Penguins in paradise

Trip Start Feb 18, 2008
Trip End Mar 07, 2008

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Flag of Falkland Islands  ,
Friday, February 22, 2008

Today has been the best day yet, Stanley Falkland Islands! We awoke early and had breakfast. The ship can not dock in Stanley so you have to take a tender to shore. The tenders are little tiny boats that hold around 40 people. There were to be Princess Representatives in Explorers hall handing out coupons for the tenders starting at eight. We were there a little early and sat down. 
I went to go use the bathroom and when I came back all hell had broken loose. A herd of people had arrived and started forming a line... sort of. There was no one directing anyone and there was total chaos again. The people that were there early were waiting patiently but the line formed and they were not in it. There were no instructions and things started to deteriorate into a cluster surrounding the table, people trying to look to see what was going on, and angry people that thought that they had formed a correct line, even though they had really cut in front of people that had been waiting in the lounge for an hour.
When the girl arrived to hand out the tender tickets it looked like a scene from a disaster area where they were handing out water. The poor girl kept telling people to not get in her face. She looked scared. People were pushing and shoving and some woman in front of us had declared herself the line police yelling at anyone that moved and at the poor woman handing out the tickets. She was foul. 
  We got our tickets pretty quickly once they started the process and we weren't rude to get them. We had to wait until the number was called then we boarded the tender, small boat, to take us to the Falkland Islands.  
We were having wonderful weather. It was warm and sunny. We had planned to grab a taxi to Gypsy cove but when 2000 tourist arrive on a island with only 2000 inhabitants the taxis go quick. We stopped in the tourist office right on the pier and talked to Joan who said "Your young and it is nice out you should walk." She was right it was a beautiful day and the walk was so nice after being held captive on a cruise ship for 2 days at sea.
We went through an area that was a little industrialized but soon we were following the shore. The flora and Fauna of Stanley is different from anything that I have ever seen. The ground is spongy and feels like the ground that they use in kids playgrounds. There are Diddle Dee berries that cover the area. They make the berries into jam. We saw different kinds of birds all over the island.


I think that we were the only ones that were walking. We didn't see anyone for miles. Most of the roads are gravel and the range rovers fly down them like they are on the autobahn. We passed an old ship yard where we saw the remains of some old wrecked vessels.
There are wrecked ships all over the place on the way to Gypsy cove. We crossed the old bridge and while we were checking out the wreck of the Elizabeth one of the tour buses pulled up. The driver called us over and told us about a shortcut to Gypsy cove. Over hill and over dale we left the roads and started our little hike over trails. 

Our goal was to see a penguin. Somehow along the way as we scanned the horizon for those cute little birds we started calling out to anything that moved, "Are you a penguin?" "Are you a penguin?" We saw the buses before we saw the penguins. Gypsy cove is very popular with the Cruise passengers. The beach was beautiful. It looked as beautiful as anything in the tropics. The water was blue the beaches were white with little black specks... Wait they weren't specks they were Penguins, hundreds of penguins. They were all over the beach with one king penguin standing guard. As we got closer we saw all the penguins on the hills surrounding the beaches. They were so cute. I have no idea why we find those little birds so cute. Everything that they do is adorable. 

The path around the gypsy cove takes you to see several penguin nesting grounds. You aren't able to get close to the penguins because the beaches might still have mines on them from the conflict between the British and the Argentineans that happened in 1982. Of course it crosses my mind that it is a great idea to tell tourist that they will be blown to bits if they go onto the beach. The penguins aren't disturbed so they keep nesting on Stanley which brings the money from the tourists, modern day circle of life.

Video of the Penguins of Stanley

 It seems that because of our age many people know us even when we don't know them. while up at the top of the viewing area a lovely couple offered to take a picture of all of us. They said that they knew us from the spa drawing. We are a pretty rowdy group.  
We got to see dolphins while we were viewing the penguins. We thought about taking a bus back into Stanley but knew that the average cruise puts about a pound on you each and every day. 16 days would equal 16 pounds so eight miles of walking was a great idea. It was a great idea until about half way back when we all started to pant like we were in a marathon.

With hurt feet, sore legs and expanded lungs we made it back into town. We walked past the port about a block to see the Christchurch and the Whalebone arch. It is the one recognizable structure in Stanley. Then we dropped by a store to pick up some penguin souveniers. One thing about cruises is that they cater to people with money. Cruises are only in port for 8 hours or less. The passengers have more money than time and most ports of call know this. You have to pay for convienience. I guess this is why I prefer to spend my entire vacation in one country. 
It was time to go back to the ship. While waiting in line for a tender we met Keith and Pat. They were on the cruise for Pats 70th birthday though they acted as young as a couple of teens. We talked for some time and they nicknamed us the kids. I also met Lulu, she laughingly pointed at her husband sitting on a bench while she waited in line and called him Grandpa. 

We decided to have a little pizza for lunch and then soak in the hot tub. Finding an empty hot tub on this ship is nearly impossible. Guess that is part of being a captive audience. We found ourselves trapped in the tub with a couple from Canada. At first they seemed friendly enough. They had gone to Volunteer point for the day and got some up close and personal time with the penguins. They started talking about some "ugly Americans" on the tour that they were on that were not following the instructions of how to behave around the penguins. It wasn't 10 minutes later that the woman was telling us that they were disappointed that they couldn't get the set dining because she needed to "train" her waiter. On the inside I cringed. You train animals you don't train other humans. She went on to say that she was upset because she liked hot tea and they only had chamomile and that she liked her tea bag on the side of the cup not in it and blah blah blah blah blah... I wanted to fill her in that Canada is still part of the Americas and that her behavior qualified her for the ugly American title. 
We were sat back in the back of Capri dining room tonight in about the same area that we had been sat before only this time next to at table 75. The waiters were again fabulous. They teased and joked with us all night long. We decided that this was the area that we wanted to sit in every night.
There are 1200 crew aboard the Star Princess and of them 500 are Philippine. Our waiters were all from the Philippines. We had such a good time with Uni, Leo, Jordan and Vincent that we have decided to ask the Head Waiter to sit in there area every night. They are just that good. So was the desert!

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