Walk the Walk in BA

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My first view of Buenos Aires from our balcony – not a very attractive site with the heavy rain clouds.

Our arrival meant that we would be alongside from early Saturday morning until Sunday afternoon, when the ship would sail with a new ‘cargo’ of passengers.

Our plan was to experience BA on Saturday morning, using a ‘walking guide’ to get an idea of the layout of the city.

We booked our walking tour via the internet with http://www.buenostours.com/ and for a small extra price besides picking us up from the ship (which was part of the basic price), they would return us to the ship, which meant that we would not have to experience using a local taxi.

I may be doing BA taxi drivers a disservice, but I had read many negative comments of taxi drivers taking advantage of  cruise passengers.

We would return to the ship and spend part of Saturday afternoon packing, and leave the ship on Sunday morning around 8.30 am, We’d booked transport via another company http://www.transferlubre.com.ar/ to take us all to our hotel.

I can recommend both companies, because they were both efficient and easy to deal with over the internet – and both spoke English.

Our guide was an American, Jack, who had lived in BA for five years – he was very good and answered all our questions and also suggested various places to visit and what to be careful about when out and about.

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We met Jack outside Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Rosario Convento de Santo Domingo.

The statue in front is the mausoleum of Manuel Belgrano, who took part in the fight for Independence and he also created the Argentinian flag.

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Flag of Argentina.

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Not your average BA taxi – something different.

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The one thing that Jack told us to do while out and about was to look up and view the tops of the buildings – very good advice.

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Many buildings reminded me of Paris & Madrid.

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The oldest pharmacy in BA

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Inside – it was as if it was yesteryear.

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Paintings on the wall and the ceiling

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Ceiling painting – first opened in 1835 and still trading.
As well as being the oldest pharmacy in S. America it is also the oldest shop in BA.

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The first book shop in Buenos Aires opened here in 1785, but it was originally a pharmacy that sold books, and later was where the first newspaper for BA was produced.
Later in 1830 it was the library for the nearby college. In 1926 the original building was demolished and the current building took its place.

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Literary café underground

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A copy of a painting of the original book shop in 1830 is shown in the current book shop’s window.

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We had a short trip on the metro, which began operating in December 1913, it is standard gauge, and the system was 55 km (34 miles), and was extended a further 7.1 km in the 1980’s.

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The station at which we boarded the train was named Peru.

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The platform going the other way – everywhere was spotlessly clean and I didn’t see any litter.

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Alejo Julio Argentino Roca Paz 1843 – 1914,
the area around this statue is a favourite place for demonstrations . . . 

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Now this is what you might call a wide street –

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An aerial view of the same street – which is called 9th of July Avenue.
(La Avenida 9 de Julio)

Seven lanes in each direction – parallel streets on either side, which each has two lanes, a total of eighteen lanes and through the centre area (the white centre pieces) are for bus lanes and rapid transit.
There are two wide medium strips between the side streets and the main roads. When we crossed at a normal walking pace we were never able to get from one side to the other in one ‘go’, before the pedestrian lights changed.
We (as were many others) were always stranded on islands waiting for the next pattern of pedestrian lights. This is not a complaint, because we never felt threatened by the traffic, but I wanted to emphasis just how wide is this avenue.
The avenue was planned in 1888, but it took until 1935 before work began, and it was eventually completed in the 1960s.

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It is said that this is the widest street in the world.

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As a comparison – Buenos Aires in 1820 (from a paining).

 

London City

Time for a short break and a cup of coffee at the London City

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Memories of a European coffee house . . .

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Some had tea, one couple shared a slice of cake, and as usual I had black coffee (lack of imagination).

London City opened in September of 1954 and was a refuge for poets, artists, politicians, who moved from the Municipal Palace to the Deliberative Council building, journalists who entered and left the neighbor building of the newspaper La Prensa and of the porteños and tourists who strolled and worked along the beautiful Avenida de Mayo.

“London City” was declared notable coffee by the Commission for the Protection and Promotion of the notable cafes, bars, billiards and confectioneries of the city of Buenos Aires.

The comments in italics have been copied from the London City web site.

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Our group and the guide at the end of the table.

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Had to take this guy in the corner and after a little research realised that he was one of the ‘refugee writers’, perhaps one the most famous, Julio Cortzázar 1914 -1984.

He was born in Belgium of Argentinian parents, his father was attached to the Argentinian diplomatic corps. Because Belgium was occupied by the Germans in WW1 the family moved to Switzerland, and even had a short time in Spain before moving back to Buenos Aires in 1919.

He planned and wrote his novel ‘The Awards‘ at one of the tables in London City. It was published in 1960.

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Our next stop was the Metropolitan Cathedral – the land for this site was set aside in 1580, and various churches have been built here since that date. The first church was replaced in 1605, and ever since there have been ongoing changes due to danger of collapsing, being rebuilt in 1684, being added to and changed until the final building was completed in 1863.

DSC05317rLooking towards the main alter area.

DSC05320rI was surprised to see a mausoleum within the cathedral guarded by armed soldiers.
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The  mausoleum contains the remains of
General José Francisco de San Martín y Matorras Feb 1778 – Aug 1850.

There are three figure guarding the tomb, and they represent Argentina, Peru and Chile, which are the three regions freed by the general from Spanish rule.
The mausoleum also contains the remains of remains of  Generals Juan Gregorio de las Heras (1780 – 1866) – he was in business until he was twenty six and then joined the hussars and worked his way up in rank, and after many battles became the Governor of Buenos Aires Province.
Also in the mausoleum is Tomas Guido (1788 – 1866) after some military service he moved in to politics and eventually became vice president of the Senate of the Argentine Confederation in 1857.

Finally the mausoleum it is also the resting place of Unknown Soldier.

On to our final destination and the end of our walking tour.

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 Casa Rosada (Pink House)

Set at one end of Plaza de Mayo, which has been a large square for the people since 1580.

The origin of  Casa Rosada is that it used to be a fort and over time it transformed in to government offices for the colonial Spanish and eventually became Government House. It is no longer the residence of the President, but mainly a museum, which is free to enter on Saturday & Sunday.

The President lives in Quinta de Olivos,  which is located at the north side of Buenos Aires and has been the residency of the  President since the 1930’s.

For those who are interested the famous ‘balcony’ of Eva Perón (Evita) is the one with the five arches, not the one with the windows.

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Eva Perón (Evita) in 1944

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Born María Eva Duarte May 1919 – Died Eva Perón July 1952

After her death she was embalmed with glycerin (she was to be displayed in a similar way as Lenin), but while the monument, in which she would be displayed, was being built the governments changed and her body ‘went missing’ for sixteen years. It was not until 1971 that the government admitted that the body was in a crypt in Milan, Italy, under the name “María Maggi.”
In 1971 her body was flown to Spain where Juan Perón maintained the corpse in his home, and kept it in the dining room for two years.
Perón returned to Argentina in 1973 as President for the third time, but died in office in 1974. His third wife Isabel, who had been elected Vice President, succeeded him.
She had Eva Perón brought back to Argentina from Spain, and for a brief time Eva Perón was on display along side her husband.
Eventually Eva Perón was buried in the Duarte family tomb in Buenos Aires

In a later blog I’ll have more to say of where Eva Perón is buried.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old friends are always wanted . . .

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Will, John and I first met in September of 1960, and we had kept in touch – on and off – over the years, so when we had the opportunity of sailing together we jumped at joining Azamara Quest for the South American cruise.

When Will & John found out that during the cruise Maureen and I would be celebrating our Golden Wedding Anniversary, they insisted on inviting us to dinner at Prime C, which is a specialist restaurant on Azamara Pursuit that specialises in meat dishes.

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Prime C  – starboard side, aft, over looking the sea.

The booking had been made for the evening of the 22 nd February, which was the evening of our day in Punta del Easte, Uruguay, and also the date of our anniversary.
Fortunately, by late afternoon of the 22nd, Maureen had recovered from the excess amount of exposure to the hot sun.

Knowing that Maureen is a coeliac, and that I was not fussy on spaghetti, the Italian specialty restaurant was not a consideration.

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The six of us around the dining table.

The restaurant has limited seating, so seating can be at a premium, especially when at sea, as against being in port.

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The entrance to the restaurant was at the end of this area – on the left hand side of the picture is the galley (kitchens).

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Same area different angle.

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Our table was the far end of the restaurant, beyond the support pole.

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Once the dining staff realised the reason for our celebration, they produced a cake with ‘Happy Anniversary ‘ iced across the centre – and from memory it was GF!

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I’m not sure if you will be able to read the menu, but I can say that all the food was beautifully cooked and the steak done perfectly for me – medium – rare, knife went through the meat without any strain!

We were offered a menu of various wines at an additional fee, but we were also asked if we wanted the daily wine special – after checking the prices, we stuck to the daily special.

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Old friends from 57 years ago . . .

It was June 1962, after two years at HMS Conway, that we left to go to sea, we joined different shipping companies, so sailed in different parts of the world.
Will (who now lives in NZ) is on the left, John (UK) on the right, and the daft one in the middle is yours truly, now living in Australia.
I’d just turned 18, and was the oldest of the three of us, I think Will & John were still 17.
I extracted the above from the photograph of the thirty six cadets leaving HMS Conway that time.
Excuse the pun – but a lot of water has passed under our ‘bridges’ since we left the ‘Conway’.
Once again I close with Golden Wedding a different version than the Woody Herman 1939 version.

 

 

 

 

Punta del Este – Uruguay

Perhaps A Brief Encounter should have been the title of this blog.

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Celia Johnson & Trevor Howard in a 1945 romantic drama, which might have links to Punta del Este.

A British lady, Margaret Elizabeth Douglas, was born in Punta del Este in 1918. Her mother was Anglo – Argentinian and her father was Canadian and he owned a beef ranch in Argentina, and also a beach house in Punt del Este, Uruguay.

Margaret went to school in England, and in 1941 she joined the WRENS – (Woman’s Royal Naval Service) and was training at Westfield College, London, to become a cook

She and her class mates received a training request, said to come from Winston Churchill, for volunteers for secret war work. Margaret Douglas volunteered, which lead her to become involved in decoding work at Bletchley Park, and not a naval base that she expected.

In 1942 she met a Canadian Air Force officer on Bletchley Station and had a brief conversation on the platform, but they didn’t exchange names. Margaret caught her train and they parted.

Later, Margaret received a letter addressed to  “the blonde Wren from Argentina on the platform at Bletchley station”. They married in 1945 and moved to Canada where they farmed beef, horses and a cherry orchards.

I wonder if Noel Coward’s inspiration for  ‘A Brief Encounter’, came from real life . . .

Margaret never spoke of her time at Bletchley until the secret work become public knowledge in 1974 when Frederick William Winterbotham’s book The Ultra Secret was released.220px-Margaret_Cooper_(cryptologist)

Margret Cooper (née Douglas) January 1918 – July 2016 (she was 98).

Punta del Este, the playground for the rich and famous, along with wealthy Argentine and Uruguayan holidaymakers have made this town a place for the elite to holiday. The town doesn’t have any public housing, so it all boils down to the haves & the have nots . . .

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Approaching our anchorage – the town doesn’t have berthing facilities for larger vessels, but only for small boats.

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We anchored and as the ship swung around, Gorriti Island came in to view  – rich in wild life – seals, right whales, orcas chasing tuna, along with fur seals and sea lions.

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We stepped ashore after about a seven minute boat ride.

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It was a reasonable temperature so we decided to walk to see the ‘The Hand’ monument, and according to the the map the monument was not too far away.
We started our stroll through a residential area, which was very pleasant, and we could see that the sea was not too far away.

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They wouldn’t have a lighthouse too far from the sea.

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I was interested in the houses as many looked very attractive, and having a beach so close would be an asset for the owners.

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Different styles all mixed together.

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At the bottom of the street – the ubiquitous block of beach side flats.

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Couldn’t knock the view from the flats.

As we reached the sea, the temperature started to rise . . but it wasn’t uncomfortable.

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The monument was just around the point of land, and it didn’t look all that far.

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As we reached the point of land I looked back – you can just see the lighthouse, on the right.

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The monument must be around the next small point of land.

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It wasn’t and now Maureen was not feeling all that well, due to the heat as well as the walking, so we had to find some shade.

Fortunately we found a bus shelter not too far from this position. So once Maureen was inside the shelter I could see the ‘The Hand’ and Maureen was happy to stay ‘in the cool’ while I went to take some photographs.

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Found it at last . . .

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I met our dining room steward who kindly took the above, to prove that I’d made it . . .

On returning to Maureen I decided to take a taxi back to the ship, because she was not at all well. Fortunately across the beach road, towards the main shopping strip, we found a taxi stand.
Once back at the pier and we were able to sit in the shade and enjoy a cool breeze, Maureen began to feel better.

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As our tender boat left the wharf I wondered it this fellow was going to hit us.

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The single sailing craft were very popular.

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Took the above from the Living Room.

As we left the wharf to return to ‘Azmara Pursuit‘ we saw seals playing under the landing stage and around the small boat mooring areas. Of course I couldn’t get my camera out in time as the tender boat swung round so as to head out to the ship, but one of our New Zealand friends did manage to get some pictures.

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Mum seal on her own. PdEste

Seal on dockside Punta del Este

 

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Must admit this  was a welcome sight, the sun had become very hot, and after our long walk we’d had enough for the day – we didn’t even get to look a round the shops.

With hindsight, instead of walking towards the beach after leaving the tender boat, we should have turned to our left and walked along the main shopping street, which would have allowed us to pop in and out of the shops to keep cool – isn’t hindsight wonderful?

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A close up of the fingers, thanks to my New Zealand friends.

 

 

Montevideo, Uruguay

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Since I was a child, the battle of the river Plate has always fascinated me, and I never expected, in my wildest dreams, to be able to visit Montevideo.

The above shows the  Admiral Graf Spee in 1936.

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As we entered Montevideo harbour we were given the back ground of the battle and an indication of where the remains of the German battle ship is located.
At one point our captain told us to look across the starboard side for a buoy, which indicated the location of the Admiral Graf Spee as the masts, which were the final indication of the ship, where no longer visible and only a buoy indicated the spot.
The only buoy I could see is the one in the picture, but I doubt that this is the buoy in question as it was too close to the channel used by larger ships to enter Montevideo, and even our size (30,000 gt) would have been at risk of damage if the remains of the wreck had shifted.

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Going ashore, to join the tour that we had arranged with a local tour company, took us past a few nautical items, but even though I checked as best I could in the time allowed, I didn’t find any artifacts from the Admiral Graf Spee.

We were met just outside the dock area by our tour operator’s driver and his minibus, and being a party of ten it didn’t take long for us to set off on the tour.

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Our first stop was Plaza de la Constitución, which was the centre of the old city when it was called Plaza Mayor in 1726. Even today the the area is also referred to as Plaza Matriz, it is the oldest plaza in Montevideo.

During our visit a small local market was in full swing.

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Second hand plates and other household items always seem to attract me – what did the owners do for a living, where did they live, how many in the family . . .

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It was a beautiful day and being among the trees was very pleasant.
In the centre of the plaza was a fountain

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Looking closely at the fountain I saw the symbol of the Mason’s – the fountain was built (or perhaps donated) by the local Masonic Lodge for the benefit of the people.

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Facing the plaza is the Montevideo Metropolitan Cathedral. There has been a church on this site since 1740 (colonial times) and in 1790 the foundations for the current cathedral were laid. It was consecrated in 1804.

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After visiting the cathedral we made our way to the old post office, which is now a museum, and outside I photographed the roof across the road. I asked why they stacked the tiles as such – they were not tiles, I was told by the guide but art! I live and learn . . .

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Before the government postal service a private system existed via stagecoach. It was not until 1859 that the government issued the  Uruguay Mail decree, which stated that  All correspondence will be franked by postal stamps, without which no letters will be delivered.

The postal museum is just behind the two yellow post boxes –

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For my British readers it appears that Uruguay had giros years before the British :- o)

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Display of early stamps

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Jose Gervasio Artigas – 1764 – 1850

A Uruguayan hero that helped create the Uruguay that we know today, there are many statues of him and also a national holiday.

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We were dropped off at the Plaza Independencia to enjoy a short break and the plaza is a photographers delite (and I don’t mean that I am that photographer).

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Once again we see Jose Gervasio Artigas in a place of honour.

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From the plaza looking down the main shopping street. Plaza Independencia is a beautiful spot, cool shade from the trees, lovely buildings of yesteryear, I found the plaza to be very relaxing.

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Legislative Palace – we drove past it after leaving Plaza Independencia.

The government began building it in 1904 and it was  inaugurated on August 25th, 1925 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. The building contains twenty seven different colours of Marble, which were quarried from various Uruguayan quarries.

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Parque Batlle is the public park in central Montevideo, where we visited the memorial  that depicts yoked oxen pulling a loaded wagon, which is how things moved around the country before the motor car or the railways.
The artist José Belloni (1882-1965) created the sculpture in 1934 from bronze.

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Our next stop was a small rise that overlooked a beach area of Montevideo and to make sure you hadn’t forgotten were you were . . .

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Of course everyone wanted their photograph taken while climbing or leaning on the sign, so I had to wait and snap the above while the ‘climbers’ were swapping over.

As we drove back to the ship, I could see the sea and couldn’t help but think of the last few hours of the Admiral Graf Spee. 

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Langsdorff

Han Wilhelm Langsdorff March 1894 – December 1939

Captain of the Admiral Graf Spee, Captain Langsdorff, had entered the neutral harbour of Montevideo due to battle damage to his ship, and he had a number of casualties.
He hoped to be able to repair certain aspects of his ship, but once he had inspected the damage he realised that the oil purification plant, which prepared his fuel for the engines had been destroyed, plus the crew galleys were wrecked and the desalination plant had been destroyed – he would not be able to make it back to Germany without major repairs.

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Those who were killed in the battle were buried in a cemetery in Montevideo – note Captain Langsdorfff gives a naval salute during the burial service, whereas others, mainly civilians, gave the Nazi salute. 

According to Article 18 of the Hague Convention, neutrality restrictions limited Admiral Graf Spee to repairs only to make her safe to go to sea, but not to increase or repair her ability as a fighting machine.
The Uruguayan government under Article 14 extended the twenty four hour rule that a belligerent had to leave within twenty four hours, to seventy two hours, to allow for further repairs to be made for safety at sea. 

In the meantime, the British Admiralty had broadcast, on a frequency that they knew the Germans would intercept, that HMS Renown (battleship) and the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal  and other capital; ships were concentrating at the mouth of the River Plate. All this was untrue as the two ships mentioned were 2500 nm away, but the Germans and Captain Langsdorff believed the British broadcast. Captain Langsdorff decided to scuttle his ship rather than allowing it to be interned in case Uruguay entered the war on the side of the British.

On Sunday, 17th December 1939, five days after the first shots had been fired between the British ships and the Admiral Graf Spee, Captain Langsdorff had the great vessel moved out of the harbour and headed towards Buenos Aires.
His crew, all but forty two volunteers, left the ship and boarded the German freighter Tacoma.
The Admiral Graf Spee was maneuvered so that she faced west, towards the setting sun. The remaining crew, including Captain Langsdorff,  left her and boarded the Tacoma.

At 20.54 hrs, six minutes before the 72 hour period of grace had ended, and just as the sun set over the hills the estimated 20,000 watchers saw a flash of light and the centre of the ship seemed to twist upwards as she began to blow herself to bits.

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The end of the battle.

Captain Langsdorff and his volunteers were taken to Buenos Aires aboard the Tacoma.

Of his crew 37 were buried in the cemetery in Montevideo, 28 were in a Uruguayan hospital, 4 in a Uruguayan gaol, (but that is another story), and the rest were interned in Argentina.

During a meeting with all of his men in Buenos Aires he said ‘A few days ago it was your sad duty to pay the last honours to your dead comrades. Perhaps you will be called upon to undertake a similar task in the future.’   

Some of his officers understood what he meant, particularly when he gave certain officers some of his personal items, such as his camera.

At midnight on the 19th December he wrote three letters, one to his wife, one to his parents & one to the German Ambassador in Buenos Aires. He sealed the envelopes, and placed them on a table and unwrapped an Imperial Germany Navy flag,

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He then shot himself.

He was found the next morning at 8.30 am by one of his officers.
It was noticeable that he was covered by the Imperial Navy flag,

and not the Nazi naval flag.

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His funeral was the following day in Buenos Aires and attended by his crew, the German Ambassador, representatives of the Argentina armed forces and Captain Pottinger, Master of the British cargo ship Ashlea who represented the captains and officers who had been held captive on the Admiral Graf Spee during the battle.

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SS Ashlea sunk off the west coast of Africa 7th October 1939.

 

 

 

 

Puerto Madryn, or Y Wladychfa Gymreig

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The sailing ship Mimosa sailed from Liverpool in May 1865, with 153 migrants from from Wales, who wished to emigrate to Argentina.
Groups gathered in three main points  Abedare (S. Wales), Birkenhead in Cheshire, England, and Mountain Ash, which is in the Rhondda S. Wales, before they all made their way to Liverpool to board the Mimosa. The cost per adult was £12.00 and £6.00 per child.
They landed in Argentian in July of 1865 and named their landing place Porth Madryn after Sir Love Jones-Parry’s estate in Wales, which was called Madryn Estate.

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Jones Parry 1832 -1891

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An advert to encourage those who wished to emigrate.

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The name of the our next port of call, Puerto Madryn, (due to Port Stanley having been cancelled), rang a bell with me, but not a S. American bell, but a North Wales bell.
As a child I spent many holidays with my parents on the Llyn Peninsula, because my mother came from Caernarvon, and her married sister still lived in Caernarvon, so we had free accommodation. We would all take the bus to various beaches, and places of interest, and one of my favourite places was Nefyn.

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Nefyn Beach

Near Nefyn was Madryn Estate and Madryn Castle.

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Found the above picture of Madryn Castle on the internet – the building burned down over 30 years ago, and the grounds appears to have become a caravan park.

It was this place that rang a bell with me as I was disappointed with the ‘castle’ affect as I expected something like Caernarvon Castle, but as an eight year old I was big in to castles and knights.

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I took this picture of Caernarvon castle in 2008.

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The view of Porth Madryn from our ship earlier this year – now called Puerto Madryn

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The beach and prom

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We were in the town when I took this picture to show how close the ship is to the town centre, which was about a ten to fifteen minute walk.

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This street name caught my eye –

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ARA General Belgrano, which used to be the USS Phoenix. She was launched in 1938 and survived the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour. She was sold to Argentina in 1951 and eventually became ARA General Belgrano.

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During the 1982 Argentinian / British war ARA General Belgrano was sunk by a British submarine on the 2nd May 1982.

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A more peaceful scene – the Monument to Women, on the promenade, the Azamara Pursuit can just be seen in the background.

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Still on the prom – a statue to Hippolyte Bouchard – 1780 to 1837 – he was the first Argentinian to sail around the world. He was also a corsair and attacked various places in California, which were under Spanish controls at the time.

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My photograph of him didn’t do him justice. The above is off the internet.

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A peaceful scene as we made our way back to the ship.

As we walked along the pier we kept a lookout for penguins, as we’d seen some earlier in the day. We did see various penguins, but as I tried to take a photograph they were too fast .

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If you see a penguin in the above pic please let me know . . .

From our balcony we were able to watch sea lions between the ship and the wharf, but once again, each time I grabbed my camera they disappeared – perhaps they were just camera shy.

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Coat of arms of Puerto Madryn

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The living room on the ship and a quiet drink before getting ready for dinner.

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Taken from the Living room, which is near the bow, so you can see the walk-way into town. The blue screen is due to the filter they have on the window.

If you are wondering what the title of this blog means –

Y Wladychfa Gymreig = The Welsh Settlement

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The flag of the Welsh colony in Patagonia.

Jealousy is a bridge . . .

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View from Azamara Pursuit’s bridge
sailing north to  Puerto Madryn, in Argentina 

Sailing with two master mariners can come in handy if you are only a second mate. I left it to my two seniors hands to see if a bridge visit could be arranged for a short time during a sea day. They succeeded, and we received an invitation from the Captain to visit the holy of holies on board a ship in today’s troubled world.

The ship’s Master was Captain Carl Smith from the Isle of Man, which is located in the Irish sea between Northern Ireland and the Lake district, in England.
He’d been at sea since 1989 starting with Shell Tankers as a deck cadet, and moving in to cargo ships slowly moving up the ranks to Chief Officer after passing his Master’s ticket. He moved to passenger ships in 1999 and joined Azamara in 2007 and again worked his way up until he became Master of Azamara Journey in 2017, followed by Azamara Quest in 2018.

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We thought it would be a quick in and out, but it wasn’t, Captain Smith was happy to chat about the difference in today’s sea going world compared to ours when we started in the early 1960’s.

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Between us there must be close to 150 years of sea time – Captain Smith on the left, my New Zealand friend (Captain), yours truly, and my UK friend (Captain), the three of us first met in September 1960 at HMS Conway nautical training college. When we left Conway we joined different companies and it was years later before we met again.

DSC04875r           To say that I noticed the difference from my time at sea is an understatement. My two friends had been at sea all their lives and had experienced the gradual change, but for me it was an eye opener.

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The height of technology when I was 3rd Mate in 1966 in LST Frederick Clover, was an azimuth mirror, and a very old radar set – luxury !

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I’d never seen a  ship’s bridge with a three piece suit !

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Same LST all mod cons – open bridge (what’s air conditioning) and note the H & S rope to stop my seat being washed overboard . . . well it wasn’t my seat, but the captain’s and I only got to sit in it when I knew he was not around – I used to like the ‘grave yard watch’ – mid-day to 4.00 pm and midnight to 4.00 am.
Most people used to sleep during those hours, so I had the place to myself.

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The bridge was big enough to play indoor cricket.

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The chair near the computer screen was not the Captain’s – his was the tall chair near the bridge window.

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They had enough electronic stuff to launch a satellite – we were also shown the screen that monitored the amount of chlorine in the fresh water – it had to be just right – I think the bridge monitor was a repeater from the engineering department. Every aspect of the ship was monitored from the bridge – there were alarms that sounded for anything that was not ‘right’.

If there wasn’t any movement of personnel, officer of the watch, lookout etc for a set number of minutes an alarm would go off, which was repeated I think in the captain’s cabin. A very big incentive not to fall asleep on the grave yard watch. . . . .

I think we were on the bridge for about an hour and a half and the time just flew, because the visit for me was so interesting and Captain Smith (aka as Captain Carl) was happy to chat and answer all our questions. Our wives in particular loved the experience, which gave them an idea of the life of their husbands.

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Azamara Quest – 30,277 gt launched in 2000

 

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Frederick Clover on the Sarawak River, Borneo,
approaching Kuching to disembark troops.

We had to cancel our movies under the stars, and compromised with a drive-in.

The LST was launched January 1945 & her displacement was 2,140 tons when light,

Overall I think preferred Azamata Quest :- o)

 

 

 

Falklands Is. or Islas Malvinas

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Coat of Arms of the Falklands

After leaving Ushuaia we would be at sea for a day before our next destination, which was Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands in the S. Atlantic.

Port Stanley, which was named after Lord Stanley in 1843, who was at the time, Secretary of State for war and the colonies. He later became Prime Minster three times.

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Edward George Geoffrey Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby
29 March 1799 – 23 October 1869

The old capital Port Louis, was replaced under instructions from the island Governor who was Richard Moody at the time.

During HMS Beagle’s second voyage to the area, they visited Port Louis in 1833. Charles Darwin being aboard, wrote in his book – The Voyage of the Beagle 

After the possession of these miserable islands had been contested by France, Spain, and England, they were left uninhabited. The government of Buenos Aires then sold them to a private individual, but likewise used them, as old Spain had done before, for a penal settlement. England claimed her right and seized them. The Englishman who was left in charge of the flag was consequently murdered. A British officer was next sent, unsupported by any power: and when we arrived, we found him in charge of a population, of which rather more than half were runaway rebels and murderers.

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HMS Beagle in the Straits of Magellan – illustration by Robert Taylor Pritchett for the 1890 edition of Darwin’s book.

In anticipation of our visit to the Falkland Islands we had booked a day tour with Patrick Watts of Adventure Tours , which would include lunch, and also a visit to Port Stanley to have a look around  – and of course the main attraction would be to Volunteer Point to see the penguins.

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Part of the journey would be off road, so the trip would be in 4 x 4 vehicles. As well as details of the nature of the islands we would also have various points of interest from the 1982 Falkland war, which was between Argentina and the UK.

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According to a friend of mine, who sent me the above picture – you can get quite close to the penguins , ,  for some reason as I looked at the above, it reminded me of a political gathering – none of the members seemed to know which way to go . . .

I also wanted information about SS Great Britain, that had been abandoned in the Falklands in 1937, and is now a museum piece in Bristol, UK.

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SS Great Britain in 1969, before her ‘repatriation’ to her place of birth – Bristol, UK.

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Launched in 1843 – she was the first iron ship to be driven by a propeller, & powered by steam.  She was the largest ship in the world at that time and was the first iron steamer to cross the Atlantic – it took her fourteen days.

One of our group John, had been in the Falklands during the later part of the 1982 war and he was a fund of stories and anecdotes – he was First Officer of  Mv Stena Seaspread ,

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which was a fleet repair ship – look closely and you’ll see a submarine alongside the repair ship.

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Ariel view of the Mv Stena Seaspread with an RN ship alongside her. The view also give one an idea of the landscape.

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even the penguins came out to welcome my mate’s ship !
John did tell me that he knew each one by name . . .

With John’s memories and anecdotes, we were all looking forward to our visit.

It was during our day at sea from Ushuaia that the Captain announced that we would not be going to Port Stanley because the weather forecast for the area anticipated swells of 8 to 10 meters (26 to 33 feet) and this type of swell would make for a very unpleasant voyage when leaving Port Stanley, and considering the average age of the passengers (let’s just say ‘mature’) very dangerous when the passengers moved about the ship.

Once we left the sheltered area of the Beagle Channel and passed Isla de los Estados on our starboard side, which is 29 km (18 miles) off the coast of eastern coast of Argentina  we entered the open sea and the ship altered course to port and head away from the area of high swells, yet even so we could feel the slightly unpleasant movement of the ship as we headed north.
We were bound for a completely different type of port – Puerto  Madryn, now that name rang a bell with me!

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I thought a comment on the island that we passed may be of interest.

Isla de los Estados in English means Staten Island, named after the same person as Staten Island New York.

A Dutch explorer passed the island on Christmas Day in 1615 and named it Staten Landt and believed that it could be part of the Great Southern content.
When Abel Tasman saw New Zealand in 1642 he named the land Staten Landt, and assumed it was part of the great southern land i.e Antarctica.

Of course I always seem to come back to books . . . but there is a link, however small  . . .

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The island was mentioned in ‘Two Years Before the Mast’ by R.H. Dana, which was first published in 1840 –  well worth a read.
The author shipped out of Boston as a common sailor in 1834 and kept a diary. He sailed round Cape Horn and returned to Boston two years later. The book was made in to a film in 1946 with Alan Ladd in the lead part & Brian Donlevy who plays R.H.Dana.

Pilgrim

The Pilgrim is the name of the original ship involved in Two Years Before The Mast, built in 1825 and lost at sea due to fire in 1856.

Today’s Pilgrim (which is a replica & pictured above) was a three-masted schooner on the Baltic trade in 1945.
In 1975 she sailed to Lisbon to be converted to her present configuration as a brig.
Since 1981 she has been based at Dana Point Harbor (named after the author) in California, and has been used in ‘Amsitad’ the movie, and is a classroom that sails in the summer months with volunteers.

But it doesn’t sail around the Horn to Isla de los Estados.