TTT – SOS
alias Templeton Travel Tales – Spirit of Shackleton
Thursday 10 January 2013
It has taken over a day to get to Buenos Aires with 3 flights, nearly 4 hours to Auckland, close to 11 hours to Santiago, and another 2 hours to Buenos Aires. All flights were unremarkable, very little turbulence, quiet and the food was of a reasonable standard.
We were looking out for our fellow expeditioner Wendy from Melbourne. There were a couple of candidates. We met a couple from Research who were headed on another cruise. Apparently they had the same reaction the announcement asking if there was a doctor on board 2 hours out from Auckland. Luckily did not have to return to Auckland. We endured another stopover, this one in Santiago. Interesting sandwich for lunch, white cheese, tomato, spinach and green beans. We were happy to be on our way again albeit a little late for the 2 hour trip to Buenos Aires. The customs form handed out caused a little concern especially the bit about tax on goods totalling over $us 300. Ewen choose the option to plead noncomprehende and fortunately we were never asked for the form when we arrived. The only issue was the reciprocity fee form; apparently we had entered the wrong expiry date in the online form. Eventually escaped the arrivals hall and found our transfer to the hotel.
Buenos Aires was very warm and humid and it was a relief to eventually settle into our room at Hotel Melia. Dinner at the steakhouse nearby was exceptionally good, only wished we had taken a picture of the food; fantastic Angus steak for Ewen and pork fillet for me, both served with grilled vegetables. Excellent sav blanc from the Mendoza region in Argentina.
Friday 11 January
Early start today, 4am for 4.30am pick up for 6.40am flight. Four hours to Ushuaia. In flight breakfast was a tiny pack of savoury shapes, and two different chocolate biscuits washed down with apple juice and a cup of tea. Waiting for our luggage in Ushuaia I caught the eye of the only person I recognised from our earlier flights and correctly deduced it was Wendy from the blog. The Gap Adventure people were well organised with transport and it wasn’t long before we were checking in at the Hotel Albatros. Wendy joined us to explore the sights of Ushuaia. Found several possibilities for dinner, including the Irish Pub. Temperature was about 11deg c and extremely windy and it was good when we eventually reached the refuge of our rooms. (in the dungeon but quiet.)
6pm briefing. We met up with the other expeditioners and Ewen headed out to dinner with 8 women (including me). Pizza and beer.
Saturday 12 January
Tour this morning to the Tierra del Fuego national park. The mountain range rose steeply above the coastal area and quite striking – grey black rock topped in parts with snow. We visited the park office and collected a special stamp in our passports. Also saw sights of Yamani (indigenous people) middens. Vegetation was similar to the beech forests of South Island of NZ. There was evidence of beaver destruction everywhere. Apparently they build dams and consequently the trees drown as they don’t like their roots in the water. We also saw some upland geese and several varieties of orchids ,as well as snow drops, ferns and mistletoe.
Returned to Ushuaia and time was spent looking for a hardware store as Ewen’s you beaut power board plug did not fit the outlets in the hotel. It was Saturday so they weren’t open. Decided to spend our money at the souvenir shop and bought some penguins (black and pink- special stone in Argentina).
Back at the hotel we waited for buses to take us to the boat. We could have walked as it was only 200metres at the most. Quite happy with our room. We have a large window a whole 450 X 750 mm, although they need to clean the outside a bit more often.
Ewen and I went to check out the mud room after dinner (meals are very good) and saw the crew making preparations for the pilot to disembark – a rope ladder tied to the door frame. I scampered upstairs to see if I could get and outside view. Watched the speed boat come along side and the pilot step off our boat onto it. Hoping to get a copy of Stuart’s photo. He caught the exact moment in time.