.All Trips / Chile / South America

Exploring the Fjords of Patagonia: 4) Pia Glacier

19 Pia Glacier

Having finished a hike in Tierra del Fuego and studied birds up close on Tucker’s Islets, we completed a memorable day with an evening of fine food, good companionship and restful sleep.  During the night our ship re-positioned itself and the next morning’s excursion was a visit to Pia Glacier.

Pia Glacier is in the north-west arm of the Beagle Channel and lies on the Darwin Range.  It’s an advancing glacier, meaning …

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.All Trips / Chile / South America

Exploring the Fjords of Patagonia: 3) Bird-watching at Tucker’s Islet

00 Tucker Islets

After our morning hike in Tierra del Fuego we returned to the Australis for lunch and some rest, during which time our ship re-positioned itself in Ainsworth Bay.  Our afternoon excursion was to be entirely on a Zodiac. This is obviously a slower process than zipping us onshore for the morning’s hike as the supply of Zodiacs was limited.

The Zodiacs took us to a small cluster of islands known as Tucker’s Islets.  These lie within the Strait of Magellan and are rich in bird life (note:  Magellan was the Portuguese explorer who visited this region 500 years ago).  We would slowly circle these islands in the Zodiac to observe the different types of birds, slowing to a stop when possible, …

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.All Trips / Chile / South America

Exploring the Fjords of Patagonia: 2) A Hike in Tierra del Fuego

02a Ainsworth Bay

After a good dinner, an evening of pleasant conversation with our fellow cruisers and a good night’s sleep aboard the Australis, we found ourselves in Ainsworth Bay, in the Tierra del Fuego region of Chile. The area is part of the protected lands of Alberto de Agostini National Park.  Ainsworth Bay is a fjord fed by the meltwater of the nearby Marinelli Glacier, itself part of the larger Darwin Ice Field.

Our route to Ainsworth Bay

Our route to Ainsworth Bay

We boarded the zodiacs and were zipped to shore, where in small groups of about 10-12 we were lead by a guide through a subpolar Patagonian coastal  rainforest. 

The weather was highly changeable.  When we landed it was gently drizzling, but after a while the rain broke and soon the sun poked …

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.All Trips / Argentina / South America

Exploring the Fjords of Patagonia: 1) The Australis

00 Australis

There’s a fascinating leg of our Patagonian journey which I haven’t shared with you yet.  We took a 4 day cruise into the Fjordlands at the southern end of South America, mostly coastal Chile and a bit of Argentina.  This journey into Tierra del Fuego was a truly memorable adventure!

The cruise began at the Port in the frontier town of Puenta Arenas, Chile.  Here we boarded the Chilean-owned adventure ship, Australis, which was to take us to the “uttermost end of the earth”.  Australis is an expedition cruise company specializing in exploring the waterways of Tierra del Fuego, including the Strait of Magellan and Beagle Channel.  The Australis is relatively small, carrying only about 200 passengers, which is very much to your advantage …

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“Pic of the Week”, January 31, 2020: La Biela Cafe, Buenos Aires


You’ll find historic La Biela Café in the upscale neighborhood of Recoleta.  La Biela is thought to be the oldest café in Buenos Aires, dating to the mid-19th century when the area was mostly farm fields.  The café started serving refreshments to wealthy citizens from San Telmo who were traveling by horse and buggy to their vacation homes further north.  La Biela is very close to the Recoleta cemetery and the Church of Nuestra Señora del Pilar.

The place is very popular with locals and tourists.  In the past seventy years it has taken on a car-racing theme because it was a meeting place for motoring enthusiasts in the early days of car travel, and later …

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.All Trips / Argentina / South America

Buenos Aires’ unique Barolo Palace

00 Barolo Palace, Buenos Aires

There are many old and interesting buildings in Buenos Aires, but none caught our attention quite like the Palacio Barolo (Barolo Palace), situated on famous Avenida de Mayo. 

The Barolo Palace was designed by Italian architect, Mario Palanti.  He was given this commission by the original building owner, entrepreneur Luis Barolo, an Italian immigrant who made his fortune in wool and cotton textiles.  When the Barolo Palace was finished in 1923 it was the tallest building in South America.   It is 100 meters (330 ft) tall; subsequently a taller but similar appearing sibling was constructed, the Palacio Salvo, built by the same architect in Montevideo, Uruguay.  And, of course, today’s Buenos Aires skyline contains many taller structures. 

Graf Zeppelin Palacio Barolo 30 June 1934. Courtesy Wikimedia and National Archives of Argentina

Graf Zeppelin Palacio Barolo 30 June 1934. Courtesy Wikimedia and National Archives of Argentina

The Palacio Barolo’s design was …

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“Pic of the Week”, March 29, 2019: Farmacia de la Estrella, Buenos Aires

00 Pharmacy

Like many of you, I’d like to step back in time on occasions — at least as much as a particular spot will allow me to.

A visit to Farmacia de la Estrella on Defensa Street in Buenos Aires, near the Basilica de San Francisco, will take you back to the 19th century.  Built in 1835, the pharmacy is still actively functioning and a busy place dispensing homeopathic remedies to those in need.  It is said to be the oldest pharmacy in Buenos Aires.  

The woodwork is original mahogany, and the murals are lovely.  You’ll see lots of old jars from a time when medicine didn’t come in blisterpacks or disposable bottles.  The pharmacy hasn’t changed much over the past two centuries and …

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“Pic of the Week”, March 15, 2019: Cafe Tortoni, Buenos Aires


Situated on Buenos Aires’ busy Avenida de Mayo is a charming cafe that’s worth looking up.  Cafe Tortoni was founded in 1856 by a French immigrant who fashioned it after Paris’ cafes of that era.   To say he did a great job is an understatement.  Walking in from the busy avenue does indeed seem like stepping into Van Gogh’s Paris.

Cafe Tortoni moved to its current location in 1880.   It has remained largely unchanged since then. 

We visited for coffee and a pastry with some friends during our stroll down Avenida de Mayo.  Both the company and refreshment were excellent!  And the ambience was most memorable.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance)


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