AI-99 USA (New York), Gibraltar (UK), Madeira (PORTUGAL), Canary Islands (SPAIN), CAPE VERDE ISLANDS, Ascension Island (UK), St. Helena (UK), Tristan da Cunha Islands (UK), South Georgia Island (UK), Falkland Islands (UK), ARGENTINA
Date of travel: Oct 11 – Nov 29, 1999 (the whole trip 50 days, sailing 45 days)
On Oct 11 late in the afternoon I drive in Budget rented car from Vista to Los Angeles airport. There I board a TWA plane to New York where next day early in the morning. I have 12 hours between planes. By bus andsubway,I get to 34thSt. I visit the “Empire State Building” and take pictures from its 86thfloor. I continue 5th Avenue and 42nd St. to “Grand Central Station,” then to“UN Building,” on 47th St. to “Rockefeller Center” and “Time Square” between 42nd and 47th St. Then back to JFK airport. In the evening I take a British Airways (BA) plane to London-Gatwick.
On Oct 13 early in the morning after 7-hr flight I land in London-Gatwick in UK. Soon I am on another BA plane flying 2.5-hr to Gibraltar, UK. We are taken to our hotel. I share room with 76-year old Filipino-American who has traveled extensively. I do sightseeing in the afternoon. The British Colony is aplace to visit. 6 km in length, 1 km in width most of it is filled with limestone mountain. Next day there is a bus tour of the “Rock.” Due to limestone Gibraltar is full of caves. Some have stalactites and stalagmites, others are used for defense. We visit some of them. A cable car takes us to top. There are “Barbary Macaque” (monkeys) all over. From a lighthousewe see mountains in 16 km distant Morocco. Late in the afternoon we board our Russian ship “Lyubov Orlova.” The ship starts its journey through Atlantic Ocean.
Next two days are on the ocean. “Lyubov Orlova” used to be a cargo ship. While sailing it is being equipped with cabins. Not all passengers have cabins they paid for from the first day. I share cabin with the Filipino.Russian owner is on board. The crew and hotel personal are all Russians. There are 3 Canadians from Marine Expedition who run the expedition and 3 lecturers. The lectures start immediately.
On Oct 17 “Lyubov Orlova” docksatFunchal on Madeira Island.It is an autonomous region of PORTUGAL with some 275k inhabitants. The islandis a 1,400m high volcano. Our 2 buses climb from the subtropical area at ocean level, past Mediterranean area to forestedtop. The houses cling to the hill-sides. When returning from the top we visit a church in town Monte, where the last Austrian Emperor and the Czech King, Charles I., is buried. Then we take a toboggan (sled) steered by 2 local men going down on cable stone streets. Back in Funchal I do walking on my own. City has a fort still in use by military. Then back to our ship. Next day on ocean.
On Oct 19 our ship is moored in Santa Cruz on the Tenerife Island, part of Canary Islands, an autonomous region of SPAIN.We depart for a whole day trip. From Santa Cruz our bus climbs the mountains to Laguna then to smaller town Esperanza. Later we see the highest point of Canary Islands and of Spain, the 3,717m high volcano Teide Peak. In winter there is snow on it. We enter “Park National del Teide” in a caldera of gigantic volcano.It is a moonscape. After lunch there is a stop at town Orotava with narrow and often steep streets. The last stop is in Puerto de la Cruz which has everything a beach lover would wish for. In the evening I explore Santa Cruz.
Overnight our ship crosses to the nearby island Gomera.There we are at the pier in San Sabastian. Here Columbus stopped in 3 of his 4 passages to America. There is a shore excursion of the island. Again, the island is mountainous and at places the narrow road is cut in the rocky outcropping and goes through several tunnels. Bus is passing through villages. Most of the center of Gomera is a national park. After return to San Sebastian some of us explore the town on our own. I visit an interesting church and let somebody show me the house Columbus stayed in. It is a Casa Colon Museum now. There is a tower in the town, a remnant of a fortress. Our ship leaves Gomera at night.
Next 2.5 days we are on the ocean. Every day lectures.On Oct 23 afternoon “Lyubov Orlova” docks in the Mindelo harbor of San Vincente Island of CAPE VERDE ISLANDS. I take a walk through the town. Next morning, we go for a trip.In the harbor there are 3 shipwrecks. We drive to the “Baia das Gatas.”The hilly countryside lacks any trees or bushes only grass and weeds. After lunch we have another trip to southern part of the island. Cape Verde Islandsare one of the poorest countries of the world.
On Oct 25 we are in Praia on Santiago Island, the capital of CAPE VERDE ISLANDS. A bus and minibuses take us for a day trip of the island. The capital has number of ministerial buildings. Outside the city we are ingreen countryside. We go through several villages. Houses do not have glass in the windows. There are wooden shutters instead. The school children have uniforms. Eventually we return to Praia.
Next 5 days we are on the Atlantic Ocean sailing south-south-east. On Oct 28 our ship crosses the Equator. That is welcomed by the Neptune celebration.
On Oct 31 we reach the Ascension Island (UK).First day we are circumnavigating the island. While there is greenery in the higher eastern part of the island, the lower altitudes are like a moonscape with many volcanic cones. In the afternoon we do birding from zodiacs off a tiny bird island. Underwater cables crisscross the island. The British have a garrison here. The Americans enlarged the runway, so Space Shuttle can land on it. The following morning, we get by zodiac to its only town, Georgetown. Minibuses are taking us around the island. Volcanic surface and no vegetation in lower elevation. A twisting road takes us in the mountains and lush vegetation. After returning from the mountains somebody points to a golf course. Its surface is volcanic sand instead grass. After lunch in a local restaurant we visit a museum. There are interesting collections of BW photographs from last 2 centuries here and old radio parts reminding me start of my carrier in Tesla. In other parts of this museum there are war memorabilia. While strolling the town I notice an “Exiles Club” (none-members welcome), Tesco store, Tourist Center, church, and a beautiful but empty beach. Late in the afternoonback to ship by zodiac. Next 2 days are spent on the ocean with more lectures.
On Nov 4 our ship drops anchor at Jamestown, St. Helena Island (UK). Zodiacs take us to shore. We have a collection of cars for the island tour. I get in a 1929 Chevrolet. We enter Jamestown through a gate in a city wall. There is a “Castle”on left. It was a fort, but it is administration building now. St. James’ Church from 1774 on the right. We are driving up the main street called Parade Groundsbordered by historical buildings. Above town we stop at Ladder Hill Fort. There are many forts on this island. St. Helena is mountainous. Another stop is at “Plantation House,” which is the residence of the governor. The wife of present governor shows us the building. In the garden we see a 200-year tortoise from Galapagos Islands. In higher elevation there is lush vegetation. Near the highest point of the island (818 m) we visit “Longwood House,” where Napoleon lived last 6 years of his life and died in 1821. When returning we see the place (picked-up by Napoleon), where he was buried. In 1840 his remains were brought to Paris. Our last stop is at “Briars Pavilion,” where Napoleon lived 2 monthsafter British brought him to St. Helena. We have free time in Jamestown and lunch in hotel Ambassy the only hotel on the island. There is a walking tour of the town with visits tothe “Court House” and the “Castle.” At 6 PM by zodiac to our ship.
Next 4 days we are sailing the South Atlantic.There are lectures every day. On Nov 9 our ship comes to Tristan da Cunha (UK). In this group there are 4 islands.They are Tristan da Cunha, Inaccessible, Nightingale and Gough.There are large waves and there is no harbor at the village called Edinburgh on Tristan da Cunha. We hope next two days there will be more opportunity to land there. Today we circumnavigate Tristan. The island is a large volcano 2,060 m (6,760 ft.) high. At the sea level there is the village and 3miles away are “The Patches” for growing potatoes, vegetable and even some fruit. After lunch we go on zodiacs to see some waterfalls and nesting birds on the island. The following day the situation is not better. No landing in the village a home to about 300 people. They fish for lobsters, process them and export. They have income from postage stamps, too. In 1961 a volcanic crater opened at the village. All people were evacuated to Scotland. They stayed 2 years there and when volcanic activity stopped they elected toreturn to Tristan. The third day several Tristaneans came to our ship with their souvenirs and stamps. They used a special ship which can take the waves. In the afternoon our ship pulls its anchor and sails south. It circumnavigates Inaccessible Island. Sheer rocks make it inaccessible. Then the Nightingale, where the people from Tristan have cottages. Next day we pass past Gough Island some 350 km southeast of Nightingale. Later our ship crosses to “Roaring Forties” known for stormy weather.
It takes 5 days in “Roaring Forties” & “Furious Fifties” to get to South Georgia. While on our way there, the waves are high. During lectures we sit on floor, because it is dangerous to sit onchairs. On Nov 15 we enter “Furious Fifties” and see first iceberg.
On Nov 16 before midnight our ship docks in town Grytviken on South Georgia Island, UK possession. South Georgia with its high mountain ridge is the most attractive island of South Atlantic. There used to bewhaling stations here and Grytviken was the last. Next day we visit the town with its falling apart whaling equipment, in sun resting fur and elephant seals and like doormen standing in their tuxedos“king penguins.”On local cemetery we see the graveof Antarctictraveler Shackleton.There are 3 people taking care of everything from a small museum and a post office to stamping our passports. Next 3 days our ship sails along the northeast coast of South Georgia visiting several bays, where we see more species of penguins, seals, and birds.
On Nov 21 we take course west and after 3 days on the ocean we come to Falkland Islands, UK, on Nov 24. In the morning there is a shore excursion of Stanley, the capital of the islands. Stanley is partly around a bay and mostly on an incline covered by nice looking houses. We drive through the town in a bus. There is a photo stop at a memorial of the 1982 conflict with Argentina. Thanks to that war the Falkland Islands entered 20th century. Then a visit to a museum and stops at other interesting places.An individual sightseeing of the town follows. Two large islands and many small form Falkland Islands. Next two days we do birding on 4 small islands.
We have a farewell dinner while sailing through Beagle Channel to Ushuaia. In the morning on Nov 28 “Lyubov Orlova” reaches Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, ARGENTINA.Ushuaia is the southernmost city of the world. We take a plane to Buenos Aires where at midafternoon. There is a sightseeing tour of the city. We stop in Recolleta cemetery at the tomb of Evita Peron, then we drive on the main street, “Avenida 9 de Julio,” do another stops at “Parliament” and at “Casa Rosada” a president’s office. The tour ends with a great Argentinian dinner, steak with French fries, vegetable and red wine.
An Aerolineas Argentinas planetakes me for a 10-hr flight to New York, USA, where in the morning on Nov 29. By bus and a subway to Manhattan. This time I do sightseeing of southern tip of the island. I go to Battery Park, then Trinity Church, Wall Street, and the World Trade Center. After that back to the JFK airport. In midafternoon I board a TWA plane for a 5h40m flight to Los Angeles. There I take a car in AVIS for drive home to Vista. I am there at 10PM.
Travel office: “Marine Expedition” through“Star Travel” in Carlsbad Mall
Who took part: 55 tourists, 62 Russian crews, 3 from Marine Exp. and 3 lecturers
The ship: “Lyubov Orlova,” 1,400 tons, 100.2 m long, 16.2 m breadth