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Mark Hooper
Attended St Paul's School, Portsmouth
Lives in Portsmouth
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Mark Hooper

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Star Princess, South America, March 2016

The final album in this collection from our South American cruise back in March is a selection of shots of and from onboard the +Princess Cruises ship Star Princess. Expect pictures of decks and pools (including a fair bit of splashing as we transitioned the rough water from the Atlantic to the Pacific) and views from our balcony of Cape Horn and ports and across whichever ocean we were on at the time.

#PrincessCruises #StarPrincess #SouthAmerica #Pacific #Atlantic #CruiseShip
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Mark Hooper

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Osorno Volcano, Chile

The main reason for our tour was the chance to ascend the Osorno Volcano which was the next stop. The bus took quite a while to wind its way up above the cloud cover of the valley below to a point where we could get out and during this journey we were told that we would have enough time if we wanted to take a chairlift ride up even higher. As you can imagine everyone decided to do that because who in their right mind would travel all the way to South America and spend more money on a trip to a volcano then simply spend time at the gift shop and café when the next part of the tour was to a restaurant and town anyway? Right?


Six of us out of fifty took the chairlift. Silence high above the clouds with wonderful views up Osorno itself as well as across to the Calbuco Volcano (which had erupted so spectacularly one year before our visit to the area) was our reward. The serenity of the ride and breathtaking views were a better experience than t-shirts, mugs, and the chance for a cup of coffee. But that's just my opinion.

#PrincessCruises #StarPrincess #SouthAmerica #Chile #Volcano #Osorno #Calbuco
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Mark Hooper

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Amalia Glacier, Chile

The day after Punta Arenas saw us traversing some of the Chilean fjords of Patagonia before reaching the Amalia Glacier. It wasn't the best of photographic conditions, overcast for a lot of it and raining frequently (hence the rainbow shot in the gallery) but the glacier itself was still impressive to see, with some striking blue colours.

#PrincessCruises #StarPrincess #SouthAmerica #Chile #AmaliaGlacier #Glacier
Josiane “Lady Jo” Rodriguez's profile photoNeil Howard's profile photoJoão Oliveira's profile photoMarylise Aliès BOROWY's profile photo
l'immensité glacée... Just perfect!
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Ushuaia - Beagle Channel, Argentina

After the Falkland Islands we rounded Cape Horn then the following day docked in Ushuaia. We had an early start as we'd booked a catamaran trip along the Beagle Channel to see the sea lions.

The wind was strong and bitter. Let me try to explain how cold it was: I had gloves, three layers of tops and a coat done full up over my mouth, a wool hat under the hood of the coat, two pairs of socks, and was frozen nearly solid. Mind, that's partly my fault for being the only person on the boat who spent the entire trip on the top deck as it travelled up and back along the channel. The way I see it, I may only ever get there once so why spend it inside?

#PrincessCruises #StarPrincess #Argentina #BeagleChannel #Ushuaia
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Magnificas fotos!
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Mark Hooper

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Puerto Madryn, Punta Tombo, Argentina

From Uruguay it was back to Argentina and Puerto Madryn where we picked up a coach to take us to the Punta Tombo nature reserve (with the most unbelievably boring trip through Patagonian landscape to get there) to see the Magellanic penguins. We visited at the end of the breeding season so there were only a few thousand of the birds remaining; had we visited earlier we might have been in the midst of half a million.

Interesting fact: penguins sound like donkeys.

#StarPrincess #PrincessCruises #Penguin #Argentina #PuntaTombo #PuertoMadryn
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Montevideo, Uruguay

Our second stop was a short trip from Buenos Aires down the River Plate to Montevideo, Uruguay.

We had a quick look around Plaza Independencia and its wonderful architecture before boarding a restored steam train for a ride through the Uruguayan countryside to Juanico. It was great to see the people in the suburbs and towns we passed coming out to gaze and wave at the train as it whistled and steamed its way along. There was plenty of waving back.

At Juanico we explored a winery, picking some Tannat grapes in the vineyard before sitting down to a meal and wine tasting. And what a wine tasting it was! It would be fair to say we probably got through the best part of a bottle of wine each as our hosts were extremely generous with the measures and subsequent top-ups. This would also explain why at the end of a Uruguayan tango dance performed for our entertainment I accepted an invitation to step up in front of everyone and "dance" with the female dancer. Some treading on feet and profuse apologies did occur. Even worse, it was filmed for the ship's DVD. Let us hope nobody ever sees it.

#StarPrincess #PrincessCruises #Montevideo #Uruguay #Juanico #Tango
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Mark Hooper

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Puerto Montt and Puerto Varas, Chile

After the Osorno Volcano we stopped for a fabulous lunch near Lake Llanquihue (let us not dwell on the fussy American diners who decided that they couldn't possibly eat salmon unless it was Alaskan salmon (twats)) then proceeded to Puerto Varas to explore the shops and view across the lake at our leisure. We picked up the bus and returned to Puerto Montt to reboard the Star Princess where on departing we had an unexpected surprise in the form of the ship having to stop to let a submarine enter port in front of it. Bonus experiences are the best.

#PrincessCruises #StarPrincess #SouthAmerica #Chile #PuertoMontt #PuertoVaras #Submarine
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Mark Hooper

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Petrohué River, Chile

Our last stop on the South American cruise was at Puerto Montt in Chile. We had a full day excursion booked and it initially looked bad as we'd arrived under heavy, low cloud cover. However, as our coach wound its way inland through Puerto Varas and onto our first stop that cloud burned off and we found ourselves under gorgeously blue skies.

Petrohué River was the first stop to take a look at its reasonably gentle falls and catch sight of our main tour destination, the Osorno Volcano.

#PrincessCruises #StarPrincess #SouthAmerica #Chile #Petrohue
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Impressionante, fotos fantásticas!
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Punta Arenas, Chile

Our next stop was Punta Arenas although we arrived late as the high winds in Ushuaia had kept the cruise ship pinned to the dock for an additional four hours that we'd been unable to make up on account of the enjoyably rough waters where the Atlantic and Pacific oceans met keeping the ship's speed down.

We hadn't seen any fantastically interesting excursions in Punta Arenas so ended up taking a fairly basic bus tour. Our first stop was an open air museum of old buildings and equipment, including some traditional music and dancing. After that we took a look around the natural history museum, our second mausoleum of the holiday, then stopped at a viewpoint overlooking the city. We finished with a walk along the seafront checking out some of the interesting artwork along there as well as the lovely views across the still water to where our cruise ship was awaiting our return.

#PrincessCruises #StarPrincess #SouthAmerica #Chile #PuntaArenas
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Mark Hooper

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Ushuaia, Argentina

Following on from our catamaran trip up and down the Beagle Channel we explored Ushuaia on our own. It's a compact city surrounded by some of the most breathtakingly beautiful scenery in the world in my opinion; I've never been anywhere else where I simply stood a couple of times and looked around thinking "Wow! What a place!"

Still, that environment comes at a price: bitterly cold weather. That and the isolation of Ushuaia along with a poor economy and high unemployment leads to perhaps a tougher breed of person. We'd been warned both on the Falkland Islands and on board the ship that we shouldn't wear anything that mentioned the Falklands so we didn't but this meant we were on our guard a bit. Thus, when we stumbled upon a large group of people protesting our general paranoia and complete lack of Spanish led us to believe the worst. We kept a low profile and ducked into a shop to buy some souvenirs when I got to talking to the assistant and discovered the protestors were angry at a new tax enforced on the community by the government. Suitably relieved I felt more confident hanging around them and taking photos. We learnt later that friends on board the ship had gone further and marched along with the Argentinians holding up placards and banging drums. People of the world might not always like each other but we'll all come together against the government.

#PrincessCruises #StarPrincess #Argentina #Ushuaia
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The Falkland Islands

Our next stop on the cruise was the Falkland Islands where we'd been told to wrap up warm because of the cold winds only to discover it was eye-achingly bright, clear, and boiling hot for most of the day there. Apparently, not all ships stop at the Falklands because of the wind and tidal conditions so the islanders are happy when one does as it's a major boost to the economy and - as was the case with our ship - temporarily doubles the population.

We joined a short tour of the battlefields of the 1982 Falklands War, getting to hear some of the history behind the Argentinian invasion along with how well the Argentinians treated the islanders (since they were there as liberators in their eyes), listening to tales of how the locals helped the British troops out, details of some of the battles, and a visit to the wreckage of a helicopter blown up by special forces. We also heard that for the most part the British and Argentinian people get along well, ex-troops have mutual respect for one another, and it's only really political sabre-rattling that incites any trouble and that's mostly in the far south of Argentina around Ushuaia.

We spent the rest of our time there looking around Stanley for gifts and making sure that we had a pint in the pub because we just felt that we couldn't pass up the chance of having a pint on British soil on our first trip to the Southern Hemisphere. Loads of Argentinian tourists were on the island (I helped several out by taking group photos for them) and the pub was run by Argentinians too so that was nice to see. And to round off a lovely day in the Falklands our tender boat back to the ship was accompanied by a dolphin.

#StarPrincess #PrincessCruises #Falklands #FalklandIslands
Stanley Morris's profile photoAlexis Banks's profile photoMark Hooper's profile photo
+Alexis Banks The people in Buenos Aires - other than the politicians when they need to distract the locals from the latest economic disaster - didn't really care when we were there; the tourists on the island didn't care. Ushuaia was a different matter but the people there were angry anyway because of high unemployment and the need to blame somebody for it and even then they were more angry with the government anyway for a new tax that had just been announced. It's a convenient excuse and little more. The Argentinian governance of the Falklands only lasted about a dozen years in the early 19th century; either side of that it's been European of various sorts.
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Buenos Aires, Argentina

In March this year, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of our first date my wife and I took a cruise around South America on board the Star Princess. The first full day was spent in Buenos Aires, Argentina and we booked an excursion that meant we visited La Recoleta cemetery (resting place of Eva Peron), the cathedral, took in a 90-minute tango show along with a meal, then visited the incredibly colourful La Boca district of the city before driving past some of the slums back to the ship.

Buenos Aires is a fantastic city and I'd go back in a heartbeat. Architecture, colours, vibrancy, contrasts, bustling life; all superb. The day was made more memorable by protests taking place against the president on the first day of the new parliament which meant roads were closed and our tour bus was stopped; this led to us walking down wide barricaded avenues within sight of police and water cannon trucks. This also meant that our particular tour group ended up arriving at the tango show first (we'd been due in third) so we got to sit right at the front for the best view. My wife and I then got a nod of approval when we ordered our steaks rare as opposed to everyone else on the table - all Americans - who wanted it well done or medium well done. They were the best steaks we've ever eaten.

La Boca is gorgeously eccentric and football-crazy. We were warned not to wander too far from the colourful confines of the area but saw no hint of any trouble or threat. That said, we did later hear on the ship that a Canadian guy had gone for a walk in Buenos Aires overnight, took a wrong turn, realised he was being followed, confronted the two people behind him, then screamed as they pulled out a large knife; luckily other people in the area ran to his assistance and called the police to get him out of there. Canadians, eh?

#StarPrincess #PrincessCruises #Argentina #BuenosAires
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Mark's Collections
Professional Developer. Amateur Photographer. Keen Skeptic. Eager Traveller.
I'd love to be a globetrotting photographer, specialising in street photography. But I'm not that good and I'm certainly not that rich.

What I am is a developer who can work with most of the usual suspects in the web developing world. I'm pretty good at it. My current employment sees me working as a floating developer among project teams due to my versatility with programming languages and environments. Most of the time I develop in Drupal or a custom PHP framework for a global glasses brandsite, but I flit between working for a wholesale B2B client and a well-known DVD rental company in ASP.NET too when the need arises.

As a sports fan I support Portsmouth Football Club and the New England Patriots, but I like pretty much any sport going. Except basketball. Never basketball.

Any spare money not snatched up and spent by my wife on shoes (she does like her Jimmy Choo collection) or books for her Kindle fuels my photography habit. I love my cameras and their lenses. I'm a Canon person and have moved from the 350D to the 5D Mark II. I take photos every day partly to try to improve my skills, partly to try to encourage a more assertive attitude (because I like street photography but suffer from shyness), and partly to justify the spiralling cost of the hobby.

Outside photography I do have one other extracurricular activity of note and that is helping to run the Portsmouth Skeptics in the Pub (#SITP) group which meets once a month in a pub (amazing!) and discusses topics of skepticism, science, nerdiness, and the ilk, most often with a guest speaker. Look for our group on the web; come along; say hello; experience my suspicious look because I'm worried you're stalking me in person.

Okay... so, apparently, Google+ makes you more discoverable if you tag your profile with things people might search for. With that in mind here's how I'd tag me if I were me (which I am): c#,, php, drupal, developer, web, internet, software, portsmouth, pompey, photographer, photos, camera, canon, atheist, skeptic, sceptic, style, fashion, england, hampshire, uk, european, british, amateur, astronomy, real ale, wine, science, physics, friendfeed, flickr, neonbubble, mystery science theater 3000, mst3k, scifi, science fiction, sci-fi, sitp.

Finally: a little note about people I follow on Google+. I'd love to follow everyone who follows me and I do try to check out most of the new followers but that's not always possible. It's also not always desirable: no avatar, sharing diarrhoea, animated GIF mania, no profile information, adult content. I'm more likely to follow back people who are engaging rather than those who simply add a public shared circle in which I'm present.
Bragging rights
Shook hands with Prince Andrew. He'll claim he doesn't remember but he's a liar. They're all liars.
  • St Paul's School, Portsmouth
  • Corpus Christi School, Portsmouth
  • St John's College, Portsmouth
  • The South Downs College, Hampshire
    Pure Maths & Statistics, Physics, Computer Science
  • University of Liverpool
    Computer Science
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Developer (paid). Photographer (unpaid).
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