Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cruising Thru Postcards 3

Hello again. Well, now that most of the postcards from my last cruise have arrived, it must be time to do a little Cruising Thru Postcards. This will be episode # 3 of Cruising Thru Postcards. So without further ado, let's cast off all lines, weigh the anchor and blow the ship's horn and sail away.

For this cruise we ( my lovely Teena & I ) sailed with Holland America Line on the MS Veendam. Captain Frank van der Hoeven was in command. With a crew of 580 and a passenger count of 1258 we set sail from Valparaiso, Chile on March 7, 2012. First of all we had to get to Chile. We flew from Calgary to Toronto on a Boeing 777-200LR. This was our first flight on a B777. Then from Toronto to Santiago , Chile we flew on a Boeing 777-300 ER, a much larger plane than the first one, 349 passengers to 270 . We arrived in Santiago 2 days early on March 5th. After enjoying the warm weather and 2 relaxing nights in Santiago we boarded a bus for the 2.5 hour ride to Valparaiso. Of course the last thing I did before boarding the ship was to find some postcards and stamps. So here's my Valparaiso card. You can see the many colorful houses built along the hills overlooking the port. The stamp I selected for this card is from a 2010 sheet of 10 honouring 200 years of the Chilean Army. Here's the stamp and the sheet .
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------We departed Valparaiso at 5:12 pm en route to Puerto Montt, Chile , our first port of call, 644 nautical miles to the south. The fishing port of Puerto Montt marks the end of the beautiful Lake District of Southern Chile. It had been known for years as " the end of the line ", whether traveling by railway, road or highway. Of course, I found a postcard and managed to drop it in a post box. The card shows statutes of German Settlers arriving in the area in 1852. Also on the bottom of the card are some bottles of delicious sea urchins. The stamp is another from the same sheet mentioned above.

After departing Puerto Montt at 5:00 pm on 09 March, we sailed for 2 days through the Chilean Fjords and viewed Amalia Glacier. This glacier which descends from the Andes Mountains is approximately 73 square miles in area. The height of Amalia Glacier at the water's edge is about 20-30 feet while another 120 feet or so is underwater. From the glacier we sailed back through Sarmiento Channel and the Strait of Magellan enroute to Punta Arenas , Chile. Located on the southern tip of the Chilean mainland, the city of 100,000 lays claim to the title : "world's southernmost city ". We were certainly looking forward to docking in Punta Arenas however it was not to be. When we arrived , there was heavy rain, with major flooding. The port was closed and hotels had to be evacuated. The Veendam anchored offshore for most of the day awaiting an improvement in the weather but sadly we had to depart without visiting Punta Arenas. I know, some of you have received postcards from Punta Arenas, so how did that happen, you may ask ? Here's what happened. I purchased a number of cards and stamps on board , addressed and wrote them out and handed them in at the purser's desk. I asked that on their next stop at Punta Arenas , if they could be given to the ship's agent for mailing. They said no problem and it must have worked as I received one of these cards. My card shows many of the fauna in the Antarctic region including Arctic Terns, Chinstrap Penguins, Weddell Seals, Gentoo Penguins, Fur Seals and Subantarctic Skua. On this card you can see another of the stamps from the Chilean sheet.

Next we sailed through the Cockburn Channel, the Beagle Channel and Glacier Alley on our way to Ushuaia, Argentina. We arrived in Ushuaia at 11:50 am on 13 March. Located on a large island in the archipelago off the southernmost tip of the South American mainland. The island is divided between Chile and Argentina. At 55 degrees south latitude, Ushuaians claim to live in the southermost city. I know, I know what I wrote about Punta Arenas above , well I won't even mention Puerto Williams. Let's just leave it at this- Ushuaia, Punta Arenas, and Puerto Williams all contend to be "the southernmost city ". Punta Arenas residents claim Ushuaia is a village and both call Puerto Williams an outpost. Guess it has to do with size, population and how the world views you. Do I have a postcard from Ushuaia ? Of course, it's a view from the water looking into the port. It's Ushuaia, Patagonia, Argentina. While in Ushuaia we boarded and rode The Train To The End of The World in Tierra del Fuego National Park. And the stamp- well I don't know , it's not exactly what I would have liked , but it's all I could locate. It is a DHL courier stamp showing a lighthouse in Ushuaia. And the sticker below the stamp , I don't know about. All I know is that it took months for the card to arrive using DHL.
Ushuaia was a nice place. Small enough, easy to get around and we encountered no problems ashore.

We left port at 10:55 pm on 13 March, heading for Cape Horn. Cape Horn , just the sound of it , gives shivers up the spine. Rough seas, high winds, fog, all contribute to many bad experiences Rounding the Horn. Ours was nothing like that. We arrived at the cape early morning on March 14. We experienced a little fog and some rain for the first couple of hours but then the weather cleared and it was quite nice for the rest of the day.We did some scenic cruising around the cape and eventually circled completely around, as Cape Horn is located on Hornos Island. It marks the northern boundary of the Drake Passage. Here's a couple of cards showing The Cape.
So I guess I can knock off "Rounding Cape Horn " from The Bucket List. My Lovely Teena and I Rounded Cape Horn on the m.s.Veendam on 14th of March 2012. And we have certificates to prove it.

Next The Falkland Islands. We arrived in Stanley , Falkland Islands at 8:40 am on March 15th. Here is our first view of Stanley. The Veendam was unable to dock at the pier, so we had to go ashore in the ship's Tenders- their lifeboats , in fact. Located on the island of East Falkland, Stanley is the capital and had a population of 2,115 in 2006. One of the local tourist attractions , The Totem Pole is on this card.
Here's the stamp for this one. It is a 2003 Airmail Postcard Rate showing what else but Penguins.

Another Falklands card shows from top left- Government House, Museum and Upland Geese. From bottom left- Magellanic Penguin, WW1 Memorial and Lady Elizabeth Shipwreck. This one arrived with a 2008 Rockhopper Penguin stamp , 1 of a set of 6.

The Falkland Islands are a wonderful place, Stanley is a great place, small, quaint, easy to get around, friendly and oh so British. I would love to spend a week or so there. We visited Bluff Cove Rookery and walked among many hundred of penguins. That was an awesome experience and a lot better than seeing penguins in a zoo. The beach at Bluff Cove is as good as anywhere and strolling along it left you with the feeling that you were indeed somewhere special. If you ever find yourself there, be sure to drop in at The Sea Cabbage Cafe for great tea and pastries.

Now in addition to Stanley been a great place to walk around and visit, it also has a great Philatelic Center at the local post office. The clerk on duty when I visited was most helpful. She explained that I could arrange for postcards to be sent to South Georgia, British Antarctic Territory and four bases in Antarctic for postmarking and subsequent mailing . Of course I jumped at this opportunity. I was also allowed to look through the stamps and select whatever I wanted for the cards. I arranged for 6 cards from South Georgia, 5 from British Antarctic Territory and 1 each from the bases of Rothera, Halley, Port Lockroy and Signy. After the postmarking the cards are sent back to Stanley when they enter the mail stream.

Some of these may not arrive at their destinations until October or so. Here's one that arrived earlier than that, it's from South Georgia and here it is. It shows a group of Rockhopper Penguins on a rocky shoreline. The stamp was issued in 2010 and has a Macaroni Penguin on an Airmail Postcard Rate.
Here's another one that arrived earlier than expected. It's from Rothera Research Station, British Antarctic Territory. Rothera Station is located at Rothera Point, Adelaide Island, Grahamland, British Antarctic Territory, Antarctica, 67 degrees 34 minutes S. - 68 degrees 07 minutes W. Adelaide Island is 1860 km south of the Falklands and 1630 km south east of Punta Arenas, Chile. The summer ( Nov-Mar ) population at the station is around 100 and in winter ( Apr- Oct ) it drops to about 22. Here is the card showing a King Penguin. Note all the markings along with the stamp. Issued in 2011, it is 1 of 6 in a set of Research Ships.

Now getting back to the cruise, we departed The Falklands at 5:30 pm on march 15th. That was 90 minutes late as the Captain was late getting back from his shore excursion. I guess we couldn't leave him behind. Now if it was me, it would have been , good bye, so long , see you next time. From The Falklands we headed north for 2 days and arrived in Montevideo, Uruguay at 8:00 am on March 18th. Founded in 1726 Montevideo is the largest city, the capital , and the main port of Uruguay, the most "European "of the South American countries. I found Montevideo to be a really wonderful , beautiful city with great beaches. It is situated on the north shore of the Rio de la Plat, the arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates the South coast of Uruguay from the north coast of Argentina. A note for all you soccer fans out there- Montevideo hosted all of the matches during the first FIFA World Cup in 1930.
Here a couple of cards posted in Montevideo. The first one is their Parliament Building. This neo classical building was completed in 1925 using local marble and granite. The second card is of Fabini Square. The square , also known as Plaza del Entrevero is located on Montevideo's main avenue- 18 Julio Avenue. The center of the square is a fountain with a big bronze and granite sculpture by Jose Belloni called El Entrevero. Both cards have the same stamp, a 2011 self adhesive definitive issued in a set of 2.
I know it's been a long trip but we have just one more port to go , then it's the long flight home again. After leaving Montevideo behind we sailed into Buenos Aires, Argentina at 8:20 am on March 19th. It was 23 C with rain showers, cloudy skies and a light breeze. After disembarking the ship we went on a tour of the city. We visited Plaza de Mayo- the very heart of the nation. Mothers have rallied at the site since the "Dirty Wars "of the 1970s when many of their sons mysteriously vanished. At the far end of the plaza, we saw Casa Rosada , the Presidential Palace and the 230 foot tall white Obelisco, an unmistakable city landmark. It was built in 1936 to mark the city's 400th anniversary. We also visited la Recoleta Cemetery. I don't normally visit cemeteries on vacation but I couldn't go home without a visit to this one. It features some of the most ostentatious tombs you will ever see. Among the most famous is Eva Peron's. Here's a postcard with The Pink House, the obelisk and Eva herself. Finally , we didn't leave Buenos Aires without seeing the Tango . While having a cold one in a cafe in Caminito, a traditional area with brightly colored houses and local artists selling their wares, we saw a wonderful performance of the Tango. Here's what it looked like. Both cards bear the same stamp. It is 1 of 7 definitives issued in 2009. A rather nice definitive set actually.
Buenos Aires marked the end of our cruise , 7 ports of call, the Amalia Glacier, Cape Horn, it was a trip to remember. Twelve night on the ship , 3702 nautical miles. Still a long way from home. We still had a long flight home, actually 3 flights. We had to fly from Buenos Aires to Santiago, then the long haul to Toronto and finally back to Calgary. It all went well except for a 2 hour delay sitting on the ramp in Buenos Aires in a thunder storm.

This concludes this edition of Cruising Thru Postcards , # 3. I hope you enjoyed reading and seeing the cards from the cruise. It has been a long update , I worked on it over a number of days , hence the date reads as June 19, it is now Jun 25. I hope if any readers received any cards from these travels, you might let me know via the comments. I like to know if they ever arrive.
Take care .

Be watching for edition # 4 of Cruising Thru Postcards in late September.

1 comment:

WaxonDanielsan said...

Sounds like a really great trip! :-)