Viking Cruise: Goodbye Sun and Warmth

Yesterday we bid goodbye to the mainland and the sun and warmth for a while. It’s been a great trip so far, but now probably the most interesting (at least different) part as we head south to the Falkland Islands, and then around the southern tip of South America.

We spent a lovely day at the beach in Montevideo. As you can see, very pretty beaches. It’s summer here in South America remember 🙂

Even though this looks like an ocean, it’s really the mouth of the Plata River emptying out into the Atlantic Ocean, and it’s 100 miles wide. Crazy.

I know I have a pissed off look in this picture, but there’s good reason:

There are a lot of rough looking “bad hombres” around here like this one, so you always have to be ready for anything.

Falklands next.

We should see whales, dolphins, and albatrosses on the way. Will let you know!

Adelante!

Viking Cruise: Buenos Aires -Delta Islands

Yesterday we had a very unique opportunity thanks to our good friend Matias Marquez and his brother Marion.

First we drove an hour outside of the city of Buenos Aires. Then we hopped onto a river bus. This is literally a boat that stops at dozens of small docks along the river delta islands where it backs up and 2 or 3 people either jump on or jump off. And, as you can see, it is how they get their groceries and supplies etc. 

After about 45 minutes we got off and then hiked a half a mile to a friend of Marion’s place where we got to kayak and canoe through the small river channels, grabbed a beer and lunch at a quaint little restaurant, canoed back to the place, walked back to the dock and then took a water TAXI (MUCH faster than a water bus) back to the mainland, where we grabbed (another) great lunch and drove back to the ship.

Now, two things of note:

1.  Unfortunately (for you) this is one of those places/experiences that you really cannot describe and actually need to see for yourself. The remoteness of this place. Their simple way of life. The slow, quiet pace. The lush greenery. The life by-water-only (no roads or sidewalks) is hard to “get” unless you can see it. Sorry.

2. We left on this journey at 8am when Matias picked us up at the port, and had to be back at the ship by 5pm. Matias had to race to get us back on time (worst case, we are late and then have to catch up with the ship at the next port—Montevideo, Uruguay—which we could do if we had to, so not a real big deal. But it was a race through traffic and a lot of red lights and construction zones to try and make it.

And true to the spirit of Argentina and of logistics, Matias got us back at 5:05 (a LITTLE late, but still in time to make it onboard) BUT he also found the time on the drive for a quick detour and stop at Freda’s Gelato for some Dulce de Leche ice cream and banana split. Well worth the delay and the possibility of having to catch the ship at the next port.  Well done, Mati!

Onward!  (With a too-full belly 😀).

And gracias to Mati and Marion for a most unforgettable day and experience.

Viking Cruise: Tango Night in Buenos Aires

Last night Matias took us to a tango place where we:

1.) Got a tango lesson. (GREAT success!) Because only one got seriously injured 🙂
2.) Had a great dinner (meat,meat and more meat) And wine of course 🙂
3.) And got to see a real tango show, which was terrific.

Great music and dancing!

Fun Time!

 

Viking Cruise: Buenos Aires Day 1

Buenos Aires is a VERY cool city. Very modern and vibrant—European looking. Reminds me of Toronto.

It is the birthplace of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, better knows as Pope Francis, who (believe it or not) of was a bouncer at a nightclub here before entering the seminary.

It has more bookstores per person than any city in the world.

It is where Eva Peron was worshiped by millions (thus the stage play, Evita and the movie starring Madonna).

It is very Spanish and Italian. 2 million immigrants came from both Italy and Spain after both world wars (it is a big country, without many people, so they were happy to get folks to come and live here). Were not as many big native communities as there was further north.  And not many people of color, due to it’s geography and history. Seems like it was too far south (cold south) for the slave trade to reach here. It has the 3rd largest Jewish community in the hemisphere. (The US, Canada, then Argentina). Half a million Jews. Plus a kosher McDonald’s.

You can find houses of worship of all kinds here. VERY tolerant. And who can guess what is the #1 religion? It was brought here by the British over a century ago…

Answer: Futbol (soccer). And this is their main Cathedral.

Home of Diego Maradona of yesteryear, and of Lionel Messi today.

Their “White House” is a Pink House. And, we are told it is pink because to help waterproof the limestone it was constructed with, they used pig’s blood. Thus the reddish tint.

Surprisingly to me, their #1 export is not beef or wine (though they are famous for that). Their #1 is soybeans. Mostly to China.

Going to see a Tango performance tonight!

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.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ_the_Redeemer_(statue)

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.