Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

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emjay45
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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by emjay45 » 27 Mar 2018, 11:05

Quizzical Bob wrote:
27 Mar 2018, 10:17
Good morning Emjay,

I am now at my office desk and the images show on my desltop browser (Chrome)

Here is a link to the photo:

No I was on my computer (so it probably was me). The link works fine thanks. You must have been very close to the nests. We were on a boat so only saw the young ones from a distance.
Your cruise looked excellent but not something we could ever do because we don't want to fly anymore. So it's roundtrips from the UK or nothing. Your excellent photos and review really gave a taste of what your cruise was like. Very enjoyable thank you. :thumbup:


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 28 Mar 2018, 15:13

17 - Montevideo - Monday 28th January

We didn't book any tours for Montevideo. Princess excursions are hideously expensive and seeing as we hadn't been here before we thought we would have a look round the town. In general we don't really do cities but having a wander around and a cup of coffee somewhere and then maybe a local lunch appeal to us. Mrs QB has usually had enough by early afternoon and I see her back to the ship and then go exploring.

The ship docks here very close to the older part of the town and most things are within walking distance. It's a lovely sunny day with clear skies and a temperature in the low 20s so ideal for sightseeing. Before we leave the docks there is a small area to the right with some relics from the famous German 'pocket battleship' Graf Spee.

This rangefinder was recovered in 2004
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And there is an anchor and memorial.
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After crossing the road just outside the port gates the first place we come to is just a hundred yards into the town. There is a small square with a covered building with tables but not much going on yet at 10 in the morning. The first priority for me is to find somewhere to change the Chilean Pesos that I still have in my pocket. At about £40 worth t's not really enough to take back home and convert back to Sterling but I find a small bureau de change and get enough Uruguyan Pesos to see us through a few coffees and souvenirs.

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The map that we have of the town doesn't really tell me a lot so we start to wander uphill and follow our noses. There's a small souvenir shop so we get some fridge magnets and enamelled pins whilst we are there. I can see from the map that there are some public squares on the way to the centre so the plan is to wander through them in turn. Even though the temperature is comfortable the sun is quite fierce and keeping out of it involves swapping from one side of the street to the other.

Mrs QB hears some squawking going on in one and following her love of birds we soon a find a square with some trees full of nesting parakeets of some kind. We spend a very pleasant few minutes watching the birds flying about aand arguing and tending to their nests and then it's on to the next square.

Plaza Zabala
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There are some market stalls here selling mostly antique junk but we've got enough antique junk of our own at home so we take a quik look and pass them by. There are some cafes and restaurants along one side so time for a sti down and some proper coffee before we continue exploring.

Plaza Matriz
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Last edited by Quizzical Bob on 28 Mar 2018, 15:14, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 28 Mar 2018, 22:31

17.2 - Montevideo - Monday 28th January

After a coffee break we wander further up into the centre of the town until we arrive at the Plaza Independencia at the top of the hill. This is a nice big open space

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This is about as far as we are prepared to go. It is hot in the sun and from here on the traffic is a lot busier. When we left the dock gates I was given a leaflet for a leather shop which is over in the right hand corner so We pop in for a quick look. Not very big but some good coats, jackets and particularly some nice belts. I pick one to replace my trusty old friend that has served me well since I bought it off a beach vendor in Tobago more than ten years ago. I only bought it really to help the local economy but it has lasted well but is beginning to show the signs of the strain. It was a useful tool too because the advance and retreat of the notches was a useful reminder of whether I had eaten too much. I still have it in my personal museum to this day but the new one is better quality and more attractive, not that anyone can see it under the folds that hang over it. I have trouble seeing it myself. The design I choose is a bit too long and when we get back to the cabin I try to make an extra hole for the buckle with a pair of needlework scissors and without losing any fingers. It will do until I get home. Nobody is going to see it anyway.

We take a different route back to the square where we had the coffee. We had looked at the restaurants there and the menus seemed interesting.

There is quite a lot of European style architecture around, reminiscent of Paris at the turn of the 18th century. Nice balconies but I have no idea what this shop thought it was selling.
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The restaurant we choose is 'La Corte' and we plump for the standard three course menu which seemed a reasonable price. I had a very nice fillet of something for the main course and when I came to pay the bill with my credit card there is a nice surprise. The total is reduced automatically because it is a foreign card by what was, I think, 20%. The total that I paid was £19.64 for two three-course meals with drinks. Or perhaps the waitress just took a liking to me, hard to believe I know but it can happen ;)

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By this time Mrs QB is starting to flag so I accompany her back to the ship and grab a taxi to take me the 9 km along the coast to the Museo Maritimo. I agree a fare of $25 with the driver to take me there and back and have 40 minutes inside. The ride is along a coastal boulevard with flats on one the left and good beaches on the right.

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The museum is compact and bijou but full of interest. There is a major feature on the Battle of the River Plate and the Graf Spee of course. The taxi driver settles down in the shade sitting with his back to the wall and I promise to be out on time.

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 28 Mar 2018, 22:56

17.3 - Montevideo - Monday 28th January

There are several personal effects of Captain Hans Langsdorff including his sword. He was viewed a by both sides as a man of honour who would not willingly risk his men's lives and was well respected by those merchant men who were captured when he sank their ships.


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This next exhibit caught me by surprise and then I remembered seeing something about it a few years before. HMS Agamemnon was Nelson's favourite ship. Launched in 1781 just down the road from me at Buckler's Hard and built of New Forest oak she was captained by Nelson for over three years and was at the Battle of Copenhagen and at Trafalgar she forced the surrender of the Spanish ship Santisima Trinadad which was the largest ship present at the battle. In 1808 she was in a bad condition and leaking and ran aground on a shoal just off what is now Punta del Este. The wreck was located in 1993 and a 24-pounder cannon and some artefacts including a seal bearing the name 'Nelson' were recovered.

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The taxi driver is asleep when I get outside so I have a quick nose around. There is a 150 mm gun which was salvaged from the Graf Spee outside and a few other exhibits.

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The view from outside the museum
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Time to wake the driver and head back. I get him to drop me opposite the port entrance and I have about an hour to poke about a bit.

The road back to port. I could spend some more time here.
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Last edited by Quizzical Bob on 28 Mar 2018, 22:56, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 28 Mar 2018, 23:18

17.4 - Montevideo - Monday 28th January

And this is where I get very unhappy. The building that was deserted we passed in the morning is now fully open and when I look inside there are about twenty restaurants in there, all with big charcoal grills cooking every type of meat you could imagine. Now before we left home I had in my dreams the image of a large Argentinian steak cooked on a Parilla (grill) and here there were hundreds of them. But I had already eaten lunch. I was tempted, sorely tempted, to try one but time was limited and I didn't think it fair on Mrs QB to eat one without her and besides, there would be other opportunities. Wouldn't there? Surely there would...

I console myself with a glass of local beer. Well I do have some Uruguayan Pesos to get rid of, don't I?

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After the beer I still have some Pesos left so I go up the road a little way to a small grocer that sells loose cashew nuts amongst other things. I pile my Pesos on the counter and ask the shopkeeper to give me the equivalent weight in cashews. We are still eating them two days later.

The road down to the restaurants which are at the bottom on the left.
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So that was Montevideo. I suppose the good weather helped but it was a lovely place with very friendly people, all pleased to see you. Some 1.3 million people live there which is about a third of the population of Uruguay. I learn the the Uruguayan for 'Uruguayan' is 'Urushayo'.

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Leaving the berth is a very tight affair with little room to spare. We spend as long as possible on the balcony in the evening because this is the end of our time at sea. The River Plate estuary around here is very shallow and the ship has to follow the marked channel very closely. At times I can see the bow wave from the ship spreading out a long way on both sides and I know from my sailing days that this is a sure sign of shallow waters. River Plate is called 'Rio de la Plata' in Spanish which means 'River of Silver'

This is a NASA satellite photo, not mine ;)
Montevideo is up at the left and Buenos Aires and the lower right. The mud and silt has been brought down by the Paraná river 8000 kilometres from the north of Brazil near Bolivia.
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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Gill W » 01 Apr 2018, 15:39

Montevideo looks like a really interesting place to visit
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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by emjay45 » 02 Apr 2018, 12:14

I enjoyed Montevideo we were there for 2 days. On the second day my husband and son went off on an all day tour. After a spell in the medical centre on the nebuliser I decided to do some shopping. As you say QB the people were very friendly and after Recife and Rio it was so nice to be able to wander around by myself feeling very safe. The building you mentioned with all the restaurants had been closed on our first day because it was a Sunday which was a pity as I knew about it and had promised my son a huge steak.


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 04 Apr 2018, 14:08

18 - Buenos Aires - Tuesday 30th January

Ship newsletter and cruise log here:


The end of the cruise is now looming over us and we have effectively only the one port day remaining. We are not to keen on cities so for this morning we had booked a tour which visits the town called Tigre and is 17 miles north of the city. This tour includes a boat trip around the Tigre delta. We thought that this way we would at least see something of the city on the way there whilst also then having a gentle ride on a boat.

The drive north is along the coast and we go past the national airport which we shall be visiting the next day. This is only a few miles north of the ship and also lies along the shoreline.

The schedule is a little unclear to us and don't know how long the boat trip is but we just go with the flow, as it were. We are pleasantly surprised by the suburbs once we get passed the usual apartment blocks and out of the city centre. Our first stop is in the district of San Isidro. We pass the Jockey Club and a golf club and horse track. There are lots of trees around and the whole district appears very salubrious, the sort of area where you might expect to see well-groomed Argentinians in crisp tailored shirts and smart chinos. The houses are quite close together as is typical in a close suburb but there is plenty of greenery about in the form of shrubs and trees. We can't help noticing though that the ground floor windows all tend to have grills over them. Maybe it's a cultural thing, a bit like the presence of shutters on French buildings.

The coaches stop outside some sort of cathedral and across the road from a coffee shop and we have about 45 minutes for a mooch around. The shop has toilets and serves very good coffee. So far we are quite impressed.

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Once evrybody is back on board we move the short distance to the town of Tigre and get ready for boarding the boat. The town gets its name from the jaguars that used to prowl around here in the early days of settlement.


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 04 Apr 2018, 14:29

18.2 - Buenos Aires - Tuesday 30th January

This area is an uxexpected surprise. You could almost be at Henley on a quiet day. We are formed into separate groups, one for each busload, and as usual everybody is jostling for position because everybody wants a window seat, as is only natural. After about 15 minutes of waiting the boats turn up and we have a one for each bus group and there are plenty of seats for everybody. There are drop-down windows in place to keep out the water but the crew quickly raise these up to the cabin roof, so everybody's happy.

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We soon motor out of the side river and into on of the main channels of the vast Paraná Delta. The Paraná River has come over 4880 km from way up in Brazil and carries a lot of sediment with it which gives rise to its muddy appearance. Amongst its delta is a multitude of small islands which have their own habitations and character. There is no mains sewage and there are no roads. There is a network of river buses which serve the locals and also the occasional school and church. It reminds me somewhat or the sort of thing you get in some areas of Florida but without perhaps all the mod cons.

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by GillD46 » 04 Apr 2018, 14:44

I bought the most exquisite coffee set in that flea market in Monetvideo and carried it back home wrapped up in a whole roll of P&O loo paper. That was back in 2003 and it still sits in my “best” china cupboard now.
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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 04 Apr 2018, 15:07

18.3 - Buenos Aires - Tuesday 30th January

Tigre is a very pleasant little place and like many others that we have visited on this cruise well worth a longer inspection. There is an Aregntinian Naval Museum there that I must go back and see one day.

On the return to the ship we drop a few fellow passengers nearer the city. The ship is docked about three miles away from the centre and Mrs QB is starting to flag so we go back on board for lunch and I get prepared to go off exploring. It's a very warm and sunny day with temperatures up into the low thirties. I especially want to see the Casa Rosada which is the Presidential Palace made famous by Juan Perón and his Mrs.

I jump in a taxi and we set off for the centre but are very quickly stuck at the first traffic lights. They are in the process of building a tunnel to take all the north-south traffic but until it is completed everything is compressed along both sides of the roadworks. The driver is very friendly and we have a bit of a chat on the way and after just over half an hour I can see a big pink building some 600 yrds away so after confirming it with the driver I ask him to drop me at the next convenient opportunity. There is an elegant elderly Argentinian couple looking for a ride so they are pleased to see us. Truth be told they are probably younger than me.

A few minutes later I come upon the north elevation of the Palace.

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No balconies here so I walk round to the right and into the Plaza de Mayo. There is a lot of construction going on but at least i have finally seen the famous facade. In the centre of this photo is the balcony where Eva Perón used to address crowds of 'Los Descaminados' (The Shirtless) and where the song 'Don't Cry for me Argentina' is sung.

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I am just in time to catch the changing of the guard.
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The construction works spoils the setting of the Palace somewhat.
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I expect it will be good when it's finished.
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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 04 Apr 2018, 15:44

18.4 - Buenos Aires - Tuesday 30th January

I had promised not to be back too late so conscious of the clock I decide to walk back the three miles and catch a glimpse of whatever I could. At one end of the square is the Catedral Metropolitana which I pop into for a quick look. I've just found out a few minutes ago that this was the seat of the present Pope Francis. No photos unfortuinately, you'll just have to go and see for yourselves ;)

The direct route back takes me along some narrow streets. I am conscious of all the warnings about muggings and pickpockets and keep my phone under close control but too be honest all the locals were waving theirs around with no traces of fear and I never felt threatened at any time. This looks like a good city for getting around on a bicycle but sadly I had left mine at home.

San Martín road
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It's a mixture of small shops and offices and reminds me in some way of the outer backstreets of Paris or Brussels. There is a covered shopping mall and the obligatory Irish pub. My son in law has a theory that every city has one somewhere. The road back opens out into a large park called Plaza General San Martín near the spot where we had dropped the other passengers earlier. There is a large clock tower in the lower part which was a gift to the city from the British in 1916 to commemorate Argentinian independence. However, just before getting there I stumble across a very dignified memorial to those Argentinians who lost their lives in the the Falklands War in 1982. Unexpected, but effective and time to pause and reflect for a few moments. Whatever the debates and discussions about the motives for the war we can remember that most of these young men were conscripts who were doing what was asked of them and had no say in what their fate would be.

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This silhouette of the Falklands is made of stainless steel. It's not obvous in the photo but there is a curtain of water that runs down the wall. It also runs over the map and drips off the bottom, falling like tears.

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Onward further down the hill past the railway station and then I have to negotiate the extensive pedestrian footbridge over the roadworks. It's sunny and 33 degrees but very pleasant. Not far now. The maps show it as three kilometres but I go wrong at the wide dual carriageway near the cruise terminal and add another kilometre or two to that. At the bottom of the Avenida de los Immigrantes I see an old friend preserved outside a military base, a Gloster Meteor. Built in Bristol?

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by oldbluefox » 04 Apr 2018, 15:50

Great photographs and a fascinating review QB. I have put your name forward for a Smurfy Award for Best Review of the Year, it's that good!!! :thumbup:


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 04 Apr 2018, 16:28

18.5 - Buenos Aires - Tuesday 30th January

So that was our visit to Buenos Aires. Before we left we had not been too bothered about seeing anything there but now that we've been we are a bit sorry not to have had a couple of days. In hindsight I think it would have been better to have stayed in a hotel for two or three nights and have got off the ship sometime in the afternoon of the first day. We could have got off at our leisure and gone straight to check-in. Perhaps then I could have had that Argentinian steak that I had promised myself.

The evening is like all the last evenings on a cruise except that there were maybe less passengers around. There's always a sense of sadness and melancholy and all the clothes are packed away ready for the next time. Mrs QB has an early night but I pop into the theatre where the Tango School of Buenos Aires is putting on a bit of a show. Inbteresting but not my sort of thing. Nothing else to do but set the alarm and go to bed. We don't have to put our cases outside because we are handling those ourselves.

We had decided to do self-disembarkation which meant getting off at 07:00 the next day. This means carrying you own cases off the ship but at least then you don't have to fight through the baggage reclaim hall with everbody else. There are shuttle buses at this port to transfer you from the ship to the terminal, similar to the ones you get at airports. I had booked a transfer to the airport at the desk inside the terminal the day before leaving at 07:45 but we got there at 07:15 and had to wait. There were plenty of taxis ouside that we could have taken.

Our flight to Puerto Iguazu is due to leave at 11:10 having been brought forward from 12:00. I was uncertain as to our baggage allowance. The pleasantly cheap fare of £61.70 each that I had paid in June 2016 only provided for 15Kg per bag with 5Kg of cabin carry-on. I had applied for their auction for an upgrade which would have increased the allowance but without success. The Airline office in London had been very helpful and reassuring when i called them last year and explained that I would just have to pay for any excess up to the usual 23Kg but one never knows. When we got to the check-in desk the nice young man explained that I would have to pay an extra charge and gave me a ticket to take to a small kiosk with a glass window just across the hall. We had tried to adjust all our belongings and weights and I was wearing a thick coat with my camera and binoculars slung underneath it around my neck. There was a frustrating wait at the kiosk whilst the two in fron of me were served and then when it cam to my turn the old man there (he seemed older than me) had run out of staples. I was desperate to do it for him but could only stand and wait and look on with pity. The bill for the excess came to a total of £46.85. Panic over.

The airport is called Aeroparque Jorge Newbery and serves domestic flights from Buenos Aires. The transfer from the ship is only about twenty minutes. The wait and uncertainty for the flight drags on a bit. I try to find a table in the Hard Rock Cafe but all the lights are out and they don't seem to want to serve me. I ask what time they are going to open and am met with a shrug worthy of a French customs official and a 'who knows' and they point to the lights and say 'when they come on'. It takes me a little while to find out that they have had a power cut and don't know when it will be fixed. Their loss.

It's quite amusing for us to see everybody queueing up at the aircraft gate over 40 mnutes before the flight. There is a very nice-looking modern aircraft just outside the window and we are a bit disappointed to find out that it's not for us. Eventually the time comes and we join the back of the queue. We all have reserved seats, don't we. The aircraft is out on the apron so the transfer is by bus and we are last on it. This also means that we are the first off. That'll teach 'em to queue-jump :)

The aircraft is a Boeing 737-800 with plenty of overhead locker space and we had chosen two aisle seats opposite each other which worked quite well. Soon after take off we fly over the Uruguayan port of Fray Bentos but from my seat in the centre I can't quite make out the fields where they grow the corned beef tins.

The flight is about two hours and all proceeds smoothly except for one slight scare for us when a flight attendant asks if there is a doctor on boards. Oops. Fortunately there is and he and a medical trolley are wheeled to the rear of the aircraft. Unlike 'some people' I don't like to turn round and stare let alone take a selfie, but I later ascertain that and elderly lady has had a bit of a turn at cruising altitude. The doctor later returns to his seat to a round of well-deserved applause with an embarrassed but appreciative smile on his face.

The landing at Puerto Iguazu is smooth, our baggage is there very efficiently and we wheel it outside looking hopefully for the driver whom I had booked to meet us and take us to our hotel on the Brazilian side. I'm sure I remember booking a transfer.


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 04 Apr 2018, 16:29

GillD46 wrote:
04 Apr 2018, 14:44
I bought the most exquisite coffee set in that flea market in Monetvideo and carried it back home wrapped up in a whole roll of P&O loo paper. That was back in 2003 and it still sits in my “best” china cupboard now.
Remind me to ask for tea if ever I'm invited ;)


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 04 Apr 2018, 16:30

oldbluefox wrote:
04 Apr 2018, 15:50
Great photographs and a fascinating review QB. I have put your name forward for a Smurfy Award for Best Review of the Year, it's that good!!! :thumbup:
Thanks Foxy.

Only a few more days in Iguazu and Rio for you to endure ;)

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Dancing Queen » 05 Apr 2018, 13:14

I agree with Foxy your review has been fascinating, I have been checking for days for the next update and isn't it typical you did it yesterday when I wasn't online, I've caught up now and look forward to reading the final chapter.
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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 05 Apr 2018, 16:30

Dancing Queen wrote:
05 Apr 2018, 13:14
I agree with Foxy your review has been fascinating, I have been checking for days for the next update and isn't it typical you did it yesterday when I wasn't online, I've caught up now and look forward to reading the final chapter.
Thanks, I'm glad you're enjoying them. :)

I'll put up a couple more today but then we're driving off to Ireland for a a few days so check back after the end of next week.


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 05 Apr 2018, 17:30

19.0 - Iguaçu National Park - Wednesday 31st January - Hotel Belmond Das Cataratas

We are relieved to see our driver young Eric waiting for us with our names on a board and he gets a trolley for our luggage. There is another driver with him and Eric explains that we shall take one vehicle to the border and then change into his car. Something about them not liking Brazilian cars at the Argentinian airport. There are two national parks, one in Argentina and one in Brazil, and they are separated by the Iguazu river.

The drive to the Brazilian border takes us through the rainforest of the Iguazu National Park and I find it stunningly beautiful. The variety of different vegetation and trees is captivating but what hits us first is the amount of beautiful butterflies everywhere. It is like being in one of those butterfly greenhouses but we are under the wide open sky. They are everywhere, like falling leaves on a frosty autumn day in the forest. Black and yellow swallowtails, big electric blue things and some that look like large Cabbage Whites. Sometimes there would be a string of them fluttering along in formation. Later on we would find them everywhere underfoot and we had to be careful not to tread on them.

There's not much traffic on the road and after an hour we reach the frontier posts. We change into Eric's car at a petrol station and say goodbye to our Argentinian driver who it turns out is from Uruguay. The border check at tha Argentinian side is straightforward and is done through the car window at a kiosk where we are stamped out of the country. We then cross the bridge which marks the border and away to our left Eric points out the place where the Iguazu River breaks away from the Paraná River. This three-way junction marks the border between Brazil, Argentinia and Paraguay. On the other side of the bridge are the Brazilian border checks. For these we all have to get out of the car and join the short queue in front of the service windows. More stamps and we are now officially in Brazil. Eric show us his identity pass which allows him to travel within the whole of southern South America.

It's not far now to the entrance of the Iguaçu National Park and there are a few hotels around and restaurants. I spot a monkey climbing along some electricity power lines. Our hotel is actually inside the park overlooking the falls and most transfers have to drop you at the park gates where you must wait for the hotel shuttle bus. Fortunately I have arranged our transfer direct with the hotel and Eric is allowed to drive us straight there. At the park entrance he is given a GPS logger and whilst inside the park he must strictly observe the 40km speed limit or else he would lose his permit for six months and not be allowed to do his job. After a while we arrive in fron of the hotel and are greeted by our first sight of the falls. Wow.

Eric pauses to allow us our first sight. What we see is only a small section of the 2.8 km stretch of cataracts and the most impressive section is about a mile to the left.
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Looking away from the falls the hotel is at the top of the hill.
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This is a seriously good hotel which I can wholeheartedly recommend. I particularly like the way that the doorman greets you by name when opening the car door.

Check in is fast and efficient and our room has the same view of the falls. We spend the afternoon relaxing around the pool.
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...and I have my first Caipirinha...
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Every drink is served with olives and salted mixed nuts so if you're careful you can stave off hunger for a while. I especially like the cocktail stirrer stick with a tropical bird on top.

By the time I get home I have amassed quite a collection.
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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 05 Apr 2018, 18:06

19.1 - Iguaçu National Park - Wednesday 31st January - Hotel Belmond Das Cataratas


There is unusual wildlife all around us. In the hotel gardens to big lizards are arguing over a blade of grass until one of them concedes He has lost part of his tail somewhere along the way. They are big things, about three feet long.

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The hotel staff are pointing out something rummaging about up near the trees at the top of a bank. It's a large rodent about twice the size of a rabbit and I find out later that it is called an Agouti. They don't normally come near people.

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The main restaurant is closed so we eat in the buffet. The food is good and plentiful with a lot of variety. There is also a grill where you can order any meat you choose and it is grilled to order but there is something about the combination of flavours that isn't quite right.

Or perhaps it was the Caipirinhas and nuts.

However sitting and eating alongside the pool whilst the sun goes down is a treat. An even bigger treat for me is what I see a couple of hundred yards away flying out of the rainforest. Three toucans flapping their way home to their roosts. The style of flying is distinctive, five flaps followed by a short soaring glide, then five more and so on. I love toucans. Ever since I was a boy and collected the PG Tips set of tropical birds cards. Or maybe it was the Guinness adverts. A couple of years ago we did the Panama Canal transit on Princess and whilst we were cruising slowly through the Gatun Lake I had spotted a couple a long way off in the top of a tree and I was absolutely thriled to see them. They were over a kilometre away and I could only see them through binoculars but I could make out their silhouettes and see their yellow breasts. They must have been the ones with green bills, I now know. Yet here were three more, in the wild. Wonderful. Worth the cost of the holiday on their own.

When I was researching this trip I noticed on the hotel website amongst all the excusions that they offered that there was 'Full Moon Walking Tour'. Now as luck would have it the day that we arrived was also a full moon. This was too good an opportunity to miss. Mrs QB is horrified when I first break the news to her but soon settles down when she finds out that it is not compulsory. The tour is due to start at 23:00 and she wisely decides to opt out. I am surprised to see that there are over forty other guests also on this tour. We start with a saftey briefing and a glass of champagne and everybody is handed a torch. We are told to stay together and not to touch the handrails because there might be spiders and nasty insects on them. Eeek.

We start off walking along the park road from the hotel to the viewpoint. It's quite a way from the hotel and takes over twenty minutes but luckily the moon is out and everybody has their torches which they can't resist playing with. There are 134 steps down to the walkway at the bottom. That also means that there are 134 steps back up. At the bottom we are issued with plastic macs. Now these are still in their original packaging and are compressed into as small a size as possible. Unfolding them and then putting them on in the darkness is not easy. There is a wooden walkway that takes us out to the Devil's Throat itself. The noise of the falls is impressive and so is the amount of water in the air and the wind that accompanies it. It is like standing on the end of Brighton Pier in a raging storm. You can see the falls in the moonlight and yet some people can't resist shining their torches on it which somehow seems to defeat the object of being there in the moonlight.

I try to take some photos but both my phone and my new camera are struggling to make sense of what they can't really see. It's not easy trying to turn off the flash and adjust the focus manually when you're standing in the wind and pouring water but I do manage to get one shot.

It's not often that you get the chance to see a moonbow.

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Gill W » 06 Apr 2018, 12:49

The whole holiday seems to have been one amazing experience after another.

I'd just like to thank Bob for telling us about his experiences and illustrating it with all the photos.

A lot of time and effort has been put into this and it is very much appreciated.
Gill

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by emjay45 » 09 Apr 2018, 21:15

The drive through the Iguazu National Park sounds wonderful. So does the hotel. I'm sure I could have kept up with you drinking the Caipirinha. ;) I don't blame Mrs QB opting out of the 'Full Moon Walking Tour'. It wouldn't be for me either but sounded good.


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 29 Jun 2018, 22:33

20.0 - Iguaçu National Park - Thursday 1st February - Back into Argentina for the day.

Right, it's been a while. Now where was I?

I had booked three nights in Iguaçu which gave us two complete days for sightseeing and the whole of the last morning there. When doing my research about the falls everyone had said that you really needed top see them from both the Argentinian side as well as the Brazilian. The Brazilian side, where we were based, gave you the the panoramic view of the cataracts but in order to get really up close there are walkways in Argentina that take you over the languid Iguazu River and right up to the brink from where you could look down.

Today we were going back over the border from where we had come yesterday. I had booked the trip through the hotel and young Eric was again waiting for us in the lobby at 07:30. He had suggested this time so that we would get to the Argentinian park entrance in time for its opening at 09:00. Whilst we were leaving the hotel entrance I saw once again the same three toucans that I had been so excited to see the previous evening.This time they were flying from left to right and heading back into the jungle for the day to do what only toucans can do. I was later told that they roosted in the smaller trees on the cliffs overlooking the river gorge. I would keep a look out for them later that evening.

The journey takes about an hour and involves the same procedure at the border of walking up to the desks on the Brazilian side and getting stamped out of the country and then pulling up at the Argentinian kiosks to get stamped back in. The road goes over the Iguazu/Iguaçu river which forms the border. You can tell by the painted colours which side is which. About a mile to the right the Iguazu River meets the Paraná River at a 'Tres Fronteras' point which is the boundary between Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/Y73UH ... 0-h1423-no

There's quite a crowd building already at the entrance and Eric buys our tickets and explains what we need to do. There's a little green train which takes you 7 km to the far end of the park and the start of the walkway to the most impressive part of the falls - the Garganta del Diablo(Devil’s Throat). The train trundles along and it's quite a pleasant ride. It was built in England in 1907. We are advised to keep our hands inside the carriages and once you have seen all the big spiders sitting in their webs just above your head you take the advice seriously.

The walkway to the Devil's Throat is 1100m long and thankfully we don't know this when we set off. Initially it meanders across the river flowing placidly towards its rude awakening. Soon we start seeing drenched and bedraggled tourists working their way back past us. I guess it must be a bit wet up at the end. Eventually we get to the end of the path which opens up into a sort of balcony. There is a lot of noise and wind and water and spray everywhere so it is not easy to take some photographs but the sheer noise and power of the falls is quite impressive, even for me.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/ChHMn ... 0-h1423-no

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/KU_J2 ... 0-h1423-no

Mrs QB even makes it to the end but doesn't hang around for long and we fight our way back past all the selfie-snappers blocking our way. Eric had pointed out a modern-looking hotel on the Park map and had told us that he would meet us there at 12:30. From the train on the way back we are thrilled to see a small family of coatis. These are the South American version of a raccoon and look very cute but there are dire warnings everywhere about not trying to feed them together with graphic photos of the damage that a bite can do.

There are three main walkways in the Park and I would have liked to do the middle one but it would have taken me about 40 minutes and not knowing how long it would take to get to the hotel or even where it was we didn't want to leave it too late. Mrs QB said she didn't mind waiting and I still regret not going. With no map we wandered along some unmarked roads through the trees and somehow ended up at the hotel which turned out to be the Sheraton Iguazu and very nice it was too. We get there before 12:00 and I use some more of my Argentinian Pesos on two cups of coffee from the barman. I have to say that everybody we met in both Argentina and Brazil were delightfully polite and friendly. We drank the coffee outside on the patio with a view of the distant falls.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/uO67p ... 2-h1423-no

Eric turns up promptly but before we set off back I nip into the souvenir shop to use up every last Argentinian Peso by buying some more fridge magnets and even some postcards and a couple of packets of crisps.


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 29 Jun 2018, 22:53

Oops. It's been so long since I posted that I have forgotten how to embed photos and I have posted just the links instead. Here they are:


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Manoverboard » 30 Jun 2018, 08:58

I want you to know that I read every single word and that we, Mobietta and I, much appreciate your report of a cruise that we were unfortunately unable to do in 2013 ….. many thanks QB :clap:

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Happydays » 30 Jun 2018, 11:08

QB, I read every report and looked at every photo! It looked like a fantastic holiday........ Where to next? 💳👛 at the ready ha ha!


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 09 Aug 2018, 19:55

Happydays wrote:
30 Jun 2018, 11:08
QB, I read every report and looked at every photo! It looked like a fantastic holiday........ Where to next? 💳👛 at the ready ha ha!
Next? We have just booked on Princess again for the start of next year. Four nights in Long Beach and then fifteen on Emerald Princess (again !) to Hawaii and back calling at four of the Hawaiian Islands and Ensenada in Mexico on the last day.

That should be fun :)

Anyway, we've been away in the caravan so now let's get back to Brazil...


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 09 Aug 2018, 20:34

There's a short video of the Devil's Throat here. I took it on my phone whilst getting absolutely drenched from the spray and trying to avoid all the other selfie-snappers.

https://youtu.be/PmWT_2Z_NDA

We get back to our hotel at mid afternoon and it's too hot to do much except find some shade around the pool and some more liquid refreshment.

From the front of the hotel we can just make out the Melia Iguazu (formerly Sheraton) hotel over in Argentina where we had our coffee earlier. I would say that this is a reasonable choice of place to stay. Although it is some way from the big falls it is actually inside the Argentinian Park and so you are free to wander around before the crowds arrive or after they have left. In this view the river is blow us, the falls are to our left and stretch right up to near the hotel. The trees on the cliffs below us are where the toucans roost at night.

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When we arrive back at the hotel we finally get a closer view of some coatis rummaging about in the road. They are oblivious of the people all around them. I suppose they are the South American equivalent of raccoons but with longer snouts.

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In the evening once the heat subsides we decide to have our meal on the front bar terrace and watch the sun go down over the falls. We have had our olive and nuts starters with the caipirinhas so it's a more simple meal washed down with a bottle of Brazilian sauvignon blanc white wine. No, I didn't know that they made that either.

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A very pleasant evening that will live long in our memories

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 09 Aug 2018, 21:21

And another short video of the coatis on the front lawn. We were very thrilled to see these at last. These are really cute, lovable creatures but there are dire warnings with gruesome photographs on the information boards showing the sort of damage that their bites can cause if you try to feed them.

https://youtu.be/qOWpqqXqoVA


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 11 Aug 2018, 23:11

21.0 - Iguaçu National Park - Friday 1st February - a day in the park

After the early starts of the previous few days it was a relief to do things at our own pace for a change. We decide to spend the morning on a Macuco Safari boat trip along the Iguazu River up to the falls. They are not too far away being based within our park and will pick you up from the hotel if you have a reservation. After a short wait at their offices we boarded a trailer pulled by a jeep for the trip down to the river itself. Then you get off and walk along a narrow jungle trail and down to the where the boats are waiting. If you don't fancy the walk the jeep will take you all the way down and Mrs QB found the steps very difficult and wished she'd taken the ride.

The changing rooms are about a hundred feet above the river. You have the choice of a dry boat or the very, very wet one. We were the only two oldies and chose the dry option but the other 30 or so youngsters gleefully changed into their swimming gear and we all boarded the funicular cage that dropped us down to river level. The boats are large ribs and we were the only two passengers in ours which had curved plastic windows to protect you from getting wet.

The island and the falls behind are in Argentina and the cliffs on the left are in Brazil. The Devil's Throat is in the distance on the left.
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We didn't go right up to the extreme falls and seeing the heaving waters I am rather glad that we didn't. The falls in this picture are a subset of the main ones, about half their height.
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This is the wet boat that accompanied us. They went right up to the cataracts and completely disappeared from view for several minutes.
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Here are some videos of our trip followed by a promotional video from Macuco Safari.

https://youtu.be/dJVtHKkW7XY
Last edited by Quizzical Bob on 11 Aug 2018, 23:13, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 11 Aug 2018, 23:30

21.1 - Iguaçu National Park - Friday 1st February - an afternoon in the bird park

After a great boat trip which wasn't too expensive we were taken back to the hotel for some freshening up. For the afternoon we had decided to go to the bird park or Parque das Aves which was just outside the entrance to the state park. The hotel runs a shuttle bus to the state park entrance where they have a courtesy room with water and coffee and the bird park is only a few hundred metres up the road.

The sun is beating down and it is blistering hot but fortunately the hotel provides some black umbrellas which make welcome parasols. Nevertheless it is wit some relief that we reach the shelter of the Bird Park. This is a modest little affair which manifests itself as a bird rescue centre but I'd still much rather see them in their natural habitat. Everything is well presented and it is clear that the exhibits are well looked after. There is also a fascinating mixture of animals wandering around your feet.

Finally I get to the section that I have been looking forward too, the Toucans, and I have my first close encounter with them. I am really thrilled.

Apparently there are different kinds of Toucans. Who'd 'a thought it? This one with the big yellow and orange bill and the white chest is a Toco Toucan, the largest of their species


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This one with the smaller green bill and yellow chest is a Keel Billed Toucan.
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I was delighted to see them but they were in captivity and I would really like to see one in the wild.

Back at the hotel we see another coati scavenging near the pool

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He nearly ends up in the bin!
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Then, in the early evening, my dreams and hopes come true as from my hotel window I spot a Toucan in the trees two hundred metres away. I never ever thought this would happen to me.
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The evening meal and drinks on the terrace were just as good as the day before.


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 12 Aug 2018, 22:58

22.0 - Iguaçu National Park - Saturday 2nd February

Our last day in the park and I don't really feel that I have seen the falls properly yet despite them being 'somewhere over there'. Our flight to Rio is at 13:24 which I had chosen because it would give us time for a lazy morning before checking out by 12:00 ans till get us to Rio in daylight and give us time to settle in and adjust to the new surroundings.

I therefore set the alarm so that I can do the walk up to the falls before the crowds start to arrive once the gates open at 09:00. I only meet two other people on the 15 minute walk to the Devil's Throat and feel that I have the whole falls to myself.

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When I get to the far end a worker is pressure washing the viewing walkway ready for the day's masses.

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As usual there is wind and water spray everywhere and I get very wet again but I have the whole falls to myself.

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It really is an impressive sight.

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Happydays » 12 Aug 2018, 23:06

That must have been a fantastic experience and something you will never forget!


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 12 Aug 2018, 23:08

22.1 - Iguaçu National Park - Saturday 2nd February

This walkway is the one that you see in all the advertisements.

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I slowly work my way back stopping regularly to enjoy the sight.
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Just above the pathway there are some pretty big spiders with a successful haul. They are within reach if you feel brave enough but I have a flight to catch and I don't know if our travel insurance would cover it.
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Sadly I have to say goodbye to the spectacular wonder and get back to a hungry wife and breakfast but when I reach the front lawn there is one last treat in store. An extended family of coatis are gobbling up the palm nuts (?) and I run to reception to call Mrs QB who rushes down to see them. They really are cute.

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 12 Aug 2018, 23:10

Happydays wrote:
12 Aug 2018, 23:06
That must have been a fantastic experience and something you will never forget!
Indeed it was and I can recommend the whole trip to anybody. To be honest we would do the whole cruise all over again but we would probably spend longer in Chile, more time in Buenos Aires and more time in Patagonia. We are half-seriously thinking about it. All we need is the money!


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 13 Aug 2018, 00:39

22.2 - Iguaçu National Park - Saturday 2nd February

There's a crude video compilation of my walk here (no editing) and I have added all the still photos at the end. You can skip through the boring bits. I think I shall choose some of the close ups of the falls for my moving PC desktop.

https://youtu.be/UsNrgA77h04

And here are the coatis that I spoke about. The youngsters are particularly cute but have a look at the claws on them!

https://youtu.be/WIeaT0LI4rg

At breakfast around the pool I have another treat. In the tops of the trees behind us are a couple of Toucans. I quickly try to get a long shot with my camera but just as I am about to press the button Mrs QB puts a hand on my shoulder and the shot is gone and the Toucan flies off. Farewell my feathered friends and my thanks go with you.

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Before we know it our driver Eric is here to collect us and take us to the local airport. It's just a couple of miles from the park entrance so doesn't take too long but when we get inside the terminal building our hearts sink at the sight of the queue. Apparently because of the drugs problem with Panama so close they X-Ray everything all the luggage before you can go inside.

Fortunately it doesn't take more than about 15 minutes and we are through to the crowded waiting area by the gate. There is a small shop selling some very attractive large cut stones but our flight is called before I am sorely tempted. It's just under two hours to Rio and our last hotel of the trip.

Next stop - Rio de Janeiro but we're off in the caravan again so I'll be back in a couple of weeks. :wave:

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Kenmo1 » 13 Aug 2018, 07:23

All I can say is WOW. Amazing pictures and report. Enjoy your couple of weeks in the caravan. Maureen.


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 17 Oct 2018, 17:02

23.1 - Rio de Janeiro - Belmond Hotel Copacabana Beach

That just leaves Rio...

I had chosen the early afternoon flight time from Iguazu so that we could check out of the hotel late morning and yet still get to Rio not too late in the afternoon. 13:24 from Iguazu arriving 15:20 in Rio and booked direct with Latam at a cost of £71.60 each. Originally I had only intended to spend two nights in Rio but I wanted to fly back direct which meant a BA flight late on the Tuesday evening. We now know that choosing BA was a mistake, but more of that later. That meant three nights in Rio so Sunday for local mooching and Monday for an official tourist tour leaving the whole of Tuesday to be sorted later once we knew at what time we would be chucked out of the hotel.

I had booked a car transfer with the hotel which was not the cheapest but it all went smoothly and our driver Malcolm was waiting for us once we had cleared the terminal. He had lived in San Francisco for many years and spoke good English. The drive to the hotel was not much over 30 minutes and we were thrilled with our first sight of the unmistakeable Sugar Loaf Mountain. We also caught a glimpse of the statue of Christ the Redeemer which is on top of the Corcovado mountain but it didn't look as big as it does in all the publicity photos. It's 38 metres high and looked not much more than a radio mast.

Our hotel was the Belmond Copacabana Palace, part of the same group that operated the one at Iguazu. When this was originally built in 1923 it was virtually the only building on the beach and the main entrance was on the inland side with the seaward side straight onto the sand. Now there is a dual carriageway running along there so the entrance has been changed. It is a good quality hotel but somehow we felt that the one at Iguazu was superior.

Once settled in we had a quick walk outside and it all seemed pleasant enough despite all the trepidations about safety that you always get before you go there. Our meal that night was right next door to the hotel in the Churrascaria Palace. I had finally found my South American meat house! The hotel very kindly found me an escort to walk us round there and arrange a last-minute table for us. The meal was exceptional and this place is obviously a local favourite. Unlimited salad bar to start and then a varied selection of fish and meat dishes brought round on trollies and carved at your table. All washed down with a bottle of Brazilian Sauvignon Blanc, very unexpected. An unforgettable meal and a great evening. we must now try one of the local varieties of these restaurants in Southampton.

Sunday morning and we are greeted by a magnificient spread of all sorts of tropical fruits at the breakfast buffet. The mangoes were the sweetest, juiciest freshest that we had ever tasted. Nothing comes close to them. On our neighbouring table was a young Brazilian footballer and his agent who were meeting some Italian representatives. I don't know what he was doing there since he was under contracty to a French club and still had four years of his contract left to run. I could tell he was a footballer by the skimpy breakfast that he hardly touched and by the diamond earstuds that he wore. They were bigger than Smarties.

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We wanted to see Ipanema and on Sunday morning there is an artisan market there but before taking the taxi we spent some time watching and listening to a local girl drum group who were performing on the street outside. I think it was something in support of domestic violence against women, or a protest in support of a campaign against it. All very energetic and great fun.

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Copacaban Beach on a Sunday morning. Nothing but families and youngsters having fun.
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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 17 Oct 2018, 17:17

23.2 - Rio de Janeiro - Ipanema Market

The two most famous beaches in Rio are Copacabana and Ipanema. I knew nothing about the geography of Rio before we went there. The coast here lies east-west starting with the entrance to Rio Harbour to the east, then going west there is Sugarloaf, then Copacabana and then on the other side of a headland lies Ipanema. Copacabana is the longer of the two at 4Km whilst Ipanema is about 2km. They are both very nice.

The market at Ipanema is just one block away from the seafront and had a very comfortable atmosphere. This is a market for local tradesmen and craftsmen and was full of vibrant local colours

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This stallholder made andd printed his own designs.
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I am always interest in local minerals and semi-precious stones and there were plenty to choose from here. I was rather taken by a couple of enormous blue topaz gems at less than a hundred dollars the pair but somehow I was distracted away and missed out.
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Of the two famous names Ipanema is reckoned by many to be the classier but they both looked fine to me.
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The famous carnival was starting in less than a week and everywhere small groups were starting to get into the spirit.
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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 17 Oct 2018, 17:51

23.3 - Rio de Janeiro - Monday 5th February.

I had time in the morning to do an exploratory walk around the block. Normally on long spectacular beaches I like to walk up to one end and back again but I thought that five miles might be a bit much. We didn't want to spend all day on a tour so I had booked an afternoon one that took in the main highlights and was supposed to pick us up at 13:00 but due to a misunderstanding we had been told to wait in the lobby but the tour guide was expecting to pick us up outside by the road so that was 45 minutes lost. Usually February is the hottest month in Rio. So hot that they fry eggs on the pavement just because they want to show off.

Except when we are there.

The day opened with low grey clouds that draped over the hilltops and kept out the sun but couldn't quite be bothered to drop their rain. In some ways this is a good thing. If it had been too hot then everything would have been a bit of a struggle for Mrs QB but more importantly there would have been huge crowds of pesky tourists and long queues at all the big sites.

Our first call was to the top of the Corcovado mountain for the statue of 'Cristo Redentor' beter known as 'Christ the Redeemer'. The road up to the visitor station is long and winding and very cobbled and very slippery when wet. By this time it was raining steadily and not very pleasant but not surprisingly there was hardly anybody there.

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It's not a bad statue but is more significant as an iconic symbol of Rio than the work or art which it undoubtedly is. It's important to remenber than in every photo of Rio that you will see includes the photo the view is foreshortened such that the statue dominates the scene. Up close it is impressive but from a distance it loses its significance but nevertheless we're glad that we went. For some reason the other visitors that were there felt the need to pose for photos with both arms outstretched. Weird.

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Initially the view from the platform was a total blank-out but aftr getting drenched in the ten minutes that I had been up there the clouds cleared a litle and I was able to go back up the flights of stairs and at least get a partial view of what we might otherwise have missed.

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The Sugarloaf is in the centre, the district of Botafogo is down below and to the left, Copacabana and our hotel are under the clouds to the right.

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