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Copyright © 1995-2002 
Linda Coffman


Infinity 
February 1-15, 2004
South America

 

by Joe Reynolds

 

We departed home on January 28, 2004 to avoid missing a connection as we did on a previous trip due to weather. We spent the night in Atlanta and flew out of Atlanta arriving in Santiago, Chile on January 30. We had a beautiful room in the Santiago Sheraton Hotel & Convention Center. This city of 5 million people living here on about 117 square miles located between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. We took a tour with Hilda Cerda Chilebbtours 246 Rafael Canas Street, Flat 1, Providencia, Santiago, Chile. e-mail: hildacerda@hotmail.com. She drove the van and had an English speaking guide. We visited the working La Vega Central Market in Santiago rather than the tourist market. Having a small group of 6 we were able to accomplish this without difficulty. Tour cost was $48/p and we considered it well worth it.

We stopped in a neighborhood and visited some of Hilda’s aunts and were served Empanadas (meat pies) and wonderful Chilean wine. We were taken to the Artisan’s village called El Pueblito de los Dominicos. After some more sightseeing we visited Hilda’s small modest home and were treated to a home prepared meal with wine and or fruit juice. This was a most rewarding experience.

After the tour we were dropped of at the cable car ride to visit the top of San Christobal hill for a magnificent view of the city. Hilda and her guide contacted us in Valparaiso for possibly taking a tour there, but we were on the ship and opted not to leave since we had to take a shuttle bus back to the ship terminal. Hilda and her guide had been hired by another couple to take them and their luggage from a hotel in Santiago to the ship terminal in Valparaiso and they did a tour before boarding the Infinity. There was not enough room for three couples with luggage in the van.

The Sheraton Santiago Hotel & Convention center has the San Christobal Tower that has a wonderful view of the city also along with a very nice restaurant.

On Sunday Feb. 1, 2004 we boarded Celebrity’s Gas Turbine Ship Infinity and watched the Super Bowl Game on the satellite hookup. We sailed from Valparaiso at 9:00 PM

Feb. 2 At Sea – Ate in the wonderful United States Restaurant aboard the Infinity. 

Feb. 3. At 8:00 AM we arrived in Puerto Montt. We visited German communities of Frutillar and Puerto Varas. Saw the Volcano Osorno and visited Petrohue Falls. We used Carlos Galindo galindotour@hotmail.com, Cell phone 98224932. Tour cost was $90 per person. Petrohue Lake covers 73 square miles. Lunch was excellent and I ate things I had never seen before. We departed Puerto Montt at 6:00 PM.

Feb 4 & 5 - We sailed the Chilean Fjords and the Strait of Magellan and the views were magnificent. Large Glacier feet came down to the water in some places with many water falls. Many mountains and steep cliffs to the water’s edge. Cliff hanging glaciers in abundance. We entered the Beagle Channel named after Charles Darwin ship the Beagle. 

On Feb. 6th at 8:00 AM we arrived in Ushuaia, Argentina Tierra del Fuego which is the community that is in the southern most location in the world other than Antarctica. We took the train to the end of the world. It was interesting, but not much to brag on, and time could have been better spent on something else. We however did enjoy the trip.

Got a picture of a Condor in the distance. Lunch on our own was excellent with a king crab being cracked and pealed and served just under the shell. The wind in Ushuaia was strong enough that the bow thrusters on the Infinity were used to keep the bow against the dock and take the strain of the bow lines. We departed Ushuaia at 5:00 PM.

Feb. 7 At 7:00 AM we docked in Punta Arenas, Chile Tierra del Fuego and had a tour company waiting for us. We used Patricia Perez Patagonian Discover Tour Company and went to the Penguin Colony and the Penguins did not disappoint us. Saw some of the town with views from high points, and had a wonderful tour. We departed Punta Arenas at 5:00 PM.

Feb. 8 We had wonderful weather and sailed completely around Cape Horn for one hour. Cape Horn had been cancelled on our itinerary but since the weather was so good we made the trip. One announcer stated it was the best weather he had seen in 30 years around Cape Horn. Other trips by other Celebrity ships around Cape Horn have been very rough with damage to the ship.

Feb 9 At 9:00 AM we sailed into Port Stanley, Falkland Islands with an over cast day. We just walked around the town and had lunch at the Globe Tavern. Nice visit... not much there fighting over except there is suppose to be a large deposit of oil reserves. We sailed at 7:00 PM. We had seen enough Penguins.

Feb. 10 A day at Sea

Feb. 11. At 9:00 AM we arrived in Puerto Madryn. We took the shuttle bus to the center of town along with Ernie Borgnine who was fun to be around. Ernie was a guest celebrity aboard the ship for the entire cruise. He made himself seen around the ship and never seemed to be bothered by talking to people. He seemed to enjoy himself. He enjoyed posing for pictures and always wanted the beautiful lady in the middle. When we asked him to pose for a picture, he said: “I thought you would never ask”. Puerto Madryn had a nice town square with a rather older couple doing a wonderful street side Tango. Many nice booths with arts and crafts. The square had a statue to Ferdinand Magellan.

 

We did not opt to take the 100 Km ride to the Peninsula Valdes which of course was on another dusty bump road just like Punta Arenas. Watched some divers working while on the ship. Puerto Madryn is the most important national area for the practice of scuba diving. Left Puerto Madryn at 7:00 PM.

Feb. 12 day at Sea

Feb. 13 At 8:00 AM we docked in Montevideo, Uruguay. Montevideo has a population of about 1.5 million. It is the largest city, the chief port and the capital of Uruguay. It is located where the Rio de la Plata and the Atlantic Ocean meet. We visited the Casa Mario leather factory. I had previously visited Casa Mario in 1975 and again in 1991. Brought them some pictures from those days. They all had a good time looking at them and posted them on their board. We visited the Independence square and were not bothered by the rain. We had a wonderful meal down in the docks area where there are several little restaurants in one area. This is a don’t miss area. They all cooked on an open fire.

We saw the monument to the Graf Spee and the mast sticking out of the water in the harbor. The German ship, Graf Spee was one of the most advanced battleships of it’s time in the second World War. Montevideo under British Pressure refused to give the ship shelter when chased by British Warships and she was scuttled by her commander in about 36 feet of water when she was outnumbered in a battle. She is in the process of being raised for a museum construction.

Feb. 14 The Infinity arrived in Buenos Aires at 8:00 AM. We apparently had a mix up and did not get with the person I made previous arrangements with to tour Buenos Aires. I think when this tour person with the same name saw my Rolex watch, he decided he would give us the tour. We toured the city, and went to a restaurant for lunch where a professional hit was put on me. My Rolex was stolen off my wrist in a split second move by a thief on a dead run as I got out of the van. He had to be waiting for the mark (that’s me) to arrive. It was obviously a setup, but I have no proof of who was involved, and it is shameful that all are suspect. I really felt bad that I had gotten with the wrong person for the tour. I did not find out until I returned home and my e-mail from the real Gustavo asked what happened. I had promised the individual that I would use him for touring with four person group we had. We went on a Tigre River boat ride later and to a Tango Show at night. I did not let the loss of the watch mess up the rest of our trip. Buenos Aires is a very large city with different neighborhoods. We visited the La Boca, Recoleta, San Telmo, Palermo and the docks area. The 9th of July Avenue is billed as the widest street in the world, but it is actually four streets separated by neutral grounds. Nice restaurants in many places. We visited Evita’s grave area and the large cemetery.

Feb. 15 Disembarked the ship to the Sheraton Libertador Hotel. We walked the famous Florida Street and visited the Gallerios Pacifico a very nice mall.

Feb. 16 We flew to Iguazu Falls and stayed at the Sheraton International with a wonderful view of the falls. We walked on all the paths to the falls viewing area, but did not go to the Brazil side. One would need a visa for that. People who went did not mention if it was worth the extra trouble. The view is supposed to be better. 

Feb. 17. We flew back to Buenos Aires and visited Florida Street again for some more looking and shopping. 

Feb. 18. Most people flew home this day, but we stayed another day and toured the Antique flea market and walked the streets viewing the many monuments. Had some nice snacks and drinks on a balcony overlooking the Antique market square watching the Andalusian and Tango dancing.

Feb. 19th We flew Home arriving on Feb. 20, 2004. Advice would be to be sure the person you use for a tour has your name. Don’t assume that if he has a tour company by the name you are looking for and the same name that it is the right person. I did not ask him if he had my name. That was a mistake.


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