A Travellerspoint blog

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Feb 17 - THE GLACIERS OF THE BEAGLE CHANNEL, CHILE

overcast 45 °F

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We have come to where we can see glaciers as we sail the Beagle Channel.

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With the passage of time and climate change these spectacular glaciers are much smaller than when Charles Darwin sailed by in the HMS Beagle in the early 1800's.

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The Beagle Channel lies between Tierra del Fuego and the smaller islands south of it.

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The Alemania Glacier

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Decades of pressure have expelled all the air in the ice - thus the blue color.

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The Italian Glacier

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Holanda Glacier, named in tribute to the many Dutch explorations of South America.

Posted by Swenigale 10:35 Archived in Chile

Feb 18 - USHUAIA, ARGENTINA (Day 1)

semi-overcast 46 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

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We had planned and hoped for this to happen - our helicopter flight at "end of the world"! And, in spite of the low clouds and forecasts of rain - it was an unforgettable adventure!

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Here we are at the southern end of the Andes Mountains! Unreal!

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Staying below the clouds (good call) we followed the valleys and rivers, peat moss making a colorful carpet below us here in the wilds of Patagonia.

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Our mountain lake destination and the Seven Lagoons

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Complete with a champagne toast!

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Clouds moved lower, and our pilot said it was time to go.

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Peat moss mosaic

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Flying back to town

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And buzzing Serenity!

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Wow!

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Dumpster cat is hard to impress.

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After a long walk through what is still somewhat of a frontier town, up the hills and down, we walked back to our ship, still awed by this incredible opportunity to witness God's creation.

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A glorious blue sky appeared later in the day. They say in Ushuaia you can experience four seasons in one day. Must be true.

Posted by Swenigale 13:05 Archived in Argentina

Feb 19 - USHUAIA, ARGENTINA (Day 2)

sunny 48 °F

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Our 2nd day in Ushuaia dawned with promising blue skies as we headed out into the Beagle Channel on a 26 passenger Patagonia Adventure Explorer boat trip.

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Clouds were still clinging to the mountain peaks.

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First stop: Bird's Island and the beautiful King and Imperial Cormorants.

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Easy to see why some folks thought these were penguins!

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A Petrel floats nearby.

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Les Eclaireurs - a lighthouse that is the symbol of the city

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At Sea Lions Island our boat got up nice and close. There are only 3 or 4 harems here - mostly they are all females and pups.

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We disembarked on Bridges Island for a short trek to discover the flora and fauna of the Channel Islands.

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Back to the boat - we had also seen archeological evidence of the Yamana people who lived here as long as 4,000 years ago. They followed their food source, sea lions, from island to island.

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Later, on our way to Port Williams, our Beagle Channel pilot left us as we continued on our way to Cape Horn.

Posted by Swenigale 10:15 Archived in Argentina

Feb 20 - CAPE HORN, CHILE

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Everyone wake up! We have reached Cape Horn, where the Continental Shelf rises from the 13,120-ft. deep Pacific bed!

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An Imperial Cormorant flies by - in the distance is the manned lighthouse, here at the Southernmost part of South America.

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The Albatross Monument is a tribute to the many brave souls who have lost their lives attempting to round the Cape.

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Capt. Giske circled the island and he could not believe what calm seas we were having!

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We were given certificates of Maritime Achievement: "In tracing the path of European explorer Ferdinand Magellan, Crystal Serenity has navigated the Pacific and Atlantic oceans on the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, the most powerful current in the world."

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Here, the waves are frequently 65 feet high and there is an average of 200 days of gale and 130 days of cloudy sky and for the rest of the year, the wind is strong and the sea is rough. Wow. Guess we're really lucky!

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The Chilean pilot leaves the Serenity.

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The other building by the lighthouse is a chapel.

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Farewell, Cape Horn - and so we continue south on to Antarctica!! Feeling blessed!

Posted by Swenigale 08:45

Feb 22 - PALMER STATION/ANTARCTICA

sunny 34 °F

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Wednesday morning we opened our curtains, and - wow! Yes, icebergs - and they're huge!

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The Antarctic Peninsula - we're really here! Amazing!

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Safety note - in addition to our own Capt. Giske, we also have a special Ice Captain guiding us.

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On this voyage we have seen more wildlife than any other cruise!

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Palmer Station is the smallest of the three United States Research Stations in Antarctica. We brought aboard 16 of the scientists and support staff for a few hours. They gave a presentation about their work and stayed to answer questions. Impressive, dedicated and really smart young people!

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Penguins!

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We were blessed again, with blue skies and calm seas.

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Time for Palmer Station people to return to land. We have all had our passports stamped (how cool is that?) and Crystal sent fresh produce and meat back in the zodiacs.

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Words cannot describe the beauty here!

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But we do have hundreds of pictures!

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Swimming penguins!

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Oh, and humpback whales!

Posted by Swenigale 04:25 Archived in Antarctica

Feb 23 - S. SHETLAND ISLAND & DECEPTION ISLAND

semi-overcast 34 °F

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Having crossed an uncharacteristically calm Drake Passage and traversing the equally calm Neumayer Channel, we cruised near Deception Island.

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Dark morning clouds were lifting.

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Using the camera's zoom we saw the active volcano on Deception Island.

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The South Shetland Island chain is linked underwater to the Andes.

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There is a colony of 200,000 Chinstrap Penguins here! The hills and cliffs are covered with them!

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After leaving this island we were on our way to King George Island.

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In Admiralty Bay a ship's tender was lowered so our photographers could capture images of the ship and passengers. The huge seal was a bonus!!

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I cannot count the number of glaciers and Antarctic birds, whales and seals we have seen! Fair weather here is so rare, that we can't stop exclaiming about it! No matter what is to come, these past few days will remain an absolute lifetime highlight!

Posted by Swenigale 09:55 Archived in Antarctica

Feb 24 - PRINCE CHARLES STRAIT & ELEPHANT ISLAND

overcast 34 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

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Day 3 of our sailing in Antarctic waters was foggy as Crystal Serenity navigated through Prince Charles Strait and along the shores of Elephant Island.

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A Giant Petrel, on the lookout for a tasty penguin. Did you know, penguins are black on their backs to hide from aerial predators as they swim, and white on their bellies to hide from underwater threats.

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Our speakers this segment have been excellent, as always. We have been regaled with the stories and adventures of the early Antarctic explorers, Amundsen and Scott. Here at Cape Valentine on Elephant Island is the landing place of Ernest Shakelton's team.

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A memorial bust of Shakelton is there (image from the internet - we were too far away for our own photo).

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The Wild Cape. Shakelton's plan was to be the first to cross the Antarctic Continent. Their ship, the Endurance, became ice-locked and the story of their survival and rescue is riveting. It is rare, because of the weather, that ships can get even as close as we are today.

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Sunset as we turn North, grateful for our introduction to the fascinating continent at the ends of the earth.

Posted by Swenigale 10:15 Archived in Antarctica

Feb 26 - FALKLAND ISLANDS/PORT STANLEY, UK

PART 1

semi-overcast 57 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

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On Saturday's travel day at sea we heard, first hand, Sir General Michael Rose's account of his role and the course of events in the 1982 liberation of the Falkland Islands. We arrived in Stanley, the capital, on Sunday morning.

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Port Stanley is described as being more English than England! We had to tender ashore and, once again, we were blessed with calm, warmer weather. (There is less than a 50% chance of being able to make port here due to the frequent high winds.)

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Overnight binge with an American beer?

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We set out on foot from the small town with one goal: Must See penguins!

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Plenty of geese -

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A walk on the shore -

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Up on the main road -

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Still walking - on our way to Gypsy Cove to see a colony of Magellanic Penguins.

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In Whalebone Cove, a warning.

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The Lady Elizabeth shipwreck

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We're on the right track as we cut across this dwarf shrub habitat. Diddle dee plants produce bright red berries - food for birds and good for jam!

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With Gypsy Cove in sight we have walked almost 10 miles - and look where the cruise ships are!

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Gypsy Cove

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Our reward! Look for our next post: more penguins!

Posted by Swenigale 12:35 Archived in Falkland Islands

Feb 26 - FALKLAND ISLANDS/PORT STANLEY, UK

PART 2

semi-overcast 57 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

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Penguins, as promised!

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Birds

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Hästa and Diddle dee berries

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Ordnance Point, WW 2 gun

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Back in town

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Thanking Margaret Thatcher

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The Whalebone Arch and Christ Church. The Southernmost Anglican Cathedral in the world.

Posted by Swenigale 16:55 Archived in Falkland Islands

Feb 28 - PUERTO MADRYN, ARGENTINA

sunny 88 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

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We reached the mainland of Argentina before sunrise. This is a city known as the "Gateway to Patagonia".

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Settled by Welsh families in 1865 the city today is home to almost 94,000.

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All over South America one will find tributes to General San Martin.

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Baptismal font in Sagrado Corazon de Jesus

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In tribute to and in memory of firefighter "angels"

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Argentina's finest wool comes from the sheep farms in this region. Here we are outside a yarn shop.

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Our walk today was pretty short - no long trips to see penguins! But we enjoyed watched these water birds.

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These quick little birds wait to spot tiny fish and then swoop down into the water, coming up with their shiny, wriggling catch!

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Too much work??

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Sleeping by the dock

Posted by Swenigale 03:35 Archived in Argentina

March 2 - MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY

sunny 93 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

1st visit

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Beautiful Montevideo! We are glad to be back!

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Everyone drinks “mate” – the national drink – all the time!

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Iglesia de San Juan

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We were overwhelmed by the number of altars and sculptures – all of which we will show you right now! (tee hee)

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Independence Square

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Beneath the statue of José Artigas, Uruguay’s hero of independence

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Mmm – Can’t you just smell that grill. We’ll be back Sunday for a tasting!

Posted by Swenigale 11:35 Archived in Uruguay

March 3 - BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA (Day 1)

overcast 74 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

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Evita's image welcomes us back to Buenos Aires!

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Today begins the 4th segment of the world cruise, "Tangos and Sambas".

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Yes, we were in Uruguay yesterday - but it is just a nighttime cruise across the 150 mile wide River Plate to once again be in Argentina!

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The Casa Rosada, viewed across Plaza de Mayo

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Catedral Metropolitana

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Inside the cathedral soldiers keep watch at the tomb of General San Martin.

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Buenos Aires' long pedestrian street, Calle Florida - filled with shops, interesting arcades and money changers shouting, "Cambio"!

Posted by Swenigale 11:25 Archived in Argentina

March 4 - BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA (Day 2)

overcast 72 °F

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Buenos Aires is a very cosmopolitan city, with wide avenues, many parks and beautiful fountains. And – it is huge! One of the world’s largest cities, in fact!

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We spent a delightful morning in Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur, the largest protected area in the city, preserving native plants and wildlife of the delta and riverbank area.

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An expansive entry leads to gravel pathways (great for joggers,too!).

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In the lagoon a paddlewheel-powered “mower” must constantly be at work.

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Most of the time we focused our binoculars on the grasslands, hoping to spy a few of the 500 birds species that nest there.

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Kudos to visionary planners who conceived and created this oasis within walking distance of the financial downtown district.

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In New England we call this feathery grass Pampas, in South America it is Cortaderia and in New Zealand it is Toi Toi.

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Still Life (sorry :()

Posted by Swenigale 10:15 Archived in Argentina

March 5 - MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY

sunny 75 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

2nd visit

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Weren't we just here, you ask? Yes, yes we were. However, guests who just joined us in Buenos Aires had not. It was a quiet Sunday morning -

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Perfect for a stroll on the beautiful Rambla Naciones Unidis.

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The English language church, Catedral Anglicana de la Santisima Trinidad

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In 1934 the city constructed the riverfront highway and walkway. The church, then close to the shore, was torn down (saving all of the windows and interior furnishings) and built exactly the same farther inland.

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Sneaking up on the General

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Taking advantage of Sunday morning lack of traffic, a European film crew sets up - the model has a fan directed at her and she is standing on a platform ready to be pulled forward on a track.

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The billowing fabric is supposed to catch your eye..

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...since this for a high-end Whirlpool Washer and Dryer commercial!

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General Artigas is not amused.

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Love the birds of South America!

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Parrot nests in a pine tree! We don't see these in Massachusetts!

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Good-bye, Uruguay! Time to walk back to the ship and prepare for the Sunday service (and eat lunch!).

Posted by Swenigale 10:35 Archived in Uruguay

March 6 - PUNTA DEL ESTE, URUGUAY (Day 1)

sunny 80 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

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We exited the River Plate during the night and circled back to our final stop in Uruguay (yes, I forgot there was one more!), just 87 miles east of Montevideo.

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We were tendered ashore and started walking from the river and headed toward El Faro, The Lighthouse

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Iglesia Candelaria

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The peninsula on which the town is built juts out into the Atlantic - the water here is where the river and ocean meet.

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A family enjoys a winter day at the beach

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Miles and miles of fantastic beaches line both sides of the peninsula. No wonder it is a favorite destination of the wealthy.

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Playa Brava, or "Wild Beach", on the Atlantic side.

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La Mano (The Hand) is a sculpture by a Chilean artist. He made it to be a warning to swimmers about the rough waters.

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We walked across town to the calm waters of the river with the Serenity anchored in Bahia de Maldonado.

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Another fantastic walk in a beautiful place

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Time to return to the mother ship.

Posted by Swenigale 16:25 Archived in Uruguay

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