trip began Sunday evening, February 15th with a ride from home
to JFK for the flight to Buenos Aires' Ezezia International Airport.
The flight was long, 5300+ miles worth of boring, and uneventful.
By the time we cleared customs and immigration, collected our
luggage, and got to the pick up point for the transfer to our
hotel in downtown Buenos Aires it had begun to rain. The
ride into downtown, like so many I've taken from international
airports distant from the city that they serve, passed all manner
of neighborhood ranging from the very poor to gated, fenced enclaves
that no doubt belonged to the wealthy.
I was supposed
to deliver a lecture at the Departamento de Quimica de Universidad
de Buenos Aires at 1700 hrs. The Hotel Internacional, unfortunately,
had a 1600 check in policy and they weren't bending on that!
Around 1530, I guess I had become a sufficient visitor to the
front desk that they made arrangements for me to grab a shower
and change in the hotel's health club. That done, when I
finally got in touch with my host, Prof. Gerardo Burton, I learned
that he had called the hotel only to be frustrated when he was
told that I hadn't arrived... not that I was there waiting to
check in and that they didn't have a room ready for us.
After so hurried planning, things got rearranged at the university
for me to deliver the lecture at 1900 instead of 1700 hrs...
despite the late hour there were still about 30 people attending
the lecture. I hope that I was coherent since I hadn't slept
in nearly 36 hrs.
dawned bright, sunny, and cool. We lazed around the hotel
and had a leisurely breakfast waiting for the transfer to the
Port of Buenos Aires at 1330. Getting our luggage after
we got off the bus at the port, we started the check in process,
which can ONLY be described as chaotic at best! After standing
in one line for an hour, we were next in line only to have the
agent manning the desk tell us that they were not checking in
any more people at that desk. Then she walked away without
bothering to tell us where to go or anything. Carnival,
if you're reading this and ever do South America again, call up
Holland American, and beg some of their personnel to help arrange
check-in for passengers in Buenos Aires! After about another
30 min, courtesy of Linda's cane, we got in a short line and through
the check in process. Then it was hop a shuttle bus to take
us through the busy container area of the port out to the Splendor
and cabin 1115 on the Spa deck that was to be our home for the
next two weeks on the ship. The view from our balcony is
below on the left -- ahhh, welcome to Containerville! When
we arrived, Holland America's M/V Amsterdam was berthed at the
port. She departed that first evening and a Costa Cruise
Liner took her place during the night. The view of the Rio
de la Plata, or River of Silver in English is shown on the right
below... actually the color was pretty much cocoa brown
from all the sediments washing down the rivers.
That evening, the
Splenodor served as our hotel and we had all of the following
day again in Buenos Aires to ourselves. In the morning,
we did a tour of the city and spent some time in Recoleta.
Beginning in Cemetaria de Recoleta that is full of fascinating
mausoleums and is also the final restring place of Eva
Perone, better known as Evita. She is now entombed
in a mausoleum belonging to familia Duarte.
Some of the
mausoleums fall into disrepair when the last member of the family
that owns it dies off. After a time, since there is no room
to expand the cemetary, the plot is recycled and taken over by
de Recoleta, we went down Avenida 9 de Julio, past Teatro Colon,
which is Buenos Aires' opera house, past the obelisk, which marks
the center of Buenos Aires to Plaza de Mayo and the Pink House.
No, you didn't read that wrong, the Argentine Presidential Palace
is painted a shade of pink, which his perhaps befitting considering
Evita and also that Argentina's current President is also a lady.
From there we continued across town to one of Buenos Aires' two
major soccer stadiums known as La Boca to a colorful old neighborhood
know as Caminita, which was years ago painted using whatever colorful
paints were available, a tradition that continues in that area
to this day.
After Caminita we ended up
on Buenos Aires' major shopping district... Florida Avenue.
No that wasn't a mistype. From there it was back to the
ship to hang out for a bit before we sailed for Montevideo at
1700. The M/V Splendor is a huge ship, nearly 1,000 feet
long and she displaces 113,000 tons. As of when we sailed
on her, she was Carnival's largest ship. A new ship being
launched next September, however, will be larger still.
At any rate, by 1700, the lines had all been cast off and we were
moving away from the pier and forward toward the breakwall that
protects Buenos Aires' harbor from the open waters of the Rio
de la Plata. Some photos of the breakwater and the light
that marks it are below. As you look at those, notice the
opening between the breakwater and the pier that runs out into
the river... we're going to go along the breakwater and then turn
the 1,000 foot ship that we're on to do a hard 90 degree turn
to port! Needless to say, it was an interesting maneuver
to watch from up on deck 12.
it to say that we made the turn past the Buenos Aires breakwater
light and entered the channel leading out into the brown
waters of Rio de la Plata. The channel heading out
was relatively narrow, it seemed and we weren't moving terribly
fast, only about 12 knots. As we got further from
Buenos Aires, we started to notice that there was literally
a ship parking lot out there of container ships, tankers,
etc. At one point, I was able to count no less that
20 ships at anchor! The photo below was shot with
a fisheye and hopefully gives you somewhat of an idea of
how many ships were out there.
The satellite image below
(copyright Google Earth) shows the Buenos Aires harbor and more
or less the route that the Splendor took departing the harbor
for Montevideo. Obviously, the waters of the Rio de la Plata
were far more blue the day this satellite image was made than
the day we sailed!