Happy New Year from the End of the World!
One week into the New Year and we hope this finds you fully engaged in keeping your resolutions for 2019. You could consider this our trip of a life time but I guarantee you this will not be the last long trip we will take. Our resolution started last year when we realized we needed to travel as much as possible before Justice gets much older and pulling him out of school will become more difficult. We have now been traveling for a full 70 days and have covered three continents and the only part that I could do without would be the luggage issues, more about that later.
We started off the first of November from our home in Colmurano Italy which is a very small village just 1253 people total and we are the three. We drove to Genova Italy and large port town on the west coast of Italy way north. We spent 5 lovely days exploring that city and then boarded the MSC Orchestra cruise ship for three
weeks headed for South America.
We arrived Buenos Aires three weeks later and spent 8 warm days exploring that city before boarding another cruise ship with Holland America the Zaandam and heading around Cape Horn over the course of two weeks. We ended up in Santiago Chile, which by the way if Santiago was on the beach instead of a two hours drive I would move there in a heartbeat, more on that later. We spent only 2 days there and definitely need to go back in the future, so much to see. Then we boarded a plane this time and headed for Panama City Panama and again only had two days to spend there which was not enough. Then we boarded another plane to get us back to the USA specifically California just four days before Christmas just in time to help Ricks parents prepare for the celebrations and the thirty family members ascending on their home.
Fun and allot of food was had by all during the Christmas Day festivities and of course Justice acquired yet more things for me to find a way to pack for the next leg of our trip. I ended up buying him some new luggage and calling it an early birthday present since they are suit cases that look like R2D2 haha! He was thrilled as now he can push R2D2 through the airport and everyone smiles as he goes by
The day after Christmas we drove to Oregon to my mothers for another celebration so we were still in a moving object ugh my brain is never going to get grounded again. We encountered snow flurries going over the Siskiyou Pass before going down in to the Medford Valley. It was cold and dreary the whole time we were there but was nice to see my Mom and stepdad for a few days. Heading back over the Pass was bright and sunny but still cold and even more emotionally cold when we saw all the damage done by the fires a few months ago.
This is the first year that on New Years Eve we were so tired we didn’t even stay up to see the Ball Drop much less go out to a party. Last year we went to a fabulous party in San Francisco so I guess that made up for this year 🤣! We boarded another plane just a few days later and I am currently writing this from the veranda of our vacation rental in Costa Rica listening to the waves crash on our black sand beach and enjoying the breeze and the warm 90’. Rick commented last night that this is one place we never feel stressed and can just relax. So we will be relaxing here for the next 28 days before heading off on the next leg of our journey which will include going back to Panama we think. Our plane ticket back to Italy was cancelled by the airlines so we took that as a sign we were not to return home yet. Funny how we can justify anything the way we what RIGHT?😀
So you were wondering how on earth we could spend so much time on a cruise ship, weren’t you? Well, I will be doing a full review of both ships in another post but for now lets say that if you have the time and especially if you have a young energetic child and an only child who needs play mates then cursing is a dream come true. Most cruise ships offer a kids club, some better than others, which means that for a few hours per day Justice can be with other kids his own age or close too and be supervised while we are free to roam the ship, nap or explore a port that we don’t think he would be interested in. This was our third TransAtlantic crossing and we have enjoyed each one as the sea days crossing force’s us to disconnect from electronics and just relax.
We love meeting new people from all over the world and sharing the cruise with them and learning about their lives and interests. What always strikes us is that no matter the age, income or country of residence we really are all the same. Justice takes to this like a duck to water, he can talk to anyone from anywhere and we really think this will make his life as an adult all the richer. Just the 3 weeks on the first cruise ship he picked up about 30 words in Spanish since all the other 21 children only spoke Spanish. If only we adults could be like children and not let the language barrier get in our way. Seeing the world through his eyes makes is so much sweeter and getting to share all these places in the world with him so much more exciting.
Crossing the Equator on a cruise ship is quite the big deal we learned, watch Justice as he participates in the whole big ceremony called The Neptune Party click below to watch.
Never having been to Brazil before it took a month before the trip began to get the proper visa to be allowed to enter the country. Don’t think that the cruise line or travel agency will help you get it, it’s all up to you. Always double check any new country you are visiting or even a country you have not been to for awhile because they may have changed their procedure or requirements. If you want help with that private message me and I will share with you what I can.
We visited 3 cities in Brazil on this trip, Recife, Salvador de Bahia and Rio de Janeiro and had no idea what to expect in the first two. Recife was run down and tired and not very inviting looks wise but the people were very friendly. Salvador de Bahia was a beach town with three million people, lots of traffic and a hugh Carnevale each year much like Rio’s. In Rio we made sure to get up to the top of the mountain to see The Christ Redeemer, amazing views and worth the drive up the mountain. I would suggest getting a private taxi for your tour guide like we did and skip the bus or large vehicle.
While in Brazil of course we made it to two of the most famous beaches in the world, Copacabana and Ipanema, it’s difficult to see where one begins and the other ends. My quest for Havaiana’s flip flops was satisfied as well. Our wonderful taxi driver took us to a shop where we were able to get them for ¼ of the cost in the USA or Europe. It’s quite an interesting story how a shoe originally made for poor people has turned out to be one of the most expensive flip flops in the world. Click here to read about it. So guess what all our kids got for Christmas, we left the store with 15 pairs in a very heavy bag. That had to be the bag of course the airlines lost between our flights from Santiago Chile and San Francisco, but it was eventually found and the kids got their presents after Christmas.
Next stop was Argentina and the first city was Buenos Aires, here we got off the first ship and spent 8 days in a small apartment which will not be recommended. The area of Recoleta was nice and within walking distance of many things but next time we will probably stay closer to the main street which is named 9 de Julio Avenue to accommodate short taxi rides.
The Hop on Hop off bus route was amazing it had 33 stops which I think is the most we have ever had in a city so far. Unfortunately the G20 World Conference was going on while we were there so many of the museums were closed we had wanted to visit due to the high security alert in the country. But we got a nice video of all the helicopters flying over us all day 🚁🤣
We probably walked 6-8 miles a day while in Buenos Aires and even at night because it’s still warm because it was their spring. If you go to our Instagram account you will be able to see many of the pictures from there and the rest of our trip. Click here I have waited many years to go to Buenos Aires and experience the Tango there in person. Unfortunately my broken foot from months ago kept me from participating in dancing at all which made me very sad. But one day while exploring the biggest outdoor market we have ever seen we came upon a small restaurant. The music drew me in the doors and there were two people doing the Tango for guests and encouraging them to dance as well. After I explained my broken foot to the nice man he danced with his partner and dedicated the dance to me which brought tears to my eyes.
Soon as my foot is recovered, “I will never miss a chance to dance again”.
Back onto another ship with Holland America this time for the next two weeks and heading for Cape Horn. Since that is mine and Justice’s last name we are very excited. We all were very excited to see and experience time with Penguins in the wild on the Falkland Islands and it did not disappoint. Who knew there were so many different types of Penguins, we saw the Rockhoppers and they were adorable. I could have done without the 2 hour ride in the LandRover with a bad shock but it was still worth it. Pretty much no other reason I could see to go there as the island is pretty desolate, but our driver who had lived there his whole life was very happy there. This was the only tour we booked from the cruise ship as everyone else we met that had done it said that once you got off the boat there were no other options as the cruise line had already hired all the tour guides. That was the same thing I read online and it turned out to be true. So it was rather pricey like all other tours booked that way.
Next we arrived in Ushuaia, Argentina which is the last town at the “End of the World”. It was beautiful, I am not a cold weather person and don’t enjoy hiking large mountains or being in the snow to long, but the scenery was stunning! If you are into trekking mountains and like the cold weather then this is the place for you. It was spring for them and their stores windows had shorts and tank tops on display while we were still wearing our heavy coats and scarfs 🤣. Most exciting was you knew you were still in Argentina when they were dancing Tango in the streets in leg warmers, simply fantastic.
The next week was spent on board viewing the mountains and glaciers going through the Straits of Magellan, Glacier Alley and the Chilean Fjords which were very impressive. The ship captain actually took us up an alley that ended and literally turned this hugh ship around 360’ that was equally impressive to me. We then stopped at three other ports, Punta Arenas, Puerto Chacabuco, and Puerto Montt before arriving in Santiago the final cruise destination.
Like I mentioned earlier we were so surprised and pleased when we arrived Santiago, Chile. We didn’t really have any spoken expectations but had no idea the city would be so cosmopolitan. It has over 5 million people which we didn’t realise and reminded both Rick and I of Manhattan. Then we went on the Hop on Hop off bus tour and were told that it’s nick name is Sanhattan which is very fitting. Crazy busy, more buses that we have ever seen we think and people and more people. It really seemed like allot more than 5 million since we have lived in SaiGon that has over 13 million. So lucky for Rick it is too far from the beach or like I said I could possibly live there.
We visited the mall there in Santiago which is strange because we hardly every go to a mall at home but it is the biggest mall in Chile and we needed some shade. Even the mall was beautiful probably the most beautiful one I have ever seen. It had an indoor section and outdoor and both were stunning my pictures don’t do it justice. Haha get it Justice. It’s wonderful visiting other countries during the Christmas season to see how their culture decorates for the holidays. The best surprise was the food court outside and I don’t mean food court like your thinking. I mean every nice restaurant chain that you can think of and a few more you have never thought of. We ate outside in an old broken boat set in sand and had the biggest King Crab I have every seen in my life and it was fabulous.
It took the server a good 20 mins to shell it for us, glad it was him and not us.
Did I mention skyscrapers, OMG, one right after the other and more being built in Santiago. It was just a beautiful setting with the Andes Mountains in the background. We took a Funicular up to the top of a small mountain in the city where you could get a 360’ view it was quite spectacular but hazy so my pictures are not that great. We stayed at The Crown Plaza downtown which was very nice with a rooftop swimming pool which Justice enjoyed and it was reasonably priced which was nice.
Usually I will book something a little more interesting and unusual but never having been to Chile I wanted to play it safe with Justice in tow.
Next we headed off to Panama City, Panama and yet another surprise with all the skyscrapers everywhere. We arrived at night and loved the beautiful city view, which I did not expect at all. Next day we headed out to the Panama Canal which was our entire reason for going to Panama to begin with. Another truly amazing and inspiring place, the story of the struggle of getting it built was just impressive. We were lucky enough to spend the afternoon there and got to see 3 different size ships go though the locks.
Miraflores is one of the three different sets of locks that comprise the Panama Canal system. It only takes 8 minutes for the water to fill each separate lock and gravity does most of the work, it’s just genius. Did I say engineering marvel, because that what it really is. The museum there is just fantastic especially for kids so many things for them to touch and try. Justice got to captain one of the virtual ships going though the lock, he was in kid heaven.
There was just so much to see in each city and not enough space here to tell you everything. So be on the lookout for future posts dedicated to each city it's self with tips on where to go and what to do.
Since we only had 3 days in Panama which was defiantly not enough time we are considering going back next month since we are already in Costa Rica. We keep seeing more snow at our house in Italy and I am just not ready to go back to that so…to be continued. Cheers to you all and prayers for an amazing 2019!
Please keep in touch and let us know how you are spending your year. All shares and comments on our website www.TravelDreamFamily.com would be much appreciated. If you need help planning a trip involving airlines, trains, buses, cruising or sightseeing tours anywhere in the world click here.
Thank you for taking the time to read this,
Susan, Rick and Justice
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