Dear Loyal Readers:
Thank you to so many of you who have not only responded to my South American blogs, but clearly seem to be enjoying them.
On Saturday the ship docked in Buenos Aires (its last port of call). However, one didn’t need to disembark until Sunday. The ship was offering an all day tour to Iguazu Falls. We were going to do it by ourselves after leaving the ship, but this seemed like an easier way to do it (although outrageously expensive). In retrospect, after you read our story, perhaps this wasn’t the best choice.
Iguazu Falls are on the border of Argentine and Brazil. You can see the falls from either country. 80% of the falls are in Argentina though so I suspect that is the better viewing area. (As an aside, the north and south rims of the Grand Canyon which are 200 miles apart when you drive give a totally different perspective of the Canyon and while the southern rim is the more popular one, the northern rim puts you much closer “to the action” and I’m glad that when we went, we did both. Doug: do you have any memory of this trip? You were 12 years old and took all of the photos; some of which hang in our apartment to this day.) Sorry for the digression!
1.7 million gallons of the Iguazu River plummet over a precipice each second, forming a 900 foot wide wall of water. It is the widest water fall in the world. There are 275 separate waterfalls that plunge more than 200 feet onto the rocks below. A few months ago a list of 7 “new” natural wonders of the world was released and Iguazu Falls are on it. I can understand why. They are quite magnificent.
To get there from Buenos Aires, we took a bus from the ship to a small airport where we went on a chartered plane (more about this later) and flew for 2 hours to the northern border of Argentina. Then another bus took us to the park where we first bordered a little train that takes you to where you start to walk. You walk for about 15 minutes. On the way we saw racoons, catfish and lots of butterflies. You hear the falls before you can even see them.
There are basically 3 sections for viewing the falls from the Argentina side (with various viewing sites in each section). The first one we went to is called Devil’s Throat and is supposedly the best view. This is where you are really close to the falls. There’s a mist falling over you.
After viewing from this perspective, we took another little train and walked to the “Upper Falls”.
If you look closely, you can see a rainbow below.
At this point the logical thing would have been to go see the “Lower Falls” BUT we had run out of time and had to go back to the airport.
So now I’ll tell you about the frustrating part of our day. The tour was scheduled to leave the ship at 6:30 AM. We were told to meet at 6:15 AM so we got up at 4:30 AM. (Our butler, without our asking him to, had left us breakfast on our dining room table the night before!!) There were 2 reps from the ship signing everyone in. They had 54 people on their list, but only 52 showed up. When the missing couple couldn’t be found, we were sent on our way on the bus (without the ship reps). When we arrived at the domestic airport, our passports were collected and then the problems began. The airport officials had a manifest with 54 names but only 52 passports. It took about 90 minutes for them to finally understand that 2 people hadn’t come along! I kid you not; it was the most bizarre incident I have ever participated in. Why they took our passports to begin with no one understood. If each person had held onto their own passport, there wouldn’t have been an issue. Ah well. The planes coming back (there were 3 little planes going and coming) were scheduled to leave Iguazu at 3:30 PM. Due to the morning screw-up, there was no time to see the Lower Falls. In addition, when we arrived back at the Iguazu airport, the same situation occurred with the passports! I kid you not. Luckily this time it didn’t take quite as long to be resolved.
The plane we were on coming back had no air conditioning and no window shades. I was facing into the sun. I was drenched with sweat by the time we arrived back in Buenos Aires.
Marty formed an Occupy Celebrity group and we marched to the Shore Excursion desk! Marty was the spokesperson for the group. I’m sure no one is surprised by that. He asked for 50% of our money back; to date they have refunded 10%. I believe Marty is planning on following up.
Bottom line: the Falls were magnificent. It would have been nice to spend more time there (I keep telling you I don’t like organized tours!), but I’m certainly glad I had an opportunity to see them.
Doug keeps telling me I have to include pictures of us, so here’s Marty and me at the Falls:
And here’s the bottom line on the cruise itself: The ship (Celebrity Infinity) was wonderful; our cabin was amazing; the food on the ship was excellent as was the wine list; evening entertainment was very good; other activities on board were OK (I thought there would be more lectures about the ports of call). I was disappointed in several of the excursions. Perhaps this is just due to my dislike of organized tours. Cruising is clearly an easy way to travel; you unpack once; the ship goes from place to place while you sleep; they take care of everything. If you want to cover lots of different places (and perhaps areas where you might not feel comfortable traveling by yourself), it’s a great way to go. However, if you’re going to places where you want to spend more time and see things in depth, I wouldn’t recommend a cruise. And I haven’t even discussed the food which I wish perhaps hadn’t been so yummy!!
So now we’re in Buenos Aires. Today is our 4th and last day here. We’ll be flying home tonight while the blog is being published. (Doug has set it up to publish at 4 AM.) I know several of you are interested in my impressions of this city (the largest in South America). I probably won’t get to it before we have to leave; perhaps I’ll send one more edition once we are back home.
Thanks for reading with me.
Your Roving Reporter