SA: Traveling Home

Thursday & Friday, February 2 & 3, 2023

The representatives started setting up about 4:30 and put out the signs for Priority and General boarding. A number of people jumped up and got in line. We should have. Two big independent tour groups showed up and got in line before we did. The line moved very slowly.

Once we got to the first station, we had tell the representative when we entered Argentina and where did we visit. We actually entered Argentina when we got to Ushuaia but everyone was giving the date of when we got to Buenos Aires so that is the date we gave. I’m glad she didn’t make us list everywhere we went in Buenos Aires. We just said we took a city tour and a canal boat ride.

We were then allowed to go to the desk to check our luggage. We noticed that the luggage conveyor belt was not running. The clerk said it was not working but not to worry, our luggage would get on the plane. Sigh.

We then went to a room that had several immigration officers. You had to wait until a number flashed on the screen to let you know which officer you could see. Not all of the cubicles were even staffed. We waited and waited to be assigned an officer. Finally realized that the computers were re-booting. They had experienced a system failure. First a conveyor belt and now this. Ugh.

We then had to go through security. You didn’t have to take off your shoes or take your computer out of your bag.

We were finally able to go to the gate. We had time to get a beer at the cafe.

However, it wasn’t long before it was time to board. They did not have the overhead screens. There were people holding up signs: Delta One, Priority, Main 1, etc, and you lined up in front of them. Then, you had to put your carry-ons on tables as people rifled through them and wanted to see your passport again. Since you had to send your carry-ons through the security x-ray and we showed our passports multiple times, I’m not sure why this extra step.

When Chuck stepped up to the table, he discovered he had been selected for a random detailed screening. Oh, yay! He had to take his shoes off. He had his hands and pockets swabbed. He was then allowed to get on the plane.

I was really surprised that with all the lines, waiting, and extra screening that the plane actually took off on time.

We had two seats together on this flight. We were served dinner not long after take-off. I had the pasta dish and Chuck had the chicken dish. We watched a couple of movies. We slept off and on but of course it was not a restful sleep.

We were given a breakfast sandwich about an hour before we landed. Once we landed, we had a brief stop in customs where our passports were checked, and we were asked if we brought alcohol or cigarettes. We got our luggage quickly, got our jackets out of the carry-ons since we came from 85 degrees to 35 degrees, and caught the airport shuttle to the domestic terminal.

I had already gotten a text that our shuttle ride to home would not be there at 7:15 but would arrive at 8:15. I got us some coffee at the airport Dunkin Donut, and we waited at the pick-up point. We talked with a couple who had been on the cruise and the flight. They were waiting for their shuttle to Auburn. Learned they had signed up for the 2024 World Cruise. Exciting.

The shuttle was on time, so we were home by noon. I was glad the car started okay since it had been sitting out in the cold for all this time.

We were happy that all was well with our cat and our house. The laundry and the grocery shopping could wait until later.

So, the voyage may be at an end, but the memories are forever.

Until next time –

“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” ~ Jennifer Lee

SA: Buenos Aires – Day 2 – Disembarkation

Thursday, February 2, 2023

By the time dinner rolled around, we were still so full from the huge lunch, we had some fruit and cheese at the Lido. We enjoyed the warm weather out on the Sea View, said good-bye to some of our favorite waiters and staff, listened to some of the Dueling Piano players set (Rolling Stone Lounge band had the night off), and then called it a night.

Our instructions for tomorrow had been left on the bed. We put the two large suitcases and one of the carry-ons in the hallway. The directions said we would see them again at the airport. I hoped so.

We were up at 6:00 and at the Lido for breakfast by 6:30. Since the ship had arrived yesterday, the local authorities had already cleared it for disembarkation, so the disembarkation announcements began promptly at 7:00.

Our number was called at 8:30 and we proceeded to the gangway. We showed our ship card one last time and we were out the door. Again, we had to take a shuttle bus to our tour buses outside of the industrial port. Pretty crowded with people trying to juggle luggage and stuff on those shuttles.

We were taking the HAL tour “Spirit of Buenos Aires Waterways with Airport Transfer.” The tour description stated ” This option is available to guests who are disembarking the ship.

The Tigre Delta with its rivers, streams and green islands is one of Argentina’s most attractive areas to explore. For more than 100 years, channels of Tigre Delta have been a favorite summer gateway to porteños — the name describing the inhabitants of Buenos Aires. The Delta Islands are formed by the continuous sediment of the Paraná River, which gives the river and estuary a peculiar brownish-red color. Take a leisurely, one-hour ride on a comfortable riverboat along the waterways.

During the coach drive back to Buenos Aires, you’ll pass through residential areas of Argentina’s capital with some free time to stroll around San Isidro — one of the few remaining areas where style and romanticism are still proudly on display.

Your tour ends at Ezeiza International Airport in time for your flight.

Notes: This tour is available only to guests whose cruise ends in Buenos Aires with flights after 5pm.

Our guide had some of the same information that yesterday’s guide did but she did dwell more on the sorry state of Argentina’s economy. Yet, she would get distracted too – she’d start a dark tale of the dictatorship and then “look – a tree!”

We didn’t exactly follow the itinerary of the description. We headed first to the San Isidro area. We traveled down the street Ave del Libertador for a long way. At first, we went through neighborhoods that all the houses had razor wire and spiked windows. The streets were narrow too. Once, the bus driver had to get a patrolperson to go tell the owner of a car that it had to be moved so he could get the bus down the road.

Eventually, the road came to more upscale neighborhoods that had lots of restaurants and Mercedes and Peugeot dealerships. Didn’t see any more razor wire but a bigger police presence. Lots of dog walkers too. One person I counted had 10 dogs he was walking.

Stopped at a Cathedral. We were told we could go inside but they were having some sort of service, so we stayed outside. It began to rain lightly. We were able to walk over to the square and admire the statues.

Eventually, we arrived at the canal port. The tour boat was comfortable, had air conditioning, a working toilet, and sold drinks and snacks. It reminded me of the ones in Amsterdam. Once we left the dock area, you were free to move about and even go on the outside deck.

The ride was pleasant. We passed some rowers and the rowing club. This area the guide said was mostly for vacationers from the City who wanted to spend time in nature. However, some people were year-round residents. We waved at children who were out of their docks. It was a pleasant way to spend an hour. Some of the places were very nice. Others not so much.

Once we got back from the boat tour, we had 25 minutes to get something to eat at the little shopping area at the dock. We made the mistake of ordering at a bar & grill. It took a while for it to cook so we had to take it with us on the bus. Just around a corner was a McDonald’s that we could have gone to, but we hadn’t seen it. I have to say though that the hamburger from the grill was better than McDonald’s.

Once we were back on the bus, we headed straight to the airport on the interstate. The skies opened up and we had a downpour. I thought it might slow the traffic down but that was not the case. We arrived at the airport at 2:00.

Our luggage was all in a covered area outside of Terminal A. Of course, Delta flyers were going out of Terminal C. Once we found our three pieces amidst all of the luggage, we could have gotten one of those carts and pushed our luggage to the Terminal across the airport. However, a nice young man with the porter company offered to load it on the cart and push it for us. He didn’t speak much English, but he recognized Chuck’s Georgia shirt as “Number 1 American Football.” He walked us all the way to the correct gate in the terminal. He accepted US money as a tip and seemed pleased.

It was quite a long walk from Terminal A to Terminal C. I didn’t see anyone assisting with wheelchairs so I’m not sure what the passengers who may have needed one did.

It was now going on 3:00, there were some of our fellow Delta flyers already seated. Some of us were on the 9:15 flight to Atlanta. Others were on the 11:00 flight to JFK (although they got a notice that it would be 1:00 a.m. before they left). However, right now, the gate area was closed to all, and nobody could tell us exactly when it would open. This did not bode well.

SA: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

We were docked in an industrial area that was already hard at work when we got up at 8:00. I went to get our coffee since today will be the last day we can get it from the Coffee Bar. You know you’ve come to the end of the cruise when the Coffee Bar has run out of large To Go cups. To compensate, they put two shots of espresso into a small To Go cup.

We ate a very light breakfast in the Lido because we certainly didn’t want to not be hungry for our HAL tour today entitled “A Culinary Walk through Buenos Aires: In Partnership with Food & Wine Magazine.” The description states ” With its exciting culinary scene, Buenos Aires is a city that is a delight for foodies and anyone who loves a good meal. On this food tour with a small group of like-minded travelers (8 to 20 people), visit some of its authentic restaurants.

Argentina is known for its amazing meats, which are central to the diet here, making this outing a great choice for carnivores.

Your day begins with a guided panoramic drive through Buenos Aires, taking in highlights such as Plaza de Mayo — the city’s most famous square. You’ll drive down Avenida 9 de Julio — the wide thoroughfare named in honor of Argentina’s Independence Day. You’ll also pass the beautiful parks of Palermo — one of the city’s most buzzing neighborhoods.

A culinary walking tour leads you through a traditional neighborhood packed with locally-owned restaurants. Along the way, your guide will talk about the history of the places you visit, sharing stories of life, past and present, in this great city.

At three distinctive restaurants, you’ll savor a true taste of Buenos Aires. Try empanadas, choripan (sausage with French baguette), barbecued meats, grilled provoleta cheese and chimichurri — a dipping sauce of fresh herbs, garlic and peppers. A glass of Argentine red wine is included with lunch.

For dessert, a heladeria offers homemade ice cream.

Portions are small at each stop but, by the end of the tour, you will be full and you will have a newfound appreciation for the life and food of Argentina.

Notes: Wear comfortable walking shoes and dress for the weather.

We met at the main stage at 10:00. When they called our tour number about 40 people stood up. I thought “this doesn’t look like a small group.” Once we got outside, we were directed to a shuttle bus as we were not allowed to walk through the industrial port. The shuttle took us to the waiting tour buses outside of the industrial port. Because the ship was going to be here overnight, they announced that the shuttle buses would run all night long.

Once we reached the tour buses, we were divided into two groups of twenty. We were on a very comfortable bus but the guide’s microphone didn’t work and she had to talk very loudly for all to hear. She spoke English well and she did the best she could to talk loudly.

She gave us a lot of interesting information about Buenos Aires and Argentina. What I found especially interesting is what she said about the Falklands which she always referred to as the Malvinas. She said she was in College before she knew that Argentina did not control the Malvinas and that other people knew them as the Falklands.

She told us that we would be going to three different restaurants – two for appetizers and one for the main meal. She said we would meet up with the other tour group at the main meal. Then, we would all go to a gelato parlor.

First, we had a nice overview of the city as she talked.

Guide called it Shanty Town – near the port – she said don’t go there.
Railroad Station – No longer used. Trying to decide what to do with it.
Lots of old buildings
Lots of new buildings
Statues everywhere
Obelisk Monument – Built in 1910 to celebrate 400th anniversary of Buenos Aires
Floralis Genérica is a sculpture made of steel and aluminum – a gift to the city by the Argentine architect Eduardo Catalano.

The bus dropped us off near the first restaurant. We had empanadas and your choice of beer, soft drink, or water. I thought the beer was good and asked what kind it was thinking it was a local beer – Heineken. Okay. The empanada was full-size and very good. I thought we were supposed to get small portions.

As we walked to the next restaurant, we passed the other tour group going to our restaurant.

We sat outside at our next restaurant, and I forgot to get the name. We first created our own Gancio Batido – similar to a pisco sour. Mixed Gancio liquor with pressurized seltzer water and served over large ice cubes. They were very good if you like a lemon flavor.

They served it with a choripan with two types of sauces.

Our next restaurant we met up with the other group and all sat inside. Your choice of drinks was Malbec, a white wine, or water. We were first served a grilled provolone cheese. Then we were served a skirt steak. Next, we were served steak sirloin. There was so much food. The servers kept pouring the wine.

After we were finished, I just knew I would not be able to eat another bite. The bus picked us up and the guide reminded us that our last stop was for gelato. Okay. I would find room.

We were each able to get two scoops. I knew at least one flavor would be dulce del leche (sweet milk). Our cruise director, Kevin, who is from Argentina, mentioned that we need to try dulce de leche at least once while we are in Buenos Aires.

The guide also told us to get at least one scoop with the flavor. I got one scoop of traditional dulce de leche and one scoop of Patagonia vanilla with fruit. The dulce de leche tasted like a light caramel flavor to me. They were both very good. Chuck had finished his before I thought to get a photo of it.

The guide told some more interesting stories about Buenos Aires on the way back to the port but there were a lot of people (me included) trying to keep their eyes open after all that food. I heard some people say they had another tour that evening that was going to include another meal. I would not have been able to handle it. I just know I needed a nap. This was an excellent tour.

Travel Trivia

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Tango, a distinctive dance and the corresponding musical style of tango music, began in the working-class port neighborhoods of Buenos Aires.

The city has the busiest live theatre industry in Latin America, with scores of theaters and productions. Typically, every weekend, there are about 300 active theatres with plays, a number that places the city as first worldwide, more than either London, New York or Paris.

The University of Buenos Aires, one of the top learning institutions in South America, has produced five Nobel Prize winners and provides taxpayer-funded education for students from all around the globe.

Buenos Aires has the highest concentration of soccer teams of any city in the world.

Buenos Aires has been a candidate city for the Summer Olympic Games on three occasions but has never been the host. In 1956, it lost by one vote to Melbourne.

Avenida 9 de Julio is the widest street in the world at an imposing sixteen lanes. It typically takes at least 2 traffic light rotations to cross.

There are two theories as to why the Casa Rosada, the presidential headquarters where Juan and Eva Perón addressed the nation, is painted pink. The first is that it represented the coming together of two political parties in the late 19th century, one of which was represented by the color red, the other white. The other more gruesome theory is that it’s actually cow’s blood, which was a common coating for buildings at the time. The blood protected against the damaging effects of heat and humidity.

Built in 1913, the Buenos Aires Underground is the oldest subway system in Latin America. The stations display artwork and even have musical performances.

SA: Montevideo, Uruguay (part 2)

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

When we arrived back to the room, we had received our disembarkation tags and instructions about the tour we would be on that morning. They had not given me enough luggage tags as I like to put two on each large piece of luggage in case one comes off during the handling. I went straight to Guest Services to get more tags because I knew if I waited until Buenos Aires and people started looking at their statement, there would be long lines again.

Your statement is always available on the phone app and on the interactive TV. HAL doesn’t give out a paper statement anymore unless you go to Guest Services and request one. There are still a lot of people who wanted that printed copy. I like to keep up with the statement as we progress with the trip and take care of any issue immediately instead of waiting until the end. The app and TV help me keep track easily. At the end of the cruise, the statement is available as a PDF document if I wanted to print it when I got home.

Getting the luggage tags just reminded me that there is more packing to do after lunch. Ugh. The large bags will have to be ready to go out for pick-up tomorrow night. I’ll also send out one carry-on. We’ll keep one carry-on and our backpacks to take on the tour bus that Thursday morning.

We went to the Lido for lunch and noticed that it was sponsoring another themed night tonight – Asado de Montevideo (Montevideo Barbeque). We decided that we would eat here for dinner.

After some packing, I met up with Chuck on the Sea View deck. He was chatting with his poker buddies. We had all decided to eat in the Lido, so we got a large table for us all. While I was out on the deck, I snapped a photo of the ship graveyard (big controversy in Uruguay about what to do with and who is going to pay for all the abandoned boats), and the Costa ship we were docked by.

Quite a few people selected this theme dinner tonight. It’s usually not that busy in here around 7:00 but it was tonight. Since we were at a big table, I was seated too far away from Chuck to get a photo of his dinner, but I had selected the chorizo sausage and the morcilla sausage with the grilled zucchini, red peppers and rice with melted provolone cheese. Enjoyed it all.

Because we are docking in Buenos Aires overnight tomorrow, tonight is the last night for the Casino to be open. The gang was anxious to get to the tables. However, Chuck had agreed to go with me to tonight’s show: “Pampas Devils Gauchos” – Fiery Horsemen of the Plains

Kevin the Cruise Director

Two women and one man put on a very good show of tango and other rhythmic dancing. During one segment they swirled two wooden balls on long whips so fast, you lost sight of the balls. All you could hear was the clacking on the balls as they hit the floor. How they managed not to knock themselves out is a testament to their talent.

Sweet Tango
Spicy Tango
Can you see the whips he is holding? – just a blur

Before he left for the Casino, Chuck got his photo made with the group.

SA: Montevideo, Uruguay

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Woke up at 6:00. Breakfast was delivered at 6:15. Ship was docked by 7:00 so there would be no tender today. As a matter of fact, yesterday was the last tender port of the trip. We left the ship at 8:30 to walk to our second independent excursion – another Shore Excursion Group one called “Highlights of Montevideo”.

The tour description states “Experience personal attention, away from the large group tours offered by the cruise lines, when you book the Highlights of Montevideo City tour. This comprehensive tour includes visiting the Old Town (Ciudad Vieja), Port Market, Parliament Palace and much more.

Begin directly at the pier and board your comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle and be provided with excellent local, knowledgeable guides. The eclectic city of Montevideo is also the capital of Uruguay and the 8th city on the 2013 MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index for Latin America.

Your first stop is in the historic Old Town, where you can view beautiful buildings from colonial times. The old part of the town is held by Spanish military fortifications whose stone walls set the boundaries of the fortified San Felipe y Santiago city by the guarded fortress named Ciudadela. See also the Solis Theatre, The Cabildo, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Museo Torres Garcia and other museums. There are also many galleries, cafes and antique shops in the area.

Next you will see Plaza Independencia (Independence Square) close to the city center. On this square you will see the statue and the Mausoleum of General Artigas, a Uruguayan national hero. Also view the Presidential offices, Palacio Estevez, Palacio Salvo and the Ciudadela Gate. Continuing you will see the Parliament Palace, inaugurated in 1925. The symbolism and neoclassical architectural style represents the democratic values of the country.

From the Parliament area, you will take a scenic ride to Mercado Agricola Montevideo (MAM), one of the last iron-built markets in the Montevideo. What began as a humble fruit and vegetable stand in 1913 has since expanded twice into a shopping mall a city block in length offering a variety of goods. You will find today there are still vendors selling fresh fruits and vegetables. In 2006 the building was refurbished and helped to revitalize the entire neighborhood.

After your introduction to some of the history of Montevideo you will next travel to the Obelisco De Los Constituyentes. This bronze and granite obelisk was inaugurated in 1938 as a tribute to the writers of the nation’s first constitution, dating to 1830. The sculptor of this work of art is the famous Jose Luis Zorrilla de San Martin.

Continue to the area named Parque Batlle, or Battle Park, where you can stroll through the largest public park and green space in the city. While here, pause at La Carreta, a stunning bronze monument depicting oxen pulling a covered wagon that was created in 1934 by Jose Belloni. Next to the monument you will also see the famous Estadio Centenario, the soccer stadium inaugurated in 1930 for the World Cup in which Uruguay was victorious. On July 18, 1983 it was declared by FIFA as a World Football Historical Monument, being the only construction of its kind in the world.

Make your way to the beautiful sands of Pocitos Beach and pose for a photo at the Montevideo sign. Admire the picturesque view from here as you look upon Pocitos Bay.

Conclude your tour traveling to the Punta Carretas neighborhood and make a stop at the 62-foot tall Punta Brava Lighthouse, also known as the Punta Carretas Lighthouse. If time allows you may be able to enter the lighthouse and climb to the top if you like.

Make a stop for a brief look at the Port Market, (Mercado del Puerto) and admire the iron structure that was built in Liverpool. At present, this area is one of the most typical gastronomic centers of the city where locals and visitors can taste the delicious Uruguayan meat which is cooked on the big barbecues. A great number of artists also perform in the surrounding area turning the streets into large theaters. Return along the River Plate enjoying city views back to port area and your ship.

This tour is perfect for those who are short on time but want to gain a great overview of the city. Reserve your seat on this special tour today.

I expected it to be very similar to the one yesterday and it was to a certain extent. However, they divided our group into vans instead of one big bus. Those of us who arrived early were ushered into the first van to arrive and our tour started. The van was not as comfortable as the bus but we were able to swing into crowded parking areas much easier. I expect that the ones who arrived closer to the final time were put in another van.

Because of the early time, the guide wanted us to get to Old Town later in the tour when there would be more activity so we didn’t follow the tour description exactly. She spoke English well and kept us entertained and informed as we made our way around Montevideo.

Pocitos Beach & Sign

La Carretta

Independence Square

Estadio Centenario

Old Town

Mercado Agricola Montevideo

We did not stop at the Lighthouse, but we did make a brief stop at the University.

I was not able to get a good photo of the obelisk but there was an interesting building. The guide said the builder believed he was a wizard, so he wanted to live in an appropriate dwelling.

Also, as we were driving around, I noticed how many Coca-cola signs there were along with street art. There was also a lot of what I would call graffiti. But I guess art can be in the eye of the beholder.

The last stop was the Port Market. You could get out here and then walk back to the ship at your leisure, or go on back to the ship. Since Chuck had already gotten his Mate cup and Mate tea (very popular drink in Uruguay), we opted to go back to the ship.

I was looking forward to getting some lunch.

Flowers of Uruguay

Travel Trivia

Montevideo, Uruguay

Pronounced “Mon-teh-vi-DAY-oh”

There are at least two explanations for the name Montevideo. The first states that it comes from the Portuguese Monte vide eu, which means, I see a mountain.” The second is that the Spaniards recorded the location of a mountain in a map as Monte VI De Este a Oeste meaning The sixth mountain from east to west.”

Montevideo is the commercial, political, and intellectual center of Uruguay and is considered one of the continent’s most important centers for learning and the arts.

Tourism in Montevideo is centered in the Ciudad Vieja area, which includes the city’s oldest buildings, several museums, art galleries, and nightclubs.

SA: Punta del Este, Uruguay (part 3)

Monday, January 30, 2023

Because we were not leaving Punta del Este until 7:00, the Casino would not open until at least 7:30. We decided that we would play the Championship match in table shuffleboard before dinner. It was a hard-fought match. However, I prevailed and until the end of the cruise will be known as Table Shuffleboard Queen!

We made our way to the Canaletto restaurant. The restaurant was as crowded as the last time but we had a nice table in the back just in time to see the sun setting. Once again, we had an excellent dinner. A caprese salad and lamb chops for me. A meatball appetizer and osso busco meal for Chuck. We shared the gelato. Chuck also got an espresso. The cup was so tiny in his hands.

The Casino was open by the time we finished dinner, so we played a few slots. We called it a fairly early night as we had another early tour tomorrow.

Travel Trivia


The area that became Uruguay was first inhabited by groups of hunter–gatherers 13,000 years ago. The predominant tribe at the moment of the arrival of Europeans was the Charrúa people, when the Portuguese first established Colónia do Sacramento in 1680.

The country name of Uruguay derives from the namesake Río Uruguay, from the Indigenous Guaraní language.

Uruguay is comparable in size to Oklahoma.

Uruguay has the longest national anthem in the world in terms of duration of music (105 bars; almost six minutes.)

The name Uruguay, when translated, means “river of painted birds.”

In Uruguay, every house has its own name.

Uruguay is the origin of corned beef.

Uruguay is the only country in Latin America situated completely south of the Tropic of Capricorn.

Uruguay is the only country whose name in English has the same letter three times in its first five letters.

The first-ever FIFA World Cup was held in Uruguay in 1930. Uruguay defeated Argentina 4–2 and won the FIFA World Cup in the same year.

Punta del Este

Because of its beautiful beaches, turquoise waters, upscale boutiques, a thriving local art scene, and casinos, Punta del Este has been referred to as “the Monaco of the South”, “The Pearl of the Atlantic”, “the Hamptons of South America”, and “the St. Tropez of South America.” It’s the preferred getaway for wealthy Uruguayans and Argentines and many have second homes here. 

The first Europeans to set foot in what is now Punta del Este were the Spanish at the beginning of the 16th century. However, the colonization of the area actually began at the end of the 18th century due to Portuguese expansionism.

It is an excellent place to view the southern right whales which are very large, rotund, bulky whales with broad backs and huge girth. The body is mostly black and typically features patches of white on the belly and chin. There is no dorsal fin. The head is extremely large, up to a third of the overall body length.

Google photo

Punta del Estes is the home of the chivito sandwich. It is said to have been created by Antonio Carbonaro, the owner of the famous restaurant El Mejillón on December 31, 1944. The basic ingredients are a thin, tenderized beef steak, ham, melted cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, and mayonnaise between two buttered buns. The most popular chivito adds Canadian bacon, egg, peppers, onions, and olives to the original ingredients.

Google photo

SA: Punta del Este, Uruguay (part 2)

Monday, January 30, 2023

Our guide spoke English well and she had a lot of information about Uruguay in general and Punta del Este in particular. She confirmed that it is a resort and vacation town. It looked a lot like Ft. Lauderdale to me.

Our first stop was the lighthouse. We were not allowed to go inside but it was impressive. She said that the lighthouse was built in 1860 using various materials, including volcanic soil brought from Rome. It still serves to navigate sailors passing between the ocean and river. The light, which has a reach of 8.8 nautical miles (16 kilometers). At night, watch as the light emits two flashes at intervals of eight seconds.

We could also walk across the street and view the Candelaria Church. We were allowed inside it. We did what we always do when allowed to visit a church. Make a small donation and sit down for a moment of thanks. The guide said it was inaugurated in the early 1900s and honors the Virgin of Candelaria. It is one of the town’s most important places of worship. The present-day Candelaria Church is the result of an expansion in 1941 using money donated by 100 of the area’s most affluent local families.

We went by a few of the local beaches. Some of the beaches were for surfing and others were for swimming.

It was at one of these beaches that we saw the famous sculpture – The Hand. According to Wikipedia, La Mano (The Hand) is a sculpture by Chilean artist Mario Irarrazabal. It depicts five human fingers partially emerging from sand. It is also known as Los Dedos (The Fingers) and Hombre emergiendo a la vida (Man Emerging into Life). It has become a symbol for Punta del Este since its completion in February 1982 and in turn has become one of Uruguay’s most recognizable landmarks.

The area was so crowded I could not get a photo of the entire hand. There was also other artwork around the area.

Google Photo

On our way to and from the Beverly Hills area to look at the fancy homes we passed over the wavy bridge. Kind of disconcerting that it was created and built by an artist and not an engineer.

We stopped by the museum but didn’t really have enough time to go through it.

Our next stop was the Hotel Casapueblo. According to the guide, the hotel began to be built in 1958 by Carlos Páez Vilaró as his residence and art studio.

Casapueblo was designed with a style that can be compared to the houses on the Mediterranean coast of Santorini. The building, which took 36 years to complete, has thirteen floors with terraces that allow an optimal view of the sunset over the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

The building was built of whitewashed cement and stucco. It was built in an artisanal way and without previous plans, in the form of a maze, does not have straight lines inside and the color white predominates. It was expanded and modified from year to year as a residence in unpredictable ways.

It houses a tribute to Carlos Miguel, the artist’s son and one of the sixteen Uruguayan survivors of the of flight 571 of the Uruguayan Air Force plane crash, which crashed in the Andes on October 13, 1972.

Now, in addition to hotel rooms, the building includes a museum, an art gallery, and a cafeteria.

Google Photo

Chuck found another hat that he really liked from one of the vendors near the hotel.

Very continental!

After the visit to the hotel, we headed back to the pier. The tour was a good overview of Punta del Este.

There was one thing I did notice about the tour company. Unlike the HAL tour guides who counted every person on the bus after every stop, this guide told us when to be back on the bus and at that time, the bus started rolling. No headcount. We almost left two people at the hotel stop. Luckily, the bus had to turn around in the hotel parking lot, so we picked them up on the way out. They were running.

Once we got back to the pier, we took the tender back to the ship. I was hungry but I didn’t run to the Lido. Tonight is dinner at the Canaletto again. Yay!

SA: Punta del Este, Uruguay

Monday, January 30, 2023

We ate in the main dining room tonight at a table for six. I ordered the duck breast and Chuck splurged on the upcharge ribeye. I don’t think the waiter understood that Chuck said medium well because he got medium rare. I always order medium and hope for the best. Chuck ate as much as he could, but some of it was just too red for him.

The main stage show was another BBC Planet Earth movie so we skipped it in favor of an early evening because of our early tour tomorrow.

We had a room service breakfast again today. It arrived 10 minutes earlier than the promised time. Everything was correct for this order.

Today was our first independent (non-HAL) excursion for this trip. I typically don’t like taking an independent tour when it is a tender port since the process of tendering can be problematic at times. But I didn’t see any HAL tour that I was particularly interested in, so I ended up finding one on the website Shore Excursions. I had read that they were a reputable company, so I took a chance on it.

Today’s tour was a 3-hour tour entitled “Punta del Este Highlights” and the tour description stated “The picturesque seaside city of Punta del Este in the Maldonado Department is fast becoming the Monte Carlo of South America.

Make like a local as you experience every corner of this majestic area, from its sandy beaches to busy city streets. Head to the 45-meter-high lighthouse, built in 1860 with volcanic sand from Rome.

Stroll past upscale shops and restaurants along the famed Avenida Gorlero and peruse the local handicrafts while at Plaza Artigas.

You’ll go across La Barra Bridge and experience the sensation of driving over the famous wave-like bridges. Created by Leonel Viera in 1965, this bridge served to expand the area of Punta del Este and helped pioneer the design of concrete segment bridges of this kind.

On this tour you will also see gleaming yachts at the Port, Brava Beach coast, stunning homes of the rich and famous in residential districts as San Rafael, the romantic Hotel L-Auberge, Beverly Hills, the iconic Casa Pueblo and Carlos Paez Vilaro Museum, and much more including the iconic La Mano sculpture. Throughout your journey your guide will share the history and culture of this popular tourist destination.”

The original itinerary had us arriving at 10:00 but the program indicated that we would be anchoring at 9:00. I hoped the tour company was aware of the change. The only instructions said that the tour would begin 2 hours after the ship arrived and please be on one of the first tenders.

The program also warned us to be aware of our possessions especially Apple products and watches. I switched my stuff from my backpack to my theft deterrent Travelon purse. Since there was a chance of rain today, Chuck took his backpack and put both of our rain jackets in them.

Once we heard the announcement that the tenders were available, we made our way to the gangway. First thing we noticed was that our tender was not one of HAL’s lifeboats, but a boat provided by the city of Punta del Este. The second thing we noticed was that it was really bobbing around and up and down. A number of people stumbled getting on the tender from the ship’s tender platform and had to grab railings to keep from falling down. I heard that not long after we left the ship that they moved the tender operation to the other side of the ship where there was less wave action.

We found the representative from the tour company, and she checked off our names. We waited with others from the ship at the end of the pier. We watched the gulls and sea lions wait for any fish scraps to come over the side. The smell of fish was pretty strong.

Eventually another guide walked us around the corner to the tour bus. We waited for our tour guide to come. I think they put us on the bus early because it was getting hotter outside and the bus was running with the air conditioner. I figured that we would not start until 11:00 because we had anchored at 9:00 and the instructions said that the tour would start 2 hours after anchoring. Our guide still had names of people on the list who had not yet made it over on the tender boats so they could not start earlier than 11:00 (another reason it is more complicated when you take an independent tour rather than a HAL tour on a tender port day).

But before 11:00 rolled around, one woman on the bus got impatient and declared that she was going to find our guide so we could get going because the people who had not yet shown up should have gotten on an earlier tender! She got off the bus and marched off around the corner. Okay.

I guess she and the guide must have passed each other at some point because right at 11:00, the guide got on the bus with the remaining passengers. The bus started to move. The husband of the woman who had gotten off started raising a fuss that his wife was not on. I wasn’t sure that the bus was going to stop. However, the woman came around the corner as the bus was at the stop sign and got on. She was mad that the bus seemed to be leaving her. Not a great start to her tour.

SA: Sixth (and last) Sea Day

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Occasionally, the Lido will sponsor a Themed Dinner night. Tonight was one of those nights. We had a South American night. We liked the menu, so we decided to eat there instead of the main dining room.

I had the lamb chop, grilled shrimp, and the fish and chips. Chuck had the steak, grilled shrimp, and fish and chips. We both passed on the mussels.

After dinner, we went to the main stage to see the group Evolution Motown. We enjoyed them but I didn’t think they were as good as the group Cantare which has performed on some HAL ships.

Afterwards, the poker group was ready to go since the Casino would stay open late because tomorrow is the last sea day.

While we were at breakfast, I thought I heard the Cruise Director say we had hit an animal. I was horrified thinking we had hit a whale or something. Chuck laughed and said no – there was an “animal invasion.” Once we finished breakfast, we went to see it on the Lido deck. The crew is so talented to be able to create all of them.

I thought about laying out by the pool but it was stuffy in the Lido area and too breezy at the Sea View. Instead, I started packing up some of our more wintery clothes. We have excursions for the next 3 days, so I didn’t want to leave all the packing to the last afternoon of the trip. I really prefer having a sea day just prior to disembarkation day so all I have to do is devote one day to packing.

Listened to the port talk of Montevideo on the TV whle I packed. A knock came at the cabin door, and I thought it was our laundry being returned. Wrong. More gifts from the Casino for Chuck. They do appreciate his play.

I worked on my photos and read for a while. The laundry was delivered around 4:00. It was a very big stack, and I will sort through it tomorrow after our excursion and pack up what I know we won’t be wearing for the next few days.

I have seen several cabins with their disembarkation notices in their mailboxes. We have not gotten ours yet. If I don’t have it by dinner time tomorrow, I will inquire. But now, it was time to get ready for our last dressy evening.

SA: Puerto Madryn, Argentina (part 2)

Saturday, January 28, 2023

The guide told us we had 1.5 hours to walk the trail, go to the bathroom (there would not be another stop on the way back), and be back on the bus. The trail could take you all the way to the shoreline. It was a hot day and the trail looked long. Most of the trail was rock and loose gravel so you had to be careful not to turn an ankle. Some of the trail was boardwalk but even it had slats that were uneven, and I saw people stumble over them. If you didn’t want to walk the trail or couldn’t manage it, there were plenty of benches around and lots of penguins to watch even at the beginning of the trail.

I set my watch alarm for one hour just to be sure we were on the way back when it sounded.

Again, the surrounding area was desert-like with scraggly shrubs. You could find Magellanic penguins in the shade of the shrubbery. Many had made their burrows under the shrubbery. Some would be standing out in the heat. Just like the other places we visited, the penguins would cross the designated path to get to and from the water and we had to wait and give them space to do so. In some places, the boardwalk was raised so the penguins could cross under it or stand under it in the shade.

Once we arrived at the end of the trail, I enjoyed watching the penguins swimming and bobbing in the water. It was so hot that I’m surprised they weren’t all in the water.

There were also a number of Guanacos wandering around in the area. The guide said that the penguins are not bothered by them.

My alarm went off and we started back, it seemed to take much longer than the walk down. I guess because it was so hot.

Really enjoyed the time there even though it was crowded with tourists and hot. (Have I mentioned it was hot?)

Before we boarded the bus, we looked around the little museum that seemed to be devoted to sheep farming. Some people were purchasing water and soft drinks at the small café.

Once we got back on the bus, we were given a box lunch of an apple, granola bar, a bottle of cold water, and a sandwich. I wish I had taken a picture of the sandwich. The bread was thick and dry like it was stone-ground. There were slim slices of meat and cheese. The sandwich was so long that I broke the bread in half, folded the meat and cheese over to put it between the bread half slices. It was still a big sandwich.

We followed the same route back to the port and the tour guide didn’t have more information to give us until we reached the city, so I was glad that I had my book to read. The air conditioning seemed to be working better also. Some people used the time to nap.

When we got back to the port, there was a group of people doing traditional dances. I was not able to get any videos or photos as they were finishing up as our bus arrived.

We enjoyed the sunshine on the Sea View deck and then decided to get cleaned up for the evening’s activities.

This was our last stop to see penguins. Each stop was unique, and I am so glad to have been able to see them. If you take this cruise and really want to see penguins on a HAL tour, I recommend that you pay for the tours on the website prior to the cruise instead of waiting until you board. These tours sell out fast.

Also, I’ve read where people said the smell of the penguin poo was horrible and overwhelming. There was a lot of penguin poo, especially in the Falklands site, and there was an ammonia smell, but it wasn’t terrible. Maybe the wind was blowing so much that it minimized the smell. I just know it didn’t seem as bad as I had expected.

Travel Trivia

Puerto Madryn, Argentina

The town was founded on 28 July 1865, when 150 Welsh immigrants arriving aboard the clipper Mimosa, named the natural port Porth Madryn in honor of Sir Love Jones-Parry, whose estate in Wales was called “Madryn”. 

Puerto Madryn was the port to which Argentine prisoners of war captured in the Falklands Islands during the 1982 war were repatriated on the vessel SS Canberra.

Argentina’s largest aluminum plant was constructed here in the 1970s, helping further develop an already solid economy. Then, when the Peso was devalued in the 90s, Madryn experienced another economic boom as international tourism developed around diving, fishing, and marine wildlife viewing.

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