Monday, March 17, 2014

Last stop Dubai

We fly tomorrow morning forhome. Our brief stop at Dubai was a mix of shopping and sightseeing.We like Dubai especially at this time of year when the temperatures are moderate.
We did a little sightseeing at the old town including the House of Sheikh Khalif Bin Saeed Al Maktoun and the Juthor Art Centre. We admired the design of the wind tunnels and wonder that if they were still used across Dubai that the micro climate might cool down to the desert temperatures.

The old style air con

From the Juthoor Art Centre
We did do shopping unlike most of our trip but are hands were too fulll to take photos except at the gold souk where we didn't have our arms full of parcels

Gail at the Gold Souk

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Rio Sights

On our final day in Rio, just a few of the sights before we headed for Dubai on our homeward leg.

Rob has a conversation with a bronze of the poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade
                                                                            Carnival 2014

                                                                    Girls on the beach.
Sand art..a local theme
Copacabana at night

Beach volletball


Rio Favelas

It is difficult for us to understand favelas as they are totally different from anything that we are familiar with
They are not simply slums and not just centres of drug lord dominance. They are homes to up to 20% of people in Brazil and we visited just two, includind the largest.They are undergoing massive change and whilst some parts are unsafe people live out their everyday lives in conditions that are full of contrasts. Often wonderful views and near some of the worlds most famous beaches they have poor sanitation, limited services for health, education and law enforcement. A few photos help tell the story.
High above the city we could look out over Rio's famous landmarks. Looking the otherway we could see the sprawl of houses.
The largest favela in Rio is Rocinha. It is a city within a city . No one knows the population but it is over 100,000 people. We were warned not to stand near police as there is a risk of being accidentally shot. 17 police have been shot this year.
Few pay for services. If you want power just break into the grid, need warer break into the supply. Need comment!
The second favela ..more of a model town

Gail visiting a school

Rob drinking caipirinhas in a favela bar

Friday, March 14, 2014

Angra dos Reis

We decided to do what the Brazilians do when on holidays in Rio..they go on a boat trip to find better beaches than Copacabana or Ipanema. It was a 13 hour trip , firstly by bus for 31/2 hours to Angra dos Reis or Bay of Kings. We saw the three wise men pointing the war to the famous 365 islands and joined our Schooner to "sail" to three of them.

It was the ultimate party boat. We were the only English speakers but we enjoyed the Samba competition, joined in the beer drinking and swam at all three stops. We met some great new friends none of whom spoke more than a few words of English.

Our first stop was Ponto da Piedade complete with a tiny church where we swam, snorkled and relaxed. The second stop was Lagoa Azul..The Blue Lagoon where we swam  and snorkled amongst the corals and tropical fish. It was the third stop that was our favourite even though we just swam. It was the typical tropical paradise with crystal waters and friendly faces.
Gail pictured in front of our boat the Corisco VI

Gail recovering from Antarctica
                       We put this photo in because it was much nicer than the one with Robert!
                                             Robert participating in a Brazilian cultural event

                                                         Robert catching the lunch

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

From El Calafate to Rio

Our stay at El Calafate was excellent. Our accommodation was very nice and it was central for visits to the National Park of the Glaciers.
Our flights were uneventful but it was well after midnight by the time we arrive at our hotel on Copacabana beach.We had a very late breakfast and a swim in the hotel pool before setting out to explore beachlife in Copacabana.
Copacaban from our hotel rooftop pool.This is a wonderful position with great views.
                                       The Virgin Mary Rio style seen in the local church
                                                                    Robert's Rock!


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hiking in Patagonia 3 The perita Moreno Glacier

We went by  bus to the glacier but stopped at a small harbour a few kilometres before the face of the glacier to take a boat. We sailed up to the southern face but the weather was not great. It was still a wonderful experience.
We went on to the balconies that overlook the face of the glacier. Not the biggest (2nd) but the most stunning. It is claimed to be the best views of a glacier in the world. It lived up to its reputation.
We spent the rest of the day walking around the observation decks,high and low looking at the three faces. We heard the amazing sounds of the ice cracking and saw sections fall into the water.

The face from the boat
Us from the boat
First view from the balconies

What a stunner...and also a great glacier!

Robert's glacier
Gail's glacier

We could clearly see 15 km to the rocks and beyond to the mountains.
A wonderful place to visit

Hiking in Patagonia 2 The Upsala Glacier

We flew from Ushuaia to El Calafate in Argentine Patagonia. On our first full day we went to the Upsala Glacier and the Cristina Estancia. The Patagonian ice sheet is the third largest in the world, behind Antarctica and Greenland and larger than Iceland's.  It extends for hundreds of killometres.
We went by bus to a wharf then by boat on Lago Argentino the largest lake in Argentina. We saw hundreds of icebergs before arriving at the estancia.
The weather was very windy but we did see some sun.
Blue ice just like Antarctica

The weather, the ice and the water.
We passed the Iceberg alley with icebergs calved from the Upsala glacier and up another arm of the lake to the estancia. This was was established in 1914 but is now inside the National Park.
We then went by 4 wheel drive up the mountain to the glacier. It was very rough going..a land version of the Drake Passage!
Half way up the mountain. Wonderful views
Us at the top.We could see the ice extending to the horizon. The melt water glacier is between us and 3 glaciers that we could see

The Upsala Glacier
Behind the lake are the Bertacci Glacier, Cono Glacier and the Upsala Glacier
The geology of the area is amazing. We saw many fossils like this and small squid.
Gail at the water wheel and bridge
The shearing shed is now a museum. The estancia was a sheep station. We had a huge lunch..Patagonian lamb.

Chinstraps at Half Moon Bay

Our final stop in the South Shetland Islands was at Half Moon Bay, home to a large colony of Chinstrap penguins. It had been so windy that we had given up hope of a final landing but it appears that our captain is special and he manages to find a little protection for us.
We are greeted not only by penguins but a group of fur seals.
This is the remains of a life boat that was used to bring early tourists ashore.

Lots of Chinstraps.They are very inquisitive and if you stand still they come over to you.
At the top of the hill there are still lots of penguins
Why was the beach pink? Why is the rock pink? The Chinstraps eat krill just like little pink prawns. Why did we get pink waterproof pants?
A pink hill with penguins.
Does this mean that the pink salt fields around Lake Eyre and the Murray River flats were once home to lots of penguins?

We sailed for Ushuaia. It was just as rough as our trip across but we were fine...or at least better! Only one window was broken by the seas last night! We had a cocktail party, Captains dinner (not formal) lots of lectures and sleep and reading.

We had made some great friends and as we farewelled some in a coffee shop we sighted these penguins. They must have come up with us on a cake tray!

Antarctica..Our seventh continent. We had kept a special place for last.