Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wednesday (2/16/11) The Falkland Islands – Port Stanley

Last night was another typical evening.  We had a nice dinner, although different seating.  The dining room is on two floors in the very aft of the ship with the second floor being open in the middle so you can look down onto the diners on the first floor.  Our dining plan has us up in the second floor on the starboard side.  Last night we were seated right next to the open balcony part looking down on the action on the first floor.  It was interesting to watch, but we noticed how loud it was.
The after dinner show was a flautist from Northern Ireland.  He was terrific, playing the flute and sometimes played the penny whistle.  It was amazing what great music he could get out of such a simple instrument.
In the morning, we got up early (6:15) in order to try and beat the crowd to the tenders.  The in room planner told us that we would drop anchor at 8 and start tendering at 8:30.  So, we planned to get to the lounge to pick up our tender tickets at between 7:45 and 8.  Well, most people must have figured it out better than us.  We dropped anchor at about 7 and they were tendering shortly after.  So, we ended up with tender ticket number 22.  We waited about 45 minutes or so for our number to be called and arrived on shore at about 10:45.
Port Stanley is on the northeast corner of the East Falkland Island.
The weather was simply beautiful.  Not too cold, at about 50 degrees, and the calmest waters you could imagine.  The Star Princess was right behind us and they started tendering shortly after we did.  So, we expected kind of a madhouse on the shore (we were right).
The island is mostly rocks and small bushes.  There are next to no trees (except for the occasional human planted and nurtured trees), and the whole island is really, really flat.  The houses all have metal roofs in lots of interesting colors.

After disembarking the tender, we walked right up to the visitor center. 

We saw a sign for Gypsy Cove tours, which is what we were going to go on.  Gypsy Cove is roughly five miles away and has penguins and kind of a sanctuary.  They run tiny buses (at about a dozen people per bus) as quickly as they can shuttle you over to the Cove.  The cost was $25 per person round trip.  The line was really long and we figured that it was going to take forever.  However, lots of people ended up leaving the line and doing other stuff and eventually a big regular sized bus (holding 49 people) showed up and that really helped the line move.  We drove up the small hill to the Stanly Bypass road and then headed east to the cove. 
On the way, we passed several ship hulks.  Because passing Cape Horn is so absolutely treacherous, that many do not make it.  The ones that didn’t just sink often limped back to Stanley and then had to be scrapped and scuttled. 

Once we got there, we wandered around the various beaches and area, taking pictures of the penguins, other wildlife, and scenery.   

The penguins prefer to burrow under ground, digging the burrows out with their powerful claws.  There were several baby penguins (although by now they are almost full size) that were hanging in the burrows.  The rest were down on the beach lounging around.  It was interesting that they didn’t really “do anything.”  They just hung out, some sleeping, the rest just standing there.  It was kind of weird.  By the way, these are Magellanic Penguins (which of course are named after Magellan).

One interesting thing about the area is that the Argentines set out land mines during the Falkland War.  So, you have to be careful and not go where you shouldn’t.

Here is a picture of our ship sitting at anchor out at sea.

After waiting in another line, we finally boarded a bus to take us back to the port.  Once there, we bought some postcards that already had the stamps on them (so you could address and just drop them into the post box).  Remember that this is a British colony,  so all of the prices were in pounds, however they took dollars and euros everywhere.  They even gave change in dollars.  We then wandered the town, checking out the church, architecture, shops, and a few monuments.

One interesting item was the whalebone arch.  This arch is made from the jaw bones of four blue whales.  You can tell how big those whales are.

Then we tendered back to the ship, grabbed a quick bite to eat and are hanging out.

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