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Valparaiso, Chile

sunny 80 °F

February 2 & 3, 2009, Valparaiso, Chile. Here we are at the end of the second 'leg' of the trip; people depart and new folks get onboard; we remain on to Los Angeles. It is an overnight, 2 day, visit to this bustling seaport in Chile. It is the busiest one on the Pacific coast of South America, and is 1 ½ hour drive from the inland capital of Chile, Santiago. The city rests on hills, very similar to San Francisco. Public transportation provides connection to all areas of the city, mostly by electric powered buses (using overhead power lines), cable cars connecting bottom of hills to tops of hills, and trains reaching to the suburbs and other cities. Chile is quite modern. The first day was spent on a custom tour arranged by our friend, Mariana. We went to Vina del Mar, a suburb to the north of Valparaiso, and a resort town along the coast. It is a beautiful town with many parks, flowers, and lots of trees. We had lunch there at a restaurant that opened just for us (our tour guide knows the owner). The meal was tremendous, lots of appetizers (hard to describe, but I took pictures of them), a meat or seafood dinner for an entry, choice of dessert, and of course, very good Chilean wine and pisco sours. Letty had a Chilean seabass and I had a filet of beef stuffed with venison. Following lunch, we came back to Valparaiso for a city tour. We went into the hilly part of town closest to the port. We got off the bus and walked around the area for excellent views of the city, port and ship, and to generally get a feel for the area. Homes were small, but exquisite. There were restaurants and small hotels (hostels). We ended the day taking the cable tram down the hill to the bottom to meet our bus there, taking us back to the ship in time for our 8:30 pm dinner time. Day one here was wonderful, but tiring. On the second day, we were off the ship by 8:15 a.m. and spent the whole day on another custom tour arranged by our friend, Mariana. By the way, as a footnote, personal custom arranged tours are much cheaper (and much better) than those arranged by the cruiseline. We first went south to the home of Pavla Neruda, a Nobel Prize winning writer from Chile. He's been deceased since 1973, but his home has been converted into a museum. The house was custom built per his design over many years, room by room. The structure is stone and wood, stone providing the exterior and and wall support, with wood everywhere in the interior, including the floors. Pavla Neruda was a lover of the sea; his home on a small cliff overlooking the Pacific. The theme of his house is nautical in every respect. The flooring made of tree truck cross sections placed within boards, all held in place by wooden pegs. He was a collector of all things of the sea; one room contained the figurines/statues what were placed on prows of sailings ships of yesteryear, another of ships built within glass bottles, and the others with parts of ships (e.g. steering helm, compasses, maps, etc.). It was a very neat place to spend the morning. Leaving this estate, we traveled into the Casablanca Valley, which is one of the main winery regions of Chile, and is similar to Napa Valley of California in appearance and wine production. We had lunch at the first winery we visited, in a large room having floor to ceiling windows overlooking the whole valley. The meal was tremendous, even bettering the one the day before in Vina del Mar, and we sampled both red and white wines there. We went to two more wineries, where we were given tours of the facilities and lectures on the process of winemaking, and of course, we were given tastes of their wines. It was a great day, the weather was beautiful - temperature around 80 and sunny. We get back to the ship by 6:45 p.m. plenty of time before the required 7:30 p.m. time, and then departed the port, sailing to Arica, Chile, our next port of call 3 days hence. Len

Posted by Len Reeser 07:50 Archived in Chile Tagged family_travel

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