You are currently viewing archive for February 2019
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
I have to admit that a sunny, warm day at sea is a lot nicer than a cold, windy, wet day at sea.

Ed and I read our books and listened to the cruise band while we enjoyed the pool side deck and the sun and some warm weather.

Lots of people were out enjoying the weather as well. These photos are a little different than the ones from a previous sea day.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Yeah!!! We get to go off the ship today. Our excursion today is Estancia Experience, Punta Loma and & EcoCentro. This interprets to we visit a sheep farm, stop to see Sea Lions at a sheltered harbour and visit a museum with information on whales and other sea life in the local area.

Puerto Madryn was originally settled by people from Wales and there is still a large community of Welsh. There is also a German community that was settled in the late 1800ís. Our guide was an interesting fellow. He said his fatherís side of the family are direct descendants from the original Welsh settlers and his motherís family are direct descendants from the original German settlers.

Since we landed at low tide our guide said we should go see the sea lions first. Low tide means bigger beach which means more sea lions are sunning on the beach.



The shoreline near the sea lions cove.

Leaving the sea lions we drive through the desert to the estancia. Along the way we saw a herd of wild Guanaco.

The estancia.

Between our guide and the farm owner (he only spoke Spanish) we heard about life on the estancia. We also met a couple of gauchos (cowboys). One of the gauchos sheared a Ram. One thing I found interesting is that the gaucho was able to shear the sheep keeping most of the wool in one piece.

The ram (the one with the horns) is the one thatís getting shorn.

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I got to help hold the sheep down Ö. Barely touching it, kept it on the ground. The gaucho sheering the Ram.

After a tasty snack and a look around the gift shop we were off to our last stop, the Eco Centre.

The Eco centre is in a very pretty location.

We opted to be let off the bus in the downtown area. On the way back to the ship we stopped at the end of the pier to watch a couple of penguins ďfishingĒ. Itís amazing how fast they can swim.

This bird was also fishing and boy could he swim fast. At one point the penguins chased the bird away but he came back.

The dock area had a fair bit of wildlife. There were lots of birds including this tern.

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and these sea lions.

A view of the pier and Puerto Madryn as the ship pulls out.

2019/02/26: A Planned Sea Day

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Another day at sea, another book to read. The good news is itís getting warmer. I walked around the promenade deck minus the log johns and down vest. Maybe Iíll get to wear my summer clothes that I brought with me before I get off the ship.



2019/02/25: Lunch Bag Letdown

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
The ship was approaching the Falkland Islands when it felt like it was turning around and stopping. We wondered if we were waiting for a pilot or immigration. We were wrong. The captain made an announcement that we were not going into port due to high winds ---- 100km/hr. He had decided that it wasn't safe to anchor off and tender into shore. Even though we are very disappointed we have to respect the captain's decision. We were told by a passenger that has done this route 13 times that there is a 25% chance of the ship not stopping at the Falkland Islands.

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The Falkland Islands as we saw them.

Reading my book by the pool.

All the other people enjoying the pool deck.

2019/02/24: Cape Horn

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Ed was up and on deck by 7am ---- third early morning in a row, that might be a record. This morning we are seeing Cape Horn. The cruise ships don't sail around Cape Horn. They sail through the Beagle Channel then back track to Cape Horn, sail past it then turn around and head for the next destination, which in our case is the Falklands Islands. Some ships do stop at Cape Horn as we saw a ship anchored off and people were walking around on the island. Anyone who knows Ed knows he had his GPS out --- the GPS indicated that we reached a latitude of S 56.025 degrees.



It's hard to see but this is a cut out of a Condor.





A Norwegian Cruise Line ceremony to celebrate seeing Cape Horn and both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
If you want to see glaciers you had to be up with the sun, even if you can't see it. Somehow Ed managed to drag himself out of bed at 6am and get up to the deck before the ship got to the glaciers. The ship sailed past 5 glaciers this and Ed even admitted it was worth getting up for.

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Two of the glaciers.

Lots of people were up early.

Always remember to look around, you never know what's behind you.

An hour or so later we crossed into Argentina. A mapping program showed the line and an Argentinan pilot boat came along side. There was no way to tell by just looking out the window. Ushuaia is today's stop.

Ushuaia from the ship.

We booked a wildlife cruise on a catamaran and a bus tour through Tierra del Fuego National Park. When I have unlimited access to the Internet I will try to figure out what we saw.

Sea Lions


A lighthouse. The cormorants were on this island.

Some ducks



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More cormorants

Tierra del Fuego National Park

This is the bay we came through to enter the national park.

A view looking the other way.

One of many lakes in the Tierra del Fuego National Park.

Wind blown trees.

A young Caracara
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
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We were up at 5:15am and I caught the beginning of sunrise a little after 6am.

Magdelana Island is the destination for our tour today. The island is a 90 minute boat ride from Punta Arenas and is the nesting grounds for Magellanic penguins, cormorants and gulls.

During the boat ride over to the island we saw cormorants, porpoises and whale's "spouting ".

It was pretty exciting to see the penguins but also exciting to have blue skies and sun.

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The second penguin is molting.


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The island is also home to gulls.


On the highest point of the island is a lighthouse where the flags of Chile and Patagonia are flying.

Boarding the boat to return to Punta Arenas.

As our penguin tour started at 6:15am and finished around 11am it gave us time to visit downtown Punto Arenas.

Lots of dogs hanging out in the main square.

A five block hike up a hill resulted in great views.


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Lots of great architecture and bright colors.

2019/02/21: Another Sea Day

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Last night the ship began sailing through the Straits of Magellan. The route was through some amazing scenery. We also experienced a full range of weather---- warming sunshine, fiercely blowing winds, driving rain with hail and some gentle drizzle in a light wind.

Our day began with breakfast on the back deck enjoying the view.

The began with blue sky and fluffy white clouds.

Some cormorants skimming the water.

Today we drove through a rainbow.






The day ended with us on the back deck watching the sun set through a myriad of clouds.


Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Our second day at sea. I've learned a few things on this trip. If you get a cabin at the bow of the boat you are ensured of a lot of exercise especially if you always use the stairs. Our cabin is about 200 meters and 2 floors above one of the main dining rooms and 400 meters and 3 floors below the buffet restaurant. This is a good thing as today is sufficiently windy that the walking track and some of the outside decks are closed.

A view from the back deck.


I don't get seasick but I feel better when I'm in the fresh air so Ed and I spent a good part of the day hunkered down on an outside deck wearing a lot of clothes.

At about 6:30pm the ship entered a fjord. Happily the seas became calmer and the bow deck was opened. We even got some sun along with a bit of hail and rain. The combination produced an amazing rainbow that went from water to water.









Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Deer Island

The first thing you are told about this tour is donít expect to actually see any deer even though there are over a hundred red deer on this island. We did see deer excrement so the deer actually exist. The tour is actually a 2 hour hike on a small island with some beautiful views --- sun would probably had made some the view spectacular.

Prior to the tour, we stood on the deck and enjoyed the view as our ship dropped anchor and launched the tenders.

On the other side of the harbour we could see a house, maybe a small farm.

From the dock area we looked back at our ship.

We had a bit of time before our tour was to start so we wandered into town. Puerto Chacabuco is a small town but it had a very nice park.

We started the tour with a 20 minute boat ride. The island is privately owned and no one currently lives on the island but there are remnants of a building and a shed on the island.

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There is an interesting red barked tree on this island and without google I canít come up with name. I believe the flower is a foxglove.

The following photos are some of the views we saw.






When we arrive on the island it was a relatively straight forward walk across the floating dock and get on the island. When we returned to the boat it wasnít quite as straight forward Ö. Part of the dock was under water.

2019/02/18: Puerto Montt

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Lakes and Waterfall

We were up early this morning as our excursion was to leave at 8:15 and we had to tender ashore first. Unfortunately, Mother Nature wasnít in the mood to co-operate and it was raining lightly as we tendered ashore. We had been warned the tour guides in this area of Chile might not have a good grasp of English, but our guide Cecelia did. During the bus ride portion of our tour she told us all about this area of Chile, the education system, the German settlers and about the lakes and waterfall we were going to visit.

First stop was Lake Esmeralda, Emerald Lake or All Saints Lake. The lake is known as All Saints Lake because it was found on All Saints Day and it got the name Emerald Lake because of its deep green colour. Here we boarded a catamaran for a ride around the lake.

From this lake we should have gotten a great view of the local volcano, as youíll see we saw the base of the volcano.

We did see a rainbow on the side of the volcano

It was one of those weather days --- a little bit of everything.


It wasnít a postcard perfect day but it was quite awe inspiring.
The next stop was Petrohue Falls.

The name is a bit misleading Ö. There was a small waterfalls and a number of rapids. Even though it was raining the water was still an amazing blue colour.

A close up of the waterfalls.
The last stop of the tour was in Puerto Varas, a German settlement on the shores Llanquihue Lake. We enjoyed a lovely lunch overlooking the lake looking at the invisible volcano. After lunch we explored the downtown area of the town.

There were some interesting boats in the harbour.

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Puerto Varas is known for its beautiful flowers and it
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
The only thing on the schedule for today is dinner at 7:30 so we slept in. Actually the most impressive thing was I slept in. I think that might be a benefit of an inside cabin. Today we tried out the walking /jogging track and have a pet peace already ---- people strolling on the jogging side of the track. We also tested the ping pong table. Now that was amusing . First we really don't know how to play then add the movement of the ship and the wind ---oh, I forgot to mention that the ping pong table is outside on deck 12.

So far the food has been great,the service good and interesting entertainment.



Today Feb 19, I think we've figured out how to move photos and text from my computer to my phone and update the blog from my phone. It's very nice of the ports to provide Internet.

2019/02/16: Cruise Time

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
The big day is here, itís time to drive to the seaport and get on the cruise ship. One thing Iím going to miss about Santiago is the empanadas. I know itís not everyoneís taste but itís wonderful to take a quick walk to one of the many pastry shops and pick up an empanada, walk back to the room and heat it for breakfast --- yum!!!

I know it wasnít the inexpensive way to make the trip to the seaport but the taxi sure was comfortable.

The photo is a bit blurry and out of focus but I wanted to show you that we saw Chilean cowboys! The cow must have escaped and these two retrieved it.

One of the stores in San Antonio. There was a market on and lots of activity as we drove through town.


We arrive earlier than expected and were checked in and on board the ship by noon. We wandered around a bit and found the buffet restaurant and ate lunch. By time we had finished lunch the cabins were ready. I know everyone says get a cabin with a window or a balcony but we went with an interior cabin. The cabins actually not a bad size --- king size bed, couch, desk and lots of cupboards. Iím hoping that the dark cabin will help me to sleep.

An old style selfi

Our dinner reservation was for 7:30 so it gave us lots of time to watch the process of leaving dock. Iíve learned that when the captain says we are leaving at 5pm, it really means thatís when weíll start the ďleaving processĒ.


First we watch the last items being loaded onto the ship. Then the ramp, loading equipment and barriers were removed.


Next was the long process of the fuel ship leaving ---- it was rafted alongside of us.

Finally it was time for us to leave. First a couple of tugs pulled us off of the dock, then pulled us back and turned the bow of the ship so it faced the open sea.

Bye San Antonio!!!

2019/02/15: A Hiking We Will Go

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
After a lot of pondering and Ed deciding that some exercise would be good for us we booked Cajon del Maipo 8km Hiking Day Tour in the Andes. At 7am a mini bus arrived at our hotel to pick us up. After a couple off stops to pick up more people, we had a full bus and we were off to the Andes mountains. After an hour we stopped at a small restaurant where we picked up water, sandwiches and fruit, then after another hour we arrived at the start of the hike. It turned out that there were two tour groups in the bus --- our group and another group that was only hiking 4 kim then going to a hot springs. The two groups hiked the first 2 km together. After a break our group of 7 people continued hiking while the other group of 7 people hiked back to the mini bus. When we finished our hike and returned to the road the mini bus was just returning from the hot springs Now that was great timing or was it great communications? The two guides had radios!

The white stuff on the mountain is a glacier plus some fresh snow from Monday's storm. It can snow all year long in the Andes Mountains. Near the bottom left corner you can see a building. A controversial project has been underway for over 10 years. A Spanish company is harnessing all of the water coming from the local glaciers so it can be run through a hydro electric plant to produce electricity for a Spanish mining company in Northern Chile. A lot of people are upset about this but so far they haven't been able to stop it.

Proof we did the hike.

A goat herder with a few of his flock heading into the mountains for lunch.

Which way did everyone go?


Rufous-collared Sparrow

One of the glacial rivers running through the area.

On Monday there was a rain/snow storm that affected this park. Our guide figured that more than a foot of mud came down from the slopes coating rocks and the ground. In this spot the mud has dried and the top surface is "peeling" off.

Camping is permitted in the park. It's interesting how the tent and tie straps are secured.

There weren't a lot of flowers but there were some.

On the drive back to Santiago we stopped at the restaurant where we picked up supplies and enjoyed and appreciated some wine, fruit juice and snacks. It was 7:10pm when we were dropped off at our hotel Ö.. no wonder Iím tired.

Tomorrow morning we leave Santiago and take a taxi two hours to San Antonio where we will board the Norwegian Sun cruise ship. Iím not sure how internet will work while we are on the ship so it might be 2 weeks before I can update the blog.

2019/02/14: Bites and Sights

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Today is our first full day in Santiago and on the advice from someone who also loves to travel we booked a food walking tour --- the Bites and Sights Tour with Urban Adventurer. At the assigned meeting place we met Cheryl, from Australia and Juan Pedro our guide, yup just 3 of us on the tour. Juan has a degree in history which made him very knowledgeable on a lot of subjects. If he didnít know the answer he said he didnít know instead of making something up --- I liked that. During our 4 hour tour (which turned into almost 6 hours) we had 3 ďbiteĒ stops.

The first one was at a little cafť where we enjoyed an updated Chilean breakfast, wonderful fresh bread with mashed avocado and a prosciutto like meat. It was served with a hot pepper and some pickled onions. The 2nd bite was at a restaurant at the Fish Market --- a seafood empanada served with a Pisco Sour. The 3rd bite was at the larger meat and produce market where we enjoyed espresso for Ed and a latte for me from a food truck.

My first question to Juan was regarding the dogs we had seen on the streets. He informed us the ďstraysĒ were Santiagoís dogs. The dogs seemed quite happy, friendly and well fed. In fact a few of the dogs could stand to lose a couple of pounds. Juan told us that some people brought dog food to parks or other places where the dogs hang out. In the winter people will even bring the dogs scarfs and coats. No one abuses the dogs, or chases them away even in outdoor patios of restaurants. If you are a stray dog Santiago is the place to be.

The building that houses the office of the president. Do you see the dark speck at the base of the 2nd set of pillars to the left of the arched door --- that's one of the stray dogs.

Santiago experiences earthquakes. When an older building is damaged, it is removed and a new building put in it's place giving the city an interesting mix of old and new buildings. In a few cases two walls of the original building are saved and a new building is built behind it. A space is left between the old walls and new walls where vendors can set up and sell their wares.

After walking around the downtown area, we headed to the markets. First stop is the fish market. The fish market is home to several restaurants and many fish stands. Juan said the fish market is easy to find you just have to follow your nose!

The next market we stopped at was the flower market --- and they were really busy today. This building had a much nice aroma.

The last market we went too was very large. Here you could buy meat, poultry, miscellaneous household items, spices, dried fruits, nuts, fruits, vegetables and probably a number of items I didn't notice. This is the biggest ear of corn I've ever seen. This type of corn is ground probably to make flour.

I've talked about seeing a lot of stray dogs. Until we got to the market we did not see any cats. Here the cats are king. This black and white guy can be found guarding the potatoes every day.

We stopped to chat to this vendor --- Juan is on the left. The vendor is at the market at 5am to receive the delivery from his suppliers. Restaurant owners are the first customers of the day followed by the general public. The market is open till 7pm everyday of the year except for a few public holidays.

Yesterday Ed and I walked up the Santa Lucia Hill, today we took the funicular railway up the Cerro San Cristůbal, a much higher hill. According to Wikipedia "A funicular railway employs a pair of passenger vehicles which are pulled on a slope by the same cable which loops over a pulley wheel at the upper end of a track. ... For example, a funicular is distinguished from an inclined elevator by the presence of two vehicles which counterbalance each other."

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The track of the funicular railway is quite steep. At the top of the hill is the statue of the Immaculate Conception which measures 14 meters tall and weighs 36,610 kilograms.

A view of the city.

Near the statue is a small chapel. I was amazed by the interior.

Along a pathway are a number of crosses. In this photo you can see two of the crosses, the tallest building in Santiago, snow on the Andes Mountains and smog hanging over the city.

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Ed and I had another amazing dinner tonight. The restaurant gave each woman a red rose. The street was crowded with vendors.

By the way it reached a high of 36C (96.8F) today. It was lovely in the shade and a little warm in the sun

2019/02/13: It's Summer!!!!

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Itís summer time and itís wonderful --- sunny and in the high 20s (80sF). Being late actually worked in our favour. We arrived at our hotel (which is actually apartments) just after 12pm and even though check in wasnít till 3pm our room was ready and we could check in. The apartment isn't very large but it's nice having a small kitchen, living room and a separate bedroom. After settling in we head out to explore the area around the hotel.

About a block from the hotel is the Cerro Santa Lucia or Santa Lucia Hill. The area around and including the hill is a lovely park. At one point in time it had military fortifications.

Today the lookout at the top of the hill is a great place to see the city.

It was interesting to see the same rock formations we saw in Ireland at the Giants Causeway but in a much smaller scale.

Another view looking over the city from a lower level.

Fountaine Neptune is a nice place to sit and relax.
The plaza by Fountaine Neptune is a nice place to sit and relax.

Leaving the park we walk towards what I think is the centre of the city.
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There are some beautiful buildings. I usually buy guide books and read up about the places we are going but for some reason I didn't do that for this trip. Between lack of research and all the plaques being in Spanish we get to enjoy looking at things for their beauty without really knowing what they are. The photo doesn't really show it but the flag is really big.

Lots of statues and lots of murals.

When we saw this building we couldn't decide if it was a church (the cross in the middle) or something else (because of the clock in one of the towers. Turns out it is a church, the Iglesia Y Convento de la Merced.

The inside of the church is beautiful. Not a lot of stained glass but a lot of statues.

The desk manager at the hotel told us to walk to the corner, turn left, walk one block and turn right then walk two more blocks and there would be lots of restaurants. We were really happy that we took his advise as we did find some really nice restaurants. We had a hard time choosing but we finally picked one and sat out front on the sidewalk and enjoyed a wonderful dinner and some great wine (me). Ed had a Pisco Sour --- a South American drink we had in Peru 19 years ago.

2019/02/12: The Flight

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
I donít think we could have chosen a worse day to fly than today, but in some ways it was a good day to fly. The Toronto Boards of Education closed all the schools today and many businesses either closed or told their employees to work from home. So even though the roads were in rough shape (snow covered and slippery) they werenít overly busy so the people who had to drive managed to get from point A to point B in a reasonable amount of time.

Since we had opted to drive to an airport hotel yesterday we were able to have a leisurely morning and the hotel was very accommodating and gave us a 2pm check out. Our flight was schedule for 8:05pm so it was going to be a long day of waiting. We hung out in the hotel lobby to 3pm then got on the shuttle bus for the airport. We had our boarding passes and baggage tags by 3:30 --- too early to drop the bags off. After finding a place to sit we chatted with 2 ladies who were off to Australia and had the same problem of being too early to drop their bags off. At 4:30 we dropped our bags off and went to security where we walked right in loading our carryon bags onto the belt --- no wait today. I believe I heard that 100s of flights were cancelled today but they all appeared to be flights with Canadian or US destinations. All of the international flights left either early, on time or like us delayed. Our flight was delayed 3 hours for 3 reasons, first the incoming flight was late, then the runway needed to be plowed and finally all the departing planes needed to be de-iced. I feel I need to commend the airport and Air Canada on the great job they did on keeping air traffic moving safely. Happily the flight was uneventful.

The airport.

Our plane finally arrived and is parked at the gate.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Tomorrow (cross your fingers - there's a storm warning posted) we fly to Santiago Chile. After 3 nights in Santiago, a food walking tour and hopefully a hike in the mountains we get on a cruise ship for 2 weeks ---- yup a cruise ship. I know I always say we're not "cruisers" or at least won't be till we're old. Turns out, some times cruises are the easiest way to get to some places like the southern tip of South America. There's some interesting places to stop, beautiful places to see and some penguins to visit. After 2 weeks and 4 countries (we start in Chile, end up in Argentina, have a stop in the Falkland Islands and Uruguay we disembark in Buenos Aires. We've booked a private 7 hour walking tour while we're there. Our guide was born in Canada, lived all over Europe and now resides in Buenos Aires --- should be interesting. We're so close to one of the "big" waterfalls in the world, Iguassu Falls, that we've add it to the itinerary --- it's about an hour and a half flight. We're staying in at a B&B called the Secret Garden. Then it's back to Buenos Aires and home.

We're starting our adventure this afternoon. There's freezing rain in the forecast so we booked a hotel near the airport for tonight. Our flight isn't till 8pm so we can have a nice relaxing morning at the hotel. We decided to do this so my brother can drive us this evening before the bad weather comes. We leave our car in my mother's driveway and my mom gets 2 visits from us so it's a win-win.