pm. Getting there by 6:15 pm is a must, or one may not get in for this excellent benefit.

Before dinner, we decided to find a local pharmacy to purchase some over-the-counter items for the upcoming Antarctica cruise, also buying enough for the first few months in Africa. We were impressed with the “caged” pharmacist’s ability to find everything on our list in the tiny space.

Roasted garlic in the finest of olive oil.

As it turned out, the Farmacia, which closes at 8:00 pm, was within a block or two of the restaurant, and we decided to head there first before walking to the restaurant.

When we arrived at La Cabrera at 6:15, we discovered a queue of a dozen people waiting outside to take advantage of the “happy hour” pricing as well. We found our spot in line and waited along with the others as several more diners arrived during the waiting period. By 6:40 pm, they started letting us “bargain hunters” enter the restaurant to be seated in a relatively tight space quickly.

A woman sitting alone next to us ordered this colossal steak and devoured the entire thing.

No more than five minutes after we were seated, they started turning people away. Most locals take a two-hour siesta between 2:00 and 4:00 pm, and they usually don’t dine until 9:00 or 10:00 pm or later, a little too late for us. Such early seating is unusual in Buenos Aires.

As early birds awakening by 6:00 am at the latest each day, we’re usually sound asleep by midnight. Going to bed on a full stomach is something we aren’t interested in doing, nor do we like to wait that late to dine, usually our only meal of the day. The “happy hour” concept works exceptionally well for us. 

This was my entree, a Caesar salad with grilled chicken (no croutons) to which I requested avocado. They added one and a half small avos, and to my surprise, I consumed the entire dish. They also included a lemon mayonnaise dressing (not bottled) on the side.

As we’ve walked the restaurant-lined streets of the Palermo Soho district over this past six days, we’ve noted dozens of restaurants where we’ll never be able to dine when they don’t open until 9:00 or 10:00 pm.  However, we’ve been able to find enough restaurants to suits our needs that open by 6:00 or 7:00 pm.

After last night’s spectacular experience, not only regarding the excellent food and service but also the highly cultural event, we certainly look forward to returning to La Cabrera several more times during the “happy hour” period. As a footnote, this restaurant is certainly worth visiting in the later hours at a total price for those who prefer to dine later in the evening when the pace may be more relaxed.

To reach my required 60 grams of protein each day, I added this egg and red pepper dish, cooked to perfection. This alone would have been a big enough meal for me with its four eggs. Good grief. I ate the whole thing as we took our time and dined at a leisurely pace.

We’d heard prices are high in Buenos Aires, and in most cases, they are. As a result, we budgeted US $100 (ARS 1,886) per day for meals while staying in a hotel for over 30 nights.

Last night’s meal, including wine, beer, and a generous tip, totaled US $46.23 (ARS 871.70) after the 40% discount. Wow! Subsequently, we’re averaging only US $34 (ARS 641) per day, keeping in mind that we only eat dinner out. This amount includes the food we’d purchased at the mini-mart for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day when we weren’t willing to spend the above-mentioned high prices for the fixed-priced menus on those two holiday nights.

Tom ordered the barbecue ribs, which was the equivalent of an entire slab with these three sauces. He ate all the juicy, tender meat and left the sauces. He’s not a “sauce” kind of guy, although he can be pretty saucy at times!.

Tom eats a light breakfast of coffee, hard-boiled eggs, ham, and cheese (pastries, fruit, and juice are available for others) in the excellent Prodeo Hotel, which is included in our nightly rate.

The food at La Cabrera was over-the-top fresh, hot, delicious, and beautifully presented on sizzling platters.  Both of us couldn’t have enjoyed the experience more and look forward to a repeat performance soon. Next time, I won’t order so much food since I’m still stuffed this morning.

This wasn’t a full-sized bottle of Malbec but contained two large glasses. I had one glass, and the waiter provided the cork to take the balance back to the hotel with us! See the notes below on Argentinian Malbec as compared to French.
“Learn the Difference: Argentinian Malbec vs. French Malbec (from this site)

Blog » Wine Tips & Tricks » Learn the Difference: Argentinian Malbec vs. French Malbec

France is the origin of Malbec, but Argentina is now home to nearly 70% of the Malbec vineyards of the world. Thus, your very first taste of Malbec could have been from Mendoza, Argentina. There is a dramatic difference in taste between the two regions, and this is because Malbec really shows how terroir affects the wine.

An instant definition of ‘terroir.’

Terroir encompasses all the regional factors that define the taste of a wine grape, including sun, soil, the slant of a hillside, proximity to a body of water, climate, weather, and altitude. Terroir happens before a winemaker even touches the grapes. Any winemaker worth their salt will tell you: great wine is made in the vineyard, not in the cellar. Read more about Terroir.”

After the New Year holiday ends, we’ll begin sightseeing. We won’t do another comprehensive post on this particular restaurant when we return during our remaining 25 nights in Buenos Aires. However, we will share some details of other restaurants we’ll visit along the way.

We’re looking forward to sharing those details with all of YOU.

After we finished our meal, the waiter dropped off this “lollipop tree,” encouraging Tom to take some with him. He did.

Have a delicious day, dear friends!

Photo from one year ago today, December 29, 2016:

The previous day while on a walk in Penguin, Tasmania, we spotted this White Faced Heron. For more photos, please click here.