Made it Home! Highlights and Lowlights

Our rebooked flight made it into Denver on time Monday. The Captain thought we would get some turbulence (oh, goodie), but that never panned out. We got our bags, hopped the shuttle to Wally Park and headed home on a beautiful day. Old girl Ruby was stunned to see us and began her usual post-trip hunger strike. We took a nap, showered, hit Big Bill’s for pizza (very busy with the holiday) and later I sunk into deep sleep in the comfy chairs in front of something on TV. We were back at work yesterday and I have finished my Tamiflu course (feel very good, other than a cough). Forgot to mention that Global Entry is money well-spent! We walked up to a kiosk in Houston, put on our passports, smiled for the camera, did four fingerprint scans, answered four questions and we were done! Whrrrr, buzz, click!!

Now, my usual trip round up:

Highlights:

1) Antarctica! The 7th continent is remote, daunting, inhospitable, cold, haunting and very beautiful. We are so glad we have seen it, as we are not sure we would do the journey again. The whole process of crossing the notorious Drake Passage and coming back makes this a very interesting and unpredictable trip. The ice bergs and their fantastic shapes and sizes are included here as part of the top highlight, because those ubiquitous chunks of ice define Antarctica’s challenge.
2) Wildlife: Sea lions, seals, whales, dolphins, guanacos, albatrosses, petrels, cormorants and most especially penguins were the center pieces of most of our cruise. We wish we had seen more types of penguins up close, but enjoyed seeing them in any circumstance. The waters off Deception Island in the South Shetland Islands were filled with Chinstrap Penguins and this was an enthralling moment I will never forget.
3) Ushuaia: This southernmost city in the world is in a very beautiful location and it is fascinating to see all of the expedition ships and ice breakers there. Circumnavigating Cape Horn is included here (not very interesting in general, except knowing that you were at the bottom of a continent).
4) Estancia La Mimosa: The estancia we visited on the last day of the trip was a wonderful place. We loved this little piece of heaven in the countryside north of BA. The gaucho show was a bonus and the food was fantastic.
5) Buenos Aires: Although the city is having some issues, we did enjoy seeing some of different areas of town and our dinner at I Latina was unforgettable. Recoleta cemetery was fascinating and La Boca is fun, although probably too touristy.
6) Service on Celebrity Infinity: This was the best service we have had on a cruise. The VIP treatment was a pleasant surprise and we loved the special ship tours.
7) Falkland Islands: Port Stanley is very charming and very British and the beaches in the area are filled with penguins.
8) Pampas Devils: The on-board show with four very talented Argentine performers was absolutely wonderful.
9) Valdes Peninsula: Although not very scenic, the wildlife sightings made this very interesting and the estancia was quite nice (food was merely ok).
10) Qsine: This was our best meal, hands down, on the ship and our second-best meal of the trip.

Lowlights:

1) Flu Jail: Getting quarantined for 48 hours was a very unpleasant surprise and it did affect my perceptions of the end of the trip. I am impressed with Tamiflu, however. We are sorry we missed our nice tour in Montevideo. We had a few other times on this trip where we both did not feel good and I also had asthma problems, even before the influenza.
2) Flights: Other than the amazing experience on the 787 from Denver to Houston, we had pretty unpleasant flights to and from Buenos Aires and got stuck in uncomfortable middle seats on our final flight to Denver. There were mechanical issues in both directions to/from BA (time to retire the 767s, United?), the lie-flat seating on those aircraft was quite uncomfortable, and we had the persistent turbulence for many hours of both long flights.
3) Aqua Class and our cabin: This was not worth the extra fare. The cabin was very standard and had a large overhang over the balcony (it did come in handy in Antarctica). We could hear people walking on the pool deck above or could hear them them dragging the deck chairs around and also heard band music on the rare nice days at the beginning and end of the cruise. Blu, the Aqua Class specialty restaurant, was very disappointing. In three meals there, I only had one thing I liked (strip steak) in all of the food ordered. Our small bathroom had a smell in it throughout the entire cruise that was either musty or smelled like urine. We told them about it but it never went away.
4) Fellow passengers: Other than the great folks on our Roll Call and a few nice folks we ran into in various places (we will keep in touch with some of them), this cruise matched the 2012 cruise on Marina for obnoxious passengers. Many people were pushy, rude, or genuinely clueless. I cannot count how many times someone or multiple someones had to race around me to get there first or step right in front of me. Most people never queued for the elevators. People on buses in the back immediately jumped up to get off first, oblivious to folks sitting closer to the door. Seeing people in the bars or casino while we were in Antarctica was mind-boggling. Why were they there? I hope that one woman saw her imaginary polar bears ;-).
5) The stress of the situation with Steve’s Dad: Although this turned out well, this did cause a lot of anxiety right before we left. It’s interesting to note that I made a comment to Steve a few weeks before we left that this trip did not capture my imagination as much as other trips and I was uncertain that we would even get to go (this was before the angioplasty procedure that Ed required). I am glad we went and saw Antarctica, but nine days at sea out of fourteen is too long, especially with the crowd we had and in closed conditions, obviously a contributor to my bout with the influenza.

Cruise #24 is in the books, a decidedly mixed affair. Celebrity was good (especially in customer service) but may not have crossed the barrier into “must cruise again”. We are claiming Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Antarctica from this adventure. Being on the sea nearby or docked at the port is good enough for me.

Next up: In October, we have a 15-day cruise booked on Regatta (Oceania Cruise Lines) from Montreal to Miami. We like Oceania very much, but have read some alarming things on CC about declining standards of service. We hope for a good experience again.

Thanks for reading!

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A Wonderful Shore Excursion; Biding our Time at Ezeiza; Can’t Get Home Without more Problems

Sunday morning we disembarked around 7:20 and left our home for two weeks behind. I’m not sure I will miss that stateroom. Saturday night I did get the certification letter about a future cruise credit, but it only showed me being in Flu Jail for one day. I called up and asked for a correction showing two days and they provided it. Unfortunately it has to be used within one year, so we’re not sure what we’ll do (the actual credit amount is unknown at this time).

We both couldn’t sleep again last night. We were not anxious or agitated, just wired. I think this is a strange side effect of the Tamiflu, which so far shows no other side effects. I am impressed with how the drug rapidly improved my condition.

After disembarkation we had a day-long excursion booked called “The Best of Buenos Aires”. It sounded like a decent way to kill most of the day and we would get to the airport with only a few hours to kill until our flight at 10:30 pm. It started out with almost the same tour we had on February 1, after we arrived. We drove through some of the nice neighborhoods, then visited Plaza De Mayo near the Pink Palace and also stopped for a brief time in La Boca (the colorful slum neighborhood). We then headed out of the city to the north, to the Mimosa Estancia near the town of Pilar. After a ninety-minute bus ride, we turned down a short dirt road in the countryside and entered a magical place. Going through to old front gate, we were greeted by nice young people dressed in traditional costumes who handed us yummy beef empanadas and glasses of wine and had us sit near the garden and main house while they performed a couple of traditional gaucho dances. The estancia, built in the 1860′s, is still in the same family although they don’t do cattle ranching anymore, but instead now share the traditions of the gauchos plus some delicious food with tourists and local visitors.

The estancia was a little bit of paradise on Earth, with lots of friendly herding dogs running around, huge shade trees, and flowers everywhere. We walked behind the main house (you can’t enter, but can look in through open doors) and came across the horse paddock. They were offering carriage rides or horseback rides (we passed on both), but we did enjoy visiting with three horses. One horse was extremely friendly and I think he liked me when I talked in a low voice to him, telling him he was “muy bonito”.

Shortly, we entered a large barn-like structure, where they had many large tables set up for lunch. There was wine and water on the table and they brought pop in pitchers and liter-sized bottles of beer (Quilmes). Then the food started – holy cow! We had potato salad and greens with tomato, a wonderful sausage (choripan), beef barbecued over live oak, then chicken and lamb. This was accompanied by delicious bread baskets! Boy am I glad my appetite is back. The beef was fantastic and reminiscent of Santa Maria BBQ in the Central Coast of California. Then the entertainment started. One young man was the center of most of this, first playing a mean guitar with his father, then doing dueling gaucho dances with another young man, then whipping around those crazy bolos. There were other folklore dances performed with two young ladies participating, and of course group dancing. It was completely enchanting.

We had a nice dessert of ice cream and berries and then everyone filed outside for the gaucho horse competition (La Lanca). Each rider uses small sticks to try and snag a ring on a string hanging from a crossbar as they ride full-tilt. It they are successful, they present the rings to a lady of choice. We enjoyed this visit to the estancia and then said goodbye to my horsey friend and headed for the bus. What we thought would be a good time waster turned out to be one of the best days of the trip.

We arrived at Ezeiza International, south of the city, about 5:30, killed time until the United counter opened at 7:00 pm, checked in and made our way through the various obstacles to the gate area. We visited the Star Alliance Club , a bit of the distance from the gate, and boarded in what can only be described as true chaos,

We got on board and we left the gate early, but it was too good to be true, given the little nuances that have popped up around this trip. When they tried to start the starboard engine, they had a problem. We sat there for a while without Information as they mysteriously moved the plane back and forth, then they told us we had either a little problem or a bigger problem. The little problem would be the start motor and its replacement, which would take a “little while”. If the engine has a more serious problem, then who knows? There aren’t spare United 767 aircraft sitting here, unlike in Houston. The problem turned out to be the start motor, but they took almost three hours for the repair, blowing our connection in Houston. We finally took off at 1:45 am. Almost immediately the annoying turbulence started up and was persistent again throughout the night. We are now finally in Houston (thank God) and are booked on an 11:23 am flight to Denver. We are in middle seats in economy plus, so we will take it! One more wish, for us to no more misadventures with this trip in the last two segments!

My good, bad and ugly list from the trip will be up soon!

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Flowers and Montevideo

OK, not much to see in Montevideo since Barb was stuck in quarantine at that point, but we did take some photos of the bustling port and not-so-bustling skyline. The flowers? Those were from Anca, the wonderful VIP Guest Concierge, for Barb.

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Free at last, Free at last!

Well, I finally called guest services at 5:30 pm and they patched me through to Medical. I was expecting them to call but they told me to head straight down with the mask on. I had no temperature and was released from my quarantine.  She had the nerve to ask me if I still had a cough.  I told her I would have a cough for the next month and she frowned, but there nothing she can do at this point. I almost asked if they would let me just sit in the room on the next cruise (another one to Antarctica), with in and out privileges occasionally, if the cough could be cured to their satisfaction. I’m so glad that I have the last evening free to walk around the ship.

Next, we went to Guest Services.  The young lady behind the counter said there were no future cruise vouchers for the privilege of being stuck in quarantine, just because I had the temerity to go to Medical with what I thought was a run-of-the-mill cold/respiratory thing to get better cough medicine and ended up invoking their flu jail requirement. We pushed back and she had us talk to another representative who did indeed confirm that we would get a voucher.  If it is not in the room when we return to go to bed, we will go and ask again. I’m not looking for a free ride, but I do think that people will be more and more reluctant to report illnesses on board ships or at embarkation if the reward for doing this is losing part of your vacation with no appeal, having no alternative arrangement (e.g., wearing a mask outside your room), or a lack of at least modest compensation and acknowledgement that doing the right thing results in a forced penalty on the guest. Hmm, should have been a lawyer. Oh, and if I see one more woman walk out of a restroom on a cruise ship without washing her hands, I will be a bit more vocal about it.  I was extremely cautious on this cruise about hygiene, as usual, and still caught this crap.

Finally, we visited the nice staff in Michael’s Club, had some appetizers for dinner and each had a half-glass of wine.  In spite of the shipboard doctor’s admonishment that alcohol and Tamiflu do not mix, that interaction concern is not evident in the product insert or anywhere that we could find on line in any reputable medical source.  I think the concern is for stomach effects from the drug, but so far we are ok and take the doses with food. We will be prudent, but we plan to enjoy a wine at the Gaucho show tomorrow in Buenos Aires on our way to the airport and probably one glass on the flight to celebrate going home. We are now drinking tea in Cafe Al Bacio and have everything ready to go with our bags.

The final summary, with an overview of our day in BA and flights home, plus my highlights and lowlights from the trip will be posted soon!  Cruise #23 certainly has had its share of drama.

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Things Could be Worse; Good Movie, Montevideo from the Balcony

 Yesterday, as I felt better and better, I was kvetching about having to be in the room until this evening.  I should count my blessings – they had to do an emergency medical evacuation of a passenger yesterday afternoon from the helipad on the front of the ship! Steve got some great video of the Argentine Naval Prefecture helicopter lowering two medics, then lifting the person up to the helicopter, then lifting the two medics back up.  I could only see the action from the room and kept seeing the helicopter flying by, thinking that couldn’t get close enough to land because of the wind. Thoughts and prayers are with this person and family members. He must have been in bad shape if he couldn’t be kept stabilized on-board until we arrived in Montevideo today.

Last night we watched one of the free movies that I got for being quarantined. Our choice was “Gravity”, which we did not see in the theaters. On our tiny flat screen with bad sound it was phenomenal; we can’t imagine what it was like in IMAX 3D. There were some technical issues, but for the most part, I thought this movie was the most realistic representation of what space must be like and the spiritual themes were quite intriguing, We want to see it again!

Yesterday, Steve talked to a young couple for a while during the evacuation episode. She apparently had a gastrointestinal illness earlier in the cruise and was quarantined for 24 hours. After the quarantine was lifted, they got a voucher for a discount on a future cruise. I hope they give me the same consideration. I think the last thing Celebrity wants is for a guest, who happens to write member reviews for Cruise Critic, to walk away with very negative memories of their first experience on this cruise line because of the “fun” of mandatory confinement for an illness that I probably caught on-board and didn’t have to report if I had chosen to tough it out.

The medical office did call up and check on me yesterday but no one else called to make sure I was in the room.  I do appreciate being treated like a responsible adult. Apparently they will call me at 5:00 pm or thereabouts this evening and I will go down and have my temperature checked and then will hopefully be released. They can’t keep me in the morning, thank goodness, and we will be on our way home tomorrow night. The Tamiflu does seem to have some effect on the severity of the flu, as my recovery yesterday was quite dramatic. It does create a strange taste in the mouth and we both had problems going to sleep last night.

This morning we’re sitting on the balcony and having breakfast.  We have a view of some of the buildings in the city and a naval shipyard here in Montevideo, Uruguay.  We are taking full credit for visiting this country, just like we did for Senegal when we did a two-hour refueling stop there in 2004 on our flight from South Africa. The architecture is a combination of what we like to call Romanian Federalist (those oh-so-lovely socialist eyesores) and Colonial/Cuban Banana Republic interspersed with a few Palm trees. Most of the buildings are an ivory color and one building nearby, obviously built in the 1930′s, has a scary-looking tower with a glass dome on top (paging Flash Gordon). A lot of people are already coming back from the city, so it must be really exciting.

I will update with the news that I hopefully rolled doubles to get out of jail.

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In Flu Jail; Before the Quarantine: A Summary of Events from Tuesday through Thursday

First an update on the incarceration:

I’m feeling a bit better today (Friday, February 14). The fever seems to be mostly gone and so far no real negative side effects for either one of us from the Tamiflu (it can cause stomach upset). I’m a bit depressed sitting here knowing I’m trapped in this room until tomorrow evening.  I got a letter from Guest Relations confirming the quarantine and telling me, in a nice way, that actions would be taken if I violate the quarantine and leave the room. Apparently I can watch pay-per-view movies for free – woo-hoo. The wonderful concierge representative Steve has worked with for the interviews (Anca) sent me beautiful flowers.

By the way, for those that are interested, I did get a flu shot last October, but apparently there are other strains making the rounds. What’s also interesting about this is that in ordinary circumstances, I have often gone to work with the Flu and I know that fellow employees go to work when they are sick.  You run into sick people in Church, at the grocery store, at schools, movie theaters and other public venues.  There are sick people allowed onto airplanes all over the world.  The negative publicity that cruise lines get for Norovirus and Influenza outbreaks have led to extraordinary measures that seem to have gone a bit “overboard” (pun intended), but I guess they don’t want a full-blown epidemic, especially with elderly passengers on board. I could have toughed it out, but I might have gotten worse, especially since I have asthma. We talked to an older gentleman at the medical facility who was having a follow-up exam and he told us that on another cruise, he tolerated a respiratory infection and ended up in the hospital for 15 days after he got home, so he wasn’t taking any chances this time when he started feeling ill.  For the other folks on our small bus for our excursion yesterday, it’s probably too late for them as I was coughing and sneezing quite a lot. I suspect that all of the days at sea on this cruise (too many, actually, in our opinion and most of them necessitating being indoors) resulted in excessive exposure in closed conditions to other passengers or crew members who are sick.  In retrospect, we also both recalled seeing that the lymph nodes in my neck seemed swollen starting late last week.

Steve was able to get one of the other members of our Roll Call to take over the tour in Montevideo tomorrow and our cancellation freed up space for two other folks who wanted to go. We won’t get to claim the country but I guess we’re not missing much. One of the other members of our Roll Call, Mic from Australia, has been laid up with a very badly swollen ankle (he aggravated an old sport injury); he and his wife have a long post-cruise extension planned to Iguazu Falls, Rio de Janeiro, and Macchu Picchu and all of them can be physically demanding, so we hope he can get better.

This is absolutely the last time we ever try to organize a private tour.  We thought we did the nice thing by having notes delivered to all of the rooms of the folks going on the tour, only to find out that more than half of them had last-minute room upgrades and changes.  I just got off the phone with some guy who could barely speak English who got one of the notes and thought he was invited on this tour. Grrr…

I will be absolutely stir crazy by this point tomorrow.

Now, on to other things from Wednesday and Thursday:

On Wednesday, we got a VIP invitation for a Bridge tour with the Captain himself! We enjoyed Captain Sympouris’ descriptions of how the azipods and bow thrusters work and how the ship must always be working against its #1 enemy, the wind.  We also found out that the wind on Saturday morning in the southern Drake Passage as we got near the Schollert Channel in Antarctica was around 70 Knots, which is right at their “comfort limit” on this ship. This was obviously not advertised at the time.  They actually considered not proceeding into the Gerlache strait and Paradise Bay because of the wind conditions, very cold temperatures and ice buildup on the ship, but they got a more favorable forecast from stations and ships in the area, so felt confident in going as planned.  The crew has an Ice Master for this voyage, who understands the movement and flow of the ice in Antarctica. Fascinating!

Wednesday afternoon, we went to a lecture that was advertised as an overview of the Scott and Shackleton expeditions. Instead, the Cruise Director and lecturer spent most of the time interviewing the ship’s Ice Master, who is from Argentina, about an icebreaker rescue he was involved with in 2002 of a German supply ship that became trapped in ice south of the Shetland Islands during the Antarctic winter.  This was quite interesting, but a little tedious as the Ice Master only spoke Spanish, so everything had to translated.  The lecture on Scott and Shackleton was limited to about five minutes, which was probably a good thing as the lecturer, one “Mickey Live”, destroyed his credibility right away with slides prominently featuring the name “Earnest Shackleton” and also misspoke about some of the details of the Endurance expedition.

Wednesday evening, we skipped dinner again (at this point I was really not feeling very good and was probably running a temperature and Steve felt he was eating too much) but we did go to the show, which was the Argentine Pampas Devils.  These four extremely talented individuals (two men, two women) performed a variety of tangos, did amazing stunts with bolos (rope with wood balls on the end that they slap onto the floor), did great drumming sets and also did other types of dances.  Very entertaining! The bolos are actually used for hunting.

On Thursday, we arose very early to do our long shore excursion to the Valdės Peninsula.  I did a quick shot of NyQuil and made sure there were some Ricola lozenges in my purse. We were docked in Puerto Madryn, which is located almost exactly halfway between Buenos Aires and Ushuaia, in the vast Patagonia region of Argentina.  This area is very arid and flat and the terrain is reminiscent of the Australian Outback or the west Texas countryside near Midland-Odessa or Amarillo. Our tour was to the Punta Norte region of the peninsula; the peninsula is a huge wildlife reserve and also home to several large sheep ranches (estancias).

Our first stop was at the nice, new visitor’s center (a great potty stop). The center has a little museum with some specimens of wildlife and a large whale skeleton. Just before we reached the center, we saw our first Guanacos wandering around (we saw many of these creatures before the end of the day).  These cousins of the Llama, Alpaca, and Vicuña are very attractive, with cream and brown wool and they are the second-largest of these Western Hemisphere members of the camel family. Other wild animals that live on these plains that we saw included the Patagonian Cavy, a large rodent that resembles a killer rabbit blended with a guinea pig, an armadillo and Rheas.  Steve saw Rheas twice on our way back (I was in a fever fog at that point so I missed them); these are the large flightless South American birds that are similar to the ostrich. I also saw a fox and apparently there are Pumas in the area. Since there are sheep ranches everywhere, we saw lots of sheep and also saw a genuine gaucho on horseback tending his property with his herding dog accompanying him.

After we left the visitor’s center we turned onto a gravel road to head north.  We had a long drive on this dusty road to an overlook where we could observe beaches with sea lions.  There were hundreds of noisy animals on the beach in all directions, protecting their new pups.  The males were quite spectacular animals and bellowed loudly; one male was carefully guarding a pile of sea lion pups. This is one of the areas where Orcas come right up into the beach to grab unsuspecting sea lion pups and we were glad we didn’t see this brutal spectacle. After this stop, we headed to the penguin rookery, which is located on the San Lorenzo estancia.  This rookery is home to thousands of Magellan penguins, the funny medium-sized penguins who like temperate climates (and hence populate a lot of zoos). These penguins look a lot like the African or jackass penguins we saw in South Africa in 2009.  We walked on a trail through the rookery, which extends back from the beach for a kilometer or more. This was a lot of fun, as the silly birds would walk right in front of you or actually had nests in the middle of the trail.  The young penguins are getting to the ugly molting stage, but were still adorable.  The birds were very noisy and curious; I found that if you gently talked to them they would cock their heads back and forth and take a step closer, as if they wanted to understand. It was nice and warm in the sun and I enjoyed the walk even though I wasn’t feeling well.  I finally got my close-ups of penguins on this trip!

After the walk around the rookery, we headed to the estancia for lunch. The food was pretty bland, actually, and included roast lamb, lamb empanadas (no flavor at all that I could detect) and a caramel dessert. There was wine as well, which I normally love but I only had a little bit.  We then started the long drive back to the Port and the rest is history as I went to medical when we got back,  Oh, and it cost us $350 for the medical adventure. Time to check the travel insurance.

There will be very little else to report on for this trip, except for our shore excursion on Sunday in Buenos Aires on the way to the airport. I am hoping for four things:

1) Release from this quarantine tomorrow evening;

2) No side effects from the Tamiflu;

3) Steve avoids catching this nasty stuff;

4) An on-time and event-free journey home Sunday evening. I want to go home very badly now; as far as I’m concerned the trip is over.

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Penguins near Puerto Madryn (and more!)

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Quarantined!

Well, an interesting and very annoying development occurred today.  We did our long shore excursion to the Valdes Peninsula and had our close encounters (finally) with Magellan penguins, which I will describe when I get a chance.  A couple of days ago, I started getting a scratchy throat and developed a cough.  Since half the people on board this cruise have had some kind of upper respiratory thing for days, I thought that was what was going on with me.  I bought some NyQuil and toughed it out for a couple of days and actually didn’t feel too bad yesterday.  Today, however, on that excursion, I was feeling pretty lousy and didn’t feel like eating when we had our stop for lunch at the estancia. So when we got back to the ship we decided to go down to medical and it turns out I have the influenza and not just a cold!  I had a temperature of 101 degrees and have a very bad cough. So I have been put in quarantine and must not leave my stateroom for the next 48 hours, which means no Valentine’s dinner tomorrow night (we had a special one booked at the SS United States) and no tour in Montevideo, Uruguay.  Steve was actually running the tour in Montevideo, so he will try to find someone else to take over. They prescribed Tamiflu for both of us which also means I can’t even have a glass of wine during my incarceration or for the next five days (Steve has to take his one pill a day for ten days and also can’t have alcohol).  So, this really sucks, and just adds to the pile of things that have not been that great on this trip, starting with Steve’s Dad and his angioplasty the day before we left, then both of us with our stomach issues on and off and Steve’s migraine the other night. The cruise itself has been ok and we are glad to have seen Antarctica, but this is certainly not going down as the best trip ever.

I hope we get to fly home Sunday night. That’s why Steve has to take the Tamiflu, too, so that the authorities in Buenos Aires don’t delay our departure in case he started getting sick.  Theoretically I am released from this quarantine Saturday evening.

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Icebergs and Port Stanley, The Falklands

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A Huge Iceberg, Good Lunch and Good Steak, Rocking and Rolling, A Bit Under the Weather, The Desolate Falkland Islands

Sunday afternoon, we were sitting in Constellation Lounge, long after we had gone past the South Shetland Islands.  Steve spotted something on the horizon and a while later we passed a huge iceberg, the size of a city block and as tall as a twenty-story building. We were in awe, wondering how big this chunk of Antarctica had been when it first broke off from the ice shelf.

We had lunch in Bistro on Five Sunday, which features soup, crepes and sandwiches. Both of us had an excellent potato soup and chicken panini sandwich, which was tasty, but too big. We avoided temptation with the appetizers in Michael’s Club and ate in Blu again.  My first course, a gnocchi dish, was quite heavy and flavorless, but we both had the strip steaks and they were quite good.

We apparently steered through a low pressure area late yesterday and had lots of rocking and rolling during the night as a result.  Although I felt fine, I took one Dramamine to help me sleep through all of the bulkhead racket (this worked very well).  Steve seems to be able to sleep through anything anymore.  The shower was fun Monday morning, hanging on for dear life with one hand while scrubbing with the other.  The seas have calmed down late yesterday as we changed course to go slightly more towards the northwest.  We ate at Blu again last night and had the roasted chicken (somewhat bland).

Unfortunately, we both felt unwell during the night.  Steve had a bad headache that was a near-migraine and I had sharp stomach pains that were pretty unpleasant.  I never got sick, but certainly did not feel like getting up early for our excursion to a farm this morning.  We ended up canceling out.  We don’t get a refund at this late date, but neither of us felt up to the long tender ride, the rough ride to the farm and the walk around the farm in chilly rain.  We slept longer and both felt well enough later to take the tender to Port Stanley around 11:00 am.

Infinity is at anchor in a large bay, sitting next to the Seabourn Quest (we saw her in Antarctica Saturday) and it is about a thirty-minute tender ride to the little dock in town. We saw penguins, seals, other birds and a dolphin on our ride across the water.  The islands themselves are featureless and have low rocky hills and no trees, resembling the far north of Scotland or even Norway near the North Cape.  Why in the wide, wide world of sports the crazy Argentinian junta government in 1982  thought these desolate chunks of almost completely uninhabited land (except for 3,000 hardy citizens of the UK and millions of penguins) were worth starting a war over is completely befuddling.  The Argentine claim to the territories also included South Georgia Island and the South Sandwich Islands (near Antarctica) and the defeat at the hands of the superior British forces does not sit well with the people of Argentina, so they will probably go for it again soon to take everyone’s minds off the rapidly growing inflation rate and crumbling infrastructure.

The town itself was rather charming, with colorful houses in a low hill overlooking a more sheltered bay.  There were six large Chinese fishing vessels anchored here and they all left this afternoon. We walked around for a short while, past the pubs and Anglican Church and bought some souvenirs at a busy emporium. There were lots of UK stickers and flags and a shelf of books about the war (from the UK perspective) in the gift shop we visited, Almost every vehicle in town is 4WD, with lots of Land Rovers.  We came back to the ship and ate a sandwich and are awaiting our sailing at 5:00 pm.  Tomorrow is a day at sea, then we reach Puerto Madryn on Thursday.  We have a long excursion planned there to the Valdez Peninsula and penguin rookery so we hope to be feeling better (no dinner tonight).

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