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  #11 (permalink)  
Old 03-20-2008, 06:01 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 332
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I will start with jmcs's question. Regarding parkas, they give those on the ships that do landings with 300 or under passengers. We were on a very large ship, Star Princess. I had borrowed my daughter-in-law's ski jacket, and just did a couple of wool layers under that for being on the deck in antarctica. I wore wool slacks with tights under them, a ski cap and gloves, and I was just fine. I am a person who is always cold, and I spent a fair amount of time on deck. The ports were not that cold, and in Ushaiai, I just wore a sweater with no coat. In Punta Arenas, we went on a tour to the very windy Otway Bay, so I did wear the wool slacks, and ski jacket with sweather underneath. Port Stanley, the weather was also very pleasant.

OK now for susank's questions. Your trip does sound awesome, but I gather you will not do antarctica. It is too late in the year for that when you leave. As far as excursions, we only had 4 ports, and only did two excursions, one of which was private. In Port Stanley, instead we took the public ($10) bus to Gypsy Cove and saw about 200 magellin penguins. However, you are going late, and someone on our ship had done that excursion late March last year and saw only a couple of penguins. So for you I would recommend one of the ship's tours to a penguin site where different penguins, such as king, which I believe are there all year. Your penguin viewing might be more limited totally, as you are going late. I felt like the January cruise saw more penguins than we (the Feb.) did. More on that below regarding Punta Arenas.

In Ushuaia, we did not take a tour. We just walked around the charming town, took a lot of pictures, and used a very cheap ($1 per person per hour) internet cafe. Since the $100 worth of internet I had purchased on the ship was going quickly, I was glad to supplement that way. In Punta Arenas we took a private tour to Otway Bay,which 12 of us who met on another chatboard had arranged, and it was very disappointing. The guide was good, and the city information and stops were good, but there were only about 24 penguins left at Otway Bay, which you see after a half mile walk on uneven wooden plans, peering thru an opening in a wooden fence. One of our group had been there five years earlier in January and said the whole beach was teeming with penguins, just a few feet from them. I definitely would not do this excursion the time of year you are going.

In Montevideo we took a Jewish heritage tour, which included some special city sites not related to Jewish heritage as well. I loved Montevideo, actually preferred it to Buenos Aires.

Now to Buenos Aires -- first of all, do not get ripped off and go to the tourist trap Las Lilas restaurant, as we did. Very, very overpriced steaks, and not nearly as good as the others we had. We stayed in two different areas; we spent three days in the Puerto Madero area and two days in the upscale Ricoleta, which we preferred, but both were fine.

We took a three hour city tour which did NOT (and we had not realized this) include the cemetery. Be sure to book one that does, and I would recommend a longer one. Ours was booked by the Holiday Inn, where we were at the time. Our friends had taken one booked by Marriott, and loved it. Our guide was quite unprofessional, spoke little English, and was not knowledgeable at all. If my husband remembers the name of that tour company, I will caution you against it.

When we were at the HI, we were three blocks from Florida Street, with more stores than you can imagine, and which you will love. We also saw Tango dancers in the street there. There are no cars, it is just for pedestrians. We spent a lot of time there, (two different days) and at a beautiful upscale indoor shopping center, Pacifico, located there, which has wonderful frescos on the ceilings. We also walked to the restored old port area of Puerto Madero and had one meal and walked around. There are loads of restaurants there.

For us, one of the highlights of BA was the cemetery, which we did on our own when we moved to Ricoleta. We walked there, and it was well over a mile, so we spent a good part of the day. We went simply to see Eva Peron's grave, (which is hard to find and in the Duarte family mauseoleum, but we did find it). However, the whole cemetery is so awesome and spectacular that we spent a long while there. Just across from the cemetery are loads of nice outdoor restaurants and cafes lining the street. We just stopped for an espresso at McCafe (very upscale McDonald answer to Starbucks, which is very popular there, and very nice). I would recommend that if you are not on a tour, and your time is your own, you eat at one of those cafes and just people watch.

BA is not a clean city. Our hotels were clean, especially the HI, which was immaculate, but the sidewalks are dirty. Dog walkers abound; we took pictures of several paid ones walking ten or more dogs. No one cleans the dog poo poo, and there is poo poo aplenty! You have to be sure to look down when you walk.

None of the cab drivers we had spoke English, so we always had the hotel staff or restaurant staff tell them where we were going, and I carried a marked map to show them the location if that had not been sufficient. With this combination, we never had a problem, and we took lots of cabs. We speak un poco espanol, but very poco, and our Spanish phrase book never seemed to have what we needed. Also in many restaurants, no one spoke or understood more than a drop of English. So do brush up on your Spanish, and I would have a sheet of phrases I needed, rather than the cumbersome little book we took. I am sure you have been told never to hail a cab on the street. Always have the hotel or restaurant call a cab for you. When we arrived at the Ricoleta hotel, someone had just been cheated and paid about ten times what the cab should have cost.

People (hotel staff, etc.) were always telling me to turn my rings so that diamonds did not show, as their are lots of pickpockets and such. Next time I would leave my rings home, and just wear a plain gold one. I did not walk around with any other jewelry, and you will notice that even people who live there guarare very aware of their purses. I wore a neck purse with my money and credit cards, which I slipped under my shirt. The purse with the rest of my stuff was the kind you wear over one shounder and under the other arm, which is hard to grab. I noticed lots of people wearing those.

We had the best steak ever in a restaurant in Ricoletta. When my husband wakes up, if he remembers the name, I will get back on and add it. Just want to mention also that it was cooler in BA than I expected. One or two days were hot and humid, but one or two were cool, and I wore a sweater. Your weather will probably be like the cool days I had. However, all times it was pleasant to be out and about.

I know I went back and forth as things occurred to me, so hope you can follow. Have a fabulous time on your cruise.
Ellie
  #12 (permalink)  
Old 03-20-2008, 05:14 PM
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 3
Default
Quote:
OK now for susank's questions. Your trip does sound awesome, but I gather you will not do antarctica. It is too late in the year for that when you leave. As far as excursions, we only had 4 ports, and only did two excursions, one of which was private. In Port Stanley, instead we took the public ($10) bus to Gypsy Cove and saw about 200 magellin penguins. However, you are going late, and someone on our ship had done that excursion late March last year and saw only a couple of penguins. So for you I would recommend one of the ship's tours to a penguin site where different penguins, such as king, which I believe are there all year. Your penguin viewing might be more limited totally, as you are going late. I felt like the January cruise saw more penguins than we (the Feb.) did. More on that below regarding Punta Arenas.

In Ushuaia, we did not take a tour. We just walked around the charming town, took a lot of pictures, and used a very cheap ($1 per person per hour) internet cafe. Since the $100 worth of internet I had purchased on the ship was going quickly, I was glad to supplement that way. In Punta Arenas we took a private tour to Otway Bay,which 12 of us who met on another chatboard had arranged, and it was very disappointing. The guide was good, and the city information and stops were good, but there were only about 24 penguins left at Otway Bay, which you see after a half mile walk on uneven wooden plans, peering thru an opening in a wooden fence. One of our group had been there five years earlier in January and said the whole beach was teeming with penguins, just a few feet from them. I definitely would not do this excursion the time of year you are going.

In Montevideo we took a Jewish heritage tour, which included some special city sites not related to Jewish heritage as well. I loved Montevideo, actually preferred it to Buenos Aires.

Now to Buenos Aires -- first of all, do not get ripped off and go to the tourist trap Las Lilas restaurant, as we did. Very, very overpriced steaks, and not nearly as good as the others we had. We stayed in two different areas; we spent three days in the Puerto Madero area and two days in the upscale Ricoleta, which we preferred, but both were fine.

We took a three hour city tour which did NOT (and we had not realized this) include the cemetery. Be sure to book one that does, and I would recommend a longer one. Ours was booked by the Holiday Inn, where we were at the time. Our friends had taken one booked by Marriott, and loved it. Our guide was quite unprofessional, spoke little English, and was not knowledgeable at all. If my husband remembers the name of that tour company, I will caution you against it.

When we were at the HI, we were three blocks from Florida Street, with more stores than you can imagine, and which you will love. We also saw Tango dancers in the street there. There are no cars, it is just for pedestrians. We spent a lot of time there, (two different days) and at a beautiful upscale indoor shopping center, Pacifico, located there, which has wonderful frescos on the ceilings. We also walked to the restored old port area of Puerto Madero and had one meal and walked around. There are loads of restaurants there.

For us, one of the highlights of BA was the cemetery, which we did on our own when we moved to Ricoleta. We walked there, and it was well over a mile, so we spent a good part of the day. We went simply to see Eva Peron's grave, (which is hard to find and in the Duarte family mauseoleum, but we did find it). However, the whole cemetery is so awesome and spectacular that we spent a long while there. Just across from the cemetery are loads of nice outdoor restaurants and cafes lining the street. We just stopped for an espresso at McCafe (very upscale McDonald answer to Starbucks, which is very popular there, and very nice). I would recommend that if you are not on a tour, and your time is your own, you eat at one of those cafes and just people watch.

BA is not a clean city. Our hotels were clean, especially the HI, which was immaculate, but the sidewalks are dirty. Dog walkers abound; we took pictures of several paid ones walking ten or more dogs. No one cleans the dog poo poo, and there is poo poo aplenty! You have to be sure to look down when you walk.

None of the cab drivers we had spoke English, so we always had the hotel staff or restaurant staff tell them where we were going, and I carried a marked map to show them the location if that had not been sufficient. With this combination, we never had a problem, and we took lots of cabs. We speak un poco espanol, but very poco, and our Spanish phrase book never seemed to have what we needed. Also in many restaurants, no one spoke or understood more than a drop of English. So do brush up on your Spanish, and I would have a sheet of phrases I needed, rather than the cumbersome little book we took. I am sure you have been told never to hail a cab on the street. Always have the hotel or restaurant call a cab for you. When we arrived at the Ricoleta hotel, someone had just been cheated and paid about ten times what the cab should have cost.

People (hotel staff, etc.) were always telling me to turn my rings so that diamonds did not show, as their are lots of pickpockets and such. Next time I would leave my rings home, and just wear a plain gold one. I did not walk around with any other jewelry, and you will notice that even people who live there guarare very aware of their purses. I wore a neck purse with my money and credit cards, which I slipped under my shirt. The purse with the rest of my stuff was the kind you wear over one shounder and under the other arm, which is hard to grab. I noticed lots of people wearing those.

We had the best steak ever in a restaurant in Ricoletta. When my husband wakes up, if he remembers the name, I will get back on and add it. Just want to mention also that it was cooler in BA than I expected. One or two days were hot and humid, but one or two were cool, and I wore a sweater. Your weather will probably be like the cool days I had. However, all times it was pleasant to be out and about.

I know I went back and forth as things occurred to me, so hope you can follow. Have a fabulous time on your cruise.
Ellie
Posts: 236 | Registered: November 10, 2006

Ignored post by SD Cruiser posted March 20, 2008 06:01 AM Show Post

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  #13 (permalink)  
Old 03-20-2008, 05:36 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 3
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Ellie -

Many thanks for your very helpful response. Yes, we probably will be too late for some of the penquins - in fact the ship already notified our travel agent that they had cancelled the tour we scheduled to see them. Since this is our first trip to South America we're both just interested in seeing the a new culture - but also an entirely different landscape (we live in the Midwest and have no fjords etc. - no mountains either)

Your observations about Buenos Aires were especially good - I had heard about the taxis and the jewelry but not the dog stuff!! Ugh!
I'll watch where I step. Neither of us speak a word of Spanish so I'm a little concerned - but we've been in that kind of situation before and sign language sometimes works. Let's hope. The hotel staff are usually pretty good and if they don't speak English they always seem to know how to find those who do. I got our hotel over the internet and it's located on Lavalle St., near de Julio. Based on what I read it looked like a fairly safe area and relatively central. If that's not a good location, don't hesitate to say so as I can try something else before we leave.

I wasn't thinking the cemetery would be quite so interesting but I'll be sure to add it to our itinerary. We have also planned to spend the day in Puerto Madero as it sounded fun. Did you go to San Telmo? We have heard it's especially good on Sunday mornings, a flea market and tango dancers everywhere.

Again, your comments are great as we don't know anyone who's been to South America and our travel agent doesn't either. We're just flying by the seat of our pants!
  #14 (permalink)  
Old 03-22-2008, 10:09 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 57
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Quote:
Originally posted by susank:
I was fascinated to read your account - we are leaving on the Star on 3/30 from Buenos Aires, going around Cape Horn and leaving the ship in Acapulco, a total of 27 days. We are going to Buenos Aires four days prior to the sailing. What can you suggest we do in Buenos Aires and what tours from the ship did you think (and hear from others) were the best? Any advice you can provide will be VERY helpful!!! Thanks
See you on the ship we are going from Valparaiso to Seattle 23 days.
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  #15 (permalink)  
Old 03-23-2008, 05:02 PM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 332
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My husband thinks the name of the tour company which we booked for the very disappointing city tour was Travel Guide Tours. (We had no reservation slip, and paid in cash; that is why we cannot check it now to tell you for sure.)
The restaurant we liked so much in Ricoleta was called Molinas. It was crowded with locals, so that was the clue that it was reasonable as well as very good.
Ellie
 
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