More from Buenos Aires

This morning, while the majority of the passengers were still in the air en route to Buenos Aires, I took a cab over to Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve and spent several hours strolling with my camera. The reserve has an interesting history—it had been a dumping ground for construction debris, and then nature decided to take over, and now it’s an amazing green space in the shadow of the city’s skyscrapers.

I saw a lot of birds I couldn’t identify, but was lucky to encounter a couple of guides who looked at the images on the back of my camera and told me what they were. I haven’t had a chance to sort out the info they gave me; maybe I’ll post more about that another time. The coolest bird I was able to photograph was the one I’ve posted at right—I knew it had to be a bird of prey, but that’s about it. The guides told me it’s a chimango caracara. I did a Google Images search and am not convinced, but I’m sure they know their birds—especially the local ones—a heckuva lot better than I do.

By the time I got back to the hotel, the passengers on the trip were starting to arrive in large numbers. The scene in the hotel lobby Read more

We’re Gathering in Buenos Aires

The passengers on “Expedition to Antarctica”—about 200 of us altogether—are beginning to arrive in Buenos Aires, the starting point for our adventure. The official arrival date isn’t until tomorrow, but some passengers (including me) opted to get here a day early, and I suspect a few moved up their departure in order to avoid the winter storm that’s hammering the East Coast.

(The weather here in Buenos Aires is a decided contrast to what much of the U.S. is experiencing right now, as evidenced by the AccuWeather forecast for today. Don’t hate us.)

Getting to Buenos Aires typically involves an overnight flight from the U.S. For me, the trip started in State College on Wednesday with flights to Philadelphia and then Miami, and then a flight that left Miami at 10:45 pm and arrived in Buenos Aires about nine hours later.

Here’s an iPhone photo I took out the plane window as we climbed out of Philadelphia yesterday afternoon; it was the ice in the water that caught my eye. The guy in the seat next to me Read more

Of Tango Dancers and Leopard Seals

I drove to Pittsburgh yesterday for the family Christmas celebration (a matinee of Star Wars followed by dinner at Bravo, then present-opening this morning), and drove back this afternoon. For entertainment on the drive, I listened to two different podcasts that touched on two very different aspects of the upcoming Antarctica trip.

A travel podcast that I consistently find useful is Chris Christensen’s Amateur Traveler Podcast, and a few months back I had downloaded a 2013 episode on Buenos Aires, the city where our trip starts. I listened to that one on the drive yesterday afternoon, and learned quite a bit:

—I learned that the Monserrat neighborhood—where our hotel happens to be—is Buenos Aires’ oldest.

—I learned that residents of Buenos Aires are called porteños (Buenos Aires is a port city).

—I learned that there’s a fair bit of European influence, especially Italian influence, in Buenos Aires. So it now makes sense to me that Read more

Hire a Local Photographer to Show You Around

Street performances of tango are a common site in Buenos Aires.

As I continue to daydream about the Antarctic trip that’s four months away, I’ve been thinking about our first stop: Buenos Aires. We start the trip with a day or so in Argentina’s charismatic capital city before flying to Ushuaia, at the southern tip of the country, where we board our cruise ship for the Antarctic peninsula.

I loved Buenos Aires when I did this trip 15 years ago, so I’m going down there a day early in order to see more of it. And I’m thinking about signing up for a photo tour.

Just about every major city worldwide has photographers who’ve made a business of offering photo walks—you book them to take you around to some of the best places for doing photography. You might be part of a group tour, or it might be just you and the photographer, one on one.

Two years ago, for example, Read more

Keep Those Buildings Upright

The first stop on our Antarctica trip next January, as it was back in 2002, will be Buenos Aires—a city that I loved and can’t wait to see it again.

In looking at my Buenos Aires photos from 15 years ago, one thing I noticed was that I hadn’t yet learned how to avoid “keystoning” when taking photos of buildings. Keystoning is what happens when you try to shoot a tall building and you have to tilt your camera up to get it all in. That tilt skews the building’s proportions and makes it seem as though the building is falling away. In this post I want to share with you what I’ve learned about how to avoid that problem. Read more

Trip Planning with Google’s ‘My Maps’

For me, part of the fun of travel is the anticipation. That includes reading the information from the tour company, Googling the places we’ll be visiting, seeing what people on Trip Advisor have to say about the hotel where we’ll be staying. As mentioned in a previous post, I also like to Google things like “Antarctica photography tips” or “best places to photograph in Buenos Aires” to get some ideas. I’m sure I spend more time dreaming about the trip in advance than I do actually being on the trip. But that’s OK—anticipating the trip is part of the experience.

Lately I’ve also been using Google’s “My Maps” feature to create a custom map for each new trip. You can do a search for the airport you’ll be flying into, the hotel where you’ll be staying, and the sites you’ll be seeing, and plug each of them into your map.

Why would anyone want to do this?, you might be thinking. Well, maybe you’re nerdy like me and you just like doing this sort of thing. (My spices are also organized in alphabetic order.) (Not that I ever cook.) But it also helps you figure out Read more