Monday, February 25, 2008

More travels with Pam

AND, here we are back again with an update and where and what! So, we left at traveling to the port of Ushuaia. Our sea travel has been (Harry is so disappointed) very smooth so far. He wanted some BIG waves and rough weather! Well, these far away towns are just fascinating. Names are interesting too. We have been going through a lot of fiords, seeing glaciers (that have been retreating over the years), and some sea life, although the Sea of Cortez seems to have a lot more activity! Some ports we tie up to a dock, and others we have tenders from the boat to the dock on land. These are really just the lifeboats that are used for this purpose. Lifeboats on this ship are NOT the lifeboats on the Titanic. These carry about 90 people in fairly comfortable and dry surroundings. I think one could survive almost anything in them.

video

Anyway, when we landed in Ushuaia, we took a tour that was wonderful. Almost all of us went, and we caught a bus to a little train station that takes you up to the mountains of Tierra del Fuego.


It was like a trip back in time, on a play train. The cars were tiny, two to a seat, and about 12 people per car. The country side was green and lovely, lots of wild horses (which were easy to see when you are only going 15 mph), lakes, flowers, all kinds of trees, and we even saw a busy beaver building his dam!



When we got to the end of the line, our bus met us and we proceeded on to see a couple of lakes, and learned about the history of the entire region. It was really a prison that started the town, and the prisoners were the ones who had to go into the mountains and harvest the trees to build their own prison and any shelter they needed. I’m sure lots of them froze to death, although we had a glorious day. Our guide was a little hard to understand, but really nice,like all of them have been, and gave us a grand tour.

Considering how far down we are in South America, the towns/cities, have been very up to date. This was a full day and as always, we spend the evenings at shipboard entertainment, which has been good and every night a different kind of act, big and small. We have been such a fun group together and everyone is enjoying each other. This was a special evening, as after dinner all of our friends joined us to send “mom and dad” on a trip that they always wanted to take. We said a hearty farewell, and tossed some ashes over the side! The moon was full and the ocean calm. Patty has a great picture of them floating away in the wake in the moonlight! It was perfect. The traveling is done a lot at night, and the ship must have really great radar, because we travel through fog and clouds a lot, on the ocean! The next day we “rounded the cape” and have a certificate to say so! The trip before us ran into huge seas, and we were treated to calm, albeit VERY unusual, seas. It was COLD, and I can see how the weather can change fast from one day to the next, or even from hour to hour. There is a VERY lonely outpost here, I guess just to monitor things. And, a beautiful monument with the albatross, to all the sailors who have passed by. After sailing around the Cape, we headed on the Falkland Islands! You all know those from the famous war that wasn’t, between Argentina and Britain where Argentina did many things wrong,including not dressing their troops correctly for the inclement weather! 10 weeks and that was it!


So, we arrived in Port Stanley and the ship anchored out and we were tendered in to the pier. Again, more penguin viewing. It was a beautiful, beautiful day, one of the 6 sunny, warm days they get all year! And that it the TRUTH! Ask any Falklander! We were driven out to the walking area, $10 round trip, and about a 2 mile walk along the cliff, with lots of penguins below, young and old, mostly molting, which means they can’t go into the sea. There was one just 5 feet off the path, so we have lots of photos to share! Then we went to a Pub and had fish and chips and finished the day off by shopping, as usual! I have to get all of my purchases from this trip together and see what I have. I just keep stuffing things in a drawer and I know there will be complaints if all the kids have different amounts of gifts, and that means the adults too! We all got on board the ms Rotterdam and about 4 pm started the long sail to Buenas Aires. I think it will be two days sailing. There is really a lot of ocean in this world! We have met lots of really nice people and such an international group. Last night we were entertained by a terrific singer, and a group of the crew(Phillipinos) who did songs and dances from their country. We’ve had ventrolquists, comedians, groups of dancers and singers, pianists, guitarists, just all kinds of talented entertainers. Today, the 25th, we had lunch with the captain (about 700 of us!) and saw a demo of flower arranging for the ships bouquets, then 4 of us attended our 2nd cooking class, and Harry gave $30 to the Blackjack table! Lots of people are playing bingo, scrabble, cards, pingpong, learning to line dance, the possibilities are endless! Some of us even take walks (3 ½ laps around the deck = 1 mile), and truly just enjoy the fresh ocean air. That’s about it and that’s enough for you to read anyway! Take care and we certainly would love to hear from any of you! Besos y abrazos, Pam and Harry please note that we are having problems with Holland Americas version of internet connectivity...so we are not able to post photos but can post stories....enjoy

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Cooking Class


Kathe and Russell wearing their official chef hats!

Chef Sheldon from Canada...a patient man!





Pam, Patty, Russell and I have been taking cooking classes while onboard. Sheldon, a Canadian chef onboard has been teaching us all sorts of yummy recipes to cook once we are home. One of the best parts is we get to eat up once we are done-as if we are starving on this ship! Ha ha.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Going Around the Horn

Here are our certificates for "rounding the Horn". It was an epic moment for me-a stellar and unforgetable day. How fortunate can one be?



A simply beautiful day ...with calm seas and sunshine.
Hard to believe we are here!



Below are some more photos taken on this lovely day.........









Bottom of the World Glaciers and Fiords

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Hi Family and Friends,
Just checking in again. Internet is kind of busy with lots of other people and slow, so I type on Kathe’s laptop and she copies and paste’s it to the Internet. Thank you Kathe!
Well, we had a grand night, as is every night. After dinner each night, we have really good entertainment in the “Queen’s Lounge”. Pianist one night, guitarist one night, show girls one night, a comedian, and tonight I think it’s another showgirl stage show. It’s always different and always good fun.
So, our next port, if I am recalling correctly, was Porte Montt, Chile. All of these towns that we are hitting on the coast of Chili, are dependent on the fishing industry. Mostly salmon, some king crab (expensive!) and the areas are cold. Summertime is now,and I think they are lucky to see the sun occasionally. But, the countryside is really pretty.
Puerto Montt, when you get out of the town, as we do on our bus tours, is just beautiful. Kind of reminds us of northern California. Even the vegetation. We took about a 4 hour tour, just our group of 15, all over the place, and there were 2 huge lakes in the middle of the countryside, kind of like Tahoe. COLD! And yet some people are always in the water, and of course, the kids will swim in anything! Any temperature!


We stopped at a little ranch and petted llamas, and I had to find a little puppy to hold!





No pictures anymore, too hard and time consuming to download.
One of the most beautiful stops was a national park area. Huge boulders and cascading water. I think it would have been a class 12 on the rapid scale! And this is summertime and the water level very low. Lots of fish, and I bet a fly fisherman’s paradise.




The town of PM is rather like lots of others in the souvenir department. But, we have picked up a few little gifts for everyone. Many homemade woven and knit items.
Always very colorful.
The next day found us at a huge glacier, and we pulled right up in front for a photo op.



The day was glorius and chunks of ice floated in the surrounding seas. A sea lion camae up to see what was going on! The cruising is so lovely and relatively smoothe. Sometimes we can see land, in the fiords, and sometimes we are in the open sea. So far we have been lucky with the weather. The previous trip had weather going around the Horn, a 42 foot wave, and they instantly lost $150,000 worth of china, and lots of booze.
All the hot oil and condiments went flying on the upper deck. Lots of cleanup!
We docked at Punta Arena, which is one of the two most southern towns in the world.
Took one of my favorite tours, we went out to the summer penguins! Saw some emu’s along the way, wild! Got to the penguins after about one hour. We walked out to the area where they gather, on a wooden path. There is a colony of about 10,000. CUTE,CUTE! They are about 1 ½ feet tall, and there were some older babies that were losing their fluff. Lots of noise, and it’s so different, because they nest in the seagrass, not snow and ice! There are little trails through the grass and they mate and have their young in burrows. Lots of humping! They follow the leader in little groups as they come out of the grassy area to the water. Waddle, waddle!




Went back to the town, had lunch, shopped in the local square and tourist “traps”. They do tend to sell the same stuff town to town. But we were certainly glad they were selling some woolen scarves as it was VERY cold and VERY windy when visiting the penguin area.
Got back to the ship, and did some of our usual activities. Some people play games, others read, others sleep, walk around the deck (3 ½ laps equal one mile), and some of us took a cooking class (hands on), with one of the chefs on board. FUN!
Evening always finds our group in the beautiful dining room, and we have 2 tables right at the stern windows. Lucky us!


We have gone through more fiords and more glaciers, and are about to land at our port of Ushuaia which really IS the city furthest south in the world. We have a tour scheduled to last 4 hours, so it should be fascinating.
Not too much sea life, but lots of birds, some albatross,big and small.
So, this is the latest, all is wonderful, the ship just beautiful, and everyone is happy with this trip! We are a great group and meld wonderfully.
Will check in again, and remember someone, give our pups an extra hug and show them our pictures so they will remember us!
Much love to all, Pam and Harry

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Coming into Punta Arenas

We had to be up and at it early this am to meet up with our guides to Punta Arenas. I watched the tugs gently tuck our ship into it's berth.




Our tour bus never showed up...so we managed to snag two enterprising free lancing
van drivers to take us out to Cena Otway. It ended up being the same cost as the original tour and since we had not paid up front we were not out any money.



On the way out we pulled over to view some unexpected wildlife...Rheas!



Maybe you know them as Emus?


Finally we arrive at Cena Otway and after a short walk in high winds we saw the little guys we had come to see.....they are so stinking cute!





Kathe here-this video was taken by Russell of the darling penguins-we think that the penguin feeding another is perhaps a mating ritual-not necessarily a parent feeding a baby. video

Lunch at Restaurante Sotito's in Punta Arenas


Looking out over the town.....




A fabulous meal at such good prices.....I would have taken photos of the food but we were so damn hungry we devoured it on site and only left these licked clean
plates and empty bottles!

Penguins and Punta Arenas








We saw these wonderfully sweet penguins today at Cena Otway outside of Punta Arenas...what a wonderful sight. They bray like mules thus the
nickname of "Jackass Penguins!"

Our room steward and others on the ship

Holland America certainly knows how to provide impeccable service, fabulous 5 star meals and always with a smile! Here are just a few of the folks who made our journey
fun and memorable.............

Here's Houdin (sp?) who we nick named "Houdini" as he could be in and out of our room so fast -leaving our room spotless-not to mention all the towel animals on our bed! Here's a few ..........









Eeeeek.......
don't try this at home!

Here are a few shots of the Pinnacle Grill
and the hard working kitchen staff!
First-here's a shot of the restaurant's interior.....




Waiter hustling through the kitchen


Marzipan being shaped into fruits and flowers


Putting the finishing touches
on the dessert-one of many desserts!

Melon artist.........

Ice carver hard at work...........

This sign says it all!


This dessert extravaganza was the epic
"cherry on top" of the tour.
The dessert chefs and assistants
worked days to present this sugary display!
We just looked-could not fill
our plates as some did...mama mia....burp!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Beauty on Board!!!


Here are all the Gorgeous Cruising Women Pals

First dressy night of four...it's fun to dress up!

Beauty in Patagonia




Southern Patagonia
Yesterday we went through the Darwin Channel. It is amazing to me to be here-so far away from anyplace. Seeing the glacier, the floating ice and traveling through fiords
is a big reason why I am here. I love being here.
Tomorrow we will be at Punta Arenas where we will disembark for a tour of Cena Otway where we will be able to see some Magellan penguins.
As we have been going by the coast of Chile I cannot imagine what it must have been
for the explorers and scientists. Here we are on the floating fully equipped city and they
had only the bare necessities for survival.

Monday, February 18, 2008

More fun than I thought!







Sunday, February 17, 2008

More Fun than I Thought
We arrived after 8 days of travel in Lima, Peru, Santiago, and Vina Del Mar , Chile. As I write this , our ship is rolling a little side to side....have not gotten my sea legs yet. After arriving at the dock at Valpariso, just up the hoarbor from Vina DEl Mar, the loading process was smooth. We boarded the ship and our bags magically appeared in our stateroom, which is compact but has a surprising amount of storage.Our butler/valet is named "Dodit", and he's from outside Djakarta, Indonesia. He smiles all the time, very unflappable, and left towels on the very comfortable bed in the shapes of fans, with little chocolates tucked into them. He hung up my clothes when I had to run out for dinner (I could get used to this)...Today I went to the gym at 6:45 and used the treadmill, although the pitch and roll while doing the treadmill is a little disconcerting!! Then the bike (better), then wandered over to the Lido dining room and met Harry--had breakfast, then a pedicure in the Salon, now I'm planning on going nto the Diamond and Tanzanite Show in the jewelry shop, or maybe play Team Trivia in the Explorer's Lounge...Wow!Patty

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Oxleys Odyessy

Hi Family and friends! This is the first time I have been able to actually send something to our blog site because Kathe is helping me with all the techie stuff! So let’s just start at the beginning. Our plane flight was great, and LAN has food, unlike some of the other flights we have taken. (this trip is a lot about food!). Anderson’s, Stearns and we traveled together for the first little leg of the trip. So, we flew from LAX to Lima, and there is 3 hour time difference. We arrived in Lima around 12 midnight, went to our delightful hotel in Miraflores just outside Lima and settled at the bar. At 3a.m. we finally hit the sack! We were picked up for our first tour at 9 for a city tour. What fun. We started at the “kissing statue” and a beautiful park. Our guide showed us all around and without boring you, it was great sightseeing. Then out to lunch at a cafĂ© outside, and lots of “pisco sours”, the national drink! It’s kind of a cross between a margarita and a silver fizz. Good! That evening we went to a wonderful dinner, really beautiful restaurant called the Brujas Cachetas. The dining was fabulous and the building lovely. Next day we went to some ruins, Pachecama, that were huge. We drove through the outskirts of Lima for about ½ hour. Lima is truly a desert, and they get NO rain. The most they get is a mist once in a while. All of their water comes from underground. Therefore, these ruins which were made out of just the sand from the huge dunes, and water, have remained quite intact. They have a huge immigration problem, but not from the outside. From their own people who are coming down from the mountains in search of work. Lima has to deal with about 10,000 immigrants a month! We spent a bit of time wandering around doing the tourist thing, shopping etc, and that evening went to one of the most beautiful restaurants I have ever been to, on the end of a long pier. It was elegant, the food superb, the service fantastic, and the ambience unbeatable. All in all a truly wonderful dining experience. (also the most expensive!!!!!) We had to get up at 3 the next morning to catch a 7 a.m.plane for Santiago, Chili. (This was NOT the part of the trip that we got a lot of sleep!). Uneventful and nice flight. AND, they served a nice breakfast! So, this is where we met up everyone else who was going on the cruise. People came in a different time during the next 2 days. The picture I am putting in the blog (and I am only sending ONE because it takes too long on the EXPENSIVE internet), is from when we took a tour of the Santa Rita winery outside Santiago. They are world famous and bottle over 1,000,000 bottles every year! Tom Rosen had made reservations for our group to have lunch there, and again, a fantastic experience. Truly unique, a 200 year old winery, a luncheon made for a king, and our waistbands are now experiencing tightness! We spent some of the rest of the afternoon walking around this lovely and very modern city. Both Lima and Santiago have surprised us with their modern development and look. When you get out in the countryside, it looks a little more like Mexico. Our next tour was to another winery, Veramonte, where everyone tasted and bought wines, as they had done previously at the other winery, to take to the ship. $15 corkage on the ship, but that’s better than $50 a bottle! It’s interesting how they trim the vines, to me anyway. They are practically FLAT, whereas the vines in California are very bushy. Must have something to do with the way they are picked. And at the end of each row, they plant roses. Is this common in other areas? They say that if the roses get a disease, the growers can immediately check the vines, because the roses are weak and the grapes, strong, as far as diseases go. That day was our anniversary and along our way, we all went to a lapis lazuli factory Where Harry bought me a lovely lapis and gold ring! Our friends gave us cards and we had a wonderful day! We then took a bus to Vina del Mar, where we stayed in a fabulous Sheraton, right on the beach. This is resort town, and lots of South Americans come here for vacation. Their summer vacation is just the opposite of ours, Jan, Feb. March, as are all the blooming plants and trees. It seems funny to see the crepe myrtles blooming right now! All the while on this trip between Santiago and Vina del Mar, we had a tour leader who told us over and over again, that we seeing the MOST important, the MOST beautiful, the BIGGEST, most FAMOUS etc, etc. everything. And probably we were, because this area is certainly one of Chile’s biggest in population and development, and tourism. So, this brings us to boarding the ship, the Rotterdam, in Valpariso, the port here. It is a lovely area, but bustling with activity. The boarding process is very organized, and we all were on the ship by 2:00 p.m. the 16th. Our rooms are varied, but all lovely. The ship is large, quiet, and is like a floating city. Everyone has lots to do if they want to, or just loll around and read. Last night we had a late dinner, but a nice dinner, however tonight we made reservations so we could eat at a better hour. There are movies, and tonight we are all going to a live show, music and dancing with costumes by Bob Mackie. Tonight is FORMAL, good grief, and Susan will be in her new red sequined dress from Lima, so our group will get much better service! and here's Rick and Susan.............. Keith and Patty Kathe and Russell Joel and Connie Lou and Dee Pam and Harry Connie Cobb and all her men.......... Tomorrow we have a tour of Puerto Montt on the coast of Chile. We have been at sea since we left, so it will be nice to touch down. Everyone is having a great time and we are a fabulous group together! Kathe will now help me get this to where it belongs and I will try to be shorter next time! Much love to all of you and please someone give my puppies a kiss! Besos, Pam and Harry