TOUR: Via the roll call, we connected on line with 3 other cc's interested in a private tour with guide/driver Daniel Cabral: [rio4visitors.com] Daniel is a highly professional young guide with perfect English, a love of his city, and caring attention to the interests of his customers.We chose to see: Corcovado (with the Christ statue), the Santa Teresa Favela (had a terrific local lunch), and the Lapa aqueduct and the new cathedral. We could also have chosen Sugar Loaf or other things. We also booked our transfer from the hotel to the ship through Daniel's company.
MONTEVIDEO: We chose to walk from the ship through the Old Town (Ciudad Vieja) area--notable for its crumbling, once stunning, old world facades. Many buildings are abandoned and the posters and graffiti on them are fascinating. (Free maps are available just beyond the dock.) We first had to walk through a thronged area full of trinket sellers, but then proceeded on to spiffy Plaza Independencia (with a fragment of the old city wall and world-class designer shops), stopping along the way at the interesting cathedral; Plaza Constitucion (full of flea marketers); and Plaza Zabala (full of parrots). On our way back, we stopped in a wine shop and ran into some other cc's having a wine-tasting there. They had booked a tour guide to take them to a vineyard, but he said because other ships were in port, the vineyard couldn't accommodate them. (I hope they got their money back!)
ARGENTINA - TOUR: With 2 other cc's, we took an inexpensive cab ride to the Palacio del Congresso (their Congress) for the free morning walking tour [bafreetour.com] that begins there at 11. Meet on the street on the right side of the park (when facing the building.) Our tour guide was Virginia, an effusive, entertaining and knowledgeable young woman, with a particular interest in Argentina's dramatic political history. Our 3-hour tour took us in a straight line to the Casa Rosada (their White House, which is pink). On the way we passed the (former) widest avenue in the world; a famous cafe; a neon likeness of Evita on a tall building, and the Plaza de Mayo, made famous by the mothers and grandmothers of "the Disappeared." After tipping our guide, the four of us explored the Cathedral, then headed toward San Telmo, hoping to see Tango dancing in the streets. (We realized it's only on weekends. But no problem, there was a fabulous Tango duet on board with us with days.) Tired, we took a cab to the Recoleta Cemetery to see where the real Evita rests. Some of the more ornate mausoleums near the entrance were far more interesting. A short cab ride took us back at the ship. Shops in the terminal were expensive.
FALKLANDS - TOUR: We arranged on line with 2 other cc's to take Patrick Watts' Penguin Tour to Volunteer Point: [firstname.lastname@example.org] The highlight of the tour is spending two hours with King, Magellenic and Gentoo Penguins, and seeing their breeding habits and a stunning beach. The lesser light is a two-hour (each way) off-road journey over hilly, bumpy, spongy, peat bogs. This is an expensive tour (and not for the comfort-needy), but it was well worth it. (And Patrick charges half what cruise ships do.) We set off in a convoy of heavy-duty jeeps, each holding the driver and 4 passengers. Our driver Leona, the director of the Falklands Museum, was filling in for her husband, so we had hours of interesting answers to our questions about Falkland history. A sandwich and crisps are provided. When we arrived back at Port Stanley, Leona showed us around the small town, and we had time to buy more wine and even some champagne at the supermarkert for our next big sight: Cape Horn.
USHUAIA- TIERRA DEL FUEGO TOUR: With five other cc's, we arranged for a tour of Tierra Del Fuego National Park with Edgardo Calaio [email@example.com]Edgardo is a young, highly professional tour guide with a university degree in tourism and particular interests in nature and photography. His tour was an excellent value and a comfortable ride as we rode (literally) to the End of the World. Highlights were: visiting at a small free museum (at a cafe) where we learned about the original inhabitants; getting our passports stamped at the curious Post Office at the End of the World (which hangs over a bay on stilt posts); arriving at the sign marking the end of the Pan American Highway which runs from Northern Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. We arrived at a lucky moment--when an adventurous Danish couple also arrived on motorcycle after riding the 30,000 mile highway for 7 months. After visiting the Park, Edgardo drove us through the town; we loaded up on chocolate, crafts, and, of course, wine.
PUNTA ARENAS: With two other cc's, we opted to walk to Plaza de Armas with its famous Magellan statue, fine trees and local vendors, and on to the Cemeterio, notable for a memorial to the Unknown Indian. But aside from some beautifully manicured bell-shaped cedar trees, the cemetery wasn't worth seeing. Tired from walking, we took a cab back to a huge supermarket (with long lines) not far from the port. Yes, we got more wine. Also stopped at a touristy gift shop outside the port-- high prices and poor service. (Local vendors in the port were better.) Maybe we should have taken a tour to see seals or something.