Cruise Specialists hosts Steve and Wendy Bodenheimer are taking us along on another amazing journey. We hope this series shows you what you can expect on a Holland America Grand Voyage. First was the kick off, then Costa Rica, the Panama Canal, Chile, Patagonia, Antarctica, and now the next stop in their Grand South America & Antarctica Voyage (next voyage January 2018).
The Falkland Islands are composed of two main islands and over 700 small ones. The town of Stanley, which is the capital, is compact and easily walkable, if you can get there. After a windblown and rocky entrance, we managed to get in. This is a tender port with a tricky channel that is subject to severe winds and currents. Just getting guests onto the tenders was a challenge. The excursion of choice here for many guests was again the King Penguins, but there’s also lots of history here, especially to those interested in the 1982 war with Argentina, won by Great Britain, which preserved these Islands as part of the UK. The cathedral, the Cemetery, the War Memorial are all good places to visit right in town, as well as the traditional pubs, tea rooms, and cafes that are close to the pier.
We headed out of town to a place called the Stone Corral. It was a three-mile walk on a series of roads leading to a highway leading to a gravel road. It was mostly uphill with the wind in our faces, howling across the big open fields. This corral is a historic site which was built in the 1800’s by local residents. It was off limits from 1982 to 2012 when it was finally cleared of the mines that had been planted there during the war.
Now it is a popular picnic site, even though there is no real road leading to it. This walk gave a us a much better appreciation of how big this island is and how much room there is for expansion if they want it. The walking was hard over the peat bogs and shaggy grass fields.
The corral itself is just that – a very large round stone wall built of rock, about 5 feet high and 250 feet in diameter, with only one opening to let the cattle in and out. It sits in the middle of open fields with nothing else around.
Buenos Ares, Argentina
If you want to conjure up an image of Buenos Aires, think Manhattan with everyone speaking Spanish. It’s a place you need several days to see, so having an overnight here is better than our usual one short day.
Some popular things to do:
- Pass by the beautiful Teatro Colon and the Obelisk monument along Avenue 9 de Julio.
- Stroll the promenades of Puerto Madero, an upscale new neighborhood lining both sides of a long canal with apartments and restaurants.
- Visit the Recoleta Cemetery, with its thousands of fantastic family mausoleums, where Eva Peron is buried. Explore the surrounding neighborhood with café lined streets, beautiful gardens, and grand sculptures.
- Stop at the Casa Rosada, the very pink and ornate executive mansion and office of Argentina’s President.
- Don’t miss the Boca and San Telmo neighborhoods, noted for their brightly colored houses, tango dancing in the streets and artists residences.
- Attend a tango show- there are hundreds throughout the city.
- Attend a wine tasting featuring the sought after Malbec.
- If you want to get out of town, you might consider a trip to an estancia or ranch to see gaucho life on the Pampas.
- If you really want to go for the unusual, fly to Iguazu Falls. There is a 14-16 hour ship excursion that will get you there and back the same day.
We loved the Paseo de Rosedal, a huge park famous for the over 1,000 different species of roses that grow there. Many were in bloom, so it made for a great walk. Another more hidden treasure of this city is the Japanese Garden. Just as you would imagine it with koi ponds, little bridges, and soothing fountains, it also has a museum, a sushi restaurant, and a balcony that lets you look out over the serene grounds.
The highlight of our stay was our evening tango show, complete with one of the greatest small world incidents we have ever encountered. We’ve attended one of these on all our visits to Buenos Aires and they have all been different and excellent.
The show consisted of three musicians (guitar, bass and bandonio – the accordion like instrument that is characteristic of tango), one singer, and one dance couple. It was an entertaining performance, covering the evolution of the dance, as well as the changes in music and clothing over the different eras.
Would you believe that we knew the male dancer?!? As soon as he came out, we recognized him as a dancer we had met on the 2014 Grand South America Voyage, while he was working as half of the Tango team brought on board the ship as part of the enrichment program. He’s from Columbia but has recently moved to Buenos Aires to study and teach Tango. Hugs were exchanged after the show and we had a few minutes to catch up on what we’ve all been doing.
Montevideo is the capital and the largest city in Uruguay.
Quite honestly, it’s not a place we find very interesting, but it does have a few highlights. Everyone visits the Palacio Legislativo, the huge parliament building set on a beautiful plaza and surrounded by gardens and large bronze sculptures. We walked to the tallest building in Uruguay which is shaped like a sail and looks like a smaller version of the famous hotel in Dubai, the Burg al Arab. In our travels, we came upon several pedestrian mall streets busy with shoppers, we passed the nicely restored Solis Theater, and admired the Plaza Independencia with its statue of General Artigas, the father of Uruguay.
We were gearing up for our favorite place in the city, the Mercado del Puerto. Located almost directly across from the port entrance in an old warehouse – it is not really a market. It’s a collection of about a dozen parrilla restaurants – specializing in barbecued meats. It’s hot, often crowded, and very noisy – but what a local experience!
When we arrived at about 1:30PM, it was mostly filled with locals having lunch. Each restaurant has a traditional seating area where you are served at a table, or you can sit at the bar, in front of the barbecue and watch the magic happen.
That’s part of the fun for us. There is every imaginable part of the cow being cooked and a few things you’d rather not imagine. There is a combo dish that is piled high with chicken, sausage, various steaks, ribs, etc., which we have had in the past. Today, we kept it simple and had two small cuts of beef with some splendid calamari as an appetizer and a giant bottle of local beer called Norteña to wash it all down.
Learn about next Grand South America and Antarctica Voyage >>
Cruise consultant Sara Falduti can help answer your questions about cruising Antarctica or a Grand Voyage!