An Offer To Good to Refuse


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Published: January 29th 2011
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The Parana Delta at TigreThe Parana Delta at TigreThe Parana Delta at Tigre

with all its little waterways that look like they need to be explored
We're just settling back into normal life after the “London to Beijing by Motorbike” trip when a very interesting e-mail arrives. Its offering us one of the last cabins on a special charter trip spending 10 days at South Georgia. Normally you only get 3 days there as part of a Falklands, South Georgia, Antarctic Peninsula package so the chance to spend 10 days there (at a very reasonable last minute price) was too good to miss. The only snag – it leaves in 2 weeks time from Montevideo, so we drag the the recently stowed travel clothes back out of the wardrobe, re-pack them and head off to the airport.

So here we are, a few miles north of Buenos Aires, enjoying an excellent Argentinian steak on the banks of the Parana River at Tigre. We are surrounded by grand colonial rowing clubs, the river is full of rowing crews and the banks full of Portenos (people from Buenos Aires) escaping the city for an afternoon stroll – its just like a Sunday afternoon in Henley on Thames. There is a difference through, this is the delta of the Parana River so there's a maze of interconnecting rivers and
one of the grand colonial Rowing Clubs that line the river banksone of the grand colonial Rowing Clubs that line the river banksone of the grand colonial Rowing Clubs that line the river banks

its rather like a Sunday afternoon at Henley on Thames
streams spreading out in all directions encircling isolated islands. It's the only river delta in the world that doesn't empty into the sea, it empties into another river the Rio de la Plata that separates Argentina and Uruguay. You can actually see the join as the clear blue waters of the Parana mingle with the muddy waters of the Rio de la Plata.

The little canals and rivers disappearing off in all directions look inviting, like they need exploring and that's why we are here. We are taking the slow boat to Uruguay, a 4 hour journey right through the heart of the delta. Its an amazing trip with constantly changing scenery; reed island, lush green sub-tropical islands, countless marinas, wooden stilt houses, grand Belle Epoque mansions, playboys in their motorboats, the police on jet skis, riverbank petrol stations, floating shop and finally a brilliant red sunset as we reach Carmelo in Uruguay. We now have a 3 hour bus ride to Montevideo but its worth it, the river journey was so much more exciting than the super-fast Buquebus ferry direct from BA to Montevideo.

In Montevideo we have one full day before the ship sails and it just happens to be a Sunday. We know from experience that not a lot happens in Montevideo on a Sunday. So its a wander though the Sunday street market followed by a stroll along the beach. The street market, Feria Tristan Narvaja, is a big affair that attracts a large crowd of locals but its a strange mix; fruit & veg along the main street then a random selection of puppies, second-hand books, car pistons, empty coffee jar and general tat down the side-streets – some sections are much busier than others!!

The beach is wild and windy and mostly deserted. With the water stretching away to the horizon and waves rolling onto the wide sandy beach it difficult to remember that this is a river and not the sea. At this point the Rio de la Plata is 60 miles wide, that's wider than parts of the English Channel – its no wonder we can't see Argentina on the other side of the river. And it gets even wider – the river mouth is 140 miles wide. The one thing it lacks is the smell of the sea-side and the water tastes sweet. Strolling along (in between coffee & cake stops!) the river front architecture is amazing, a mix of traditional little houses next to great glass, modern constructions next to an endless supply of river view apartments – the mix of styles is quite unbelievable.

Monday morning is embarkation time. This is quite exciting as it means we get inside the docks. We tried to get in once before but were turned away as only authorised personnel are allowed in. But what's so exciting about the docks? - the remains of the Admiral Graf Spee, one of the most famous German battle ships from WWII are on display there. She did so much damage to allied ship that the British sent out hunting parties to track her down. In 1939 three British and New Zealand cruisers engaged her in the Battle of the River Plate during which she was damaged. She docked for repairs in the neutral port of Montevideo but was forced by international law to leave within 72hours. With the allied fleet waiting in international waters the captain chose to scuttle the Graf Spee and save his men. To prove he hadn't acted to save his own life he committed suicide.

The Graf
joining the traffic on the M1 of the Deltajoining the traffic on the M1 of the Deltajoining the traffic on the M1 of the Delta

here the police roam around on jet skis
Spee is still at the bottom of the Rio de la Plata (River Plate) but her anchor, range-finder and other bits form a nice open air display in the dock along with an explanation board in English, German & Spanish. Its such a shame its locked away and out of reach of the every day tourists.

Further down the dock is the Plancius, our home for the next 18 days. Eight of these days are out in the open ocean and I get sea-sick!!! The weather forecast is for calm seas and low wind - fingers crossed.


Additional photos below
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vegetables arranged Uruguayan stylevegetables arranged Uruguayan style
vegetables arranged Uruguayan style

at Feria Tristan Narvaja, the Sunday street market
the most popular item in the market - the mate gourdthe most popular item in the market - the mate gourd
the most popular item in the market - the mate gourd

drinking mate is even more popular here than it is in Argentina
the brass sectionthe brass section
the brass section

and Edwin's favorite site of the trip!!
snacking Uruguayan stylesnacking Uruguayan style
snacking Uruguayan style

they were very popular with the locals
the wide sandy beaches of Montevideothe wide sandy beaches of Montevideo
the wide sandy beaches of Montevideo

remember its a river not a sea


30th January 2011

i dont know how you do it
Well I read your return posting about a trip which was tempting but i think i need to be put on your email list as well , you guys are just never home :) maybe you dont need a house to live in just a big store room to take care of summer and winter things when not in use . wish i was with you on this trip i will be following your posts to see the excellent photos that i know you will take even from your first entry here .Have fun im sure you will and come to think of it ,isnt it winter time back home :) perfect time to vanish for a few more weeks WASA from OZ
3rd February 2011

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
In an effort to be completely unoriginal .......I don't believe it!

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