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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 Comments (0)

Straits of Magellen and Chilean Fjords

overcast 48 °F

January 30 & 31, 2009, Straits of Magellen & Chilean Fjords, Chile. We need to catch up on posting information of our travels. After leaving Ushuaia, Argentina, we sailed the Straits of Magellan, a passageway ranging from a couple of miles wide to possibly half a mile or less wide. Here we went by glaciers, both large and small. The sky was overcast and it was later in the evening before sunset, so the typical blue color of glaciers was not as prominent as it could have been. There were very beautiful, even though only a few extended to the water line. We could see the impact of global warming as several of the glaciers had noticeable recession from the water line leaving the scours of former ice flow on barren rock. The most impressive glacier had a waterfall from its front face down to the water. The sound from it was easily heard from the ship. After the glaciers, our travels were through scenic mountainous wilderness sailing the Straits of Magellan to the Pacific Ocean. The next day, we entered the Chilean fjords. This was a day of scenic beauty, passing many islands, and sailing though many channels. By afternoon, we were out in the Pacific again, heading north to the next port of call, Valparaiso, Chile. Len.

Posted by Len Reeser 07:49 Archived in Chile Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Ushuaia, Argentina

semi-overcast 52 °F

January 29, 2009, Ushuaia, Argentina. Our ship is too large for the docks, so it had to drop anchor and tender people ashore. Letty and I did different tours here. I went to the mountain and lake region inland from the city. Beautiful country. Our tourguide spoke of the problem with the beavers. In the valleys, the beavers will continually dam the rivers, flooding the area, and having the effect of killing the trees. This must have been going on for eons, as these valleys supply the whole of Patagonia (this region of South America) with their most used fuel supply, peat. My tour was mostly traveling through scenic areas. We had lunch at a restaurant serving local traditional food; it was a lamb BBQ, and was delicious. This restaurant was at a ski resort that also provided dog sledding. The dogs were kenneled in the rear of the place.

Now its Letty's turn. Ushuaia is a very picturesque town that reminds me of some cities in Scandinavia or Bavaria. The taller buildings have gabled roofs and the city has the inlet on one side and the mountains the rest of the way around. I went on a private tour with a group of 17 more people. Unfortunately, the debarkation process from the ship was extremely disorganized and we were able to get on a tender 2 hours later then planned and we were all very frustrated. We got on our small bus and headed out of town on a very windy road for 45 minutes. We passed the same scenery as Len described above, however we took a gravel road for the last 45 minutes. Between the bumps and the curves of the road one of our group lost it on the bus and we had to stop. We passed many large beaver dams along the route and we were told the reason there are so many dead trees is the fact that the climate in the southern part of Argentina is too cold and it takes a very long time for trees to decompose. We arrived at a ranch that owned a private island where approximately 2,000 pair of mated Magdelena penquins return each October to build their nests and lay their eggs. There are also 16 pair of Jontu penquins on the island, these are larger penquins then the Magdelena one with orange beaks and feet. Some of the other differences include the fact that the Jontu are very territorial and they lay their eggs on the rocks, where the Magadelena lay their eggs in underground nests and protect only their own eggs and young. We got on a Zodiac and went out to the island where we were able to walk amongst the penguins for about 1 hour. The chicks were about 50 days old and we followed a path throughout the island. It was an amazing experience - one that I will never forget. The government only allows 20 people at a time on the island, and only 4 to 5 zodiac per day are allowed out there. The ships tour that I cancelled stopped at the island for its passengers to take pictures..I got a chance to wave at some friends and take pictures of them. After we left the island we headed back to the city and were left off in town to do a little sightseeing, some shopping and then back to the ship.

Posted by Len Reeser 09:25 Archived in Argentina Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Cape Horn

semi-overcast 50 °F

January 28, 2009, Cape Horn, Chile. We sailed around the island called Cape Horn, the most southerly land mass associated to South America,and the Andes mountain range. It's quite a desolate place, but also quite beautiful. I took lots of pictures. The occupants on the island are a family of 4, the 2 children being girls. They operate the lighthouse and act as emergency contacts for sailors in trouble in the area. A Chilean coastguard vessel was also present, and appeared to be staffed by 6 men. The house and lighthouse sat atop a cliff overlooking the sea towards Antarctica. A small boathouse rests at the bottom and is connected to the top by stairs and a rail tram (for transporting supplies). The only people to leave our ship to visit the island were the Captain, the Cruise Director, and a couple of others to film the event and provide support. The ship floated offshore for about 2 hours while the Captain, et.al., conducted their visit and presentation of gifts. Much has always been stated about the weather and sea conditions at the Cape. We lucked out, the weather was in our favor, the seas real calm (for the area), the sky mostly sunny, and the wind not too strong. Next port is tomorrow, Ushuaia, Argentina, which is the world's most southerly city.

Posted by Len Reeser 09:23 Archived in Chile Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Corrections on dates


After posting the previous entry, I realized I stated some dates incorrectly. We get to Ushuaia on the 29th, and go around Cape Horn on the 28th. Len

Posted by Len Reeser 12:04 Archived in Argentina Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

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