A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

March 8 - ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - PART 2

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More photos from our day in the wonderful Adelaide Zoo: Giraffe, meet Meerkat!

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Blue and Gold Macaw freeflight presentation

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New Guinea Tree-Kangaroo

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Africa is well-represented.

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Ring-Tailed Lemur, Madagascar (unbelievable! - On this cruise, we will actually be stopping in Madagascar!)

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Marmoset

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Red-Collared Lorikeet

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Gouldian Finch (not the true size - think Finch)

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Black-Winged Stilt

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Patagonian Cavy

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Short-Beaked Echinda

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Fairy Penguins

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A smart but lazy Seagull got his, too!

Posted by Swenigale 20:45

March 11 - ALBANY, AUSTRALIA

sunny 94 °F
View Serenity 6- WC 2015 on Swenigale's travel map.

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We have traveled far and are now halfway through our fantastic circumnavigation! We stopped in Albany, the oldest permanently settled town in the State of Western Australia.

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We drove west out of town toward the "Valley of the Giants", passing an interesting sign along the way. Really?!

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We drove through low vegetation (the bush), eventually reaching taller trees.

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The forest of enormous, ancient Red Tingle trees, which grow nowhere else in the world, is one of Western Australia's incredible natural wonders. To preserve the trees and enable people to enjoy them, there is a Treetop walk: A 600 meter loop, forty meters high "suitable for wheelchairs and all who can tolerate being suspended in space".

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Back on the ground, looking up

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Another section of the forest has a walkway around the forest floor.

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"Grandma Tingle" watches over the forest.

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On our way back to Albany we stopped in Denmark (true) to sample Australian meat pies and pasties.

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Farther on down the road, still in Denmark - a reminder of home! "Boston" is a family name here, but it reminded us of home anyway. :)

Posted by Swenigale 00:05 Archived in Australia

March 12 - FREMANTLE/PERTH, AUSTRALIA - DAY 1

sunny 90 °F
View Serenity 6- WC 2015 on Swenigale's travel map.

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Fremantle is our last port in Australia. It is located at the mouth of the Swan River and is the port city for Perth, the capital of Western Australia, twelve miles up the river.

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Sea breezes cooled us in the 90 plus heat as we walked around this beautiful city. This is the Basilica of St. Patrick.

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Most of the beautiful Federation-style buildings have been restored.

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Early settlers named their river "Swan" because of the Black Swans they saw there, something they had never seen before.

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A monument for Vasco da Gama - and a convenient seat for this schoolgirl

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In Bather's Beach works of art are on display - an artist has a unique "gone fishing"-kind of sign on his door.

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God's "art" cannot be beat!

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Bather's Beach

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Good job, Fremantle

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St. John Anglican Church

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I don't know your name, bird, but thanks for posing!

Posted by Swenigale 15:35 Archived in Australia

March 13 - FREMANTLE/PERTH, AUSTRALIA - DAY 2

overcast 85 °F
View Serenity 6- WC 2015 on Swenigale's travel map.

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Our 2nd day in Fremantle was also the beginning of the 4th World Cruise segment ("Indian Ocean Explorer"), and the last day to be on dry land until we reach Africa in 6 days (3,625 nautical miles).

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The Serenity was docked conveniently close to the train station so it was easy enough to take a ride into Perth.

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We like to get an early start on our adventures, so this morning we were riding the train with kids going to all their different schools. Every school has its own cool uniform.

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The time here was 12 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight time, so this morning we called home from Perth and also went to the Post Office before walking around the city center.

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Wesley Uniting Church

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Perth started out as the administrative center of the Swan River Colony and it is named for Perth, Scotland. The Western Australia gold rushes in the late eighteen hundreds greatly increased the population and the wealth of the city.

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Art in the city

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We walked to the riverside Esplanade to see the Swan Bell Tower. There is a major project underway to expand and beautify the riverfront.

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We bought a ticket on Captain Cook Cruises for a trip down the Swan River, back to our own ship.

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Multi-million dollar homes line the river

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There are still Black Swans around.

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Our final walk - up and over the tracks.

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.and "home" to Crystal, :)

Posted by Swenigale 23:55 Archived in Australia

March 14 to 19 AT SEA - March 20 - PORT LOUIS, MAURITIUS

sunny 92 °F
View Serenity 6- WC 2015 on Swenigale's travel map.

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Land Ho! The first sight of land in six and a half days! We have crossed the Indian Ocean and have arrived in the Mascarene Island group and Mauritius, our next port, is before us.

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After our noon arrival we hired a taxi to give us a tour of the north part of the island and to bring us to one of Mauritius' famous beaches.

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Driving through fields of sugar cane -

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Ah, what can I say - perfect!

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Even fresh pineapple - prepared while you wait

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Refreshed by our swim, we continued north to Cap Malheureux and their picturesque Catholic Church with the red roof.

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My island attire

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A third of the island's population is of Indian descent and our third generation Indian driver took us to see Shri Sockalingum Meenatchee Ammen Hindu Temple, which is undergoing extensive restoration.

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This palm tree is home to many Weaver birds with their characteristic hanging nests.

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The road back to Serenity (and air conditioning!)

Posted by Swenigale 05:25 Archived in Mauritius

March 21 - ST. DENIS, REUNION, (FRANCE)

We have just arrived in Maputo, Mozambique and have been unable to post to the blog for a week.

Later today we will try to post one picture from each of our ports since Reunion. Eventually we hope to add others if possible.

All is well but just some satellite/bandwidth issues sending pictures.

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Just a reminder map to show "where in the world" we are!

Posted by Swenigale 22:35

March 23 - AMOBODIFOTATRA, ILE SAINTE MARIE, MADAGASCAR

semi-overcast 87 °F
View Serenity 6- WC 2015 on Swenigale's travel map.

PART 1

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Hello! We are back home, with high speed internet!!! So now we can share some of those African photos! .....We are ashore, on this 35 mile long island which is a part of Madagascar, the world's 4th largest island. Our ship looks "ghostly" on this rainy morning.

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We were prepared to explore and, like these ducks and geese, let the rain roll off our backs.

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Ile Sainte Marie is just 5 miles off the northeast coast of 1000 mile long Madagascar. Unlike much of the main island, however, it is covered still with lush vegetation. In our small convoy of 4 by 4's we started our explorations at Endemaka Park. Here, we knew, we would be able to see some Lemurs.

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Madagascar is the only place on earth where these gentle creatures evolved. It was a rare privilege to be able to be in an enclosure with them.

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"Tomato Frogs". Different, yes? 5% of all known plant and animal species are found only in Madagascar.

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Many kinds of Chameleon - this is the "Leaf Chameleon". It can totally flatten itself down to blend in with its surroundings.

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We saw a variety of indigenous reptiles.

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The Lemur is the only primate in Madagascar, and while we were in the park we heard the loud calls of some wild Lemurs in the trees.

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Our knowledgeable guide

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This first bit was all about our visit to the Animal Park - after which we took to the road, and our adventures continued.

Posted by Swenigale 04:00 Archived in Madagascar

March 23 - AMOBODIFOTATRA, ILE SAINTE MARIE, MADAGASCAR

PART 2

semi-overcast 87 °F
View Serenity 6- WC 2015 on Swenigale's travel map.

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We enjoyed the unspoiled beauty of this remote island.

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This is the local airport control tower

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We walked to the 100 year old church amid rain showers.

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Our little convoy

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Leaving our vehicles behind, we began our hike through the mangrove trees - these kids have no need of a "jungle gym"!

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Ile Sainte Marie was a favorite hideout for pirates (like "Captain" Kidd). We were climbing up to see the world's only pirate cemetery, which overlooks the "Bay of Rogues".

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Our lunch today was in the "Garden of Eden" - a restaurant and bungalows deep in this remote area.

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One final stop - at the local market in Ambodifotatra

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This little girl is hugging a doll made by one of the Serenity's guests. The thoughtful lady brought many handmade dolls with her to give away to children.

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Posted by Swenigale 04:05 Archived in Madagascar

March 25 - TAOLANARO, MADAGASGAR

sunny 88 °F
View Serenity 6- WC 2015 on Swenigale's travel map.

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The Madagascar lemur was tops on all of our must-see lists. Today, in this town that is 1,000 miles south from our first Madagascar port, we headed straight to the Nahampoana Reserve - where we were sure to see lemurs!

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There are about 100 species of lemurs in Madagascar - we will be content to see four of them!

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The hidden chameleons were brought out of hiding by local villagers.

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More lemurs -

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Lunchtime for our little group -in the private reserve's central gathering space - a peek at the chefs -
we bravely ate, it was delicious, and no one got sick!

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Traditional dance moves

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Driving back to the port

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The local market

Posted by Swenigale 04:06 Archived in Madagascar

March 28 - MAPUTO, MOZAMBIQUE

overcast 80 °F
View Serenity 6- WC 2015 on Swenigale's travel map.

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Maputo is the capital of Mozambique, the largest city and the only natural harbor.

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A war with Portugal's colonial forces gained them independence in 1975. However, a bloody civil war and famine followed, resulting in a million deaths.

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Our walking tour was in the poor neighborhood of the Mafalala, the area that our guide described as "the cultural heart" of Mozambique.

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Agostinho Muthemba, A well-known artist, opened his studio/home for us.

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We were colorfully entertained by a women's dance troupe.

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There are 16 major ethnic groups in Mozambique.

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The Polana Serena Hotel, our lunch stop, has been restored to its original colonial splendor. The people of Mozambique are very poor and the government is hoping that tourism will help provide jobs and a better standard of living

Posted by Swenigale 04:10 Archived in Mozambique

March 29 - RICHARD'S BAY, KWA ZULU-NATAL, SOUTH AFRICA

sunny 90 °F
View Serenity 6- WC 2015 on Swenigale's travel map.

DAY 1

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On Palm Sunday we had our service early in the morning in beautiful Palm Court, the observation lounge high up on the front of the ship. After clearing South African Immigration we met our guides and headed off for our 2 day African Safari.

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Richards Bay is in Kwa Zulu-Natal Province, "Where South Africa becomes Africa". It Is the place of the Zulu people, once a great sub-Saharan African kingdom.

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Our first game drive was in the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve, which is well-known for its conservation efforts.

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After lunch at the Mindindini Trails Camp we set out for a three hour bush walk. Our guides carried rifles as they quietly led us single file into the untouched wilderness.

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This Reserve is one of the oldest in all of Africa, credited with saving the white rhino (misnamed - not actually white) from near extinction.

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During the afternoon walk (it was hot, hot, hot!!) we did not expect to encounter any of the large animals, though the Reserve is home to the big five. The afternoon should be their nap time, but we did get close to an awake rhino, as our guide pointed out tracks and scat that the animals leave behind.

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The gates close at 6pm, so we bumped our way quickly along toward the exit - with this surprise appearance by the side of the road that just made the adventure complete!

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After a late dinner in the little town of St. Lucia we climbed into a different jeep for a night drive, our third adventure of the day. Our pictures didn't come out well, but we were treated to visions of giraffes, zebra, bush buck and many flashing eyes in the distance,

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At one point our guide stopped and jumped out! He had spotted a chameleon he wanted us to see. How in the world did he see it from the jeep?

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This beautiful lodge in St. Lucia would have been a great place to stay for more than six hours! Instead, we tumbled into bed at 1am ...

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.and were up at 5am and on our way again at 6. I am not complaining! We wanted to see all there is to see!!!

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Posted by Swenigale 04:10 Archived in South Africa

March 30 - RICHARD'S BAY, SOUTH AFRICA -

sunny 89 °F
View Serenity 6- WC 2015 on Swenigale's travel map.

PART 2

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The 2nd day of our safari started bright and early on a flat bottom boat as we explored the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in the Santa Lucia Estuary.

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I don't think I would swim here!

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These hippos have been out forging during the night and were returning to the water to nap.

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Great Southern Fishing Eagle

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Giant Kingfisher

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Our guide and captain was excellent.

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What do you call a bunch of hippos? A bloat!

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In spite of the fact that hippos are sometimes a comical sight, they are nothing to laugh about. Hippos are considered to be one of the world's most dangerous large animals!

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Next, our final adventure: exploring the ocean side of the estuary.

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Southern Banded Snake Eagle (Later we saw one flying holding a snake!)

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Gnu, also called a wildebeest, on the left

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Looking over the vast wetland, which is all a protected area

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Lookout! Warthog crossing!

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This must be a favorite mud hole

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Mission Rocks Beach

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We had a great barbecue lunch prepared by our guides.

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The final leg of our adventure was the three hour drive to Durban where the Serenity had docked after leaving Richard's Bay. Before leaving Santa Lucia we gathered together one last time near our Tour Director's home to congratulate each other on a most excellent safari. Although our sighting of a lion and of a leopard were obscured by bushes we had indeed seen the big five! (Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino and Buffalo) Awesome!!!

Posted by Swenigale 04:10 Archived in South Africa

April 2 - 4 CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

sunny 75 °F
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We arrived in beautiful Cape Town with majestic Table Mountain showing off its gleaming white tablecloth of clouds. We have six more hours in Cape Town than originally planned, due to having to skip Port Elizabeth. Today was the final day of the fourth segment of the World Cruise.

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A heartwarming sign in a store checkout line!

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We had a perfect afternoon in the Victoria and Albert Waterfront complex.

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For those guys who don't like to shop :)

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Table Mountain was almost clear for part of the afternoon, which was great for anyone going up to the top in the cable car.

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Originally, Bishop Tutu (one of the Nobel prizewinners depicted by these statues), had been scheduled to be a guest speaker on the Serenity. He had had to cancel, a big disappointment for all of us.

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Nothing better than friends, conversation.

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.and beer!

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At the end of the day: we've gathered great memories and look forward to two more days in Cape Town and Easter Sunday services at sea!

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Good Friday was a full day in Cape Town at the start of the 5th segment of the World Cruise. Our Good Friday service was scheduled for late afternoon.

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We hired a local guide who knew a great deal about natural remedies obtained from South African plants and trees.

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We were in Kirstenbosch Gardens, a World Heritage site. This was a revisit for us, but we could certainly visit again and again, it is so beautiful!

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Our visit to a local fishing village was a bit too late to get in on the early morning action.

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A seal family hangs out here: I'm thinking they don't have to work hard to get a free meal!

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Boulders Beach: home of the African Penguin

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After our visit with the penguins it was time to return to the ship for the Good Friday service.

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Saturday we sailed out of Cape Town, one of our favorite ports in the world, with a musical farewell from a local band.

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We looked forward to seven days at sea (which is the amount of time it takes to cross the Atlantic Ocean to South America) and what turned out to be exciting and wonderful Easter morning services on our first day at sea.

Posted by Swenigale 04:11 Archived in South Africa

April 12 -MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY

sunny 75 °F
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We crossed the Atlantic in seven days, some of which were rockin' and rollin', weather that the Crystal Serenity handles beautifully!

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Our first port of call was in the small country of Uruguay in South America. Our port was Montevideo, the capital city, situated on the River Plate (which is 150 miles wide at the mouth!).

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On a Sunday morning the streets were virtually empty - but barbeques were already fired up near the port.

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Murals decorate many of the exterior walls of buildings.

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The river walk - the Rambla

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Montevideo retains much of its European charm, left from Colonial days.

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The only remnant of the old city walls

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The statue and burial place of Jose Artigas, one of the country's heroes.

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This impressive building was the tallest in South America when it was built

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The founder of the city, General Zabala

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On Sundays in port, our service is held at 5:15pm, after which we sailed away in the golden evening light - passing a breakwater lined with fishermen.

Posted by Swenigale 05:45 Archived in Uruguay

April 13-14 -BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA

sunny 75 °F
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Sunrise as we approached Buenos Aires - the city is home to 4 million of Argentina's 28 million people.

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Street-side produce

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Many buildings from the colonial area still stand.

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We had spent some hours wandering the pedestrian shopping streets, and after an afternoon rest in our stateroom we headed out with friends for an evening in the city. This is Casa Rosada Palace, seat of the Executive branch of the government.

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Statue of Independence

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We filled a small restaurant in La Boca, enjoying Argentinian specialties: no tango, but lots of food, wine, friends and laughter.

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We called home for Valena's birthday

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On our 2nd morning we hired a taxi and saw this flower sculpture (designed to open in the morning and close at night),

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And the Rose Garden in Palermo. It is past full bloom (we are still south of the Equator) but beautiful nonetheless.

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The Spanish statue

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Boulevards are beautifully tree-lined.

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At our final stop with the taxi we wandered about La Recoleta, the cemetery with the sometimes magnificent and sometimes sad monuments to loved ones.

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And we once again paid our respects to Evita, Argentina's beloved first lady.

Posted by Swenigale 12:05 Archived in Argentina

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