The Baltics (and Ukraine) Four Days to Go

How is your 2019 going? Ours got away from us a little, mostly due to so much working, but also so many good times with friends, dogs, (and doctors!). John and I are thrilled to have an upcoming trip to “The Baltics, Plus Ukraine.”

We started planning in January when we got flights round trip for $550 per person. Our intention was to  go to Finland, then take the train to St. Petersburg, but we had trouble getting Russian Visas so we decided to sub out Kiev after reading some really wonderful articles about travel to Ukraine.

So now our trip covers five countries: Finland, Estonia, Ukraine, Lithuania, and Latvia. We identified activities in each city, lots of great restaurants, and three hotels and two AirBNB’s that will be lovely and super comfortable. We’re almost all packed and can’t wait to share our adventures!

Galapagos Day 3: Isabela Island

We had  gorgeous weather for our third breakfast on the boat. Then we took the panga to Moreno Point. Here we did a dry landing and a short hike over lava fields where we studied some original fauna. Then we headed towards some islets that were covered with blue footed boobies, penguins, flightless cormorants, marine iguanas, and penguins. Here we took all the pictures. Continue reading “Galapagos Day 3: Isabela Island”

Galapagos Day 2: Isabela Island

We woke and had our first of seven delicious breakfasts on the boat. They all included plenty of coffee, fresh juice, eggs to order, and a specialty item. Soon we were back on the pangas, headed to Puerto Villamil, a small port village located on the southeastern edge of Isabela (the majority of the 2200 residents of the island live in this town). The harbor was full of private yachts, since this is a regular stop on tours of the Marquesas Islands. 

We docked and departed on a bus to Sierra Negra Volcano, which is the largest basaltic caldera in the Galapagos with a diameter of 6.2 miles. The site offers impressive views and the opportunity to observe up to seven species of finches and a rich display of vegetation. The north side of the caldera provides evidence of its most recent volcanic activity in 2005. It is one of the most amazing sights ever: lava rock as far as the eye can see. I really enjoyed this hike!

After a nice lunch on the boat and a nap, we panga’d back to Puerto Villamil to visit the Arnaldo Tupiza Breeding Center of Isabela. It is located about one mile from Puerto Villamil. In this breeding center, tortoise populations from several different areas have been bred in captivity. In total there are 330 juvenile and adult tortoises. I was interested that they were separated by age. The small tortoises were playful and a bit faster than their elderly friends.

After that we strolled through the Wetlands, which consists of lagoons, swamps, and mangroves. We saw a variety of unique bird species such as common stilts, whimbrels, white- cheeked pintails, and gallinules. We also saw flamingos and our first swimming marine iguana.

We toured town and John and I drank some coco loco’s even though I don’t recommend them! A little like lighter fluid. On the panga home, we saw a group of blue-footed boobies who seemed posed for our picture! And then a sea lion joined them! We all agreed it was the perfect cap to a lovely day.

Galapagos Day 1: Baltra and Santa Cruz Island