Saturday 6th February
We arrived in Puerto Madryn at midday, the sky was dull but it was warm, and very windy. It looked like we were the only cruise ship in town today. There were some sea lions that kept us entertained whilst we were being tied up - entertaining because every time the cameras came out they disappeared!
We left the ship and walked the 700m (shuttle bus was for those with impaired mobility only) along the road bridge from where we were berthed, into the town. The tourist information centre was very close and we went in for a quick look, but we already had a small map from the ship so I didn't join the queue to get another one. We walked along the main street of the town hoping to find a cafe with wifi, but it appeared that everything was shut until 4pm! So we walked further through the town until we hit what looked like a residential area. Then we headed across to the empty wet beach and walked back along it to the bit of the town where the shops were. We found a cafe called Bomke and managed to get a cup of coffee each from the non-English speaking cashier.
In the port guide given to us by the ship for today it waxed lyrical about the Southern Right Whale and how this area was a huge breeding ground for them, together with several paragraphs of facts and figures about them, and that between June and December you can hear and see them all along the coast...
On our walk through the town we saw the diving shops and along the beach the dive centres. Puerto Madryn is the Diving Capital of Argentina and we could imagine how busy it must be during the whale breeding season...although we did see one group of 4 divers getting dropped off on the beach after their dive.
To pass some more time before the shops opened we walked a few blocks away from the seafront and found another cafe with wifi and had our usual two cups of coffee while I posted to the blog.
The souvenir shops all seemed to have the same souvenirs as we had seen in the last few places. Everything was penguin related, and here in Puerto Madryn they had penguin and whale related items, but as we hadn't seen any whales they weren't relevant to us. But using our last Argentinian pesos - all obtained from change given to our US dollars, Martin bought a little 'mates' cup/bowl. We are still not sure what these bowls are for but they are often sold with a metal straw. You can't buy Argentinian pesos in Britain but we had read that they accept US $ so we took them for our spending money in Argentina, but you always get Argentinian pesos back in your change, and, as you can't exchange them back in Britain we spent them if we could.
As we started back to the ship it began to rain and we were nicely damp by the time we got back.
Cruise Director Ross entertained us with another solo cabaret tonight and then we went to see what the 70's Strikeout quiz was all about. It was nice and easy - they played a 70's song and you had to decide which year it was out of the two they gave you, by standing on the corresponding side of the dance floor. In the first round we were both knocked out early on, but in the second round I went all the way to the final! But both me and the other man chose the same year, the wrong one, so neither of us won outright. We were both declared winners of the round though and got a Cocktail of the Day, which was a 'Yellow Bird' - Rum, Gallaino, Creme de banana, orange juice and lemon. Very nice. Not bad for complete guesswork, because of course I was a little young to remember many of the songs of the Seventies, and there is no way I would have actually known the years they were hits (except maybe songs from Grease and Saturday Night Fever, and they didn't come up!).
Before we went to bed we watched Katy's Judy Garland cabaret (I definitely didn't know any of those songs - except 'Somewhere over the Rainbow').
Sunday 7th January
Nearly missed breakfast again after a lie in today. And I nearly missed lunch too as we couldn't find each other - we must have been going around the ship in the same circle but on opposite sides. Martin gave up and started without me.
Ship days are starting to get a little boring now. If the weather is not sunny then there are lots of people inside and it is quite noisy if you want to read or write. The lectures seem to have tailed off and the classes are all the same as before. So we often end up back in the cabin reading or writing (me), or sleeping (Martin).
We met our table mates in the Waldorf Restaurant for a formal night this evening. Having exhausted most subjects (except religion and politics) we are now talking about our last shore day and other people on the ship. One night when we didn't go to the Restaurant someone on the next table complained very loudly about their food and now the chef always comes out and asks them if everything is all right each night.
The show team performed their own version of Hello Dolly tonight - not a show we were familiar with but it had lots of dressy costumes and hats and was quite entertaining.
Clocks go forward an hour tonight.
Been sneezing a bit today...
Monday 8th January
The start of the Chinese New Year, Year of the Monkey and another cold for me (bloody people and their germs - sometimes there is a benefit to being antisocial). Some facts in today's programme - porridge should not be eaten as only poor people eat porridge and you don't want to start the new year poor, white or black clothes are barred as they are traditionally associated with mourning, and, don't give gifts of clocks, scissors or pears as they all have a bad meaning in Chinese culture.
So, dressed in blue jeans/trousers and predominantly red t-shirts, the Chinese lucky colour, we went to have a late breakfast and felt sorry for all the staff dressed in black and white.
The master carver carved another block of ice on the Pool Deck this morning, in the shape of a monkey for the Chinese New Year. He had never carved a monkey before but he made quite a good job of it as it was definitely recognisable as a monkey.
Oh there it goes again - 15.12 I am sitting in the cabin writing this and Bruno Mars' You're Amazing has come on over the cabin speakers. It is very random and sometimes happens in the middle of the night, just loud enough to wake me up. When the song has finished everything goes quiet again. We have the cabin system set so that we only hear public announcements from the Bridge, and the radio is turned off. Other people hear it too, so sadly it's not being played especially for me. I asked at the Reception whether they knew anything about it but they didn't. They said to ring them when it happens again so they can investigate - it is likely it comes from the bridge as that is the only place wired into the system. But I said I didn't want it to stop!
The forecast yesterday had been for rain today, but it held off and most of the day was quite bright and warm at 25 degC.
Gerry Graham's 2nd performance tonight and he didn't disappoint. His observations of life on board the Marco Polo were excellent, especially his rendition of 'I want to Make Tea', with his own lyrics to 'I want to Break Free' by Queen.