Antarctica Sailing and pre and post shore excursionsAuthor: Sandra OHara
Date of Trip: February 2014
Antarctica, Sailing on Celebrity’s Infinity
February 16 to March 2, 2014
Plus Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls
February 10 to 15, and March 2, 2014
This is a wonderful trip and a great experience, and if this is on your bucket list, GO!
But, before you book you must keep in mind: Buenos Aires and Montevideo are lovely cities, however one must be prepared for poorer sectors, graffiti, litter, and crime. Many do not speak any English, i. e. Taxis, shops, restaurants
Weather: Tropical hot and humid, mosquitos, damp chilling winter cold with high winds, snow, rain, and sun causing severe sun burns.
Due to weather be prepared for: missed ports, itinerary changes, and heavy seas
This trip was booked in March of 2012 as a cruise tour with Celebrity. After looking at prices, we found that we could do six days instead of three at the same price. We dropped the tour with Celebrity in April of 2013.
Discovery Uruguay, Diego Kraidelman handled all of our ground arrangements. The price, and arrangements included all entry fees, English speaking guides, ground transportation, hotels, airline tickets to and from the falls, and dinner with tango show. We were very extremely pleased with all, and we personally would highly recommend Discovery Uruguay.
Prior to booking with Diego, we had done extensive research via books and the net, and we knew we wanted to stay in the Recoleta area in a high quality hotel and we knew what sites we wanted to be included in the tours. We sent Diego a list and a suggested itinerary. Between our list, and his recommendation, we came up with the final itinerary. I would highly suggest you research prior to booking, and know what you want to see and visit, and what you are getting for your monies. One couple while in line at the Pink Palace, ask me, why we were going into this building. Another gentleman thought he should be on a private tour. Doing your research, which takes a lot of time, will avoid disappointments and afford a wonderful experience.
All tours were set up as small group tours which meant that we would have groups no larger than twelve. We were only two on some days, 4 on other days, 8 on one day, and 12 at the falls. Private tours can be arranged at an additional charge. All guides spoke English. The transportation drivers do not speak English. We would highly suggest getting a translator app for you mobile phone. One couple was left at the pier due to lack of communication. Please note: that Taxi drivers also do not speak English.
We reconfirmed all of our tours and excursions prior to our departure, and all went as planned.
February 9th: United Airlines from Orlando to Houston, and then nonstop to Buenos Aires. Arriving on the 10th. Caution, United has a very unusual boarding procedure, and Economy Plus, although paying additional fees, gets no boarding priority.
February 10th : Arrived in Buenos Aires. Driver was waiting outside of customs with sign. Taking us to Buenos Aires Grand Hotel. The Grand is only a year old and was wonderful. Staff was outstanding. Room was great! Caution, they do not provide tissues or wash cloths. At 1:00 PM in the pouring rain, we were meet by our guide Sebastian for a three hour walk of the Recoleta Area. Tired and wet, we had dinner at the hotel.
February 11th: Meet by our guide Sebastian at 1 PM. We were off to Evita’s Museum. We would say, this is a must. Our guide’s family has lived in the Recoleta Area of Buenos Aires for many years. He gave us a fantastic insight on the life and style of Evita.
We were also to see Carlos Gardel Museum, however when we arrived it was closed. We went instead to a special library which used to be a theater with outstanding murals. A library is actually a book store. We had empanadas in a local eatery, and went to a fantastic leather shop, Los Corrales. We had dinner that evening at an Argentinian Steak House, recommended by our hotel, La Cabrera. It was just OK!
February 12th: At 2PM we were off to Iguazu Falls with another couple. Stored some of our luggage at the Grand. We were picked up promptly by our driver and taken to the local airport. We arrived at falls about 6 PM, and again our driver was awaiting our arrival. Our hotel was the Panoramic Hotel. It was OK, but in hind sight, I would have upgraded to the Grand. It did have a great view of three countries; Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina.
February 13th : At 7:30 AM our van arrived to take us to the falls. We had a full day tour of the falls with 10 other person. We were accompanied by an English speaking guide. We were able to see all three trails. It is indeed spectacular and should not be missed. Be prepared for a lot of walking and getting wet viewing the falls.
February 14th: We again picked up at the hotel at 7:30 AM. We went back to the falls and did a boat ride in the river and under the falls. We upgraded to a longer boat ride at the falls. In hind sight, we do not know if this was necessary. Caution, you get soaking wet all over including you shoes. They do give you a wet sack to place your personal articles in. If you want to take photos, advise a water proof camera. Getting up and down to the boats is a lot of steps and sometime areas have no hand rails. It also rained that day, the walk ways were slippery, and we had two people fall in our group.
At 2 PM our driver took us directly from the falls to the airport. Fortunately, we had a complete set of dry clothes and shoes to change into. We flew back to Buenos Aires that evening, our driver again was waiting at the Airport, and again we stayed at the Grand. It was Valentine’s Day, the restaurants were booked. We just had a sandwich at the bar. If you’re going to be there on Valentine’s Day, make sure you have a reservation.
February 15th: We were off (4 in total) to a full day tour of Buenos Aires, Cemetery, and La Boca with our private guide Patricia Kanelson. It was a fantastic tour. We were supposed to go Puerto Madero but our group spent far too much time taking photos in the Cemetery and we ran out of time. One of the highlights of the day in addition to the cemetery was La Boca where we had lunch in a local restaurant that featured a tango show and more. La Boca is a great area to pick up gifts, however be very watchful of your pockets, and pocket books in this area, and do not wonder off.
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