A Photo A Week Details: A Convent Of Penguins

Nancy’s ‘Photo a Week Challenge’ is ‘Details’ and she invites us to share photos showing the grand scale and the detail of a scene.

On January 4th our cruise took us past Cooper Island, South Georgia. This is what we saw as we gazed ashore. South Georgia is one of the world’s most remarkable wildlife locations, as despite being surrounded by chilly Antarctic waters, the sea around it doesn’t freeze, so there is no winter exodus as in Antarctica. The island is full of penguins, seabirds and seals. The sight of a veritable mass of thousands of penguins, all standing around as if waiting for the next ferry, was quite comical.

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Can you see the cute baby penguins here? They have downy feathers in brown, which are not waterproof, so they have to stay out of the water and are totally dependent on their parents until they get their juvenile plumage.

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The seals just lie in heaps, like humongous pebbles.

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This gorgeous King Penguin, posing in front of two of his seal friends, seemed the ideal way to show you more detail. Selwyn on the right rose to the occasion, but Blondie in the middle of her siesta was totally oblivious to the fact that she was having her photo taken for WordPress.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing some more of the wonders of nature that we were privileged to see on our cruise.

Happy weekend to you all.

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WPC Solitude: Solitary Seal

On the last day of 2016, this fur seal wasn’t out partying with his friends. He chose to spend his day all by himself on an iceberg.

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I don’t think you can get much more solitary than that.

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Happy Tuesday to you all. Click her to see more entries for the ‘Solitude’ challenge

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What’s new Buenos Aires?

Our Antarctica cruise ended in the port of Buenos Aires and we looked forward to a few days on land, exploring the city before returning to Florida. We had booked a tour guide to take us to drop our bags at the hotel, and from there he was going to take us on a city tour for the rest of the day.

We started off by visiting the Plaza Naciones Unidas, in the centre of which is ‘Floralis GĂ©nerica’, a gargantuan 23m high metal flower revolving sculpture created in 2002 by Argentinian sculptor Eduardo Catalano. This flower blooms daily as its petals slowly open throughout the day and then close up again at sunset.

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From there, we did a general tour through the city, ending up at the Recoleta Cemetery which is perhaps Buenos Aires top attraction, if you can think of a cemetery as an attraction. It is actually an astounding place filled with row upon row of impressive statues and marble mausoleums,

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each one vying to be the biggest and the most ornate.

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Strolling down the ‘streets’, one can occasionally take a peek through a begrimed glass door or window into the crypts and check out the dust-covered, cobweb-festooned coffins.

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Here is the last resting place of past Argentinian Presidents, military heroes, Nobel Prize winners, influential politicians and other rich and famous people, the most notable and frequently visited of which is the tomb of  Eva PerĂłn, Argentine’s First Lady from 1946-1952.

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My favourite and the most touching was a memorial to a young woman who died when an avalanche struck her hotel in Austria. The tomb was designed by her mother, and the life-size bronze statue of Liliana Crociati in her wedding gown stands outside, above a plaque containing a poem written by her father. When her dog SabĂș died, a statue of him standing next to her was added.

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So far so good, and we were thoroughly enjoying our tour. We wandered with our guide through the antique district and stopped for lunch at a very old and authentic eating house with an interesting bar.

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Then it was back into the car to visit La Boca, a touristy and very colourful neighbourhood.

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Our guide stopped the car at the busy taxi drop-off to let hubby and I get out so that he could drive down the road to the car park. As we alighted and hubby was closing the car door, a motorbike screeched to a halt and a young man jumped off the back and attacked hubby from behind, grabbing him by the neck. Hubby managed to pull free and turned around to grab him back; I started screaming ‘blue murder’; our driver jumped out of the car and he and a couple of taxi drivers went for the guy, who lashed out at me, bruising my arm, before escaping empty-handed on the motorbike. It was a very traumatic experience indeed and for the rest of the day, as you can imagine, I was continually looking over my shoulder, not trusting any strangers to be near me. We’re not sure why he grabbed hubby round the neck, but maybe he was feeling for a gold chain. Some people carry their money purse on a cord hidden under their shirt so it could have been that. Anyway, after the mugging incident in Chile at Puerto Monte, and now this one in Buenos Aires, we have decided that South America is a ‘no go’ for us in future. We lived in South Africa for over forty years and have traveled the world, but have never had anything like this happen to us before. It’s very sad that there are such criminals who can ruin their country’s reputation as a great tourist destination. There wasn’t a policeman in sight, and when our guide drove down the road to the carpark, he spotted a police car parked in the shade, away from all the action. He walked over to report to them what had just happened to two of his clients and found them playing on their iPhones. He reprimanded them and told them that their main concern should be to watch out for the safety of visitors to their city.

We still had two more days in Buenos Aires, and thankfully there were no more unpleasant incidents, but as you can imagine, I felt uneasy walking the streets and we were extra vigilant. I do have some more photos which I’ll share with you very soon.

Hope your week is going well. We had a really stunning sunset here last night.

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Butt I caught a HUGE fish!

Ozzy Osprey went fishing this morning and got first prize. “Pardon my butt view whilst I gobble down my sushi breakfast.” It certainly wasn’t Mr. Bass’s lucky Monday.

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The fish looks almost as big as he is, but Ozzy isn’t sharing.

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Wishing you all a peaceful and successful week.

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Thursday’s Special: Wintry Glaciers

Paula’s theme for ‘Thursday’s Special’ this week, is ‘Wintry’. I’m cheating a bit with this photo, taken as our cruise ship sailed through Glacier Alley in the Beagle Channel. It was actually summer there, but the snowy scene is very wintry indeed.

img_1130The channel is named after the famous ‘HMS Beagle’ on which the  young naturalist Charles Darwin was a passenger on his first expedition in 1831. The journey lasted five years and resulted in Darwin’s first book containing his findings and ideas about evolution.

Happy weekend, everyone.

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Last Resting Place Of A Great Explorer

“I chose life over death for myself and my friends….I believe it is in our nature to explore, to reach out into the unknown, The only true failure would be not to explore at all. “ ~ Sir Ernest Shackleton

On January 5th, the 95th anniversary of the great explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton’s death, our cruise ship anchored just off Grytviken within King Edward Cove. The now rusted whaling station is today the site of the South Georgia Museum, and lies within a sheltered harbour tucked between Hope Cove and Hobart Rock, on the western shore of Cumberland East Bay.

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We got ourselves all togged out in our many layers of warm clothing and hopped onto the Zodiac inflatable which would take us ashore.

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The first place to visit was the whalers’ cemetery where there are sixty-four graves.

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The most visited and photographed of these is, of course, that of Shackleton himself, who used Grytviken when planning the rescue of his crew from the ill-fated ‘Endurance’ in 1915.  His body was returned to South Georgia at his widow’s request after he died from a heart attack whilst at sea in 1922, and he was laid to rest in his favourite place on earth, Antarctica. The back of this simple granite column is engraved with a quote from his best-loved poet, Robert Browning, “I hold that man should strive to the uttermost for his life’s set prize.”

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Elephant seals and fur seals occupy the main beaches around the bay.

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This one was proudly keeping watch over his harem and family.

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The sound of snoring from this super-relaxed napper was very audible indeed.

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Who could resist taking a photo of this cute baby seal?

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King Penguins come ashore to moult during the summer months. This one was happy to pose, as he was still sporting his full plumage.

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The Grytviken whaling station was established by sea captain Carl Larsen in 1904, and in its heyday was serviced by 300 men. It was abandoned in 1966 when whale numbers had dropped to an alarmingly low level.

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Abandoned whaling ships litter the coastal landscape and add to the ghostliness of this place.

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The seals were just everywhere. One had to be careful not to trip over them.

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The tiny Norwegian church, the oldest church in Antarctica, was shipped from Norway and consecrated on Christmas Day in 1913.

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It’s been restored and is in good condition, although it hasn’t had a pastor since 1931.

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It was a most fascinating visit and I wish I could show you all the photos we took inside the museum, but maybe I’ll do that in another post.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing some of what I saw on my amazing trip. More to follow when I have sorted through my photos.

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