Friday, January 30, 2015

Chacabuco to Valparaiso

Tues January 27 to Friday January 30 2015


We had another disappointment when we got to Puerto Chacabuco.  Because our Falkland Isand excursion was cancelled because of weather we booked one from Chacoabuco  for a drive into the mountains a park and a small town.  They had hired another bus because the tour was so popular….it had come from about 2 hours away.

The morning was gray and it was raining a bit as we tendered to shore. We boarded the buses (there were about 5 in total going on this tour and a couple of other tours)  and then the tour guide told us that the roads were blocked because of striking fisherman.  We waited for about an hour while the police and the tour people attempted to talked to them but after an hour we were told the tour was cancelled.  I understand the fishermen were angry over restrains put on them by the government but I also feel sorry for the bus drivers and the guides who came such a long way  and didn’t get paid and probably had to wait around another few hours before the blockades were down.  We walked up the hill to the only hotel/coffee shop in the town where we had a coffee and shared a piece of very good lemon meringue  pie and used their wifi.  They  also had a little craft market that a lot of people visited. A few of our friends who had hired a private driver to do the same trip as we were to take managed to get by the blockade because the driver knew/paid off some of the strikers.  We spent a few hours there then went back….as we were leaving the sun came out.

This little adventure reminded me of the trip to Peru where the teachers were striking and blockaded roads, airports, bus stations and train stations and the night we drove in a convoy of tour buses on the back roads behind Araquipa to get to the Colca Canyon!

Wednesday we stopped in Puerto Montt where were joined a right at the dock for $40.  It was a mini bus and we had 11 other people aboard with us along with  our 17 year old high school student guide who was eager to show off his town.  Our first stop was a scenic view point to take pictures of the Osorno volcano….with an added feature of yamas (llamas).  Then we drove on to a beautiful waterfall in a provincial park.  Three people managed to be half an hour late in getting back to the bus (sigh!)  Then on to Puerto Varas, the city of roses, on Lake Llanquihue  We explored the town and the market and had some lunch….everyone got back on time this time.  The only cache that was in the town was on top of a hill….a bit too far for a walk, but we did manage to find on when we got back to Puerto Montt just before we had to get back on the ship. 

A really nice surprise was a big barbeque on the Lido deck beside the pool and all the staff was dressed up as cowboys….Western, Argentinian and Mexican!  Lots of great food and entertainment.

Last of our towel animal surprises

Thursday was our last full day on the ship and another sea day.  We spent the morning packing up our suitcases.  At 1:00 we went to the “award ceremony” of the Antarctic Olympics the Lori and I have been participating in on sea days over the last 3 weeks.  The events we participated in were things like bean bag toss, putting contest and a few other activites….fun things, not anything “olympicy”    There was only about 5 of us that came to all the events.  Anyway….I got came in 3rd…..a point ahead of Lori.  The First place person was sick (actually quarantined) and he won a bottle of champagne and a cook book, but his friend who came in 2nd said he didn’t drink and she didn’t either so I took the bottle and we shared it with our 4:00 trivia group later that afternoon. 

Then spent the rest of the day visiting our new friends, winning at trivia, playing in the casino for a while, attending the last night in the dining room where they had a variety of international entrees and desserts (Pavlova and Baked Alaska where the ones we chose!)  Later the entertainment for the evening was a “Newlywed Game” where 3 couples…one couple only married since Dec (they were in their 50’s) and 2 couples who were married 56 years.  They were a riot….the couple married 56 years from Ottawa won.  Then there was a Dancing with the Stars final…..about 8 people have been taking dancing lessons from the ship’s dancers.  That was fun to watch too.  By then it was 11:00 and everyone headed to their cabins  to get their luggage out in front of their doors to be picked up and ready to take off the ship in the morning.

Newly Wed game

Last sunset from the balcony

Friday morning we landed in Valparaiso….where we have to get off.  Our disembarkment  time was 10:15 so that gave us lots of time to get some breakfast and do a final bit of packing.

By about 11:30 were in our funky art deco hotel.  Valparaiso was an important sea port before the Panama canal was built. It is built on many hills.  The hills are covered with a maze of winding cobbled stoned streets and colourful houses.  Murals are painted on many buildings and homes.  In 2003 the historic quarter was named a UNESCO heritage site.  The other unique thing about this city is the funiculars that take people up and down the hill for 100 pecos….there are about 16 of them.  The city has attracted a lot of artists and tourists in the last few years.   

Funiculars from the ship

Looking down

Fire hall No. 7

After we checked our our room and then checked our emails (free unlimited) we headed off to explore some of the sites…oh and of course find a few caches.  We found our way, with a little help, to the funicular nearest our hotel on the hill…..then explored to the east.  We found one cache out of 3 that we tried for, had some lunch, got some things to nibble on tonight instead of going out.  We wandered back to the hotel when it was getting too warm and set up in the roof top lounge to catch up with everyone and enjoy the view.  We watched as the Zaandam pull out and head back to sea to do the reverse of the trip we just finished.  It is really amazing how in just a few hours that ship has dropped 1400 passengers, resupplied with food and new crew, and loaded on 1400 new passengers and was leaving port a little after 6pm. 

Good bye Zaandam

Valparaiso at night

Tomorrow we will explore a little more of the city and then we have arranged for a car to take us from the hotel to the Santiago airport….a 1 and a half hour ride for $120.….$60 each verse a taxi ride to the bus station, a 2 hour bus ride into Santiago and transfer to another bus for a half hour ride to the airport for about $40 each…schlepping all our luggage…..hmmm. 

Our flight is at 11pm to Houston arriving at about 6am Sunday, Super Bowl day.  We have a lay over of about 12 hours which we are planning to use to rent a car and visit the Space Center…which should be very quiet!  We fly out about 6 and will arrive in Vancouver later that evening.  
Wayne and Lori on their next trip?

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