It's hard to believe it’s already December! With the holiday season fully underway, we’re featuring some of our favorite places to unwind in front of a fireplace this winter—hopefully with some of your favorite people. Speaking of winter, we’re highlighting a recent trip to the Scandinavian Arctic, complete with a viewing of the Northern Lights. Beaches more your speed? We’ve got the lowdown on some of the best hotels in Anguilla. From all of us at First in Service, we wish you and your families a wonderful holiday season and a very happy New Year. Cheers to 2019!
Erika Reategui and Fernando Gonzalez
Our vendor relations coordinator Young Kim and her new husband Luke decided to explore on their honeymoon a part of the world few get to see. Young shares why Southern Patagonia in Argentina captured their hearts.
First time in Argentina? In South America?
Yes, for both of us. Actually this was the first time Luke had really traveled abroad. He was really nervous and excited and overly prepared.
What was your overall itinerary?
We embarked on the Stella Australis in Punta Arenas, a quaint coastal town in Chile. For five days we cruised through Southern Patagonia including Magellan Island and Cape Horn. We disembarked at Ushuaia, and spent four nights exploring the southernmost city in the world. On our final two nights we soaked up the excitement of Buenos Aires at the famous Faena Hotel.
Why did you pick a cruise to Patagonia for your honeymoon?
We wanted an adventure that would become a lifelong memory. Somewhere really remote and epic. Patagonia is one of those mysterious lands. Our cruise wasn’t typical either. There was no pool or spa. It was all about education, excursions and physical adventure.
Was it romantic?
We literally traveled to the End of the World together. How could that not be romantic? Being in Southern Patagonia was surreal because I had no idea how awe-inspiring it really was. Waking up to a sunrise over snow peaked mountains, lush forests and glacial waterfalls was something out of a fairy tale. It just seemed too fantastical.
How would you describe life on board?
A blend of rigorous daily hikes and peaceful afternoons back on board. We spent a lot of time sitting on the deck staring at the almost make-believe views. There’s no Wi-Fi which forces you to connect with each other and disconnect from technology. The crew was so passionate and lovely. They knew every guest’s name.
What kinds of meals did the chef prepare on board?
Delicious and irresistible! The menu included traditional Argentinian and Chilean fare. Dinners always included fresh seafood and meat options. Argentinians love their sweets. Every meal, from breakfast to dinner, was served with dessert, including plenty of dulce de leche.
How thrilling was the nature and wildlife?
Antarctic wildlife is extraordinary. We witnessed humpback whales breaching, seals, penguins, and dolphins that played with our zodiacs. The dolphins would weave between the boats in circles and figure eights. It was crazy how wet and lush the area was. The forest floor and mountain tops were covered in a thick layer of springy moss. It was like walking on mattresses. The air was so pure that lichen, which only thrive in clean air, grew on everything. Forests looked absolutely ancient with lichen hanging off the trees.
Why would you recommend this type of vacation?
You get to live, breathe and be in an unchanged ecosystem. It is challenging and not for everyone. We pampered ourselves on our final two days in Buenos Aires to make up for waking up at the crack of dawn and being so physically active on most of the trip.
Ushuaia was the second part of your trip. How did you spend your time there?
We stayed at the gorgeous Cauquenes Hotel and Spa for two nights. It’s by the bay and very romantic, with love seats and tables for two everywhere. Then we moved to the mountain retreat Arakur Ushuaia, in Terra del Fuego National Park. It is just outside the city center. The hotel has great hiking trails and a knowledgeable guide. We ended the days soaking in a hot tub admiring the quiet port city below and mountains above.
You ended your trip in Buenos Aires. How was that?
It is a beautiful city with flocks of parakeets on building ledges. Shopping, food, arts, and nightlife were all exciting. We only had time to see the posh neighborhood of Puerto Madero. We stayed at Faena, a very sexy sophisticated hotel, and celebrity favorite. The staff greeted us by name. Their nightly show, “Rojo Tango,” is a must.
What were the top 5 highlights of your trip?
1. Reaching the summit of a Patagonian mountain is definitely something to brag about.
2. Being with penguins in their natural habitat, which is very different from seeing them in a zoo. Getting so close to them, and seeing their curiosity was unreal.
3. The amazing food, especially dessert.
4. Watching the world-class “Rojo Tango” show at Faena. It’s pretty steamy.
5. Watching the sun rise at Cape Horn, the southernmost point of South America.