Antarctica and Patagonia: An Adventure on the Seabourn Quest – Part X (El Brujo Glacier, Galley Market Lunch and Castro, Chile)

My adventure through Antarctica and Patagonia on the Seabourn Quest continued with two days at sea after departing Punta Arenas.

We were, as usual, followed by a number of birds that were just so beautiful to watch fly behind, beside, and in front of the Seabourn Quest.  For me, the most majestic and mesmerizing were the various species of albatross.

Black-Browed Albatross

But there is also a sort of show of power from the Sooty Shearwater that I also found captivating.  Days at sea where you can slow down and just watch for hours lets your mind wander in such simple things that during our normal days we just can’t or don’t take the time to observe.

Sooty Shearwater

Mid-afternoon, Brent Houston, the Seabourn Expedition Team’s resident penguin expert gave an afternoon talk reflecting back on his time in Antarctica, but also on the different penguins we had encountered.  It was really enjoyable to have another opportunity to reflect back on what we had observed and how fortunate we were.

Late in the afternoon, with a soft rain falling, we reached El Brujo Glacier; known for its deep blue color (resulting from its ice being so compressed that most of the air bubbles have been squeezed out).  The blues and the textures were just amazing.  But I have to admit, after Antarctica, it kind of fell flat no matter how much I tried to be inspired.

El Brujo Glacier

El Brujo Glacier
A little bit of calving of the El Brujo Glacier

It seemed a bit strange with the Antarctic’s constant daylight turning into dark evenings, made even darker by the ship’s lights being dimmed and our suites’ curtains drawn so that the petrels would not be attracted to the ship and land; for these water birds are not physically equipped to take off from land.

Our second day at sea was, in addition to some limited Conversations, more of a traditional Day at Sea; this one featuring the newly returned Seabourn Galley Market Lunch.  While it was obvious that United States health regulations required changes from the “old days”, including a full page letter in everyone’s suite setting out concerns, warnings and requests, Seabourn put on quite a show (while clearly working to reduce the previous huge amount of waste).  To be sure, there was no shortage of culinary options, though I noticed no caviar and for me, more importantly, no fried chicken (though, as you will read, I did find a solution later).

A Pisco Sour station stood ready just outside the Restaurant
(After my day in Punta Arenas, I opted out!)

Not shown were covered chafing dish after chafing dish with hot items ranging from Fish & Chips, to curries to vegetarian to steaks.

I am not sure why some have complained that the Seabourn Galley Market Lunch is not as it should be.  Maybe it is the lack of a display in the dining area of all kinds of desserts, cakes and croquembouche.  You know me and if there was something amiss I would say so. The photographs paint a pretty rosy picture from suckling pig, to salmon to pasta to shellfish and so much more.

As if that wasn’t enough to satiate my culinary desires, due to some scheduling changes, later that afternoon Chef Gerard put on a fantastic Private Cooking Demonstration for Goldring Travel’s guests.  The Chef made three dishes for us.  He started with Gravlox (cured salmon), but as he was preparing it he bit his tongue a bit and said, “You can add orange juice” and he ran back into the galley to find some.  “You can add ___” and he was off again.  Chef Gerard was not only giving a Cooking Demonstration, he was giving a French Chef Demonstration…and this was just the start!

Chef Gerard beginning his preparation of Gravlox
Gravlox presented Seabourn-style

Next up was a delicious Hake with Spinach and Eggplant Puree in a pastry.  Again, Chef Gerard took joy in showing us techniques that we could (and I will) use at home to prepare this dish for a causal dinner.

Chef Gerard makes it all look so simple:
Place pieces of hake layered with spinach and eggplant puree
in a mold

Make eight cuts into the pastry below and close with an egg wash
Have David, the Food & Beverage Manager from Barcelona,
oversee them being sauteed

and there you go!

Last up was an Apple Tartin.

David, the F&B Manager, was allowed to melt butter and sugar

The phyllo goes on top of the sauteed apples
Good luck flipping the tartin over.
Apple Tartin Seabourn-style

Needless to say, dinner – once again – was not an option for me!

But, alas, it felt strange to be going into nature and then out and then in and then out.  As much as I truly enjoyed the culinary extravaganzas I needed to be back on land and exploring…and fortunately this would be the last night that I had to sleep with, and awaken to, drawn curtains.

The next morning I drew back the curtains and at least I had a bit of a taste of it.  As we approached Castro in Chiloe, Chile the countryside was beautiful,oyster farms were everywhere and cormorants were swimming and flying about.

Chiloe, Chile

Castro, itself, is a fairly poor, non-descript town with a small waterfront which leads to a steep street up to the town itself.  Unfortunately this was the first time we had to share space with another cruise..and boy was the both culture-shock after Antarctica and, selfishly, brought out some emotional resentment.

Castro, Chile

Palafitos, or stilt houses, are Castro’s claim to fame.  After wandering a bit out of the town square to escape the crowds


I came to the run-down palafitos.  Yes, they are colorful, but if you look closely it underscores that this part of Chile is struggling.

What I enjoyed more was watching the Black-Headed Swans and how the colors of the palafitos created a palette which once again showed me that nature’s beauty is just awe-inspiring.  It did make me feel a bit better.

Black-Headed Swans with a Grey-Headed Gull

It was then off for more of a wander, looking for some place to sample the local oysters.  With most places being rundown and not having menus with any inspiration, I came across what appeared to be a more upscale restaurant in the back of the town: Magnolias.  I sat down and asked to see a menu.  Silly me!  The menu was fried chicken.  Remembering that I missed the fried chicken at the Seabourn Galley Market Lunch I figured, “Why not?”

Continuing my walk and finding nothing I finally turned my tourist brain on…remembering I was no longer in Antarctica…and searched Google.  Close to the pier was a restaurant that apparently had the best oysters, so off I went while still trying to find something inspirational in Castro, Chile. 

Mercandito Restaurant, Castro, Chile

Unsuccessful in my plight, but successful in find the restaurant, Mercandito, I was greeted by some other Seabourn guests who asked me to have lunch with them.  As we walked up the curious steps I saw a table filled with members of the Seabourn Expedition Team. So I figured this had to actually be ‘The Place”.

My order was simple:  Pisco sour and 18 oysters!

OK, I had two pisco sours.

Anyway, it was then time to head back to the Seabourn Quest for an afternoon hot tub soaking with a view!

It was an early dinner at the Grill by Thomas Keller accompanied by a Super Moon

Dining in The Grill by Thomas Keller by the light of
a Super Moon

and then off to bed because I needed to be up at 5:00 AM for my long awaited hike in Puerto Montt, Chile; just me and a guide.

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