Penguin Island, Antarctica 2008

Monday, February 28, 2011

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 26 - Parati (Par-a-CHEE), Brazil

Today is supposed to be a fun-in-the-sun day. We are scheduled to take a two and a half hour cruise on a schooner that will stop two places to let us swim and snorkel. We are to meet in the theater by 9:10AM so we get up about 7:15AM, pack the mesh dive back-pack with our gear and go to breakfast at 8AM. Once we have our tour number, it is promptly called and we are told that the boat will pick us up at the tender platform. This is a plus since we have been told that it will be a 20 minute tender ride into the pier.

Our group begins boarding and they pack way to many people on the boat. We can’t resist comparing this boat and ride to our dhow ride in Oman after our first night on Seabourn Spirit. That ride was a pleasure. The whole boat was covered by an awning with oriental rugs and pillows spread out on the deck for our lounging pleasure. While we realize it is a different country and culture, today’s boat is a little seedy and decapitated with probably one third more people on board than there is bench seating for. There is not enough shaded seating and the sun is fierce.

We motor about a mile to an island where we are told to jump in and have a swim.
While the water is pretty from above, being a bottle green, it is murky below and too deep for seeing any fish without swimming to shore. Dick goes in, swims to shore, finds a few fish among the rocks and is promptly chastised for being too near the rocks. Give me a break! There is nothing growing on the rocks that he can hurt or that can hurt him.
After about 20 minutes (the schedule said 30 minutes), we get back on the boat and motor over to a pretty cove with a yellow, sand beach.
They anchor 30 yards off shore and most of us, including Carolyn hit the water and swim ashore. There is not much to do but appreciate our location and take a few photos.
Again, after 20 minutes (this time the schedule said 40 minutes) we swim back to the boat and head back toward the ship.
Since we have been short changed on our swimming time, we arrive at the tender landing 30 minutes easrlier than the schedule said and the door is closed and no one is around. Our boat sounds its horn several times and a crew member climbs up to the door but cannot get it open more than a few inches. We hear him calling for attention. Our boat continues to sound its horn and after five minutes or so, a head is seen peering down toward us from the bridge wing. Soon, a lone deck officer appears and we begin climbing the stairs into the ship.

After a quick, light lunch, we head down to the tender area with the idea of going into the town of Parati. It is a preserved, Portuguese colonial (1500-1822) and Brazilian Imperial (1822-1889) World Heritage town with a population of about 36,000.
We arrive at the tender area at 12:30PM to find a short line and the access closed. We are told they are waiting for the tender to arrive and we wait and wait and wait! We wait for an hour and no tender comes or goes during that time. We finally get on a tender at 1:30PM. During the boarding, an elderly lady slips and falls. Her leg gets caught between the tender and the tender platform. She is severely injured and is transported to the infirmary in a wheelchair. We are sitting close to her and see that a large flap of skin and meat has been torn from the lower part of her leg. Dick talks to her son-in-law later in the day and learns that the wound took 100 stitches to close and the viability of the torn tissue is in doubt.

We finally get away from the ship and it takes 40 minutes to motor to the pier in town. Surely these tenders will run at some speed greater than dead slow and belching black smoke the whole way. Once on land, we walk through the old city.
No cars are allowed and the streets in the historic area are all a rough cobblestone. Dick finds a small watercolor which he buys from a street painter of 30 Reals ($19.91). It is brutally hot and we seek the shady side of the street as we explore the town.
We find all three churches; the one for freed mulattos,

 the one for slaves
and the one for the wealthy white class.
The first two are closed and we can only photograph the outside. The last one is open but charging to enter and not allowing photos so we pass. Why pay to go in if you can’t take pictures?

We sit in a small park for a short while and enjoy the shade.
Moving on we finish our short walk through this wonder old village, a ture photographers dream!
Despite careful looking, we never find a pin for Jack and our only purchase is the watercolor. This has been a great day in spite of all the problems.
We return to the tender and don’t wait long for a ride. The trip back takes another 40 minutes; so slow! Back on board, we stop by the horizon Lounge for a early drink. They are playing Trivia so Dick checks in with his team and answers some of the questions, They still didn’t win so we head to the room and get cleaned up. Carolyn stays in the room and has room service while Dick goes to La Veranda for dinner. We call it an early night.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 25 - Santos, Brazil

The ocean was very choppy again last night.  The tell-tale sign of the sea conditions is whether the big flower vases around the ship are on the counter tops or tucked away on the floor! They were all on the floor when we came out of Ray’s show last night.
We are late arriving again this morning.  This has been a pattern for the Mariner. She really has a hard time keeping to the schedule if the seas or wind conditions aren’t just right.

Santos is a big industrial port with a long river entry.
It developed in the late 1800's and serves the city of Sao Paulo. The area is surrounded by lush green mountains.
We are in no hurry this morning, so we have a leisurely breakfast, go back to the room and do some emails and post to the blog.

The internet is working very well this morning since almost everyone went on one of the two bus tours. One was an all day affair to Sao Paulo, 80 miles away, that was billed as a coach tour, no walking, and lunch. The other was the four hour drive around Santos with a stop at the coffee museum and a atop at a SMALL (the tour department’s comment) aquarium and a drive by the beach. W were told the buses were not as good as we are used to and not to expect too much from the content either. This was the same as in Rio Grande.

We plan to do the same as in Rio Grande, since that was kind of interesting on our own. So, about 10:30AM we head to the shuttle bus (the buses are very cramped) that will take us to the Cruise Terminal about 20 minutes away. We get on the bus at 10:35AM and wait until 11AM before it leaves. There are maybe six couples on the bus with us. We get to the terminal, which is huge, and walk in about 11:20AM. There are a couple of people who look like they are offering a city tour, but it looks like it is on a bus. We pass and walk around and finally find the tourist information desk. Carolyn gets a map and is told to go to the Coffee Museum (built in 1922) in the Historical District (a $10 taxi ride) or to go to the beach (a $15 taxi ride).
Now, we go outside and look for the taxi stand and run into several other people from the ship who are looking for taxis also.
We finally find the stand and the rest of the couples that were on the shuttle with us. Our plan is just to hire a taxi for maybe 2 hours max to do the circle shown on the map as the whole place looks a little scary! Well they want 200 real for 2 hours or $130! The drivers speak even less English than what we have encountered so far and Portugese is so different. We are having problems figuring out the signs, much less the spoken language! Not wanting to get stuck in town and not being comfortable getting a taxi from the terminal, much less back to the big sprawling port area, we don’t even try to go to the historical area. We go back inside the terminal. There are two ships turning over passengers today and another in port with us and it is busy!
We walk around looking for a pin for Jack.
No pins, just Piranha, but Carolyn sees some straw hats and checks them out for our next ports which have beach activities. They are priced at 300+ real or almost $200 dollars!!! You have got to be kidding...we head back to the yellow door which leads us to the shuttles. On the shuttle, we meet up with almost everyone who was on the shuttle bus coming from the ship. We all did the terminal grand tour!. Welcome to Santos! Ray really needs to look at Santos as the place to spend his last day!

Back on the ship at 12:15PM, we have some lunch and Carolyn goes to the movies. It is an English flick, You Will Meet a tall Dark Stranger. Dick messes on the computer and goes to Trivia. At 5PM they do the tour talk for Buzios, day after tomorrow. Then we go to the Brazilian Deck Party,
put on by an award winning Carnival band,
omplete with Samba dancers
and with Caipirinha cocktails. This is a sweet drink made with the Brazilian sugar cane rum and is a local speciality.

After dinner in the Compass Rose, Carolyn goes to another movie and Dick goes to bed.

The $64,000 question is why does Regent even waste the time to stop at these last two ports? Of course, the same can be said for one or two of the ports in Peru and Chile!

Friday, February 25, 2011


Today is a welcome sea day. We have a leisurely breakfast and go to Terry’s lecture on "Brazil - The Gem of South America." She points out the obvious; the last port and at least the next port are not as nice as the ones in Argentina and far that is truly an understatement. In fact, last night Ray made several jokes about our stop in Rio to the effect that if he were given one day to live, he would spend it in Rio Grande because it would seem so much longer!
After the lecture we go to the food demonstration by the Signatures Chef, Marcel.
He does his Le Cordon Bleu style scallops and Dover sole. It smells wonderful while cooking and makes a beautiful presentation,
but he uses a dozen pots and pans to make each dish. Since we don’t have a staff to come behind us and clean up the mess, guess we will just have to cruise more!

This afternoon Carolyn goes to the tour talk for Santos and decides it isn’t worth the four hour bus tour so she turns in the tickets. She also spends some time getting the bill straightened out. Then we go to tea time and Dick plays Trivia, while Carolyn sits in the outside lounge area on Deck 6 and reads. Dick’s team, which is now a new group because everyone went home except one couple and they haven’t been back since Buenos Aires, WINS!!! We are one more award ticket toward getting...drum roll please....a Regent book mark!!

We have Prime 7 reservations tonight and order French onion soup and a fillet with mashed potatoes and broccoli with cheese sauce. It is just the right amount of food, very good and we really enjoy it. Then we wait around, trying to stay awake, until 9:45PM for Ray's show, "He’s Got the World on a String."  Ray sings so well and his puppets are so cute, we have a good time and then fall into bed! So much for a slow day at sea!

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 23 - Rio Grande Do Sul, Brazil

It rocked and rolled all night and there was a noticeable easing of the roll as we entered in between the jetties leading to the port facilities of Rio Grande Do Sul (Great River of the South). This is also the name of this southernmost state of Brazil.

This old, Portuguese city dates from the late 1600s and the Cathedral of San Pedro dates from 1735. It is the oldest cathedral in southern South America We had a tour scheduled this morning but could not face another bus and tour guide. So, after breakfast, we visit with the local hospitality representative on Deck 5.  About 10AM, we get a city map and some touring ideas then head off the ship and get a taxi into town for $6. We share with an English couple so, with a $2 tip, it cost us $2 a head for the 15 minute ride.

We are dropped downtown and visit an old Gothic church, Igreja N St do Carmo, make a fast visit
and then walk down to the dock area.
There is a nautical museum with displays, Portuguese only signs, showing how they dredged the harbor and ship channel as well as how they built the dikes.
We now head up to and wander through a large park, Plaza Xaxier Ferreira.
It is bordered on each end by the Citadel
and two government buildings that are being restored.
There are numerous, interesting, early 1900's buildings lining the Plaza; most in need of repair.
One block over from the Plaza we find the small plaza with the San Pedro Cathedral and make a short visit.
The pedestrian street ends at the Cathedral. We walk a little way down this shopping street but its stores are only full of everyday items and we find nothing of interest; not even a pin for Jack.
We walk back to the Cathedral plaza and follow the ship’s tour over to the big Plaza Tamanare. There are a couple of stalls selling herbs around the edge of the park, but not much else.
The town has some really interesting architecture dating from the late 1800's through the Art Deco period.  It is too bad it has not been kept up!
They are working to restore some of the larger old buildings and are setting up some museums, but they have a long way to go to be a good tourist destination. We are so glad we didn’t take the ship’s tour!

We catch a taxi back to the dock and are on board by 12:15PM. Rio Grande do Sul; been there and done that! Carolyn orders a sandwich to the room and we spend the afternoon working on the blog, pictures and napping. The Captain announced earlier this morning that he needed to sail by sunset as we are expecting some high winds tonight. We pull away from the dock at 6PM in a building rainstorm and falling visibility.

Dinner is in La Veranda where they are offering the French menu. Carolyn finds the lamb a little strong but Dick rises to the occasion and eats her’s also. Back in the room, Carolyn gets the last two days of blogs posted and Dick writes up today. Carolyn goes to the evening show, the Le Cirque Mariner. The show was a little different and as usual very entertaining.