02/28/2023 and 03/01/2023 Validation!!


The day dawned bright and beautiful and it was a great time to spend at sea watching the steady rhythm of the waves and listening to the background noise of the engines as we lazed around in bed.  Realizing that we needed to eat, we decided to start off the day with a leisurely breakfast at the buffet where we had cereal and yogurt. We think that the buffet is probably wasted on us as we didn’t even “walk the line” looking at the choices. Instead we decided to stick to our tried and true breakfast staples which provided us with the perfect amount of fuel for the next part of our day. The next part was getting down to business with a workout in the ship’s gym. Unsurprisingly, we had a lot of company, with a lot of guests taking the day at sea as a good time to catch up on some much needed calorie burning and muscle retaining.

Dave and I then headed off to meet Kyle and Henry for lunch and some games. Well, Kathy hates to admit it – yup it is painful all the way for her – but Dave was right.  While Kathy didn’t play dominos, neither did Kyle’s new friend Tekira. For a ship that only holds ~ 1000 people she managed to be elusive. Kathy did “excuse” herself from playing cards and instead wandered away to do loops on the track while listening to her book.  The last round of games ended quickly when Kyle, in one luckily-shuffled and then luckily-split deck, was dealt a loaded hand. He managed to win the game with the cards dealt to him and without even a chance for Dave or Henry.  At this point, Dave felt it was a good time to find Kathy who was still hiding and spend some time exploring the many levels of the ship.

Dinner was a group affair at another restaurant where we got to sample some fresh Asian food. Like most of the food onboard, we were greatly impressed with the quality and freshness of the food. In addition, the portions were a perfect size for us and, unlike the restaurants in the US, were not designed to feed a family on one plate – just perfect for one individual.  Last stop was a dip in the hot tub where we lounged around. The only annoyance was that we had to push the “bubble button” to keep the jets on! The button had to be pushed every two minutes – really who designed this?  While it was a quiet day on the last day of the month, it was still enjoyable.

Wednesday, the beginning of Shamrock Shake month started off early.  We had breakfast at a restaurant instead of the buffet and we shared a table with a couple from Canada, Debbie and Danny, who we had met earlier on the trip.  We chatted and chatted and found like us they were avid travelers who have been quite a few places. The time was brief though as both of us had to get going in order to catch the bus to take us to the town of Puerto Madryn. The description of the excursion promised us hundreds of thousands of penguins.  While we didn’t see that many,  we still saw plenty tottering around, pruning the molted feathers off themselves, and lounging in the burrows they carve into the ground where they raise their young.  We also had the treat of seeing dozens of guanacos (small llama relatives), vultures, Chaminga Caracaras, and even a pair of Crested ducks that spend all their time together (kind of like us old married couples who are retired, or somewhat retired).  Dave again felt that he was right in that Kathy was not so sure we would see some penguins yet at times they were so close she could have reached out her hand and touched them.  The trip to the coast was well worth it as it provided us with an opportunity to see not only the countryside of Argentina but some amazing wildlife in their natural habitat.

Dinner was another group activity with Kyle and Henry at a Brazilian meat extravaganza where you were served slices and bites of a variety of meats. It was a culinary adventure in trying the various beef, pork, chicken, and even roasted cinnamon pineapple.  Dinner as always was capped off by an amazing dessert much to Kathy’s delight.

After dinner, we enjoyed a game show in the theater called “Last Man Standing”.  After three different games, there was only one person who had won anything!

After the show, Dave and Kathy went up top to see the stars.  It wasn’t quite dark enough yet, and there were some clouds, but they still enjoyed nature’s “show”.  While up there (actually the best place they found was the helispot!), they met a man from Wales who was an avid astronomer, chemist, and software engineer (among many other things, we are sure!) He advised us that the best time to see the Southern Cross constellation will be after we visit the Falkland Islands in a few days.  Between this gentleman and Dave’s “Star Walk 2” app, we are sure to be fascinated on other nights, too.

02/27/2023 Uruguay Dancing King

Our second day on board saw us hot footing it to breakfast where we were confronted with a plethora of choices for breakfast, mostly of the American standard including the bland choice of grits. Kathy was amused to hear a couple of people talking about how they like it with gobs of butter or overwhelmed by cheese. If you have to cover up the taste of something, you know it must not be that good.  Soon we were off to take a small tour of the city of Montevideo. We quickly set off where we learned about the history of Uruguay and its beautiful architecture. You could see all the influences of the immigrants in the area by the different varieties of architectural styles.

Dave was lucky enough to add a couple of more life birds to his list, including an “oven bird” from the area. Not at all similar to the oven birds from our area in Western NY, but a larger version called Rufous Hornero in scientific terms. It builds it nests from clay and looks like a large clay oven from old Roman times perched on branches in the trees.  Maybe that is where the name originates. We then stopped at an area by the coast where there were hundreds of green monk parakeets that hung out together. While they were hard to see and elusive, we did hear what sounded like the din of a cocktail party and the murmur of “voices” that led credence to the guide’s statement that there were hundreds living atop each other in the trees. The guide likened it to apartments for birds where they built their nests one upon the other, living literally on top of each other. We eventually saw some flying from tree to tree and a couple of them canoodling high up in the trees (Kathy was even lucky enough to get a picture of them!)

Our last stop in Uruguay was to a local cantina that has been in the same family for four generations. The bar is famous for their red wine that they have been making for generations. We were then treated to some Tango dancers who showed us again how agile and limber you needed to dance the tango……you need rhythm!! Dave got an opportunity to show that old Park Rangers can dance, not just hike.  One of the professional dancers (who was the 2019 and 2022 Tango Champion!) asked Dave to dance.  He shimmied around the dance floor like a seasoned expert. (…well, okay, he was led around the floor and followed her lead as to when to swish, when to sway and then he executed the exciting dip!  He avoided his fear of stepping on her feet and did not even kick her at all!) Kathy, being the (un)accomplished film maker that she is, managed to catch about 1 second of his exciting performance so you will have to take our word that he did not drop her when he dipped her to the floor!

Finally back at the boat, we “chilled” in the oppressive heat of the pool deck while our thoughts and words were drowned out by the top-decibel reaching “classic rock” music that had old people trying to gyrate without dislocating their hips or knees. We had a fun time people-watching and “yelling” at each other to be heard over the speakers. Seeking a reprieve, we headed off to dinner at Le Bistro, a French Gourmet restaurant.  We tried our hand at ordering food in French and sampling the cuisine of the restaurant. Dave was bold and got out of his comfort zone by embarking on a culinary adventure.  He tried some steak tartare and even gagged down half of an awful tasting mushroom that they call escargots. One and done!!  Kyle and Henry both liked escargot, but Kathy who tried it years ago was not willing to help them eat their appetizers. Instead she stuck to French Onion Soup, going with the theme of the French restaurant. Dinner was an excellent meal all the way around.  Kyle and Dave stayed safe with Chicken Coq au Vin, Kathy had a lamb chop that was tender and delicious, and Henry sampled the duck. While complaining of being full, Kathy will always have room to indulge her sweet tooth and opted for chocolate cake, masquerading as a well done hot dog. The pictures speak for themselves.

While at dinner we spied a beautiful woman seated at the next table. Sensing an opportunity to keep Kyle busy and avoid having to play dominos with him, Kathy introduced herself and then Kyle, arranging for them to meet later for a drink. Kyle now has someone new to invite for a game of dominos. Finding a friend, but not a romantic interest for Kyle (at least Kathy thinks that) we proceeded to get to know each other.  Hitting it off with Tekira from London, we discussed travel and a variety of subjects, again competing with the ear jarring sounds emanating from speakers.  Kyle arranged to meet with her the next day at the spa, she left and that was our hint to be on our way too, leaving Kyle and Henry to their own devices. Second day of the trip on Norwegian Cruise Line, with twelve more to go! Successful all around!