Home' Travel News : April 2013 Contents 24 travel news April 2013
April 2013 travel news 25
Duncan Mitchell is a retired gentleman
who lives on Kenya's north coast at Vipingo
Ridge. His twin passions are his partner
Jane, and golf.
Cruising South America
From Vipingo to Buenos Aires takes around
35 hours, of which 23 hours are spent stuck
in an airplane. Thank goodness for business
class, at least you have legroom. In fact, you
can convert the seat into full-length sleeper.
I watched three movies and an entire loop of
It was pouring rain on arrival in Buenos Aires
in the early evening. We fought our way
through jabbering locals to the arrivals area
but no sign of our ordered limo; no friendly
smile from a guy holding our names up. We
ordered an offcial taxi, paying US$44 in
advance, half what we were told to expect.
I have a wary phobia from long experience
regarding airport taxis; I’ve had 5 accidents
to/fro airports, plus an attempted mugging
and the usual over-charging rip-offs. But
this was a polite driver in a new mini-bus
who effciently whisked us along superb
motorways to the city centre.
About 34 kms and 40 minutes later we
found our hotel easily enough, which had
been booked by our cruise agent. The frst
irksome thing was the desk clerk, who
could not be bothered to help us manhandle
our luggage into the tiny lift. We found the
hotel rather dingy, permeated with that
tropical smell of wet carpet caused by
leaking air-conditioners. Our room was big
enough, but the bed lumpy with a single
fat pillow. In the morning we had breakfast
in a school-type cafeteria, packed tightly
around Formica-topped tables, amid loud
American anthropology students practicing
Spanish on each other (well, they looked like
We decided we could not put up with fve
days of this. Checked the Internet and settled
on The Claridge Hotel in the shopping area
of the city. The look on the same lazy clerk's
face when we thumped out the lift and
demanded a taxi was priceless. I bet he's
sweating and checking Trip Advisor every
hour, wondering what the heck his hotel did
Nice place, The Claridge. Built in 1945 in a
quasi Palladian-style (Palladian architecture
is a European style of architecture derived
from and inspired by the designs of the
Venetian architect Andrea Palladio (1508--
1580) - useless information courtesy of
Wikipedia), all with original wood panels and
beams. The room was excellent except for
very slow Internet, and we were dismayed
to learn Safaricom's cost of mobile calls to
Kenya on our roving net. Far too expensive.
The weather turned perfect; blue skies and a
lovely temperature of around 24C. Shopping
was great - clean tidy streets, absolute
politeness from all. We soon learned that only
the young speak English in Buenos Aires.
No point in approaching a shop assistant of
mid-age, you'll just get a blank look.
We went to a Tango Theatre. Wow! Forget
TV's Strictly Come Dancing, this was the real
deal. Incredible show. Never knew tango had
so much foot-work, his 'n hers scissoring in
and out and around. Any moment expected
to see a collection of soft dangly things
skewered in her stiletto heels.
Took a city tour - quite spectacular. Could
be Paris with the boulevards, or Madrid with
the Baroque facades of Government offces,
New York for the Hilton - a real mix. Lovely
parks everywhere; recognised at least two
kinds of jacaranda tree, massive fgs and
some impressive bombax in full fower.
We went to a Buenos Aires shrine, La Boca
Stadium, where sixty thousand fervent
Argentineans gather every Saturday to sing
and roar for their favourite footie teams.
Football is an absolute religion in Argentina.
It's Maradona's home ground and the place
is full of look-alikes wanting twenty bucks to
be photographed with me.
Nearby is Camito, the birthplace of Tango.
Camito is also famous for its tin houses built
over 100 years ago, all gaily painted in the
blue and yellow colours of the La Boca team
- four- and even fve-story shacks built of
At last, onboard the good ship Star Princess.
We set sail from Buenos Aires in the early
evening. I must congratulate the shipping line
plus the authorities for the relative ease and
swiftness of boarding some 2,600 elderly
and doddery tourists (mostly). The 1,400
crew members are real pro's - everything
ran like clockwork.
The ship is paranoid about getting a gastro-
bug into the food chain, so everyone must
disinfect their hands before entering a
restaurant and there is no touching the food
under any circumstances; even if it's a buffet,
a waiter serves. If you want salt, a waiter
will come and shake it onto your food. It's
beginning to get on my nerves! Thankfully
the serving crews are Thai and understand
chilies. We have bribed our waiter to slip
us a plate of the hot stuff at dinner time.
Otherwise the food is far too bland for our
rough Kenya palates.
The ship is huge - sixteen stories excluding
the bridge, with 5 banks of lifts, miles of
carpeted passageways, a casino, two
theatres with live shows, inside and outside
cinemas, restaurants all over, bars, coffee
corners, a golf simulator, health spa, duty-
free shops, a full medical centre, swimming
pools, wave pools, outside jacuzzis, blah
Next, more from the Falkland Islands and
the Straits of Magellan.
Links Archive March 2013 May 2013 Navigation Previous Page Next Page