A weekend away

 

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Not long after we arrived home from our South American cruise, we were ‘invaded’ by the family, who wished to celebrate our Golden Wedding. We never turn down a party particularly when we don’t have to prepare anything :- o)

During the party we were presented with a voucher for two nights in the city at a major hotel, which included breakfast each day, afternoon English tea, and Happy Hour (which was actually two hours) in the evening – PLUS a voucher to Aria Restaurant, which is one of the top restaurants in Sydney. Aria overlooks the harbour.

Friday – Saturday and late check-out Sunday

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Sofitel Wentworth Sydney

We’d been booked on the Club Floor, so it was fast ride to the appropriate floor to check-in.DSC05551r

Our room

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View from our window.

Once checked in and we’d unpacked, we decided on a short walk to the harbour, which was only a ten minute walk away.

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Explorer of the Seas – Royal Caribbean, alongside Circular Quay.

DSC05558rcThe Bridge of course – who doesn’t photograph the bridge :- o)

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and of course the Opera House

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The Old Customs House, opened in 1845, but is now used for various exhibitions. It ceased to be used as a customs house in 1990 and was converted to what we see today. Inside is a miniature model of Sydney and you can get a better idea of Sydney’s layout.

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City model at 2 mm to the metre

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Back for afternoon tea – help yourself to sandwiches / cakes etc and waiters bring you a selection of teas or coffee.

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This was one way to put weight on . . .

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The Club Lounge at 5.30 pm – just the place until 7.30 pm.

We met a couple from Brisbane and the chat just flowed and the time passed quickly. Once again help yourself to the food and waiters bring the drinks – all very civilised.

It had been a long day so we had an early night.

Breakfast was in the Club Lounge – all the normal things that one expects in a first class hotel.

It rained heavily over night (the first in weeks) – so as we left for a walk around the the Rocks & Darling harbour we borrowed a very large umbrella from the hotel – just in case.

We walked to Darling Harbour to view the converted areas which used to be wharfs and are now shopping centres and restaurants. What a change since my first arrival when I was at sea in the 1960’s.

James Craig

Across the harbour is the Maritime museum and alongside was the James Craig. When Maureen & I moved from Melbourne to Sydney in 1985 the James Craig was just a hulk as gangs of volunteers worked on her restoration.

Launched at Sunderland in the UK in 1874 and named Clan Macleod. She sailed around the Cape Horn twenty three times during her twenty six years before being sold to J.J. Craig in 1900 for the trans-Tasman trade. Her name was changed in 1905 to James Craig,  She was laid up in 1911 because of competition from steam ships. She became a copra hulk in Papua New Guinea,
At the end of WW 1 she was refitted and had a new life due to the shortage of ships. But by 1925 she was back to being a hulk, this time for coal, in Tasmania. In 1932 she was abandoned and was beached during a storm.
In 1972 volunteers re-floated her and she was patched up enough so that could be towed to Sydney, which happened in 1981. Restoration took place and she was relaunched in 1997.

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She is now a fully operational vessel (picture from Sydney Heritage website) and anyone can, (for a fee), have a day at sea in her from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm and the fee includes morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea. One of these days . . .

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The Strand in Sydney centre, all old world type shops, which trade normally, they are not tourist shops, but are worth a visit for something different.

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Same cruise company but a different ship – Quantum of the Seas.

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I told you :- o)

 

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Looking up at the Opera House roof/sails.

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Every time I look at the ‘sails’ I am reminded of a Spanish soldier in the middle ages.

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Admiralty House – (just in the trees) opposite the Opera House,

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Fort Denison aka Pinchgut – originally a small rocky island.
In the early days prisoners were sent there with little to eat or drink – hence Pinchgut.

Much of the island was quarried for its sandstone, which was used to create were the Opera House now stands – aka Bennelong Point. In 1857 8000 tons of sandstone was quarried from Kurraba Point (Neutral Bay) to create the fort.

A one o’clock gun is still fired from the fort, which began in 1906. It wasn’t fired during WW 2 after 1942 so as not to alarm the people.

Our walk was a large circle that took us back to the hotel to change for dinner at Aria Restaurant.

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View from our table overlooking the cruise ship that was alongside.

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Maureen studying the menu – GF of course.

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Another view from our table

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I needed a strong dink as I studied the wine list prices . . . .

We had a late check-out on Sunday, so decided to walk through the Botanic Gardens, which were very close to the hotel.

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It was a beautiful day, with little wind as you see with the lack of white caps.

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One last photograph as we walked back to the hotel to check-out, the weekend was over.

But what a great present!   Thanks kids :- o)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andes

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We flew with KLM’s Boeing 777-300ER (ER = Extended range) from Buenos Aires to Santiago in Chile, so as to connect with the Qantas B 747 to Sydney.

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All went well until we reached the Andes when I realised that I’d left my camera in the overhead bag, and I was sitting in the centre seat of three in economy.
If I asked the passenger next to me to move, so as to allow me to find my camera we’d have missed the Andes and more than likely on landing approach to Santiago, so I used Maureen’s phone.

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I am unable to ID any of the mountains . . .

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I clicked away like mad, but many are uninteresting so I’ve just picked five.

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As a passenger looking out it was quite spectacular, as you can see we had a beautiful clear sky.

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Santiago, Chile, we were in transit at the airport for two and a half hours.

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The flight from Santiago was fourteen hours, and after crossing the dateline into the following, day we arrived home.
I never get tired of photographing the view of Sydney harbour.

 

A collage of the ‘Paris of the South’

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I thought I’d just post a collage of photographs of Buenos Aires, without too much ‘chat’.

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The yellow bus is a Hop on Hop off bus, worth the money even if it is only used to get around from one photo opportunity to another.

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Part of the main square of the city – Plaza de Mayo

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Still within the square

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Don Quixote at the intersection of Avenida de Mayo and Avenida 9 de Julio, it was a gift from Spain in 1980.

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A small area of Avenida 9 de Julio

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Cafe Torton, which is a famous cafe that opened in 1858.

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In the UK I had a hobby of painting 20 mm metal soldiers and I recreated quite a lot of the Battle of Waterloo – I gave everything away when we emigrated . . .  :- (

I took the above picture, during a visit to a Sunday market. I was tempted to buy a small squad . .  but didn’t.

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Rhodochrosite is the national gem stone of Argentina, and all of the above jewellery is made from this stone – this stall is one of the market stalls.

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Rhodochrosite

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The above reminded me of Penang – bottom right shows the covers of a few of the market stalls.

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I was impressed with many of the wide clear streets.

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Which one is John, is the far one Ringo, that’s not Paul surly . . .

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I just liked the building – no idea of any details.

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A beautiful day – National Congress Building

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Different – I wonder if the lawn is on the roof . . .

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A distant shot that I had to crop – the Russian Orthodox church, opened in 1904. There are about 170,000 Russians or of Russian decent, living in Argentina.

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The hop on hop off bus drove through this new area of the city , which appeared to have as much heart as that of a dead lettuce – boring.

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A major shopping street

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No idea what this building is called, I just liked the look of it , so I took the photograph.

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Clicked this one because I liked how the old is reflected in the new . . .

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If you are going to have a demo have a big one – workers marching because they can not find work.

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Different colours for different unions (I think).

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For all the shouting and drum beating it was quite peaceful – but we didn’t hang around – just in case things changed.

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I saw this and thought that’s for me  . . but Maureen disagreed  . . .

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We stopped on a corner and began to study our maps, when this policeman approached and asked if he could help. We didn’t realise, but we had stopped outside the Israeli embassy, and he was an Argentinian guard protecting the embassy.
His English was excellent, so what started as request for directions ended up as a long conversation of places that we and the guard had visited overseas, and life in general. A perfect gentleman and a credit to Argentina, for his consideration of ‘lost’ tourists.

He never took his eyes off the area around the embassy, even when he was chatting to us. Note the bullet proof vest, and he had a carbine and a pistol on his hip. He made one feel quite safe.

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This is a sort of cathedral I suppose . . .

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It is the ceiling of a shopping centre.

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Fountain and coffee bar

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Maureen and I stood near the information desk and we looked up at the ceiling area, which I think was the base of an escalator, it was very highly polished copper.

I took a photograph of us reflected in the copper – you can see us near the top of the picture. I have the camera pointing at the ‘ceiling’ so what you see in the photograph is of our reflection.

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I rotated another picture of just me taking my own picture in the copper ‘mirror’ – I’m on the left. I rotated the original picture horizontally before posting.

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The only way to end a spot of site seeing . . .

 

 

 

 

It takes two to . . .

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La Boca – the area within Buenos Aires that is influenced strongly by the Italians. Many of the early migrants came from Genoa. In 1882, after a long strike, the area seceded from Argentina and the rebels raised the Genoese flag, which was immediately torn down personally by then President of Argentina Julio Roca.
Remember I mentioned this President during our walk around BA.

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The street in which his statue is located is a favourite for demonstrations.

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President of Argentina Julio Argentino Roca Paz, as he was in 1914.

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As we entered the area everyone seem to want to stand on balconies and wave to those below – it must be catching.

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There are many bars & restaurants in and around the area. This one is famous for a couple of footballers. Not having an interest in football I am unable to supply the names of either player who’s images are painted on the walls of the entrance. I am sure someone will tell me their names.

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Plenty of tourists around.

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Everywhere was brightly painted – shops, bars, cafes etc.

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Even side alleyways competed to catch your eye with colour.

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The ‘Tango’ appears to be the only dance, but it is done very skillfully.

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Multi – ‘colourism’ was every where.

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Come up and see me sometime . . .balconies and more balconies.

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We stopped for lunch at a street cafe (La Barrica) and this gentleman came out of the cafe and started to sing. He was quite good.

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After a couple of songs, a couple came out and started to dance the tango.

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They were popular, and it was interesting to watch their feet, obviously they knew each other’s dance movements very well. .  . . . as you see dancing the Tango close to diners is common, the dancers don’t require much space.

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Maureen and I had a half hearted attempt at the tango in our bedroom, thanks to the dance steps being embroidered on the carpet  . . .

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Our bedroom dance floor from a different angle.
We are not quite up this standard yet!
The street where the above couple danced is in the main shopping area.

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As we left the La Boca area we passed a street monument for  José Francisco de San Martín y Matorras who was a Spanish army officer, and later an Argentinian general.

He’d enrolled in the army as a cadet at the grand old age of eleven. Four years later after campaigning in North Africa on behalf of Spain, he was promoted to Sub-Lieutenant. He moved in to the Spanish navy and was captured by the British during the Second Coalition, when Spain was allied to France against the British. Later he transferred back in to the army when Spain was allied to the British, and in 1804 was promoted to Captain.

He fought against the French and was part of the army that recaptured Madrid from the French. For his part in the action he was awarded a gold medal and promoted to Lieutenant colonel.

The French controlled most of the Iberian Peninsular, and San Martin fought as an officer under the British General, William Beresford, who was one of Wellington’s generals campaigning to clear the French out of Spain.

San Martin sailed for Argentina in 1812, and so began a new life of freeing Argentina from Spain. There is much more to this man’s life for those who may be interested.

If there was ever a life of an adventurer, just begging to be turned in to a novel José Francisco de San Martín y Matorras life has it all.

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José Francisco de San Martín y Matorras portrait painted in 1828.

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After we left La Boca we visited the Recoleta Cemetery, which was in my recent blog, and after leaving the cemetery we came across a touch of London.
I tried to find out why or how these two boxes arrived in Buenos Aires, but I failed. I had a thought that perhaps they had been ‘captured’ during the short occupation of the Falkland Islands in 1982. Just a thought.

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Near the London phone boxes is El “Gran Gomero,” –
a rubber tree – said the be well over 200 years old.

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Supports and a statue holding up the giant branches. I told Maureen that he’d drop it if she kept tickling him.

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Thought I’d give the guy a hand . . . the tree was huge.

and finally it takes  Two to Tango

 

The living dead

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When 4780 vaults, containing the remains of people, becomes a tourist attraction, it can be hard to think of them as no longer alive.
Recleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires is such a place – the above photograph is the entrance to the cemetery. I’m not sure but I think the last person to be entombed here was in 2009.
The cemetery has been considered to be a National Historic Museum since 1946 – it is free to visit. The authorities did have tours, but they were in Spanish.

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On entering we came across a large map of the graves and as you can see one is marked – the tomb of Evita.

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When you view the cemetery from the air it is hard to see the border between the living and the dead – such is life.

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There are narrow streets, just as there are in life,

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and there are wide boulevards –

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cross streets – so the small map that we were given on entering came in handy.

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Where ever you turn you come across the tomb of someone famous – this is the tomb of General Eduardo Lonardi, who was the president of Argentina after the death of Juan Peron.

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Remember in my previous blog I mentioned Tomas Guido (1788 – 1866) after  military service he moved in to politics and eventually became vice president of the Senate of the Argentine Confederation in 1857. When he died he was buried here.

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But the authorities thought that such an important personage should not be in the family crypt, but in the  Metropolitan Cathedral and guarded by soldiers.

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There were sad stories of ordinary people, such as Liliana Crociati, a young bride who was killed in an avalanche during her honeymoon, while skiing in Austria.
The family buried her here in her wedding gown, and they reproduced her bedroom and placed her statue at the entrance, and she can be seen stroking her favourite dog.

The golden glow of the dog’s nose is due to visitors stroking the dog – why I don’t know.

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The tomb of Rufina Cambaceres is a tale of woe – she was eighteen and getting ready to go shopping with her mother when she collapsed. She was checked out by doctors and certified that she was dead, due to a heart attack.

She was placed in the family crypt in this cemetery – some days after, the funeral workers noticed that the coffin had been moved and the lid was broken. They feared grave robbers, so checked further and opened the coffin, only to find scratch marks on the underside of the lid, and Rufina Cambaceres’ hands and face showed bruising due to her trying to break out of the coffin.

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Out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw Michael Caine’s tomb, but fortunately I was wrong.
Talking of death, Michael Caine did say that he was in so many movies that are on TV at 2.00 am that people think he is dead. . . . .

Miguel Cane (1851 – 1905) was born in Montevideo, and was a writer and politician.

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When I looked at this tomb, the name seemed strange until I realised it was Bartolome Mitre Martinez 1821 – 1906 who was President of Argentina from 1862 – 68.
He had quite a life, having been a solider, a journalist, he’d been exiled, became a colonel in the Uruguayan army, lived in Peru, Bolivia and Chile, all before he became President of Argentina.

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Some of the tombs were huge, as you see when compared to the adults.

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Of course the most ‘popular’ (if a tomb can be popular), was Eva Peron.
This is her family tomb.

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The doleful bell began to clang in the late afternoon, it was time to leave.

As we walked to the entrance area I noticed a tomb that needed a lot of TLC, which was a reminder that this life is only transitory.

Most visitors were respectful, although I did see a couple of tourists sitting on a stone edging of a mausoleum eating a take away meal – I wonder why they didn’t eat in the park outside, after all entry and exit to the cemetery was free.

I suppose in the PC world of today I bet my comment of eating while sitting on somebodies mausoleum will offended someone :- o)

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.

pals

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.