Buenos Aires and Ushuaia

Buenos Aires

San Francisco to Buenos Aires is a 16 hour flight including a 2 hour layover in Dallas/Fort Worth.  Thankfully the long haul  leg of 10 1/2 hours was overnight so with the help of our new Sennheiser noise cancelling headphones and a little chemical assistance we arrived fresh and ready to go.  Whenever Linda and I fly international, especially with connecting flights we always like to spend a couple of days exploring our arrival city.  This gives us a chance to acclimate for jet lag and if our baggage ends up going astray it gives us time for it to catch up. 

Buenos Aires was a new destination for both of us.   We decided to arrive 5 days prior to leaving for Antarctica to explore it and it's surroundings.  We would then continue our adventure further south to Ushuaia where we would set out on an 18 day trip to the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica. Buenos Aires is a very cosmopolitan city. Over the last 150 years it has had a huge influx of immigrants from virtually every country in the world. As a result there is an eclectic mix of architecture, languages art and religions.

There are many historical and beautiful districts to visit and to stay in Buenos Aires.  Probably the most famous is the Recoleta.   Built on the highest hill during the 1900's,  the Recoleta is one of the more affluent neighborhoods of Buenos Aires.  Styled in French Château architecture, the neighborhood contains the cities mansions, embassies and high end luxury hotels. 

Most famously though is the Recoleta Cemetery.  Here there are thousands of ornately constructed tombs of the rich and famous family's of Buenos Aires, Argentina's famous military leaders and past presidents.  Perhaps the most well know of it's interned residents is Eva Perón, the national heroine of Argentina.

Although Linda and I ended up spending most of our time wandering the streets of the Recoleta we did venture out to the surrounding areas.  La Boca was a must see on our list.  It is a colorfully painted barrio of Italian origin on the mouth of the Matanza River.   A short train ride North took us to Tigre, a city on the Lujan River and the gateway to the Paraná Delta where boats are the only form of transportation. 

The view from our room at the Hotel Etolie was stunning.  It was located right on the Plaza Intendente Torcuato de Alvear and looked down upon the Recoleta Cemetery. A fantastic location in the heart of the historic district.


To get to Antarctica the most common port for departure is Ushuaia in Argentina. Ushuaia (pronounced oo'sui'aa) is the furtherest most Southern city in the world. A long journey South, it is a 13 hour flight from San Francisco to Buenos Aires and then another 3 1/2 hour flight from there. Here we boarded the Silver Explorer along with 122 others for a first class adventure to the Antarctic Peninsula. 

The Silver Explorer would be our home for the next 19 days. The ship is 354 feet long, with 124 passengers and 127 crew, plus 10 expedition staff, all experts in their fields..  We choose a small ship because of their maneuverability,  they are able to enter the smaller bays and sounds where the majority of the wildlife would be. 

After our charter flight from Buenos Aires arrived in Ushuaia our first stop before going to the ship was going to be for lunch.  (Naturally, after all what do you do on a cruise but eat?)   The restaurant was located 25 kilometers from Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego National Park.

After a beautiful drive with stunning vistas of the Southern peaks of the Andes we arrived at the Patagonian restaurant Centro Invernal las Cotorras.  Here we indulged in what was to become one of many memorable meals. Whole lamb grilled over an open pit fire washed down with copious amounts of excellent Chilean wine.

Well satiated (truthfully almost uncomfortably stuffed), we returned to the Port of Ushuaia to board the Silver Explorer.  Considering how many cruise ships visit Ushuaia the port was bare bones, nothing fancy here.  We were the only cruise ship present.

Finally we were underway.  After we unpacked Linda and I made a tour of the ship.  At 300 feet and 4 decks it did not take long to locate the dining room (our deck), laundry (once again our deck) and the bar (one deck up) , all located at the stern and we were midship.  Perfect.  We happily discovered that the ship had more than ample deck space dedicated to observation.  After a trip to the stern to watch Ushuaia recede in the distance we made our way forward to be entertained by dolphins guiding our ship out through the Beagle Channel and into the Southern Ocean.

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