Antarctica and Patagonia: An Adventure on the Seabourn Quest – Part IX (Punta Arenas & Goldring Travel Goes Local and Culinary)

The Seabourn Quest’s Antarctic Adventure continued its Patagonia segment in Punta Arenas, Chile.  I had nothing in particular planned, so it was a great day to just wander…in the sun, in the rain, in the sun, in the rain, in the wind…and eventually in the WIND!

Imperial Cormorant coming in for a landing

Punta Arenas, Chile itself is not a terribly compelling town, but there were a number of tours that required the Seabourn Quest to have a long day in port.  I was relieved (happy?) to be on my own for an extended period so that I could walk miles of the beach and coast of the Straits of Magellan as I still was working hard on processing “Antarctica”; even just getting my head better around the scale of it.

The Seabourn Quest now seems so powerful and makes a definite statement, but in Antarctica it was quite insignificant both in stature and size; requiring due care that something as simple as ice could block her course or could even disable her.  As I walked down the course black and grey sand beach I turned back to see the Seabourn Quest and thought, “What a trip!  If a person saw her at the pier they would never know the experiences she just provided to her guests.”

Seabourn Quest docked in Punta Arenas, Chile

While I was a bit disappointed with the garbage on the shore, the bird life was exciting.  (I was told that seal and whale watching from the shore can be good, but I had no luck, though I think the winds whipping up the water might have obscured some possible sightings.)

Imperial Cormorants

A lone Rock Cormorant on a wood piling

Imperial Cormorant with fledglings

I continued my walk out to a spit were there were two flocks of seagulls.  With the sun just right, it made them glow.  It was an “Ahhhh” moment for me…and one I needed.

Crested Ducks

Turning back towards the town, I saw some old buildings painted with wonderful old street scenes from whaling and other times.  It brought back the memory of the abandoned cauldron used by the whalers I saw at Yankee Harbor.

Passing the port I walked for a few miles, through the rather nondescript town of Punta Arenas, pushing against the gusty winds, looking at birds and unsuccessfully seeking out seals and whales, though I did come across an interesting ship wreck still showing off her bowsprit, wondering if she was an old whaling ship, and a pier made out of old ships.

Interesting old shipwreck
Seabourn Quest and and old four-masted ship tied to
a pier made out of abandoned ships.

Now that I had about 6 miles of coast under my soles, my head was a bit more quiet.  And, therefore, it was then time to do what I do best:  Find the Mercado and eat local!

I do have to mention that a number of Seabourn guests thought I was crazy eating off the ship.  I am not sure why this is so other than a lack of experience…and hype.  The reality is that if a place gets its customers sick it will be out of business quickly.  So along those lines, I walked into the Mercado and, as it was Sunday, there was very little open downstairs in the way of fish markets, but upstairs there were about half a dozen tiny restaurants.  I noticed that three were crowded with locals and the others, well, not so much.

As crowded usually means good – and safe – food, two people sought my business but only one spoke some English…and that decided it.  Magallania was it.  I found a small table with a view of both the water and the small kitchen.  Perfect!

My view of the Chilean wine
(I had pisco sours)

My view of the kitchen
My view of the water

A pisco sour started things off

Pisco Sour – My first of three!

It was interesting to me that cheese pretty much comes with everything, but it is a very light and fairly creamy sort.  First up was ceviche; noting that Chilean ceviche is very heavy on salmon.  It was very good even though I am not big fan of farmed salmon, one of Chile’s largest exports, because of what the fish are fed to get them to grow to market size in two versus a natural five years.

Ceviche tasted as good as it looked…and very refreshing!

This was followed by a delicious Octopus and Cheese Empanada…because I have to try the local specialties!

Octopus and Cheese Empanda

As I enjoyed my empanada and my second pisco sour, I watched my Hake with Cheese, Tomato and Onion baked in a foil pouch prepared.

Hake with cheese, tomato and onion.  Simple and tasty.

I ended with one of the best soups I have ever had:  King Crab and Cheese Soup….with my third pisco sour.  When the matriarch of the restaurant came over and told me to add a bit of what I believe was spicy paprika I was in heaven.

King Crab and Cheese Soup

As I was about the depart the woman came over to be sure all was well.  When I said I was very happy and her food was delicious she said she was amazed not only that I liked the local food, but by how much I ate!

Now full and feeling the effects of the pisco sours it was time to head back to the Seabourn Quest.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the WIND.  It was incredible…and it was going to get worse!  Upon arriving back onboard I stopped at the Patio Bar for, you guessed it, another pisco sour that I would be taking to my forward hot tub.  By the time I got out there the wind was so strong it was literally blowing my cocktail out of the glass!

The wind in Punta Arenas was incredible.
Look at the flag and windsock!

After a nap, I determined there was no way I could eat dinner so I enjoyed the sail away, with much subsided winds, in the Observation Lounge.  After relaying my day’s activities to Alex, the bartender, he decided I should try a number of different pisco drinks.  Yikes!

Let’s just say it was an early evening!  And, let’s also say that it was a really good day to manage some of the energy that Antarctica had imparted upon me.

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