A Travellerspoint blog


Long Journey Home

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

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The last of the wake-up announcements and off to breakfast. After breakfast we waited in the lounge for the disembarkation call. At 08:00 we were requested to leave the ship, identify our luggage and board the bus. The entire Expedition Staff stood in the wet conditions to bid us safe travel, almost like saying goodbye to family.

A relatively short drive through the city out to the airport. Baggage was checked in and we faced many hours until boarding the aircraft. The flight to Buenos Aires was uneventful but rough with the seat-belt sign on more often than off. Arrival at the domestic terminal was a little confusing as we kept looking for the International Departures. Found out we had a 10 minute walk to Terminal A. Easy when you know.

Terminal A was crowded with limited seating, little air-conditioning and only two food outlets. We managed to grab a seat in the most crowded McDonald's ever experienced. Found a good deal that used of the last of the local currency - great management ??

Tried to enter the secured departure area. Not yet permitted for our flight. Had to hang about until 19:30. Noticed a bunch of people heading into the departure area just after 19:00, joined them and got through to security. We had a long wait with our flight still on page 2 of the Departures Board. With no gate number allocated we stayed in the central area and made frequent trips looking for updates.

Eventually the flight was allocated a gate number and we headed off to Gate 23. It was a long walk almost entirely through parts of duty free outlets. Very strange setup. By the time we boarded the plane we had been on the go for 16 hours with a 14 hour flight to Auckland still to endure.
The aircraft was fully occupied with passengers and more that one piece of carry-on for each. The was lots of shoving to fit more and more gear into those bulging lockers. With a first come, best served approach some people had to find spaces further toward the back. I figured there would be some interesting moves at the far end as they pushed against the tide.

Our arrival in Auckland was at least 30 minutes late. The connection interval to our flight to Sydney had also changed resulting in a close call. By the time we found the transit lounge we were sure we would be catching a later flight. Appears that the flight to Sydney was also running late and with hardly time for a breath we were off on a three hour flight to Sydney.

On arrival we retrieved our luggage and successfully negotiated the automatic passport recognition process, much improved from our first encounter some years ago. Found the Virgin transfer lounge, checked in the luggage and transferred to the domestic departures for our fourth security check. We were both exhausted and travel weary. No more delays just a simple flight to Canberra on a stinking hot day.

The taxi dropped us off and we made a beeline for the door, dumped the luggage and crashed on the bed. Within minutes we were fast asleep. We were so deeply asleep that we didn't hear our neighbour come in and delivered a carton of milk in case we needed it. She was surprised to find our luggage dumped in the lounge room.

Not a lot more to be said, we figured we were in transit a total of close to 40 hours without sleep. Sadly there is no practical way of reducing that travel time to the far flung destinations. This could well be the last of these brutal flights.

There may be subsequent entry in the form of a wash up summary but for now, thanks for following.

Stay healthy and safe.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 20:29 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)

Drake Passage and Ushuaia

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

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The crossing of the Drake Passage continued in a remarkable calm fashion. It was a subdued day aboard as we were required to focus on the task of packing and preparing to disembark. Various lectures and talks filled in much of the day.

There was a special treat because the passage had been so smooth the Captain took us into the Pacific Ocean on a visit to Cape Horn Island before slipping into the Beagle Channel for the approach to Ushuaia.

To my surprise the very bulky expedition parka compressed down enough to fit the luggage. In line with the excellent organisation throughout the voyage, the method of disembarkation was explained and proved to be very simple and effective. There were donation boxes for unwanted gear and effortless payment of the surprisingly small account balance.

Main luggage to be outside the cabin by 07:00, just before breakfast. Very civilised.

We were secure along side in Ushuaia before dinner, first time there was no rocking of the ship. The evening was spent with the crew in a packed lounge as farewell toasts were made, raffles were drawn and memorabilia auctioned off. Found it difficult to fall asleep without the assistance of the rocking motion.

Just the dreaded flight back to look forward (?) to.

Stay healthy and safe.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 20:26 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Ushuaia - Argentina

Thursday, 21 December 2017

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Up at 05:00 for an 06:00 transfer to the airport for our flight to Ushuaia. I was amazed at how busy the roads were even at that early hour. We were dropped off at the Domestic airport and were confronted by a host of confusing signs - all in Spanish. Despite the apparent chaos we were quickly checked in and cleared the Security Check.

The flight was uneventful and we arrived at our destination right on schedule but were held for almost 30 minutes awaiting a vacant Gate. Appears to be a common occurrence - too many aircraft too few loading gates. Collected our luggage and found the G-Adventures representative who collected a number of us and escorted us to the bus. She provided a quick briefing as we were driven a short drive into town and were checked into the Albatross Hotel. We each received a package containing additional information including details of the boarding process for tomorrow.

Dragged our gear to our room and set out to buy some last minute essentials. We'd missed out on breakfast and it was almost 16:00 so we were both looking for something to eat. There were few restaurants open at this time, too late for lunch and too early for diner. We found one that was serving food and were confronted by a menu of strange dishes. We ordered something that we thought would be familiar, but turned out to be quite different. At times like that we would have gladly eaten at McDonald'. At least you'd know what you'd get served up.

This is the last opportunity to post this blog and images to 365, tomorrow we board the ship. Will look into an Internet package aboard the ship with no guarantees of speed or coverage.

Till next time

Stay healthy and safe.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 13:23 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Estancia El Ombu de Areco

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

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Beautiful weather and after an extensive breakfast we are picked up for a guided tour to San Antonio de Areco a small gaucho town North West from Buenos Aires. On arrival we strolled across the central park and visited the historic church established in 1730. The outstanding feature of the area is the endless flat pampas in all directions.

Back on our bus for a short trip to the Estancia El Ombu de Areco where we are greeted by the staff and invited to enjoy a beverage of our choice and freshly fried empanadas. After a stroll through the gardens we wandered down to the stables where we were invited to mount for a short ride. I decided to opt for the sulky ride rather than risk total embarrassment or broken bones,

We assembled on the verandah for lunch, again with copious refreshments. We were plied with a vast array of BBQ meats. Sausages, chicken, beef and ribs. Anything that was not to our liking was quickly devoured by one of the dogs that lurked under the table. The food just kept on coming and there was no sense of urgency. Icecream and coffee was served as we formed a circle to watch some traditional gaucho dances. Some of the more daring joined in after a basic dance was demonstrated. The highlight was the son of one of the gaucho couples all of two years old and fully decked out in the appropriate outfit.

To finish off the day we were invited onto the lawn where one of the gauchos demonstrated the close bond between him and a newly trained horse. Using his bare hands and a gentle voice he caressed the animal and slowly lowered it onto its side. He coaxed the horse into more and more unusual positions, at one stage the horse was flat on its back with all four legs pointing in the air. Had I not seen it, I would not have believed it.

Back on the bus for the long drive back to our hotels. We were back here just after 19:00 bringing this 10 hour outing to a close. An amazing day.
Tomorrow we are on the move again, a 06:00 pick-up for the transfer to the domestic airport and three hour flight to Ushuaia.

Stay healthy and safe.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 16:24 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)

Arrival in Buenos Aires

Tuesday, 19 December 2017 - Repeated

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After a restful night in the hotel we went down for breakfast. Checked with the front desk regarding the status of our flight to Buenos Aires. We were advised that it is scheduled for a 20:15 departure. The airline has approved a late check-out until 12:00. Spent some time catching up on Emails and checked out at 11:30. Shuttle bus to the airport and sat around until the departure gate was announced. For some strange reason the flight was still dated the day it was due to fly. Very strange.

Spent the last of the Kiwi currency we had in the wallet and moved to Gate 5 for an expected departure of 20:15. An aircraft parked at the gate and passengers disembarked, Flight crew for our flight arrived and sat waiting for them to go aboard and prepare for our embarkation. At 19:45 someone discovered that the cleaners had not been scheduled to clean the aircraft. A flurry of staff arrived and the announcement was made that there would be a 50 minute delay to the departure.

The flight left at about 21:00 NZ time and arrived in Buenos Aires about 17:20 Argentine time. After crossing the International Date Line we have now landed before we took off and have had a double day. As a result of yesterday's strike there are planes and people everywhere. There are no vacant gates and we are held for about 20 minutes. There were long queues at passport control, long delays at baggage collection and wall to wall people in the arrivals hall. Didn’t have much faith that the driver with name card would be there. Oh !! What a relief, he was there and drove us to the hotel through dense traffic.

Hotel is very classy and the area looks to be clean and “safe”. The activities that had been booked in Buenos Aires for Tuesday have all been cancelled. It was great to strip off and lay down.

Stay healthy and safe.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 15:11 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)

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