We recently visited the wonderful country of Russia. We thoroughly recommend it as a place to visit.
We have been posting about our adventures on our Facebook page as it was easier to post our photos. We are still posting as real life has got in the way now we are home!
If you would like to catch up and follow along here is the link The Latest Adventures of Blinky and Monty
We hope you enjoy our posts.
Friday 26 February 2016
An over cast but crisp morning.
At dawn our entrance to Deception Island’s caldera was through Neptune’s Bellows. Last eruptions were 1967 & 69.
J- Zodiac cruise around Baily Head South East of Deception Island.
We only had 6 on our zodiac! With Andy as the driver. We had a small group of juvenile fur seals swimming and playing alongside of us and spy hopping to see what we were. There were penguins everywhere and they were molting so it was like snow.
We saw leopard and elephant seals on shore as well. Several giant petrels. There was a huge colony of chinstrap penguins and they nested wayyyy up high on the mountain face.
We cruised around passed the “needle” rock formation into a smaller bay that had fur seals, petrels and more chin straps with chicks.
A leopard seal came up to us checked us out for about 5 mins. Andy was hitting the side of the zodiac to keep the seal’s attention. After the seal left to look at the other boats Andy casually mentions that the leopard seal can open its mouth to 90 degrees and could crush the pontoon easily! Gee thanks Andy! It was fascinating to see it SO close.
A – Hike up Baily Head for approx. 3km.
The group walked up to the top of the hill at about 100m and looked down on us in the bay. There were penguins and feathers everywhere. Like fresh snow.
Poor little penguins have to work real hard to get up those slopes!!
We were at the bottom in the zodiac with the leopard seal when he videoed us from above. He caught the moment when one of the birds ran into the penguin group and a penguin had a go at the bird, which we saw from the zodiac!
Sun and blue skies this afternoon.
In the afternoon we had a zodiac cruise around Spert Island, in the Palmer Archipelago close to the Antarctic Peninsula and it was awesome! We went through an arched cave that had a water fall in the middle falling into the water from the roof, not down a wall! This cave is usually full of ice so it is not possible to go through!!! Spert Arch is an arch with a span of about 40 feet and height of about 60 feet.
We came to an iceberg graveyard where they get pushed in by the current against the shore cliffs and get stuck in the shallow depth and stay there until they melt. Very interesting shapes.
We saw a lone Gentoo on a small iceberg, he obviously didn’t know where to go to molt. Then we saw a chinstrap on an iceberg as well.
The second arch had too much surge running through it so we were not able to go through as the swell was too much for the zodiacs. On the berg with the chinstrap, around the other side, were two crab eater seals resting in a small alcove formed by the melted berg. This was unusual as they like to rest on ice so they must not have been able to find any easy access to a berg.
There was a berg next to this one that had a blue stripe through it and this is very rare in Antarctica, it is usually seen in the Arctic. It was caused by rain water filling the crack, no bubbles and refreezing. This is different to the blue icebergs as these are so old that the ice has compressed the bubbles out and so the light reflects through the smoother ice as blue.
Starting with a couple of days touring the Golden Ring Cities. Then we’re taking a train trip on a leg of the Trans-Siberian Railway to Yekateringburg. Followed by three days in Krasnodar, where Dad’s family is from. Once we return to Moscow we are booked on a cruise from Moscow to St Petersburg with The Volga Dream including a few tours around the cities. Tickets are also booked for the Bolshoi Ballet, Moscow Circus and the Kostroma Folk Show.
We want to thank Monika from Travel All Russia for all the help she has given us over the past months. She was been wonderfully patient and helpful.
Thursday 25 February 2016 (Wednesday was spent at sea)
We visited the bridge this morning and saw our first icebergs.
Got our photo taken with the Captain and he let us steer the ship too!
Leaving Drakes Passage, we arrived at Robert’s Point in the South Shetland Islands ahead of schedule so this landing is an extra.
We saw huge tabular icebergs and various smaller ones. We also saw some whales spouting off in the distance. Apparently we have seen humpbacks and a fin whale already today.
Also saw some penguins porpoising which was very interesting. It is strange to see them out in the open ocean!
We leave the ship to go ashore at 3:30pm for about 1.5 hours.
Blonde fur seals are 1 in 1000. We saw one. All the seals on Robert Island were males, either adult or juvenile.
A Gentoo penguin came within 1/2m of me. He walked up to say hello and was curious about my camera.
We saw two juvenile male elephant seals in amongst the fur seals.
A couple of seals charged some staff but they were scared off.
The sun glistened off the feathers and fur of the animals.
An awesome introduction. Sun shone brightly with azure blue sky. It was rather warm walking around!
They have a well streamlined process of loading and unloading passengers from the zodiacs. We felt we were in safe capable hands.
There is the Captain’s Gala Dinner tonight.
Tuesday 23 February 2016
After a sleepless night we had an early pick up at 3:45am for the airport for our flight to Ushuaia. We met up with the Ponant Group and boarded our flight.
We all arrived with our gear and headed off on a bus tour of the area. It was a bit over cast and looked like it might rain later on.
We made our way inland a bit to a lunch stop where we had traditional BBQ lunch of lamb and potatoes with salad. We saw an otter dam in one of the waterways on the way there.
We visited the end of the road, Pan-American Highway, at the end of the world. We walked through a boardwalk area to view the ocean/bay.
We then stopped at a look out area over a nearby lake and there were some black swans visiting. Unfortunately it had started to rain by now and there were not many birds around at all.
We boarded the ship in the rain and had our photo taken and our ID cards issued. We headed out to sea while having dinner.
The crossing of the Drakes Passage was mild although not the Drakes Lake it can be known for, at least it wasn’t the Drakes Shake either. Only about 5-6m swell.
We collected our boots and our jackets were waiting for us in our cabin. Our cabin was lovely with a view from the bathroom out to the window and the balcony beyond!
We headed into the lounge for some pre dinner drinks and toasted our New Adventure!
Monday 22 February 2016
We were meant to do a walking tour of the city but as it was just the two of us and our guide and it was so hot we took her little car and covered a lot more of the city in comfort!
We saw the futball stadium, walked around the La Boca area which was fascinating. This is the area of the charactatures of Evita, her husband, the Pope etc. The houses are all coloured tin from the left over paint that the immigrants could scrounge from the ships in port!
The old warehouses have been turned into places for small stalls to sell their wares and restaurants. We had a lovely Colombian espresso and the local traditional choc biscuit.
We drove along the wharf area and saw how choked up the water was with water lily type plants.
Liliana then drove up through newer parts of town and we saw the new marina area that has had the old warehouses turned into housing and restaurants. There are a lot of monuments around the city gifted from other countries or built by the government to commemorate this or that.
We saw the area where the antiques markets are held each Sunday and had a walk along the street of antique shops etc. Saw some lovely old buildings.
Saw the pink palace, and went inside the Cathedral at the main square. It looks like the Pantheon from the outside and gothic on the inside. We also saw the needle column that everything radiates out from as far as the city is concerned.
We tried some local icecream which was nice and then wandered around Recoleta Cemetery. Of course we saw Eva Peron’s tomb although her remains are no longer there due to safety concerns. The crypts and tombs are very interesting. Some still being used, others falling into ruin. When the room ran out for coffins they started to cremate and but the urns into the mausoleums too. Some also go underground where they place coffins as well.
It was a full and very interesting day.
We had a typical Argentinian dinner at Los Nazarenes steak house.
Back to the hotel to pack, tomorrow we join our cruise!
Our apologies for not posting once we got home. Mum has been ill so now we will try and catch up. How quickly time flies. We had an incredible trip and hope you will enjoy reading about it.
Apologies everyone for not posting updates. We have not recovered too well from the jet lag so are rather tired. We have been out and walked around near the hotel in Buenos Airies and went to the Sunday craft markets near Recoleta Cemetery yesterday. There are a lot of talented people here.
Today we are doing a 6 hour walking tour of the city and tonight we repack for our 6:30am flight to Ushuaia after a 3:45am pick up from the hotel.
We join our cruise tomorrow! There won’t be any posts once we leave tomorrow so take care all and see you on the other side!
Friday 19 February 2016.
This is has been a trip of firsts!
After a 25 minute delay on the Red Eye to Sydney, we took off into some very strong winds and cloud cover. The wind was so strong it was rocking the plane while we were on the Tarmac waiting!
We had our own iPads for the entertainment on the plane. (We are flying with QANTAS). We haven’t travelled in the last 12 months so it was a new experience for us.
We were given a snack bag for our midnight snack in a little plastic draw string bag with the QANTAS logo on it. A cookie bar, Apple, small water, small mm’s and 4 Tic Tacs! The bar was inedible….. We tried a bottle of red wine and a bottle of white wine. Couldn’t drink the white and the red was only a little better!
When we arrived in Sydney we took the bus from the domestic to the international terminal. We were the only two on board. VIP service!
This is also the first time we have gone through Customs with the self service for departure. Very quick and efficient. We have only ever used it for arrivals.
We are now sitting in the Amex Lounge, enjoying the coffee, fresh food and our first Lounge Experience. It is a nice way to kill a few hours that’s for sure.
Our next leg is Sydney to Santiago, a long 12 ½ hour flight. Hopefully we can get some sleep.