Monday, 5 December 2016

Returning across the Drake Passage

I'd kept up to date fairly well until our second encounter with the "Drake", then contemporary posts stopped briefly until the sea (and my digestion) had settled. Once we arrived at Ushuaia, there was too much travelling to do other than produce a short version of my exploits. (Do I hear you say "For this relief, much thanks"?). However, now I am safely back home, I intend to expand the reports on the last, hectic days of my marathon trip.

Events of Thursday, 1st December

I woke at 2.30 in the morning, aware that something had changed, although it took my addled brain a few moments to work it out: The erratic lurches of the ship had been replaced by a regular rocking, still quite strong but far less unsettling. By morning, the situation was quite tolerable and the dining room filled up for breakfast. Matters continued like this throughout Thursday.

Events of Friday, 2nd December

We docked peacefully at Ushuaia but guests were required to leave the ship shortly after 8.39 a.m. because the crew had to prepare for another shipful of guests arriving later that day. I took the Silversea option of a tour bus all of 200 yards to the town where we had about 90 minutes to explore. I managed to visit two interesting, small museums on the foreshore then it was back on the bus for transfer to the small, modern airport. Having checked in, I waited outside the terminal with some of my new friends. The flight to Buenos Aires was very full and very tedious but, on arrival, I was greeted by a charming young girl and promptly transferred to my hotel, the Plaza. I'd hoped to travel on the city's Metro, also called 'Subte', as it had been some years since I tried it. I discovered it's all been modernised and ticketing is now by a 'credit card' which you 'charge' at any station. After some problems, I travelled on, I think, four of the city's lines. My interest is not purely technical. If you dress inconspicuously, you can 'people watch' and learn about the way of life by observation. By the time I returned to my hotel, I was very tired but pleased.

Events of Saturday, 3rd December

I was collected earlier than I would have wished for my internal flight to the Argentine airport serving Iguassu. The flight was less than two hours and my baggage arrived fairly quickly so I was quite optimistic until I discovered there was no guide. I made enquiries (sometimes another guide can locate the missing person) but, having drawn a blank, I decided after half an hour to make my own way to the hotel. My ignorance of the geography around Iguassu was such that I didn't realise my hotel was on 'Brazilian Side' and we would have to cross the border. Having pre-paid a taxi firm, we set off, went through Argentine Immigration, crossed the River Bridge which forms the actual border and were just conducting formalities at Brazilian Immigration when my missing guide arrived. Luggage was transferred to the new car and we continued to my hotel.

We passed the Helisul helicopter pad and, as the weather was rather overcast, my guide suggested I take my 10-minute flight over the Falls first and I enjoyed that.

The hotel is within Iguassu National Park so we had to stop and pay the park admission fee. We were still not finished. The hotel have their own entrance gate beyond which only certain vehicles can proceed. Oddly, the big buses providing public transport can go but my car couldn't so we had to transfer my luggage again to the hotel Shuttle Bus and I arranged a meeting time (at the gate) of 8.00 a.m. Sunday. At the hotel, I was expected and I was informed that I'd been upgraded to a splendid suite, with small balconies accessed by double=doors, one of which had excellent views of part of the falls. I went outside to watch the sunset but otherwise remained in my room with the balcony doors open, lulled to sleep by the continuous roar of rushing water.

Events of Sunday, 4th December

I quickly discovered why my guide has suggested an early start. We sailed through the border crossing back into Argentina which can involve long queues. We paid to go into the Argentine National Park and started a walking tour around the top of the Falls.

To be continued ...

Related Posts

Just posts on the Antarctic segment: Antarctic Peninsula.
All posts describing this trip (Chilean, Antarctic, Argentinian and Brazilian sectors): Chilean Fjords.

My pictures

All my pictures taken in Antarctica on both this visit and my earlier visit in 2008 are in the collection here.

I've also made some additions to the 2006 collection on Brazil to show Iguazzu here.