Thursday, October 13, 2011

16. My Visit to South America, March 23 To April 8, 1995 (17 days)



South America -- Tour 17 days from March 23, 1995 to April 8, 1995. Escorted Tour conducted by GLOBUS.

March 23, 1995: Leaving Orlando via American Airlines -- Arriving Miami. Leaving Miami via Varig Airlines and arriving at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

BRAZIL: Republic in eastern South America and the largest Latin American country occupying nearly half of the South American continent. The country was ruled by the Portugal from 1500 until 1822. It became republic (1889) when Emperor Petro II was forced to abdicated. The Capital is BRASILIA.

RIO DE JANEIRO:- chief sea-port and former capital of Brazil, on Guanabara Nay in the southern part of the country, it is backed by towering mountains, the most spectacular of which Sugar Loaf and Corvocada which is surmounted by a colossal statue of Christ. A tourist center, the city has magnificent beaches including the famous Copacabana. It is also a cultural, financial, commercial, manufacturing and transportation center. 

March 23, 1995: Arrived Rio de Janeiro Airport. The Tour Director greeted us and we were transferred to Sheraton Hotel & Towers, Rio (4 day stay). There were 40 members in our group including the Tour Director. Morning relax. Afternoon drive by renowned beaches- Leblon, Ipanerma and Copacabana-- led to the base of famous 1300 feet Sugar Loaf Mountain cable car excursion. Ascending via cable car to the summit we enjoyed the spectacular vistas of the city. Later a Welcome Dinner Party at a sea-beach Hotel.

From Thatha Tours
March 25, 1995. Morning visit to world famous H. Sterns Jewelry Factory where we saw diamond cutting, goldsmith's workmanship and the show room. Noon departed for the historic city of Petropolis, a mountain resort and site of the former Summer Palace of Emperor Dom Pedro II. This was a beautiful scenic tour through the rain forest one hour journey from Rio. Visited the Palace and one lovely Church. Returned to the Hotel and took rest. After dinner at the hotel we were taken to the SAMBA show at Plataforma where the color, animation and the sheer vitality of this city came to life in a highly entertaining extravaganza and we experienced the magic of carnival.

March 26, 1995: Departed for Rio's landmark, the Statue of Christ, crowns the mountain of Corcovado, the jagged peak rising 2400 feet from the thronging city below. Enjoyed the train ride to majestic Christ, the Redeemer Statue, and panoramic view of the city. Later City Tour.

March 27, 1995: Complete leisure. Solo tour along the main boulevards, browsed in the stored and also visited the Hippie Market.

March 28, 1995: one day stay in Inguassu Falls. Leaving Rio via Varig Airlines and Arriving at Inguassau Falls.

Arrived at the Gotel das Cataraces which is situated in front of the Water Falls. We took a breathtaking walk to the Falls. There are 2 main sections composed of hundreds of waterfalls, the highest of which is 64 meters (210 feet). The spectacle of 2.5 miles of torrential down pour with some cataracts thundering down 210 feet to the basin is nothing short of hypnotic. The clouds of spray, the incessant roar and the surrounding luxuriant tropical growth contributes to make this a true natural wonder. This Inguacu River provides a natural boundary between Argentina-Brazil-Paraguay.

For the afternoon the adventurous Macho Safari (jeep and exciting boat ride to the falls) took place. Riding the boat into the falls was thrilling and exciting.

March 29, 1995: Three days in Argentina.  Leaving Inguassu Falls via Varig Airlines and arriving at Buenos Aires

After arrival transferred to the Sheraton Buenos Aires Hotel with the balance of the day at leisure, we took a walking tour to acquaint ourselves with the city.

ARGENTINA: Country of South America. It was a Spanish colony from 1620 until independence was proclaimed in 1866. Since 1929 the military have intervened in the government, a move that paved the way for the rest of Col. Juan Peron (President 1945-55 and 1973-74).  Argentina is among the most developed Latin American countries. The fertile pampas and sheep ranches of Patagonia provided most of the exports.

BUENOS AIRES: Capital of Argentina. Buenos Aires means the "Silvery Land" with reference to its rivers and lakes. Chief Port and the largest city of Argentina at the mouth of the Rio de la Plata. Situated at the edge of the pampas, an intensely cultivated region. It is one of the world's busiest ports. It is also one of the most heavily industrialized cities in South America. It was founded in 1536 by Spanish colonists and has been capital since 1862.

Departed for city tour. The local guide focused on the city's landmarks including the Plaze de Mayo, where the President's Pink House is located and the Metropolitan Mausoleum, historic Santelme, the oldest neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, the Ornate Colon Opera House and the elegant district of Recoleta including Eva Peron. Dinner was followed by a night club revue, featuring Latin America's sensuous Tango, a thrilling performance by native Gauchos in Casablanca Theatre.

March 31, 1995: An excursion to the pampas ( a nearly treeless grassland area of South America chiefly in east-central Argentina and Uruguay). Fiesta Gaucho Tour: It was an opportunity to experience the atmosphere of Argentina country life with a drive out into the Pampas. At the resort we were received by Gauachos. There we enjoyed the folklore music and dance entertainment by Gaucho ranch hands and witnessed the horse parades and gamed. I went horseback-riding around the property for half an hour and then returned to the hotel.

April 01, 1995: Four days in Chile. Leaving Buenos Aires via Chile Airlines and arriving at Santiago.

CHILE: A long narrow country on the western seaboard of South America. The Spaniards colonized it from 1541 and the country declared its independence in 1818. Chile has large energy resources; oil & gas. The fertile central valley is its economic heartland.

SANTIAGO: Capital of Chile and of Santiago province. It is on the Mapocho River and was founded by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Vildivia in 1541. Greater Santiago contains nearly a third of Chile's population and provides half of the nation's total industrial outputs. It is situated in the center of the country and perched between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes. It is no wonder that Santiago has evolved as the country's political, commercial and cultural capital.

Transferred from the Airport to Sheraton Hotel & Towers. After leisure in the afternoon, we went out to the Chilean Folklore Dinner Show. With dinner we enjoyed a Pisco Sour & the famous wines of Chile and the show. The show featured the regional music and dance of country and the Easter Islands.

April 02, 1995: Departed for Santiago City Tour. During the tour we visited La Moneda, the official Government Palace the beautiful Club Hipico Racetrack, O'Higgin's Park, commemorating the country's first president; San Critobal Hill with its landmark statue of the Virgin Mart-- a gift from France to Chile and the main square-- Plaze de Armas and the relic filled Cathedral. We witnessed Change of Guards between 11:00 am to 12 noon in front on the President's Palace.

April 03, 1995: Today chic resorts and historical ports. Visited Vina del Mar and Valparaiso-- a beautiful scenic drive through vineyards and Chile's finest coastal areas. The chic resort with its a spectacular coastal line palm tree-lined avenues and unique homes truly deserves its name " the Pearl of the Pacific". Tonight the Tour Director hosted a fabulous Farewell Dinner Party to those visitors returning to Miami from Chile, not taking part to the Peru Extension. We cheered the "CIAO".

April 04, 1995: Four days stay in Peru. Leaving Santiago via Aero Peru Airlines and arriving at Lima.

PERU: Republic of western South America. It rises from the Pacific Ocean to the Andes. Conquered by the Spanish (1533) who destroyed its Inca civilization. It regained its independence in 1824. It has considerable mineral resources.

LIMA: Capital of Peru, founded in 1535 by Francisco Pizario. It is now an industrial center and the site of oil-refining and diversified manufacturing industries; Its port is Callao.

Transferred to the Sheraton Hotel & Casino. At this time our group has been dwindled to 18 including the Tour Director.

After a little time to relax we went off to explorung Lima on the city tour. A gudied tour showcased the capital's colonial heritage. Visited the 11th century San Francisco Monastery with its unique cloisters. The Government Palace (only outside) and the Cathedral both in the Plaza de Amas.  A shorrt drive of the city to view the residential areas of San Isidro and Miraflores.

April 05, 1995 - 1 day visit to Cuzco. Leaving Lima via Aero Peru Airlines and arriving at Cuzco.

A scenic morning flight to Cuzco, the fascinating Andean City, once the center of the mighty INCA Empire was very much enjoyable. On arrival to Hotel Libertador, we took rest. Rest in the words SLEPT & DRANK Cocoa Tea throughout the day to help us adjust to the 11,000 feet altitude. We departed for the sight-seeing of Cuzco and its numerous ruins.

Visited the imposing Cathedral, the Santo Domingo Monastery. The near by Inca Baths of Tambomachay and the semi circular Keno Amphitheater with its stone alters and labyrinth of passages, the ancient site of Puca Pucara and the Fortress of Sacsayhuaman, perched on a hillside overlooking Cuzco. It still remains unfathomable how and when this fortress of gigantic stones with some blocks measuring more than 350 tons was ever built. Dinner with entertainment in the hotel banquet hall.

06 April, 1995: The Magical Machu Pichu Tour. After breakfast departed for the first part of our journey to Magical Machu Pichu by bus to the Train Station at Holland where we boarded the train for the final scenic ride to Mystical Machu Pichu.

MACHU PICHU is a fortress citadel created by the strategist of the Incas. It formed part of a defence system. The buildings were constructed on the craggy slopes extending to the base of Machu Pichu mountain. There are different levels of construction. The buildings, as if by magic, rest upon a small surface area of the terraces. In the mystery of its architecture, MachuPichu is a perfect expression of Andean man who conceived it.

Train Journey: The train zigzags its way through the lush Urubamba Valley. Then by coach we travelled for the last ascent to this sacred refuge. perched high above steep valley coated in thick tropical jungle. The guide recounted many accomplishements of this once eminent people as we toured the Ruils of Towers: SUN TOWER-noteworthy for its mystery-temples, a mausoleum, a prison and ceremonial baths.

About Incas: The Incas made no use of the wheel for transportation and they had no writng. But relay runners carrying messages in the form of knotted cords could reach anywhere in the empire within a week. The peasants were drafted in their thousands to terrace the steep hillsides and to work on roads, irrigation schemes and temples. But the huge empire fell to the Spanish in 1530 after the conquistador, Francisco Pizarro kidnapped and killed the last Inca ATAHULPA. There ends the chapter of the Inca's empire. But the ruins still remain there to trumpet their glorious period to the world. We discovered the treasures of legendary Machu Pichu, "The Lost City of Incas".

After lunch at Machu Pichu Inn Hotel we took the bus back down the hill to the train and returned to the hotel.

April 07, 1995: Back to Lima from Cuzco. Leaving Cuzco via Aero Peru Airlines and arrived at Lima.

This day was free. Once again a solo tour for me to view the city. At night I gambled in the Casino in the hotel. Final Farewell Party was hosted by the Tour Director at the most beautiful and attractive seaside restaurant - La Rosa Nautica Restaurant in Lima.

April 08, 1995: Leaving Lima via Aero Peru Airlines and Arriving at Miami. Leaving Miami via American Airlines and arriving at Orlando. Reached home safely.


15. My Visit to Russia, October 1, to October 8, 1994 (8 days)



Trip to Russia (Oct 01 through Oct 08, 1994 - 8 days)
Escorted Tour organized by General Tours Company, Boston, USA

RUSSIA: Russia stretches from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific Ocean and from Arctic Ocean to the Black Sea. In population it is the third largest country in the world. Moscow, Leningrad (formally known as St. Petersburg) and Kiev are this nation's largest cities. The largely industrial economy is centrally planned. The Russian Empire became a great world power in 18th century. The Revolution (1917) brought Lenin and the Communists to power and USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republic) was setup.

Oct 1, 1994. Leaving Orlando via Delta Flight 2:10 PM Arriving at New York.
   Leaving New York via Delta Flight at 4:35 PM and Arriving at Moscow at 10:05 AM next day.
Mrs. Kamalam Chellappan, Ambi's aunt accompanied me in this trip.

MOSCOW: Capital of USSR located on the River Moskva. It is the communications, economic and cultural center of the country. --Founded in the 12th Century -- By the 15th century it was the capital of the Russian state. The capital was transferred to St. Petersburg in 1712 but returned to Moscow in 1918 after the revolution. It is the site of the Kremlin, with its many cathedrals and Red Square with the Lenin Museum and the St. Basil's Cathedral which was erected in the 16th century. The splendid city was also the host for the 1980 Summer Olympic games.

Oct 2, 1994 : Greeted by the Tour Manager at the Airport and transferred to the Hotel Cosmos. Afternoon was free. Strolled alone to view the city. After dinner we were taken to the famous Russian Circus complete with high wire acts by men and women; comic shows by clowns and of course by Russian Bears. Enjoyed the show for three hours.

Oct 3, 1994: Sight Seeing, City tour began with a preview of the sights Moscow. On our way we visited the old capital building, the Kremlin. The citadel of Moscow, housing the offices of the Soviet Government. Originally built in the 12th century, destroyed and rebuilt many times. Enclosed in the Kremlin walls we saw the many exquisite palaces and cathedrals. 

A tour to the Kremlin Armory showed us the riches of the pre-revolutionary Russia including Royal carriages, jewels, thrones, robes and more. After enjoying the 15th century Kremlin Museum visited the imposing Cathedral Square and went into one of the Cathedrals, the Annunciation and Assumption Cathedral where the Tzars (Russian Kings) were crowned.  Viewed the 40 ton Tsar Cannon cast in bronze in 1586 and the famous tombs of the Unknown Soldiers.

After lunch break our tour continued to see the Red Square, both historic and modern center of political changes. Covering over 70,000 square meters, it stretches out broadly against the eastern wall of the Kremlin. The Lenin Mausoleum dominates the center of the square. The tomb is built of dark granite and black labradorite. There is always a guard posted at the entrance. The architectural ensemble of Red Square was developed gradually over time.

Our eyes were attracted by the vividly painted onion domes of St. Basil's Cathedrals. From in construction 1555-61 St Basil's Cathedral was a project commissioned Ivan, the Terrible laying at the heart of the Red Square.  Next to the St. Basil's stands the Saviour Tower another symbol of Moscow.

A drive through showed us the new and old Moscow, Moscow State University, a city panorama from the Lenin Hills, Olympic Stadium, Novodevichy Convent and in the distance the Kremlin walls, Official quarters of the Prime Minister and others, Parliament of Congress, General Library, City Hall and Exhibition center.

That night we went on the optional excursion "Drive Boat" on the Moscow River where the folklore performances feasted our eyes and ears with cocktails and beverages (music & dances) for three hours.

Oct 4, 1994: Went to Serge Posad, formally called Schemers, the seat of the Russian Orthodoxy since 16th century. Visited the monastic complex including the 15th century Holy Trinity Cathedral. On the way to the monastery we visited the Russian Villages, their houses and farms. We sampled Russian orthodoxy cuisine for our lunch in the monastery, then returned to the hotel. After dinner in the hotel, we were transferred Moscow's fabuolus Metro Station, famous for its murals and mosaics, to catch the train to St. Petersburg from Central Station. We settled into our comfortable First Class Sleeping compartments aboard the overnight train for St. Petersburg.

Oct 5, 1994: On arrival at St. Petersburg, transferred to the Hotel Pratbaliiskaya.

St. PETERSBURG: Also known as Leningard--a city in the western USSR on the banks and delta islands of the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland. It is the USSR second largest metropolis and a leading seaport and commercial and industrial center. Founded in 1703 by Peter the Great as St. Petersburg.  It was built as a rival to the city of Venice, and hence the nickname "Venice of the North". It was the capital of Russia from 1772 until 1918.  From 1914 to 1924 it was called Petrograd. The city was laid out on classical lines by French and Italian architects. Its central thoroughfare is the clebrated Nevsky Prospect. The city is also the city of the famous Hermitage Museum.

Peter I is known as "Peter the Great" (1672-1725), Czar of Russia (1682-1725) who turned his country into a major European power campaigned against Turks and Persians and led Russia, Poland and Denmark to victory over Sweden in the battle of Poltava, extending the Russian territory around the Baltic and Caspian shores. He also founded the Russian navy and reformed the administration of the State.

City Tour: Travelled along Nevskey Prospect,  the city's most elegant boulevard which is lined with palaces, mansions, new shops and famous restaurants. Saw the famous & majestic Bronze Horseman Statue of Peter the Great (Landmark of the city). We witnessed the Admiralty and Kazan Cathedral. We stopped at the Church of the Spilled Blood, a large brightly painted, multi-domed structure, whose beauty belies the name, "Spilled Blood". Its reflection on the Neva River is amazingly wonderful to look at.

In the afternoon we participated in a unique program, "Treat A Friend" that allowed us an opportunity to meet the Russian Nursery School Children. We talked with the children and danced with them and gained an insight into their world. Mrs. Kamalam took a keen interst in dancing with the children and everyone of us appreciated her interest very much. I bought gifts to the children worth about $100/- and I distributed to them. My gifts were more attractive and valuables and those of my co-travellers. The Principal of the school was highly pleased and delighted and spoke high of me for my generous gifts. She took pictures with me and thanked once again with shedding tears of joy.

At night we attended another Folklore Performances in one of the famous theatres in Russia, the Puskin Theatre.

Oct 6, 1994: Our tour started with a visit to Peter,  the Great's Summer Palace-- the Grand Palace. No words are found to explain the beauty and the structure of the Palace-- everything embossed with gold. Really it is a grea, great grand palace. This night was a gala one. We attended the famous Russian Ballet in Chirpy Theatre (Opera & Ballet Theatre) now known as the Marinsky Theatre.

Oct 7, 1994: Visited the famous Hermitage Museum. One of the largest in the world, the museum boasts masterpieces by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Rembrandt, Monet, Picasso and Giorgione among others. The museum is located in a splendid ensemble of buildings in Palace Square. The prinicipal building the Winter Palace of Catherine, wife of Peter the Great. The main attraction is the lavish, glided building itself. It is an outstanding example of Russian Baroque architecture. With over 2 million art and history exhibits displayed in the halls and galleries that are themselves masterpieces that is most definitely one of the world's finest museum. We explored the rooms in the Winter Palace where Russian royalty lived not too long ago.

Our next attraction was St. Issac's Cathedral with its golden dome towering 33 feet above impressive marble columns--erected between 1818 and 1858 -- famous for its glided dome and its interior decor. Its primary attraction is its mosaic reliefs and jeweled walls. St. Isaac's Cathedral stands 3rd in rank in the world for its grandeus after St. Peter's Cathedral in Italy and St Paul's Cathedral in London. On our way back we visited 900 War Memorial Monument and the Puskin Palace.

Farewell Party in the Hotel Banquet Hall. Our festive dinner with champagne, vodka, delicious dishes, music and dances lasted for 3 hours and ended in happy mood.

Oct 8, 1994 Leaving St Petersburg via Delta Flight to Frankfurt. Leaving Frankfurt to New York & from New York to Orlando. Reached home safely  by 6:00 PM on the same day.


14. My Travel Pictures As A Slide Show - II

13. My Travel Pictures As A Slideshow