Viking Cruise: Montevideo

Uruguay is kind of an odd little country. Only 3.5 million people—half of whom live in the capital, Montevideo. Second smallest country in South America, sandwiched between Brazil and Argentina, the 2 largest.

Mostly a Spanish and Italian heritage. Famous for soccer (they won the World Cup in 1930), Carnival (think a month long Mardi Gras), barbecue (YUM!), the tango (claimed also by Argentina) and their national drink called Mate (Tastes just like bitter tea to me).

But we had a nice walk around the city.

And had a great lunch at a giant building called something like “Palacio de Meat” (which for those of you who don’t speak Spanish (Yuriy) 🙂 I think means—Meat Palace.

PS—Jenny, Hard 8’s got nothin’ on Uruguay!

This is the famous Chivito sandwich. Steak and ham and cheese. Delicioso!

One of the taller buildings by the main square.

One of the Carnival characters (uh..the one on the right, duh!)

Onward to Buenos Aires!

Viking Cruise: Southbound

As we head further south, the weather sure is changing. It’s still nice, but the temps have gone from 90’s when we started, to the 80’s last week and now it is in the 70’s (don’t get jealous, folks in Erie 🙂 It will continue to get cooler as we get closer to Antarctica. Should be interesting.

Tonight we tried to go to a mysterious party on-board. Mysterious because all we knew about it was from the paper invitation that was slipped under our door yesterday saying “Outcast Party”.

Curious, we went down to find out what this was all about, only to find that our invitation was given to us in error and it was a party for the 30 or so smokers on-board. Once they found out we were not smokers, we got politely dis-invited.

So that means that we are even considered outcasts by the outcasts on the ship.

Makes sense 😀

Viking Cruise: Leaving Brazil

Left Rio on Thursday night for Montevideo, Uruguay and then Buenos Aires Argentina.

To say goodbye to Brazil the ship hosted a Brazilian night with great food and music. The Captain even served.

Hallie got into the spirit!

And I bought soon-to-be-1 year old Ernie a soccer jersey for his birthday.

Uruguay next!

Rio de Janeiro: Christ the Redeemer

Got to see one of the most iconic works of art in the world. The Christ the Redeemer statue that overlooks the city of Rio from Corcovado Mountain (Hunchback Mountain).

Christ the Redeemer is an art decor statue of Jesus Christ in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil created by French sculptor Paul Landowski and built by Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa, in collaboration with French engineer Albert Caquot. Romanian sculptor Gheorghe Leonida fashioned the face. Constructed between 1922 and 1931, the statue is 98 feet high, excluding its 26 foot pedestal. The arms stretch 92 feet wide.

It is a most impressive site.

We walked the 220 steps up (easy peasy after walking 10-15,000 steps a day so far on this trip), but it started pouring and we got pretty soaked. Oh, well. Still very cool.

Please, if you are overly sensitive, stop reading here because I am going to make an insensitive joke:

I believe that the priest, Pedro Maria Boss, who conceived this magnificent idea wanted people from all over the world to come to invoke the name of his Lord.

It worked.

The top of the mountain is VERY crowded and everyone is totally rude, not considerate of anyone around them, posing for pictures, stopping wherever, to get the “perfect” selfie. So, what happens is, all you hear, in dozens of languages is people muttering something like, “Jesus Christ, can you please get these  f’ing assholes out of my way?”  (Though not sure that is EXACTLY what Father Pedro had in mind 😀)

Anyway, onto to another iconic site this afternoon – Sugarloaf Mountain.

Viking Cruise: Rio de Janeiro Arrival

Got to Rio last night. Gonna go sightseeing today, but here are some pics:

Coming into the harbor, this is an old Portuguese port from the 1500’s that was used to protect the city from pirates and from French Huguenots, who tried to claim the land as well.

Part of downtown (El Centro) from the sea.

This is the sidewalk along the famous Copacabana beach. LOTS of nightlife. Restaurants, music, people selling stuff. Lots of soccer games on the beach. And (since futbol/soccer is SUCH a passion here) even saw kids playing Volleyball, with no hands. Try that sometime 🙂

One of the many grand hotels along the beach. This is the Copacabana Palace. We tried a real live Brazilian steak house for dinner (Churascarria) but, to be honest, the ones we’ve gone to at home, like Texas de Brazil and Foco de Chao, were just as good.

Today we’ll get a full 8 hour tour of the city, including the famous Christ the Redeemer statue. Will report back tomorrow!

Viking Cruise: Cruising the South Atlantic

Just cruising the Atlantic off the coast of Brazil today. We arrive to Rio de Janiero tonight. Looking forward to that.

Funny, as you travel the ocean, it just struck me that we do it at the speed of bicycling. Basically in calm seas with no headwind, you generally travel about 20 mph, a speed you can do, and maintain for a while on a bike. When seas are rough, or you have winds in your face, you go down to 12 or 14 mph. I bike a lot, and weird to think that is the same speed of this whole trip 🙂

But last night we hit our first rough waters on this trip (more to come, I am sure, when we get to Cape Horn, the southernmost land on earth) but the ship really reels/rock and roll. 8-10 foot waves. Hard to walk. It was even hard to sleep with all the waves crashing loudly against the side of the ship. That noise makes it sound worse than it is, I think.

Hallie was sure it was going to tip over (it wasn’t – not even close) but “proved” it to me this morning by showing me that her hat fell off the night stand last night while we slept.


Viking Cruise: Salvador de Bahia, Brazil,_Bahia

Salvador de Bahia is the original capital of Brazil and famous for its mixture of Portuguese, African and local architecture and culture.

A LOT of churches here.

A funicular (like on Mt. Washington, in Pittsburgh) takes you from the lower city to the upper city on the hill, and has been doing so for almost 150 years.

(That’s our ship at port in the background)

Even here, you can always find a bit of America if you want it…

And here I am wearing the Brazilian colors and keeping my hair in its usual perfectly coiffed state 😊

On to Rio de Janiero next!

Viking Cruise: Still At Sea

Tomorrow we arrive at our next port of call (#7 on the map) San Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. This is our 6th day at sea without a stop. That was not the original plan, but due to low water in the Amazon and strong northerly currents in the S. Atlantic, our ship had to skip Recife to keep on schedule.

That means we have now traveled 2,500 miles at sea. About the same time and distance as going from Europe to N. America. No big deal really, as there is always something to do on board. Either activities, or leisure, or both.

For me, while I still do a lot of work every day (150 emails yesterday, for instance). But then again, Hallie says I am “always working” 🙂 But I get a chance to read (reading the Mattis book, as you know) and we have exercised EVERY DAY. Usually an hour or more in the gym plus 10,000 steps (which also includes A LOT of steps. Even though this is 9 stories we have not—and will not—take the elevator. So, lots of stairs too 😀). That feels good.

Of course, you could eat all day long as there is food everywhere, but we’ve been PRETTY good about that. I have not had a single pastry, doughnut, cookie, cake or croissant yet (though I have had more than my fair share of ice cream), but it really does strain your willpower having to walk by delicious looking trays of desserts day and night. Ugh!

We’ve also seen a bunch of flying fish. Since they are REALLY quick (and almost see-through) I can’t really get pics of them, but found this video if interested. They really do fly. It’s not like they just come out of the water. They have wings and they fly. Often the length of a football field or more. Pretty amazing creatures.

As you can see from the map, we are pretty close to shore, about 50 miles out, though you really can’t tell from the ship. All you can see is ocean around us.  But today we saw 2 sailboats, and, unless they are doing an ocean crossing, I’d THINK they are staying relatively  close to the coastline. Maybe not…

Nevertheless, one of my favorite quotes is from John F. Kennedy: “Oh, God, thy sea is so big and my boat is so small”.  I have that quote on my desk at home. And though Kennedy was referring figuratively, meaning his job/his work as President of the US in some very tough times, it is true in the literal sense. You can’t help but get a sense of wonder when you are at sea at the enormity of the ocean, the earth, the universe, and how small we all are in comparison.

Enough philosophizing, I guess. Sorry 😀

But  those who ARE interested, I’ve written a sub blog on some of what I have gleaned from General Mattis’ book, ”Call Sign Chaos”. It’s funny that when Mattis was a Marine colonel he thought that the nickname “Chaos” was because he was rough and tumble and caused chaos among his enemies—which was true. He was proud to have that call sign. Until one of his officers, a tough Irish-American rugby player from Brooklyn, finally clued him in that what it REALLY stood for was “Colonel Has Another Outstanding Suggestion”. Mattis took it with a smile. I am sure that is how some folks feel when they see me coming or get an “Idea” email from me too 🙂

Anyway, it’s pretty long so if you are interested in reading it you can do so by clicking the continue reading button below.

Call Sign Chaos by Jim Mattis & Bing West