Having survived the sea days (just barely!) it is with great relief that we set foot on land again. Different from our other landings this time we actually ‘park’ the ship at the dock and walk off in our normal shoes! There is a bus arranged to take us to Gypsy Cove, from where we can walk all the way back towards Stanley, the capital of the Falklands. The walk is just what we needed after all these days on a ship, and the landscape is again a mix of barren rock and beautiful coves, with hidden wildlife in between. We add a new penguin to the mix – the Magellan one – which are hiding in their burrows under the ground, and there is plenty of birdlife and ship wrecks to go around. The boys stick to Ab and his bird knowledge, as we make our way around the entire spit of land.
After a few hours of walking we then head into town to the pub recommended by our expedition crew for some proper British fare: Fish & Chips! It is so strange to be on the other side of the globe and have these typically British things, pay with British pounds and get an overall British feel. We take a stroll through town when our bellies are full, run into a brand new playground, a gnome garden and at the end of it all the local museum that elaborates on the Falklands war of 1982. It is quite bizarre to see how the whole 74-day ordeal came about and walking through the streets of Stanley (with only some 3k+ inhabitants) you can only try to imagine what that was like. A 2015 referendum solidified the wish to stay a British overseas territory (99,8% voted for), while on mainland Argentina you see many signs of the ‘Islas Malvinas’ being considered part of Argentina. Some quick souvenir shopping (or alcohol shopping for many fellow cruisers) and off we go to the boat again to start our journey to Buenos Aires.
Out at sea – steadily going north
As we have a storm to stay ahead of, we actually miss out on a potential landing on the other side of the Falklands to see another species of penguins; the Rockhopper. But to be fair, versus 4 days of potential seasickness, everybody is ok with the decision to try and stay ahead of bad weather when we make our way north. The result is a pleasant cruise on the Atlantic Ocean, where with every nautical mile the temperature goes up, and we enjoy the outdoors and what the ocean has to offer. We finally take a soak in the jacuzzi at the upper deck while albatross swerve around the ship, and get entertained by the staff with more presentations, movies, fantastic food and relaxation.
One highlight is a massive pod of dolphins (more than 100) swimming and jumping around the ship for over 2 hours with everybody being out on the deck to see them fly by. Another one is the end of our trip, the last night after all testing negative again and the weather being much warmer we can all get together on the outer deck for gluhwein and dancing! It is a great evening for all and a perfect ending to this stellar trip. The goodbyes are tough, especially our boys are emotional going to every crew member for a big hug and a thank you. It has been an incredible experience and while we were lucky enough to be granted access to it with to very young children, we are super proud of how they held themselves and maximized their own adventure as well. It will certainly not be an experience they will ever forget!
Buenos Aires – Feet on the ground again
With 4 days out at sea, getting on to shore again feels very strange, but we adjust very quickly. The logistics coming from the boat are through the port and to a hotel with luggage storage, where we take a taxi to our Airbnb. Arriving there it turns out to be even bigger than we expected with a super kind lady welcoming us, giving us a much needed breather from the confined spaces of the ship and a washing machine! First loads go in, quick groceries are done and a stab at some homework before we go out to explore the city.
First stop for today are the lovely neighborhood of San Telmo, with its covered markets and squares, and our first encounter with the tango street performances. Walking through the streets and parks we notice the colors turning blue and yellow, meaning we are getting close to the Boca Juniors soccer stadium. The area around it is the Boca neighborhood which we expected to be a lively scene of restaurants and colorful street art, but unfortunately it is deserted today. While it gives a good feel of what could be, it is no place to have a nice dinner so we take a taxi back and have a good steak closer to our apartment. Tired and a little overwhelmed, especially Luc is very sad about leaving the boat and all the nice people there, bringing him to tears. While a little bit heartbreaking, it is also a good sign that the trip has made a big impact on him and it was something he will never forget.
The next day we have booked a free guided tour of Recoleta, the neighborhood we are living in, which we start after our first metro ride (always fun!). Of course we could have known that we would run into people from the boat again, especially when a tour is FREE so we start off with familiar faces. Warned by the guide that the tour may be boring and tiresome for the kids, we set out to discover this part of the city – this man clearly does not know our kids! When we walk we tell the stories the guide has told us at the stops, and there is plenty to tell and keep them entertained. The final stop is of course Recoleta cemetery, including the burial site of Evita Peron.
After the tour and a picnic lunch we head out to the famous ‘El Ateneo’ bookstore, a former theatre converted into a bookstore – which is a better destiny than most old theatres which was being demolished to make room for a parking garage. Then another metro ride towards Plaza de Mayo from where we walk along the waterside and make our way to San Telmo again for some much deserved ice cream! After all the walking and metro riding we unwind at the apartment where we cook dinner and continue our washing machine marathon to get all sorted before our departure tomorrow.
Thankfully we have enough time as we only have to take a taxi at noon, so we sleep in and have breakfast while slowly but surely packing our bags. The boys take advantage of the wifi to get some Squla time in and download a few movies for the plane, and we try to repack in a way that we do not go over our baggage allowance. Not easy to do with 4 new winter coats of 1kg each and a full machine load still in the dryer… But with our experience we manage to make it work and head out to the airport on time. The flight is domestic so no testing required, and for the first time in years we felt that it was traveling like before (minus the mouthmasks), really quick and easy.
Next week: Ushuaia again and on to the north