“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.” ― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh.
Aaaannndd we're back, after three days of planes and buses, interrupted by brief forays into the actual outdoors. We flew from Boston to Miami on Sunday, and then flew out Monday to Buenos Aires, arriving in the evening, where we met our group. Tuesday was sight-seeing day, as group members continued to arrive through Tuesday evening.
A&K had arranged for a bus tour of the city in the afternoon, so we had the morning to ourselves. We took advantage of the time to see the city's famous opera house, el Colon Theater. Chris and I had been to Buenos Aires a few years ago, but missed this gem, so I was glad for the chance to see it. It is spectacular, and I would put it on your must-see list. I will save the details - and the secrets! - for your discovery, but just know that it ranks with the great opera houses of Europe. Acoustically, it is near perfect, so much so that on his one and only appearance there, Pavarotti said he would never return. The acoustics were too perfect, you see, and the great tenor was afraid that the tiniest imperfection in his voice would be heard.
We had a celebrity sighting (well, we're 99% sure, anyway). I'm pretty sure that we spotted the Swedish actor Mikael Nykvist, who played the writer in the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, in the hotel bar on Monday night. We found out later that something was being filmed around the corner from the hotel.
We had to leave for the airport at 5:40 am Wednesday for a 7:00 am flight to Ushuaia, so we were instructed to have our bags outside the room for transport to the airport overnight. I carefully hung my outfit for the next day in the closet, as that and my day bag were the only things I would need for Tuesday's journey to and in Ushuaia.
Well. The best laid plans and all that.
I got up at 4:30 to get ready. However, my pants were nowhere to be seen. I tore the room apart, coming to the horrifying realization that Chris must have packed them in his bag. Which was already at the airport, along with mine.
Over the years, I have tried out various things when I travel. I've traveled with one carry-on, tried out bringing only one pair of shoes, traveled with jewelry and without - all in an effort to see what works best for me. As a result, I have two tried-and-true items that I always pack. The first is a set of pajamas in which I would not be worried about being seen, in case I have to leave the hotel room in the middle of the night (this actually happened one October night in Oslo, but that's a story for another time).
The second is that I always have a big pashmina in my carry-on. Like the essential towel in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, it is an infinitely useful item. It can be a pillow, a blanket, a shawl for cool evenings. And luckily for me (and our marriage), it can also be drafted into service as a skirt. Looking like a cross between an aging grunge rocker and a homeless person, I wore the pashmina like a sarong, along with socks and clogs.
We traveled to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Known as the "Gateway to the Antartic", it was originally a penal colony, and later became a base for the Argentine navy. It is nestled in the tail end of the Andes and the approach by air is quite breathtaking. Ushuaia is situated on the Beagle Channel, named for Darwin's ship, as Darwin traveled this way on his famous voyage.
After a short bus tour of the city and a nice lunch at a hotel with gorgeous views, we were taken to our ship, Le Boreal. It's an expedition vessel, so it is smaller than most cruise ships. It didn't take long to become familiar with the ship layout.
The staterooms are very nice - roomy and well-laid out. We have a balcony and plenty of room for stowing things, as we expect heavy weather in the Drake Passage. Our suitcases were waiting for us (and I was happily reunited with my pants), as were our boots, parkas, and waterproof backpacks.