22 Dec 2011 – Ushuaia / Buenos Aires

After a quick breakfast, we said good-bye to the dining room staff, and disembarked the ship (had to scan out using our key card) for the last time.  The Expedition Team was waiting on the pier to say their good byes as well.  They have only about five or six hours, before they start all over again with the new batch of rookie explorers.

The Silver Explorer will set sail again this evening for a 12-day cruise through the Falklands, and down the Antarctic Peninsula.  So, the pier was a flurry of activity – we watched as hundreds of pounds of beef, chicken and duck were loaded.  I’m sure that’s just a fraction of what will be needed over the next two weeks.

We were herded on to the waiting coaches to depart the port area.  We couldn’t have traveled more than a tenth of a mile, but I guess the point was to clear all passengers from the port.  Since the charter flight did not depart until 1:00 in the afternoon, we had two hours to explore the city.  We headed toward the museum, but thought the admission fee of AR $70 (about $18) was a little steep, when we were wanting only to kill some time.  So, instead we found a really nice coffee shop overlooking the port, and just hung out in the warmth until it was time to depart.  Retrospectively, we should have done a bit more research, because we could have had our passports stamped at the tourist office.  They also had specialty stamps and currency for sale, specific to “el fin del mundo” (the end of the world).

For the flight back, we were assigned the window and middle seats of row 17 (there is no first class on the charter flight).  When we tried to spread out a little by moving a row back, the flight attendant told us that row 11 (exit row) was fully available, so we moved forward, and sat across the aisle from each other.  There were no other occupants in the row.  A light lunch of salmon salad was served, but after ten days of Christian’s beautiful gourmet menus, it was less than mediocre.  However, the flight was a little more than three hours, and breakfast seemed a distant memory, so we gladly ate it.

We arrived in Buenos Aires on time, and collected our baggage (all 1,000 pounds of it – or so it seemed!).  We got in the taxi line, and in our horrible Spanish, managed to convey our destination.  It almost felt like coming home, when we pulled in to the drive in front of the Marriott Plaza Hotel.  We got checked in – we upgraded the room, and funnily enough, are right next door to the room we had two weeks ago!  By that time, it was almost 7:00, and we were thirsty and hungry.  So, without further delay, we headed to the Executive Lounge for water, coffee, and hors d’oeuvres.

We spent the rest of the evening cleaning up the blog from the cruise – fixing typos, adding pictures, and just general editing.  For the past ten days, we were pretty much been operating on the fly, and although the blog was in reasonably good shape, it definitely benefited from some clean up.

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