Posted by: travelrat | February 22, 2017

Tendering Ashore


Back home, with, as usual, sheaves of notes, pictures, video and audio recordings to get through. So, I’ll hold off diving straight into posting about our trip for a couple of days, when, hopefully, things will be a little bit more together around here.

What I will do, though, is pass on a little wrinkle I gleaned along the way.

When you’re considering a cruise, have a good look at the itinerary, and check at which ports you will anchor, and go ashore by tender. This is usually denoted by, at least, an anchor besides the name of the port.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing; it all depends on the number of tenders available, the number of passengers on the ship and the distance your ship is anchored from the shore. Even in the best case, it does mean a little more waiting around than if you just walked off the ship, and did whatever you had to do.

Our worst-case scenario was at Ushuaia. We were supposed to dock there, but our berth got grabbed by Celebrity Cruises … a pox and a plague on them … and it turned out that the first landing place designated for our tenders was ruled unsatisfactory. A landing place was finally found, but it was nearly 1030 by the time we got ashore, and our excursion, a ride on the Southernmost Railway in the World, had to be cancelled.

At least, we’d booked through the cruise line, so our money was refunded. But, we heard of someone who had booked privately, so got nothing back. We know people who always book private tours … I’m not saying don’t do it; just keep these points in mind if you do.

Posted by: travelrat | February 15, 2017


Cruise phase complete. Waiting for a flight to Lima,  then Cuszco

Posted by: travelrat | February 10, 2017

Punta Arenas

I’m here!

Posted by: travelrat | February 9, 2017


Posting from the end of the world! 

Posted by: travelrat | January 29, 2017

Iguazu Next

Waiting for a flight to Iguazu​

Posted by: travelrat | January 26, 2017


First full day in Rio. Exploring today; the real sightseeing starts tomorrow. This is the view from our hotel room.​

Posted by: travelrat | January 23, 2017

Ready for the Off … Just About


The other day, the postman left a package. It contained the itinerary for the ‘land element’ of ‘Big Trip 17’, as well as other good stuff from Wendy Wu Tours. If you scroll back far enough, you’ll see we travelled to China with them three years ago, and have nothing but praise for them. So, the South America trip should be just as good.

So, finally, all the ducks are in a row, and we just have to pack, and trundle off down the hill (or, maybe, catch the bus!) to board the National Express coach to London Airport. Only two more shaves to go!

As usual, I won’t be posting in any great depth while I’m away; just the occasional ‘position report’, and maybe upload the odd photo to Facebook or Twitter. (That’s almost an essential these days; saves a fortune on postcards and stamps!) The real posts start when I get home, and have a chance to sit down and polish my words, pictures and videos a bit.

I did try to learn a little more Spanish in recent weeks, but it’s still rather basic. And, I suspect they use a widely different kind of Spanish in Argentina, Chile and Peru than they do in Madrid.

So, all that remains is sort out what we must take; prioritise what we’d like to take … and keep it within the limits of what the airline will allow … and what we can carry!

Posted by: travelrat | January 20, 2017



Kamloops 16/17th May 2016,

 We weren’t, initially, too impressed with Kamloops. It wasn’t that is was bad, just … ordinary. But, maybe I’m being unfair to the place by forming an opinion based on a brief visit.

We stayed at the Thompson Hotel, where our luggage, which we last saw in Vancouver, appeared in our room. The following morning, it disappeared again, to reappear later in the day in our hotel room in Banff; just one example of the Rocky Mountaineer people ‘going the extra mile’ for their guests.


We took a walk down the street in search of a sandwich, and later, I wandered down to the railway station to see if I could get some pictures of the Rocky Mountaineer’s loco. But, the train wasn’t there! Maybe they’d taken it elsewhere, for cleaning and servicing, or maybe I’d just gone to the wrong place?

I did, though, take one or two pictures; the record of our travels just wouldn’t be complete without them.  And, I did like that mural of the old train.


Posted by: travelrat | January 18, 2017

Travel Theme: Walking


‘If you just want to get there, you can take a carriage, but to travel, you must walk’ (J-J Rousseau)

I’ve been walking ever since … well … I could walk!

Some of us just walk of necessity, to get from A to B when there’s no transport … or, at least, no affordable transport … available. Others walk for recreation, which is a fairly recent innovation. It’s not all that long ago that the founders of the Ramblers Association declared that ‘ ,,, walking has replaced gin as the cheapest way out of Manchester’

If you go anywhere by tourist coach or car, you are isolated, to a great extent, to what’s around you; you’re isolated to a somewhat lesser extent if you shuffle around in a cloud of like-minded souls with an eye on the guide’s umbrella. Fortunately, most guides will eventually say something like: ‘You have free time. Be back at the coach in an hour’. That’s when the travelling starts.


Better still is the package holiday brochure which, from time to time, contains the words ‘At Leisure’  in the itinerary. You could spend this time lazing on the beach, or whatever … or you could visit some attraction that catches your fancy. Or, you could just walk.

Some of the mail that comes through my letter box offers me walking holidays. Much as I like walking, that’s not really my thing. I’m not all that keen on being shepherded around in a group, whatever the surroundings. I’ll usually go with one or two friends, though; we can stop when we like, rest awhile when we like, choose which way we’re going to go when we get there. And, if the weather changes, we can decide to knock it on the head, and go to the pub instead!


This week’s contribution the the Travel Theme. See more at

Posted by: travelrat | January 16, 2017

The Time Top


When we first saw it, we thought it was a piece of junk … a redundant marker buoy or something, cast on the foreshore of Vancouver’s False Creek. But, as we got closer, we realised it was a Sculpture.

It was the brainchild of local artist Jerry Pethick, who took his inspiration from the Clarence Gray and William Ritt comic strips of his childhood. The hero, one Brick Bradford, could be called an early version of Doctor Who. He happened upon a ‘chronosphere’, which was intended to ‘ … unravel the secrets of the past and probe the mysteries of the future.’

 Pethick envisaged the device flying across the Pacific Ocean, and splashing down off British Columbia.

He passed away in 2003, but, the following year, the Time Top Project was commenced. Pethick had left detailed instructions about how the Time Top was to be constructed, and the Harmon Foundry was commissioned to build it in bronze. When it was complete, it was submerged in the ocean for two years, connected to a power supply, to attract molluscs and encourage the growth of mineral deposits.

It finally reached a satisfactory stage of ‘studied dilapidation’, which was intended to give the impression that it had been washed up on the foreshore. It was then transported to its present location, where capstones in the wall nearby show scenes from the strip cartoon that inspired it.

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