Our tender and a small pod of seals sunning at the end of the dock.
My previous blog ended with a rough sea sail from Ushuaia (End of the World) to the Falkland Islands, which is an archipelago about 300 miles from the coast of southern Argentinian Patagonia. The population of this large group of small islands was 3,662 in 2021; most residents live in Stanley, where we landed in a tender (large, covered lifeboat) from our cruise ship. Later we learned that the only trees on the island are those nurtured by residents in the city. The following picture shows only half of the city.
Except for the brief war between the U.K. and Argentina in 1982, most people would have no clue as to where the Falkland Islands are. I suspect that they are much like barren islands found in the North Sea off the coast of England or Scotland and the very friendly inhabitants do have British or Scottish accents. Stanley is a small port and we were anchored outside the cove where the city docks are located. Our tour there was to Bluff Cove for photo ops with the penguins.
Along our 45-minute ride in fifteen passenger vans, we looked out over vast rolling areas of brown grass and low brush where hundreds, perhaps thousands, of sheep were grazing with their spring lambs. Most were scattered and not in herds. Where we could see the soil, it was coal black and most is probably peat, which in the past was the main source of fuel for the residents.
The numerous penguins in this cove were organized into at least three rookeries. Not far away, waves were crashing on the shore and there were a few penguins close to the water. None of them seemed at all disturbed by the tourists eagerly taking pictures. This picture also shows the surrounding landscape, quite barren.
And some were sheltering chicks, as in this photo, and others probably eggs.
The relatively small group of more colorful Emperor penguins was separate from two other groups of black and white penguins. A don’t know what the hairy brown one is.
The winds were blow-you-down strong and before long it started to rain. There were sheep pellets everywhere we stepped and some bird droppings too. After we had taken a bunch of penguin pictures it started to hail so we hurriedly – but carefully – walked several hundred yards to where two, trailer-like buildings offered shelter from the elements.
One was a café that served tea and coffee, plus various excellent sweet treats. The other building was a gift shop with some nice products and many souvenirs, some of which we purchased. We used credit cards but the prices were in Falkland pounds.
The squalls kept sweeping through, wind, rain and sometimes hail, with the occasional semi-dry spell so we stayed close to the buildings until time to leave around 1:30 PM. We wanted to do some shopping in Stanley but it was still raining or hailing so we took the tender back to the ship.
Later in the afternoon, just before we sailed away, the weather cleared over parts of the island we could see. We wished it had been like that for our tour, but such is life on the sea islands. Still, this stop was one of the highlights of our cruise.
The next two days were over rough seas to Punta del Este, Uruguay, which is a very modern, very upscale city where many Argentinians and others come to vacation and retire. It looked like a great place for Americans to retire too. We had gone from cold and rainy to hot and sunny.
Our tour there was by bus to a couple of art museums, one of which was huge and fabulous. The beaches looked very nice too. The huge fingers at one beach were popular for photo ops.
Next was Montevideo, Uruguay, which is a much older and larger city and probably not nearly as attractive to retirees. We did a walking tour in the center of the city that included a beautiful old opera house, a lovely old church, a small, city palace and more. There is something about an old city with its art, plazas, architecture and old-world restaurants that can’t be replaced by modern stuff.
We passed by one restaurant where I wish we could have stopped to eat.
Our last stop was Buenos Aries for a day of touring at a ranch 90 minutes from the city. It was a full day of horses, gauchos doing their thing, a show with dancers doing an authentic tango and a fabulous lunch with plenty of wine.
Next morning, we said farewell to the ship and at 10 PM boarded the first of the three flights and 14 flying hours that brought us back home. The business class seats on a 777 helped for the 8-hour flight to Miami. It was a long cruise and while we were glad we were able to do it, we won’t likely take such a long cruise again.
Again, Happy New Year to all.