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Seabourn’s Antarctica Revisited – Part I (Pre-Cruise Perspectives and Santiago)

As I depart for my second experience delving into Antarctica on the Seabourn Quest I do so with a new, and renewed, excitement. Second Time???  Yes.  And I am not alone.  Three of Goldring Travel’s clients on this cruise are also making return visits Antarctica!

Seabourn Quest in Antarctica – January 2018

I am sure you have heard…or, more probably, said…”Oh, I’ve been there before and want to go somewhere new.”  So what is so compelling about Antarctica that has caused the four of us (and probably other guests) to make a return visit?

The answer is it is very personal because Antarctica draws every person in a different way.  I have looked at the photographs people have posted and while some are focused on wildlife, others are focused on the scenery, others on icebergs, yet others on kayaking and zodiac experiences…and some – believe it or not – are not focused so much on the world outside, but the Seabourn Experience on the ship. 

With my background in biology and my love of nature, what I am most looking forward to is everything slowing down and my being able to better observe the magnificence of Antarctica.  Last January, on my first experience on the Seabourn Quest, I didn’t really know what to expect.

  • How do you know where to go and when?  
  • Do I have the correct clothing? 
  • Do I have the correct equipment?
  • How to the landings work?  
  • How much time to you get on land? 
  • What is the whole kayaking thing about?  
  • What will penguins and seals be like truly in the wild?
  • How do the lectures work?
  • And the list goes on.
Well, I already know the answers to these questions (and if you read my articles from last year you will know too!) so I can better relax and observe.
Also, I will be taking a reverse itinerary. Last year I sailed from Buenos Aires to the Falkland Islands to Antarctica and then through Chile’s Patagonia.  So this year, as I do when I go hiking on a trail from what I saw as the end of the trail as its beginning, I can see things from a different perspective and, to be sure, I will take in not only how I observe things, but how my fellow guests do.
But not to worry, I will not be sitting around sipping pisco sours all day (though I might have a few now and again!).  I am working on a number of more in-depth articles on topics that just might not be limited to Antarctica, but Expedition cruising generally.  But more on that later!  Now is the time for me to hop on a plane and get this journey underway.

I flew on United from Reno, Nevada to San Francisco to Houston to Santiago.  Fortunately the flights came off without a hitch.  Unfortunately, I was “blessed” with one of United’s new Premium Economy seats on my Dreamliner flight from San Francisco to Houston.  The seat, while wider and with a leg-rest and plenty of room, was too hard and without much back support…resulting my disembarking the plane with a sore back.  (I’m not sure I would pay the premium for these seats as they are only first now coming up for sale…with upgraded services.)

United’s new Premium Plus seat
Probably not with the money

 Anyway, I arrived in Santiago, Chile and stayed at The Singular; a wonderful boutique hotel in the Lasterria area, right near the Bellavista Barrio; a lively spot with a large park across the street.  The Singular is a beautiful, understated, hotel, but its most important attribute are the fantastic staff.  They truly treat you as family more than a hotel guest with warm smiles, an incredibly friendly manner and great competence and efficiency.

The Singular Hotel
View of the park from my room

Rather than wandering around Santiago, as I have spent a bit of time here, I decided to try out the hotel’s pisco sour…for professional purposes of course.  Interestingly, they offer not only Peruvian and Chilean pisco, but a varieties of options.  I selected the traditional pisco sour.

When in Chile: Pisco Sour!

I then met up with some of my favorite clients (Do I have favorites???) at the rooftop bar before taking a nap and a shower before dinner.

Dinner was at Peumayen Ancestral Food; a very interesting restaurant with utilized only Chilean ingredients in a very creative and interesting manner.  It should have been a leisurely 15 minute walk through the park, but due to a wrong turn (by me) it was more like a 30 minute walk…which, for me, led us through some of the local neighborhoods filled with beautiful graffiti art on many of the buildings.  And, as it was a Saturday, the park was literally filled with hundreds of couples and families enjoying the warm sunny weather.

Peumayen Ancestral Food is a cozy, small, restaurant
with a very creative menu

Our three hour dining experience was most enjoyable with a wonderful balance of vegetarian, meat and fish items.  It offers four different options for your main course, though with about 16 different gourmet items, the difference between a starter and a main course is well and truly lost!

Ceviche

Seaweed with Avocado

A selection of “breads” from Chile’s north to south

Of course, we combined this with some wonderful Chilean wine!

By the time we left the restaurant the streets of Santiago’s Bellavista Barrio were alive with people crowding the cafes and bars.  It is definitely a place I would like to spend a bit more time in.  But it was time for a nightcap at The Singular’s Rooftop Bar and then a good night’s sleep before heading to the Seabourn Quest; about a 1.5 hour drive the next morning (after enjoying the hotel’s buffet breakfast).

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