Penguins & The End of The World – Photos & A Video

In my 50 Shades of Grey post, I described the first and painfully slow week of our cruise in Patagonia. Luckily, our second week of cruising was much better as we were able to disembark on the rest of our stops in Ushuaia, the Falkland Islands and Montevideo. Plus, we got to have a picnic surrounded by penguins(!), and penguins make everything better.

To distinguish myself from the babbling old bats on our cruise, I’ve decided to make this a limited chitchat, photo-only entry (but I reserve the right to write lengthy captions).  I’ve also included Abe’s latest video at the end of the post, so make sure to scroll all the way down to see it.

Now, without further ado, please disregard all that I just said; pretend I resisted giving you an intro and skip right to the pictures.

Falkland Islands – Volunteer Point with Penguins

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{Driving through ditch-filled farmlands to go see penguins}

King Penguins

{King penguins heading into the water at Volunteer Point in East Falkland}

King Penguins Group

{A group of King Penguins}

Gentoo

{A Gentoo penguin going for a stroll}

Abe with the Penguins

{Can you spot Abe amongst the penguins?}

Scenic Patagonia Cruising 

Glacier Patagonia

{Glacier – I wish I could remember its name, but it’s not like you really care right?}

Glaciers

{Another glacier with beautiful reflections – see above caption regarding name}

Ushuaia – Hiking at the End of the World

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{We hiked in the Tierra del Fuego National Park}

Tierra del Fuego Parc

beaver dam
{There were beaver dams along our hikes in Tierra del Fuego National Park. I couldn’t resist the joke.}

Montevideo

Montevideo - And our Ship{Abe and our ship, the Zaandam. I’m not going to post more pictures of Montevideo because they aren’t exciting, and I know you’d rather see pictures of penguins anyway. So just scroll back up and look at those King penguins again. Aww.}

Abe’s Video – Patagonia Cruise

To see the high res version of this montage, click here. I hope you enjoyed the pictures and video!

Wrapping up Argentina: Zombies & Wine

So, I know what you must be thinking: I haven’t told you anything about our trip to Mendoza, nor the remainder of our time in Buenos Aires! In reality, I’ve been waiting for Abe to finish his video montage so I could share that with a post. Now it’s finally ready, so check out our adventures with Porteños and our visit to the wine region below (or see the high res version by clicking here):

 

As you can see in the video, I wasn’t lying in my last post about Buenos Aires. Most of our time really did consist of feasting on meat, wine, and Havanna coffee. We also took a tango lesson, cheered on River Plate in a soccer game, and yes, acted like zombies in the Recoleta cemetery. What else do grown-ups do in such an impressive but creepy place with over 4600 vaults? Did you know that a girl there was buried alive (this creeped me out, so read about it at your own peril)? But the most famous mausoleum there is of course that of Eva Perón, which meant we had to watch the musical Evita, which is why I was singing Don’t Cry for Me Argentina in front of the Casa Rosada. Now the video makes sense, right?

After BA we spend 4 days in Mendoza, where we hired a tour guide to drive us to 3 wineries a day. We visited some beautiful bodegas, including Catena Zapata, Andeluna and Salentein, and drank lots of incredible wine.

Bodega Catena Zapata

{At Catena Zapata}

Wine at Salentein

{Wine pairings with lunch at Andeluna}

It was interesting to learn about the wine production in the region. Wine used to be heavily consumed in Argentina with an average of 90 liters per person in the 70’s (that’s a bottle every 3 days- this is my kind of place!), but now consumption has halved with the introduction of other drinks and changes in the economy. The wine was traditionally produced for quantity rather than quality, with lots of cheap ‘vino de mesa’, and in fact it is still incredibly affordable. However, in the last 20 years or so though, there’s been an attempt to compete with wines globally (they’re kind of obsessed with rivaling French wine), which has resulted in the production of higher quality wines and more foreigners buying vineyards in the region.

We enjoyed many of the wines we tried, but our favorite was actually from a very small bodega called La Azul, which has limited international distribution and is owned by Argentinians. We bought some bottles to sneak onto our Patagonia cruise, though we definitely needed a few days break after Mendoza before cracking another bottle open!

 

50 Shades of Grey

We boarded a Holland America cruise on March 4th, heading from Santiago, Chile through Patagonia, with bright and colorful hopes.

Us glacier

{Aboard the Zaandam, in front of a glacier}

These hopes have since been dashed in more ways than one. Allow me to elaborate.

We’re accustomed to Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL, specifically to their cruises around the Caribbean. We tend to avoid most of the passengers on those ships because 1) We are recluses; 2) We are disgustingly adorable and want to be alone together; 3) People go to get wasted and party and we’re too lazy for that.

However, on this ship, we avoid people for an altogether different reason. At least 90% of the passengers are over the age of 50, and I can safely estimate that 50% are over 70.
This ship is literally at least 50 shades of grey.

View Patagonia

{Our 50 shades of grey views – no filter}

I shared this sentiment once, and it led to the most hilarious Bruce Willis situation I have ever been in.

We were at dinner, seated with 2 other couples. The man must have been in his 60’s. We were chatting about the other passengers, and suddenly… the guy started making conspiratorial statements like: “There are definitely a lot of old people on this cruise,” and “we are surrounded by elderly people, there are so many of them.” That’s when I realized it was a real-life ending of ‘The Sixth Sense’ – the guy didn’t realize he was dead old! It was both depressing and hilarious at once.

Being surrounded by the elderly has 3 key repercussions:
1) Food lines have never been slower, for 2 key reasons: a) they walk at cautious speeds, and b) they can’t read the signs explaining what the food is. “And what is THAT? What did you say? Fish? And what is THAT? Ah, Chicken. And what is THAT?” I don’t know how staff members don’t throw themselves overboard daily.

2) They are starved for conversation, especially with young people. Those of you who know Abe know how much he likes small talk (not at all). I feel like fresh meat on this ship, in a purely conversational way. Once they latch on, we have to whack them hard to make them let go. Just kidding. We ease out of the conversation real gently.

3) It’s hard to get peace and quiet. Now, you wouldn’t think that, seeing as there are so many old people around. But picture this: Abe and I go to a nice spot, settle in with our kindle/audiobook/whatever. First, as I said, old people want to get close to our youth, so they tend to sit near us (as in, at our table) even if there are better seats further away. But then, since we won’t chat, they sleep. And then they snore. And so I end up getting frustrated and nudging Abe out of his audiobook every other minute so he can share my pain and hear their snores. It’s tough to bear that burden alone.

Anyways, let’s put the old people down aside. We’ve had crap luck with the weather: every day, you’ve guessed it, has been grey.

Glacier

{The glacier}

It’s beautiful though. We’re sailing through the breathtaking Chilean fjords and channels, and have even caught sight of a couple whales and seals. We’ve passed shipwrecks and a sparkling receding glacier with light shining through. The wilderness of it all is amazing – just mountains and cliffs emerging from the water, rivers and cascades breaking through the changing vegetation as we sail further south. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll be stopping in Ushuaia – weather permitting, that is, as it’s put a damper on things so far (pun intended).