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The Final Stopover In Montevideo

In Search of the Penguins - Montevideo

overcast 24 °C
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After yesterday's busy day, I woke up early for the final stage of my epic trip. Getting a taxi from my hotel in Buenos Aires before dawn, I made it to the airport in plenty of time for my short flight across the Rio de La Plata to Uruguay. Eventually boarding the small city hopper, we were served a breakfast box after take off. However, no sooner had I started eating and we were already coming back down and landing in Montevideo. This was just a half hour flight across the river mouth!

Landing over Montevideo

Landing over Montevideo

Flying over the city centre, we eventually landed at the small modern airport on the outskirts of the city. Completely contrasting with the overflowing and dilapidated Aeroparque in central Buenos Aires.

Upon arrival I flew through immigration and waited to collect my bag, as I would have to manually check in for my onward flights later in the day. However waiting and waiting my bag was no where to be found. Eventually a man came over to ask my name, and he eventually told me that my bag had arrived yesterday and was upstairs to be collected.

I then proceeded to go through customs without my belongings, making my way to the airline desk by check in and retrieve my bits. Repacking on the concourse floor, I then checked in for my later flights and sent my bag straight through to London.

Heading downstairs I attempted to get my hand baggage put in luggage storage, but after being told the extortionate price and effort it would take I changed my mind and decided to just carry it around with me in Montevideo.

Having done some research before leaving, I was still unsure of exactly how to get into the city, so I went to speak to the tourist information, who told me which bus numbers I required. After grabbing some cash I then headed into the city - not even 9am yet!

Plaza Independencia

Plaza Independencia

An hour or so later, the packed out bus arrived in the city, and after remaining on it until the end, so that I knew where to catch it on my return later, I got off and headed down to the main avenue and the Plaza de Independencia. Named in honour of the independence, the square has a statue and mausoleum dedicated to Artigas - the national hero, whilst being surrounded by many governmental buildings.

Artigas Mausoleum

Artigas Mausoleum

The square is also the site of the Palacio Salvo, one of the most iconic buildings in the city, as well as the old city gate. However despite all this, there is also a disgusting tower block located in the very same square. How very South American.

Beautiful....

Beautiful....


Old City

Old City

Carrying on into the Old City, there were many little shops, caf├ęs and squares. By this point I was getting hungry and thought I might go for lunch in the McDonald's I was just passing. However as it was 11am in South America, this meant it was still breakfast time, so I would have to wait! As I continued down the road towards the coast, the buildings got much more shabby. Quite surprising as this area could be a prime location! Eventually I got to the coast and I continued along a sea wall, gaining views of the city from afar.

Views from the sea wall

Views from the sea wall

Returning, I bought a souvenir and then headed back the way I had come towards the bus station, where I found a bus headed to the airport itself. Heading through security, I then sat in the departure lounge looking at the plane that would take me to Sao Paolo.

Inside the Airport

Inside the Airport

On booking, there were two flights just 45 minutes apart. As I was transferring I figured it would be best to take the earlier one to give myself extra time to transfer. Big mistake.

Queuing to board, we kept waiting and waiting. Eventually messages were relayed in Portuguese and Spanish - there was a technical problem. After finally speaking to someone in English, I was informed that in an hour they would have more information. What of my three hour connection I asked? "You have time at the moment".

Unfortunately on the other flight no one cared, and so I had to wait. As time ticked away I was left with the realisation that if we finally did make it, I would still be lucky to make my connection. Where would I be sleeping? Who knows....this wasn't the EU, so I didn't have any rights either.

Eventually after an hour and a half, we started queuing again and eventually made it to the plane. However I was at the back of the plane and had a tight connection. With lots of faffing, we eventually took off and made it to Sao Paolo as fast as we could. However upon landing we then had to get on an airport bus from the front doors only. The girls going to Madrid were hopeless, but I has 50 minutes to go.

After waiting to take the crew too, we finally headed to the terminal building, where I ran as fast as possible. Clearing security and with no time to put my belt back on, I held up my trousers as I legged it to the gate as fast as possible.

Eventually boarding the plane I had around 10 minutes to spare - Far too little to prevent a stressful experience. And with cold weather at home, I now had to just hope my bag had made it too or I would be freezing in London without even a coat.

Finally on board

Finally on board

The one silver lining? Despite not getting a window seat, I did at least have 2 free seats next to me, so I was able to get some sleep after this long busy day. Taking off on my third flight of the day, I was finally headed home after a long, expensive but fantastic trip.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Uruguay Tagged sea history airport city plane independence penguinhunt Comments (0)

An Evening in BA

In Search of the Penguins - Buenos Aires

sunny 27 °C
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After 10 days on the MS Expedition, this morning it was all coming to an end. With an early start and breakfast, by 8am I had already said my goodbyes and headed on the coach back into Ushuaia. Dropping my bits off in the storage facility, I then went for another walk around the city, before waiting in the information centre using the free WiFi (which died once the bus load of Americans turned up) before finally heading to the airport.

Leaving the South

Leaving the South

At the airport I sent my baggage straight through to Montevideo for the following morning and headed into security and the departure lounge, where several others from the boat trip soon joined.

Having bought a drink for the plane, I was then ready to begin boarding, when all of a sudden I heard an announcement with my name. As the airport was small, there was no one to speak to in the departure lounge and so I realised I was going to have to head back down to the entrance. Great, what would happen to my drink? "It's ok" they said....hmm, they say that now....

Arriving at the help desk, I was then told I needed to go to the check in desks. Waiting again in the queue behind those who needed to check in their bags, I was still hearing my name being called over the tanoy despite being there and having to wait in a queue. Ridiculous. Eventually she dealt with me. Oh, she wanted my future flight plans once I reached Montevideo. Why? Urgh. Nevertheless I told her and was allowed to pass.

Now I had to go back through security. I had already checked in so I just walked past, but they still made me go through the scanners. I was ready for them to bin my drink, for which I was about to get riled up. However when attempting to take off my belt, they told me it was ok. Hmm...

Picking my bags back up they had let me take the drink though anyway, so it seemed fine. I headed back to the queue ready to finally board when I found I had now lost my phone. Great. Where had I left it?

Worrying I'd have to go back through security I headed back and found someone to finally talk to. However I then noticed the security people had it. In the panic to get through I'd left it behind on the belt. Proving it was mine, they let me have it back and not long after I finally boarded my flight.

Nevertheless, it was a pretty building

Nevertheless, it was a pretty building

Ready to fly off, some people had moved their seats around, and so swapping for the row behind so the Andorrans next to me could sit together I arrived three hours later in Buenos Aires.

Falklands Memorial at the Airport

Falklands Memorial at the Airport

After making my way through arrivals I bought a ticket for the bus into the city, and then waited outside the warm summer weather for it to make it through the traffic. Whilst waiting, Teeny from the trip walked past on her way to another bus, and with that my Antarctic trip had now truly come to an end.

Torre Monumental

Torre Monumental

Heading into the city I walked from Retiro towards my hotel, noticing how much different Buenos Aires felt compared to Rio, Brasilia and Ushuaia. Much more European, laid out in a grid form like Barcelona. Although not having had much interest in visiting Buenos Aires to begin with, having heard interesting things and having to transfer here twice anyway, I scheduled in a brief evening visit before I headed to Uruguay the following morning.

Walking around the city, the anti-British propaganda following the Falklands War thirty years earlier was immediately evident. However it seemed directed towards the British Government, as despite all this, there was not one moment I felt any hatred towards myself, despite clearly being British.

Tango

Tango

Leaving the hotel I headed down the main shopping street, past Tango dancers, towards Plaza de Mayo, and the Casa Rosada, the home of the Argentinian president.

Casa Rosada

Casa Rosada

I then carried on down Avenida de Mayo, crossing the huge Avenida 9 de Julio, towards Plaza del Congreso where the parliament is.

Parliament

Parliament


Avenida de 9 Julio

Avenida de 9 Julio

Heading back towards the hotel, I then made it to Avenida 9 de Julio itself. The avenue is the widest in the world, 20 lanes - 5 in each direction along the main avenue, 3 each in the parallel roads along the avenue, and 2 each in the bus lanes in the middle of the road. Whilst in the middle of the avenue is the icon of the city - the Obelisk on Plaza de la Republica. Originally I had planned to go to a local hotel to get a rooftop view of the avenue, however when I transferred here on my way south, we already got great views from the plane window, and so I decided this was unnecessary.

I then had a McDonald's overlooking the obelisk whilst waiting for it to get dark, before enjoying the area by night with the Obelisk lit up.

Obelisk by night

Obelisk by night

After walking back along the long avenue, I then stopped off in a supermarket to buy some bits for the following morning, before heading back to my hotel to finally sleep.

A very busy day with just one left to go...

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Argentina Tagged airport city parliament penguinhunt Comments (0)

Back to South America

In Search of the Penguins - Cape Horn

sunny 8 °C
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After nine days of sailing, today we finally reached the end of the trip. Waking up in the morning we had crossed the majority of the Drake Passage already, almost reaching Cape Horn - the southernmost point of South America.

Cape Horn

Cape Horn

After enjoying breakfast, I headed out on the deck to get views of the Chilean coastline around Cape Horn as well as watch the many birds flying around the ship.

Sailing around the Chilean coast

Sailing around the Chilean coast

After a lecture on Shackleton we had a briefing about tomorrow's disembarkation and not long after we left the open water and headed into the Beagle Channel.

Enjoying lunch with views of the colourful greens and yellows of the South American continent once again was strange - we had been used to Blues and Whites for so long!

In the late afternoon we then had a quiz on our trips. Despite having a large team and getting a lot of questions right, we found out we were still far from winning. Nevertheless, still a fun experience and not long after, we were treated to a glass of champagne each as the captain and staff came to say their goodbyes whilst we were pulling into Ushuaia.

Farewell

Farewell

One last dinner and it was almost all over. We were back where we were at the start of the trip, and told we could reenter Ushuaia if we so wished and so I went for a quick walk around the port before settling in for the night.

Back at port

Back at port

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Chile Tagged hill penguinhunt antarcticcruise Comments (0)

As Good As It Gets

In Search of the Penguins - Drake Passage

semi-overcast 4 °C


After five days in Antarctica, today we made the long voyage back across the Drake Passage.

In depth Antarctic trip mapping

In depth Antarctic trip mapping

Whilst it was great to finally rest after the busy few days, I was sad to be leaving the amazing Continent, as well as a little apprehensive after the rough trip over.

Luckily however, the sea was much calmer for us on the way back, and I also knew how to better to counter any sea-sickness I might be feeling. This meant I got to enjoy all the meals today, as well as sit and enjoy the lectures they were providing us.

I spent the rest of this quieter day repacking my bits and reviewing over some of the travel information provided to us from the incredible adventure.

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Tagged penguinhunt antarcticcruise Comments (0)

Polar Plunge Madness

In Search of the Penguins - Deception Island & Hannah Point

sunny 3 °C
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Today was the final day in Antarctica. After a wake up call and breakfast, we entered the caldera of Deception Island, anchored up and landed ashore.

Deception Island

Deception Island

Being geothermal, the island was almost barren of wildlife. Being much more rocky and with almost no snow compared to our previous landing sights. Nevertheless there were many points to view over the caldera, and after a short walk we arrived back at the beach for the Polar Plunge.

Polar Plunge

Polar Plunge

I certainly was not going to take part in this, but half the group did - stripping down into swimwear or nudity and then racing into the sea. The geothermal heat warms this part of the sea from around -1 to 1C, and this chilly temperature was clearly visible on many of people's faces.

After that experience, we then headed back to the ship for lunch, whilst the ship left the caldera and headed towards Hannah Point on Livingstone Island in the South Shetlands. This would be our last landing point, and we weren't to be disappointed! After enjoying perfect weather for the last few days, we landed to find huge penguin colonies covering the entire area.

Penguins

Penguins

Upon arrival, the G Adventures flags caused complete bewilderment amongst the penguins, and then with all the tourists landing on shore they simply didn't know what to do. After a little walk around the area, I sat down and attempted to get a penguin selfie. With curious penguins coming over to see what I was or simply running past ignoring my presence.

Penguin Selfie

Penguin Selfie

At one point a group of chasing penguins literally ran into some people's legs, falling over and then trying to work out what to do next! What an experience!

Penguins

Penguins

After a few hours soaking up the last of these unforgettable landing experiences I headed back to ship for the day's review and then dinner. As tonight was the last evening in Antarctica, we celebrated by having a fancy dress contest. However as I turned up too late to get a costume I didn't join in. Nevertheless the turnout was pretty high - including our Aussie friends as The Jackson Five (Minus 3), Cameron in drag and funniest of all - Gary, the stripper penguin.

Evening Entertainment

Evening Entertainment

After a really enjoyable evening I then headed up to the bar with the group for drinks with the crew band, before finally calling it a night.

What a great way to end the Antarctic adventure. And yet there were still two whole days on the ship to come!

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Antarctica Tagged beach party swim penguins drunk penguinhunt antarcticcruise Comments (0)

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