Day 12 – Salvador, Brazil

By Paul S. Bryers, December 13, 2019

Salvador is located in the Bay of All Saints and is quite imposing from the bay, with its modern towers built on the lower land and the old city high on a ridge.

As you approach the cruise dock, the many churches in the old city become evident.

The bay is the largest in any tropical waters and light houses are evident to protect the huge ships passing through from the many sandbanks.

There are not many sandy beaches and those there are tend to be small.

You can get up to the old city via the Lacerda Elevator or via road. The public elevator was built in the late 1860s.

The old city is very colorful and vibrant and plenty locals want to have their photo taken with you, for a $ or so.

Some of the churches are very decorative inside – did someone say “gold”?

From a safety perspective, the old city seemed safe enough to walk around in but it is probably sensible to be on a guided tour as they coordinate with local law enforcement.


Days 6 to 10 – At sea

By Paul S. Bryers, December 11, 2019

Our 5th of 6 straight days at sea. Time goes remarkably quickly. This is the first day we have seen anything else – a few large ships in the distance, a couple of small fishing boats and gannets diving for flying fish.

Day 5 – Martinique

By Paul S. Bryers, December 6, 2019

As evidenced by the red man, The Government of Martinique wants to be certain none of their citizens gets run over by a cruise liner. Very sensible.

On landing, we grabbed a taxi and driver to take us around the northern part of the island for 4 hours. He introduced us to this guy – I can’t remember who he is but I’m sure he was a lovely colonial-type chap.

Next up was a nice church with, so I thought, a quite clever reflection in the glass building opposite.

We then went up into the rain forest and saw some lovely waterfalls and flora.

Then past the cloud covered volcano and back down towards the coast.

Finally, a dip in the pool and a lovely sunset as we head off for 6 days at sea on our way to Salvador, Brazil.

Day 4 – St Kitts and Nevis

By Paul S. Bryers, December 5, 2019

After 2 full days at sea it was good to see St Kitts and Nevis, the latter topped by cloud.

Once anchored, we were tendered into Basseterre on St Kitts and had a stroll around.

There was no J Marks in town but a nice church and a wee dog.

Day 1 – Departing Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA

By Paul S Bryers, December 2, 2019

And so begins our 6 week trip:

  • 18 days cruising Fort Lauderdale to Buenos Aires (BA), Argentina;
  • 4 days sightseeing in BA;
  • 2 days investigating Santiago, Chile
  • 17 days cruising tip of S America, Antarctic Peninsular and Falkland Islands;
  • 2 days re-investigating Santiago.

The Coral Princess, which will take us to BA, seems like a lovely ship.

We have not cruised with Princess before but are lucky to have a good friend, Michael, who works for them and he sped us onboard.

It has been a few years since we left FLL on a cruise, but it is always great to depart from our home town and the port was pretty busy.

Anyway, we are now on our way…

….with the first port of call being St Kitts on December 5th.

Shinkansen -Aomori to Tokyo

By Paul S Bryers, September 2016

You must do this if you get the chance. For around US $300 buy a Gran (1st Class) ticket and travel the 718 km from Aomori to Tokyo in 3 hrs and 27 mins on Japan’s fastest and newest bullet train. Airline-like business class seats, tasty snack and endless soft/alcoholic drinks.


Mashu-ko, Mashu-dake and Io-zan

By Paul S Bryers, September 2016

If you are based in Lake Kussharo or Teshikaga area you can spend a very rewarding day viewing Lake Mashu, climbing Mount Mashu and visiting sulphurous Mount Io. 

Lake Mashu is one of Japan’s most beautiful lakes. Formed following an enormous eruption that resulted in a huge caldera, Lake Mashu has precipitous sides and is towered over on the East side by Mount Mashu. In the center of the lake is the tiny Isle of Gods, the result of a volcanic plug within the caldera.

Start your day at Parking spot #1 off Route 52; the latter winds its way past the West rim of the caldera. The views of the lake and mountains are stunning. Then take the Mount Mashu trail and head East. On the way you will get great views of the surrounding mountains, as well as the birch forests rising out of the endless bamboo groves. It takes about 2.5 hours to get to the peak of the mountain, with the last 400 m being steep but manageable – just don’t look to your right and definitely not to your left. The views of the lake are terrific – the views into the secondary caldera of the mountain are terrifying.

It takes about 2 hours to get back to the parking area. Get back onto Route 52 and go North. Mount Io is about 8 miles away. It’s a little disappointing compared to the easily accessible volcanic areas in Iceland and New Zealnd, but it is every bit as smelly (sulphurous). Still, worth the visit as you are in the area anyway. The take Route 52 back to Lake Kussharo – you might want to visit one of the free hot springs on the way.

Hokkaido, Japan – Drive from Sounkyo Onsen to Lake Kussharo

By Paul S Bryers, September 2016

As you depart Sounkyo Onsen going South through the Layer Cloud Gorge be sure to view the Ryusei and Ginga waterfalls streaming down from the cliff tops into the Ishikari River. The recent typhoon in Hokkaido made sure that they looked quite spectacular. 

The drive on Route 39 starts well, with many towering peaks to view. However, once you cross the mountains and descend into the plains it seems to be one long strip mall for about 20 miles until you turn off onto the mountain roads again. It is all worth while, however, when you hit the Bihoro Pass and get your first view of Lake Kussharo in Teshikaga. This lake is the largest caldera lake (volcanic collapse) in Japan and the second largest in the World. Nakajima Island in the middle of the lake is quite stunning. The ph of the lake is 5 – quite acidic – so no fish, but plenty hot springs e.g., Sunayu and Wakoto Onsens. And best of all – this lake is where Nessie’s (i.e., Loch Ness Monster) sister, Kussy, lives.

Daisetsuzan National Park, Hokkaido, Japan

By Paul S Bryers, September, 2016

Daisetsuzan is Japan’s largest National Park. It is about 2-3 hours drive from Sapporo, dependng on your park entry point. We based ourselves in Sounkyo Onsen, which is on the North East border of the park. Highway tolls from Sapporo are about ¥3500 (~US $35)  – yes, tolls are expensive in Japan, but roads are very well maintained. 

The village itself is a bit tired, but the setting is terrific – right in the Sounkyo Gorge with the cliffs towering above and the river rushing through. 

There are a number of hiking opportunities in the Sounkyo area, but the best idea for a day hike is to take the ropeway from the village to Kuro-dake “5th Station” (¥2200 ~ US $22 return) and then walk 10 minutes to take the chairlift to Kuro-dake “7th Station” Ski hut (¥600 ~ US $6 return) at 1520 m high, and then to follow one of the trails. We hiked up to the top of Mt. Kuro-dake (1950 m) and then to Ohachidaira viewpoint (2075 m) which offers incredible views of the Ohachidaira volcanic crater. It takes 3-4 hours to the viewpoint and then 2-3 hours for the return trip. And of course you have to have a good soak in the (very) hot springs after you get down from the mountain. The springs at our hotel (The Grand) were excellent. 

Beijing City – Temple of Heaven

By Paul S Bryers, September 2016

The Temple of Heaven Park is located in the south of Dongcheng District. The park is lovely and quiet after the craziness of more central parts of Beijing. The temple was rebuilt in 2008 for the Olympics, which is a bit disappointing if you were expecting an older structure. Still, worthy of a visit. Don’t miss Echo Wall – if there are not loads of tourists around (unlikely) you may be able to hear what people are saying about you on the other side of the sight.