March 9, 2013
At sea. We spent a relaxing day at sea. Early tomorrow morning we arrive in Valpariso, Chile.
March 10, 2013
Valpariso is the main shipping (very busy) port of Chile. As in Buenos Aires, we docked next to the container loading and unloading area and have to take a bus from the ship to the terminal, about 2 miles away. Valpariso is also the terminus of the first segment of our cruise. Some of the passengers that booked just the first segment and boarded in Buenos Aires will disembark here and we will take on more passengers that booked passage for just the second segment. The tour we booked is for a city tour of Valpariso and Santiago, the capital of Chile, and the seaside resort city of Vina del Mar. We were up early since the tour starts at 7 am and doesn’t return until 5:30 pm. We always order room service (breakfast) on the days we have a tour in order to save a little time before heading out. The 4 lane toll highway between Valpariso and Santiago passes through the town of Casablanca. Casablanca is home of vineyards and orchards located on both sides of the road. You may have had grapes from Chile which come from this region. they are as big as your thumb, seedless and as sweet as candy. After a 2 hour ride, we arrived in Santiago; a mix of old and very modern buildings. Lots of high rises sprinkled throughout the city. It is Sunday and it seems everyone is out doing something or going somewhere. Our first stop was at Club Hipico, a country club that includes a horse race track. Then it was back on the bus to visit a Chilean history museum. After visiting the museum we went the presidential palace where general Pinochet staged his coup d’etat. We arrived just in time for the “changing of the guard”; an elaborate affair that includes a marching band, about 50 guards and 14 horsemen. They march in from several blocks away then entered the plaza in front of the palace. Then the band plays about 3 songs before the formal changing of the guard ritual; after which they march back to where they came. The whole process takes about halve-an-hour. Then it was back on the bus taking us to the top of San Cristobal Hill. San Cristobal Hill is a large park rising about 500 feet and is located close to the heart of the city. The narrow winding road to the top is barely wide enough for the bus let alone the hundreds of people using the road; traveling on foot, bicycles, pushing strollers, you name it. Our destination was a restaurant at the top where we had lunch. At the top of the hill is a tower where you have a 360 degree view of the city. Between the food and the wine, the ride back to the seaside city of Vina del Mar was very quiet as just about everyone was napping. Vina del Mar is a seaside resort town people flock to in December to March for the beaches, casinos and nightlife. Then it was back to the ship. A very long day.