Road Log

Keeping track: daily the latest highlights updates, statistics and fun local facts. 

56 - Morning Exercise turned: This is Not an exercise : ( : (

Track : Pléneau Island, Lemaire and Neumayer Channel

At the top of the hills on Pléneau Island, one has a spectacular view on the bay.  Worth to do some walking exercise for. So up we went, and indeed, amazing views!On top, a simple turn to admire to other side had severe consequences for unlucky Jurgen.

<< Snap >> and the nice sunny excursion went for them into ‘This is Not an Exercise’-mission. It’s no fun at all to need the joint efforts of a team of five well trained professionals to get you back on board. Oeps. Auw, really auw and Hooray for Check Mate Chocolates.   ... read on ...

55 - Open Sea Waters: 'One hand for the ship, one hand for yourself' time!

Track : Working our way up North to Bellingshausen sea

Full day at Wild Open Sea... 

... read on ...

 

54 - Pourqoui-Pas: 'Why Not' as exploring motto and the ¿No? Penguin complaint

Track : Reaching the furthest southernmost point of our Antarctica expedition

In the morning we went to the deserted British research base HorseShoe. Funny name, no horses or shoes to be found.  Nor penguins, as at the briefing about the expedition, Lynn prepared us: ‘no penguins to be expected here’.  

Landing on the island, we were welcomed by Lynn and a surprise Penguin welcome committee. No Penguins? Well, we surely are not gonna file a complaint about the extra welcome surprise committee: Adélie Penguins!!! 
 

Why not?  Pourquoui-Pas, the motto of the French explorer Charcot, who pushed to discover the south part of Antarctica. Sometimes a ’ Why Not’ is clear: Like sailing  through a pass almost fully frozen over with sea-ice. Still, our great captain and wonderful expedition leader Lynn ingeniously put together a plan B; exploring further south.. How far south? ... read on ...
 

53 - The W-Ortelius Penguin and the W-factor for Antarctic cuteness

Track : Marguerite Bay and zodiac expedition to Lagoon Island

Antarctica is the ‘White Continent’ and today we got a good taste of that. Waking up the outdoor decks where closed – to high waves, fierce wind and slippery. Mid-morning there was SNOW!!! So the children were let outside to play : ) 

In the afternoon it cleared just enough to do a Zodiac exploration and landing. In the competition spirit of the day, the W-factor for Antarctic animal cuteness was bench marked at Lagoon island. Themes of the day: new penguins that fly, elephants and why a carrot can be so crucial. How so?
... read on ...

52 - Whiskey on the Antarctic rocks - Celebration time!

Track : South!!! We crossed the Polar Circle and pushing the waves to go further southwards

High waves and 40 knots of wind – that was the Antarctica we woke up to this morning. That meant: outer decks closed and so today’s plan A changed for plan B. 

One has to be flexible to adapt to weather circumstances on an expedition cruise.To provide some indoor fun – SALES! Sebastian and Sava opened the Oceanwide gift shop.

In the afternoon we were in for a triple treat: Whiskey, Winter Stories and Seals. How that relates to go back to plan A?
... read on ...
Photo credit: thanks Arjen Drost from the Oceanwide expedition team for capturing this special moment!

51 - One can never see enough penguins! Or Whale Tales!

Track : Southward, second landing on Antarctica soil at Neko harbour and zodiac expedition at Orne Harbour

Striking beautiful sunrise - WOW!!! What a way to start your day!
Then more Gentoo Penguins, Whales waving their Tales and getting acquainted with Ever Smiling Penguins (at the Chinstrap Penguins rookery).  

Feeling hot in Antarctica - it's a good thing one would say. Still, better bother the on-board doctor Jacco to double check...
... read on ...

50 - Penguins! Penguins!! PENGUINS!!!! Everywhere : ) : ) : )

Track: : landing at Cuverville Island and first feet on the ground at the Antarctic continent at the Argentinean research station ‘Brown’

Penguins, PENGUINS, PENGUINS!!!!

 

Up-close encounters with Gentoo Penguins, who think your camera bag or snow boats are a nice snack…

Gentoo penguins surely love to ‘check out’ these funny looking new visitors and their gear. Trust Yourself- Break Rules, certainly is a motto those Penguins embrace.
... read on ...

49 - Back on Happy Feet & Hello Policital Antarctica!

Track: Open sea, crossing the Drake Passage; part 2

Antarctica is in many ways an unique place. It is a demilitarized, non-commercial zone that is purely devoted to 'Peace and Science', as stated in the Antarctic treaty. It's signed by 53 nations, representing about 80% of the worlds population.

Popular said: "Antarctica is of Nobody and Everybody". 

Tourism is very limited and strictly regulated. The passengers of the Ortelius are well aware of our privileged opportunity to visit Antarctica. So with a big smile on our faces, we vacuum cleaned our coats, scarfs and camera bags in the bar. What that has to do with setting feet on Antarctica?
... read on ...

48 - Calm sea at the Drake Passage does not equal calm stomach

Track: Open sea, crossing the Drake Passage; part 1

The first night ever on board of a ship - it will take a bit to get used to 24/7 life on board.

Advantage of boat life: no need for alarm clocks. As expedition leader Lynn puts the intercom to good us, waking us up with a cheerful 'Goooood morning everyone!'
Bringing us up to date: 'We are at full sea now, in the calmest version of the Drake Passage I’ve ever seen (this lady has over 17 years of experience to cruise to Antarctica). We are at a cruising speed of 11 knots, nice weather outside with a wind of 8 knots. And breakfast is ready to be enjoyed!"

Time to make up your mind. Who has the best sea legs and the best sea-going stomach? Cissy or Jurgen...      ... read on to find out ...

47- @ 17.17 pm: Polar Circle, here we come!

Track: Port Ushuaia via the Beagle Canal to open sea to set Southward

After months of joyful anticipation and buying fleeces, thermo-shirts and thermos-leggings, waterproof parka’s:

– SURREAL –

We really are off cruising to the South Pole!

 

Walking up the ship, we noticed in the waiting line it is a very mixed group of passengers – in ages and in nationality. There was even one guy in shorts, I wondered if I should inform him- "Hey, we are going to Antarctica... it's Cold there..." 

We settled in our lovely cabin, Jurgen switched his Garmin to 'nautical mode' and off the security briefing we were
... read on ...

47 - @14.50 pm - Almost embarking: TO THE COOLEST place on earth!!!!

Track: Boarding the Orteluis at Ushuaia Habor to cruise down... to the south pole

At the moment of writing: One hour and ten minutes Only... and we head down to the port Ushuaia. To embark at the Ortelius.

At 18.00 pm we cruise of - TO THE COOLEST PLACE ON EARTH! ANTARCTICA!!!

Excuse me for the caps locks, it's just that we are really excited to go!!!!
With the good intentions of:

  • Enjoying Every Minute

  • Not to fall off the Zodiacs during excursions

  • and well, if the Drake Passage is so bad as people horror-story tell us here today. I will stay positive and try to perceive it as a crash diet : )

  • Capturing sweet memories for us and others to enjoy as well. However, not gonna experience it as  'solely looking to the lens', prime focus is on living in the moment and indulging it!

  • To stay warm.... 

  • And last but not least- become good friends with all the PENGUINS and Whales over there

... read on ...

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42 - Circling Condors in the air and hissing air escaping from our tire

Track: Torres del Paine to Punta Arenas, Chile

Driving of in time was double rewarded today: 
Firstly with stunning sunrise views on Torres del Paine.
Secondly, we were in time to take the Y290 route to Puerto Natales, before it was blocked for road work the rest of the day. Yay!

We continued following the road signs ‘Ruta Fin del Mundo’(Route To the End of the World). On the road we met up with impressive condors, roadrunner-birdies and Orange Beak birds and a Forklift Truck. What a forklift truck has to do with anything?
... read on ...

41 - A Chilly Pisco Sour- by an Angel appearing from Spooky Grey Clouds

Track – Lago Grey at national park Torres del Paine

Today we signed up for a Boat excursion, embarking at the boat 'Lago Grey III' to see the Glacier Grey up-close.

Great grey cloudy views on vicious pointy mountains. With spooky dark clouds and sometimes a ray of sun breaking through.

Next thing- Bright blue Ice and an Angel to keep us warm. In a very ecologically way using the glaciers ice! How?
... read on ...

40 - After the Rain, The Sun Comes Out – revealing the majestic rocks of the Torres del Paine mountains

Track 40 – exploring national park ‘Torres del Paine’, Chile

After Rain, The Sun Comes Out’ a Dutch saying, was right again. (Na Regen komt Zonneschijn). This meant already at the breakfast we had a most amazing view on the massive mountains and pointy peaks of Torres del Paine.

Perfect day to explore the park – where we greeted Guanaco’s, noticed that not all Flamingo's got The Memo and we discovered a kobolt. We needed to do some serious math as well. Calculating exactly not to run out of fuel.  ... read on ...

39 - Guanaco as Early Bird, La Panda handling the Austral wind and Spooky Mountains

Track: El Calafate, Argentina to Torres del Paine, Chile

Driving through the pampas of Argentina, there is never a dull moment. Right at sunrise, with sun in blinding straight angle to the car, a Guanaco decided to cross the road...

Oeps...
It was probably on the run for the UFO from space that just landed!
Or was it in a race with the aliens to be first reach the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?


At the end of the trip we were welcomed in Chile by an - Dûh - Original Chilean Condor. Torres del Paine decided to put on it's Halloween face- the Spooky look! ..read on ...

30 - White Vulcanos of Puerto Varas

Track: Loncoche to Puerto Varas, Chile

Day in key statistics
  • 262 km - distance driven

  • 98 km/h average speed in 2.40 hours motion time

  • One crucial Tourist Office visit - meaning we spend the evening re-planning the upcoming week of our trip. Due to a tragic mud-slide at the village Santa Lucia mid December 2017, that part of the road is still blocked. The alternative is a ferry, for which the waiting list is several days. Alfajores here we come- we will reroute through Argentina.
     

Local Fact

  • The vulcano Osorno has a height of 2661 km above sea level. Wiki says the last eruption was 1869, so we can sleep without any worry!
     

Highlights of the day

  • The hotel room has the most perfect view on the vulcanos - waking up, we will see the famous vulcano Osorno. Wow!

  • Sleeping inn, with nice morning walk in village Loncoche - where on Sunday morning apart from some dogs, every one seemed to still be sleeping. Lovely layed-back atmosphere!

29 - Turn Right, Right, and Right - then straight on cruising south

Track: Santiago de Chile to Loncoche, Chile

Day in key statistics
  • 773 km - distance driven (in our planning, it was indicated as 771 km, so quite accurate!)

  • On average - every 64.5 km there was traffic police control. We counted twelve of  traffic control patrol flex stations.  Eleven of them, we auto-cruised by without any issue

  • The first traffic control of the day = first speeding ticket of the trip.
    Bit unfortunate, as we read the data in our Garmin this evening. In Chile, road rules are strict. So we kept right at allowed speeds. For 30 minutes and 54 seconds, we were within the speed limit. However, exactly at the six seconds it took to overtake a wobbly driving car: the moment we got laser gunned by Traffic Police. 

  • The remaining 728 km we drove in cruise control fixed on 118 km/hour. Self-Driving car, you are welcome, as driving on cruise control - it's utterly boring and more tiring!
     

Fun Fact

  • Cissy saw Mega Mars Mellows in the fields along the highway.  Despite the fact Jurgen says these are hay bales packed in white plastic for transport - I stick to the story that it were Mega Mars Mellows and We Should Pull Over to 'harvest' them.
     

Special highlight edition: the colors of the day

  • Green - Trees, Trees, Trees, grass fields with cows, more Trees, Trees, Trees - Green, Green, Green!!! 

  • Black - Sadly, the south of Chile is frequently victim of wild forest fires. The damage these do was clearly visible at fire-blackened stretches. On the hopeful side - we did see small plants regrowing, adding a new start of green on the black.

  • Yellow-Goldish - the color of the endless grain fields we passed

  • Blue - We crossed many bridges with sight on beautiful BLUE! steams and rivers. Not the red-brown mud-dish rivers we have seen before a lot, just lovely blue

27 - Getting Business Done - Mi Amor

Track: Wazing around (Cissy) - Jurgen on diplomatic route (working day)

Day in key statistics
  • 37 psi. That's air pressure of our tires (which i will try to remember)

  • 80% De-Re-Wazed. Of course i managed to miss a turn on the inner-city highway. So Waze had to work hard, recalculating, while i was enjoying cruising all through town. Tunnels, fly-overs, nice road along the river; Santiago de Chile is a pleasant city to drive in, and live in - at it's first sights that is.

  • 605 times Reverse-Forward maneuvering to get la Panda finally perfectly Reversed Parked in a tight parking spot
     

Fun Local Fact

  • Apart from 3 kisses to greet one each other, Dutch people might come across a bit 'reserved' in daily contacts. In Lima you can get an ego boost to go to the Inca-market, where you are called 'Linda' (Beautiful), 'Princesa', 'Reinita' (Queen).
    Not here in Chile.
    Right away you are 'Mi Amor', my Love, for street vendors selling you the booklet 'Road Law of Chile', taxi drivers and waiters in restaurants... I found it rather funny, as it's done in a charming way.
     

Highlights of the day

  • La Panda is back 'home' in the hotel

  • Again a most lovely summer day

  • Mi Amor come 'home' at the hotel with  good vibes - he got a lot of good business done during the day. Time for winding down with a chilled Chilean beer & southern Hemisphere catching up with the Northern Hemisphere e.g. talking nonsense with Leen in USA.

  • Nice dinner with Catelijne, Jurgen's colleague based in Panama - good reason for Sushi! ; P

25 - Home-Hotel-Office at Double Tree hotel

Track: Hotel room to Lobby and Jurgen @ the Office... walking to Sushi Restaurant

Day in key statistics
  • Two Taco's - that did not deserve it's name; it's a mistake to go to this fast food Mexican restaurant

  • Lot's of Fine Sushi - The Warrior, The Lucky Mango - erasing the lunch failure memory
     

Fun Fact

  • Driving in Santiago de Chile. Strange mind twist - I easily drive in Qatar, Lima and packed La Paz. I can handle anarchy, not obeying rules (by others of course, not referring to Jurci), and road chaos. Santiago de Chile is sooooooooooooooo organised it scared me.

    Dropping the car at the Nissan for the 5.000 km service was a good way to get re-acquainted with proper driving I guess...
     

Highlights of the day

  • Sushi!

  • The lovely 80-90 music to enjoy at the hotel lobby. 

  • Boring maybe, but getting stuff out of the way, laundry, digital filing & editing, catching up with JurciTravel road log, re arranging bags and grocary shopping - gives a sense of satisfaction also. Thus, can be counted as highlight!

24 - Looking like a Lost Puppy - gets you free rides

Track: Taxi, Walking, Bus, Metro in Santiago de Chile (Cissy) - @ the office (Jurgen)

Day in key statistics
  • One free bus ride  - see fun facts

  • Start of new addiction: Capuccino Helado at the DoubleTree hotel lobby

  • Mail Mountain Monday - First workday of the week for Jurgen, who besides meetings had to conquer his Inbox Email Mountain. 
     

Fun Fact

Went shopping. For a new tire for la Panda. Arranged it,  so let's take a walk back. After few blocks i realized: 
1. This is like an industrial area, not too interesting;
2. the end destination 'High Mirror Tower' is too far away;
3. I am hungry and thirsty and no food in sight.
4. I don't have any internet connection for an Uber or Wazing Walking

More worrying - No taxi to be seen. 

Ha! The Bus!!! 
It took a while to explain where i wanted to go...Then it seemed endlessly before I understood i was actually offered a free ride: 'No, you can't buy a ticket on the bus. B ut hop in anyway and I drop you off at the nearest Metro station'.
Guess i must have looked like a lost puppy, with the language knowledge of a toddler of two... So I got a free ride of 15 minutes to 'Metro-Station-Civilization' - wow!
 

Highlights of the day

  • The niceness of the people of Santiago - very helpful to explain you the directions, and warning you for pick pocketing. While travelling you always have to be alert, but i have to say i feel very comfortable and safe walking around.
     

  • The apron 'Pisco Sour Chileno' - which made me laugh. There is a passionate dispute between Peru and Chile about the origin of Pisco. In the end decided against to buy it as present for a very Peruvian chef, as I reckon the discussion is to sensitive to joke about. 

23 - About Curves, continuous lines and Bienvenido a Chile

Track: Las Leñas, Argentina to Santiago de Chile, Chile

Day in key statistics
  • 171 km - distance driven

  • 17 curves - in the first 25 minutes after entering Chile. We loooooved it! Top Gear road!

  • Many yellow double continuous lines - signifying - patience testing Jurgen as those lines can't be crossed to take over nerve testing sloooooooooow trucks. In Rome, do as the Romans do. In Chile - we know from experience, better 'Respect the Road Rules'

  • 10 or more tunnels - testing the nerves of slightly claustrophobic Cissy. Jurgen was very helpful in comforting "you know these tunnels are really old". Seriously? It's not comforting to know a tunnel is 'really old' - as it makes me wonder directly about.. maintenance and stuff...

  • 2.05  hours - time in motion

  • 60 minutes - border crossing  'Paso Internacional Los Libertadores' Argentina to Chile
     

Fun Fact

  • The border crossing from Argentina to Chile takes place inside a fairly loooong tunnel. One (Jurgen  perhaps?) might miss the 'tunnel-road-signs': First Argentina wishing you a 'Buen Viaje'- Good Safe Travelling, followed by a friendly Chilean 'Bienvenido-Welcome' to Chile.

    No worries, there is an other way to know where you exactly crossed the border line.

    Somewhere halfway the tunnel, the lights change from cosy-yellow warm light and bit wobbly asphalt road to efficient blue-ish bright LED-lights and very leveled concrete road.  
     

Highlights of the day

  • Zig-Zag 17 curves down the impressive massive mountains at the Chilean border

  • Arriving mid-afternoon in Santiago de Chile, in soaring heat! Like, the cutlery on the terrace, which had be lying in the sun, it was to hot to handle

  • Parking la Panda. Indication of height: 1.95 meter. The specs of La Panda is that the height is 2.05 meter. Back to the main entrance... The Manager and the Handyman of the Double Tree were most hands on. Measuring tape, slowly slowly, and La Panda found it's secured double (it's a bit wide) parking spot : )

22 - Totally Unplugged

Track: El Chiflón to Las Leñas, Argentina

Day in key statistics
  • 255 km - max speed of the day. No Worries- this is not true, we had an hick up in our Garmin that day. we are not abusing La Panda with excessive speeding! Nor taking risks in our safety.

  • 1.000 liter milestone. Yes, la Panda is a thirsty car!

  • 597 km - distance driven

  • 6.22 hours - time in motion
     

Fun Facts

  • Meeting the 'Lessemsaurus Sauropoides' at early morning. Too bad there are no road signs warning you for crossing dinosaurs!


 

Highlights of the day

  • Cruising along the decayed train tracks; decay that has it's own beautiful charm to it

  • Sleeping in the restored abandoned houses of the last railway stop before the Chilean border. Absolute Nothingness - including No Wifi or any internet connection. Lovely afternoon to just stroll around and 'changing train tracks'- it still functions!

21 - La Panda thinks it's a Zebra; off-day for all

Track: hotel only

Day in key statistics
  • We are on a lazy day. Let's skip the statistics ; P
     

Fun Fact

  • We mix 'Old School' with 'Nowadays'. Meaning; we bought the Lonely Planet of Argentina, Chile and Antarctica today.

    To combine the Google Earth information with hands on practical information. We plotted lines on the gravel roads inside the national parks. Hm... you can only go in with a guide. Lonely Planet preparation could have informed us about that, saving the deception. Guess we got too spoilt in Saudi Arabia... driving where ever... 

    Anyways - we are tuning in to 'nowadays' - Lonely Planets in digital format instead oft the paper books. Snif! 
     

Highlights of the day

  • Zebra: looking outside to find out that our car was changed in a Zebra look. Funny shadow effect

  • LAZY: yes, there are stunning national parks to visit here. However, sometimes one just need a break from all impressions. Yatzee, Siesta and Lazy day it is!