A Travellerspoint blog

Valparaiso, Chile - Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Valparaiso, meaning "paradise valley", the historic centre beig a World Heritage Site. Farewell gala dinner tonight with the Captain and crew.

Calm sailing all night and woke to a very calm sea, in the middle of the ocean.  Not a bit of land in sight.  Found Rikus and gave him the 4 gig card for him to down load his little movie for us about Antarctica and the Chilean Fjords Cruise.

As we still have our welcome on board bottle of Mumm Champagne, we have invited Rikus, Jane, Shirley and Alec and Jan and Greg to share it with us this afternoon at 6.30 pm.

We have both started to pack and it's all just about done. Our fabulous butler, Baptiste. How are we going to live without him?

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Pulled alongside in Valpariso just after 12 noon.  It is a huge big port and the city looks big too.  We are going ashore for a quick look and may come back for the day when we are in Santaigo.  It is quite overcast, but the sun is trying to shine through.  It is supposed to be 25 degrees here today.  I'm not sure if the haze is mist/fog or pollution.

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We waited until all the French had gone ashore on their excursions and then we ventured ashore.  What rigmarole that was!  First we caught the shuttle bus that was waiting at the end of the gang plank, it drove a long way through the dock and then we got out at the terminal.  We had to go through security and have our bags xrayed.  Then we walked out the main gate and had to walk all the way back up the road to the main square.

Phil hailed a taxi that had a passenger in the back.  It stopped and I hopped in the back with the passenger and Phil hopped in next to the driver and off we went - us not speaking Spanish and both of them with no English.  Somehow we got him to stop at the main square and Phil gave him one American dollar and he seemed pretty happy with that.

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Valpariso is not very nice.  It is run down and dirty so we found a shop and bought some wine for Baptiste and then caught a taxi back to the port and went through the same security rigmarole to get back to the ship.  Phew!  We were waiting on the shuttle bus with Shirley and Alex when Baptiste and Priscilla hopped on too.  They had been ashore for the afternoon.  Shirley and I were having a guided tour of the galley at 4.15 pm and arrived back spot on 4.15 pm but missed the tour.  Pete and Deb said that we didn't miss much.

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We had our champagne then had our daily meeting with Rikus and then went to the dining room with all the others for our "last supper".  Final packing and then into bed.

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Posted by gaddingabout 20:26 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Castro, Chiloe Island - Monday, 9 March 2015

Tour the island with its unique architecture and the famous churches of Castro, the capital.

Woke up for early breakfast at 6.00 am as we were going ashore at 8.00 am to Castro on Chileo Island.

Took some lovely early morning photos.

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Castro is one of the most interesting cities of Chileo Island, South America's second largest island after Tierra del Fuego and visited by Charles Darwin in 1838.

The island, first inhabited by Chonos (now extinct) and Mapuches from the north, mingling their genes with those of the Spanish conquerers, gave birth to the Chilotes, the people of Chiloe.

The chilote culture was very influenced by the Jesuit missionaries who arrived in Castro in 1608 and stayed for 160 years to preach the gospel to the natives.  In order to cope with their apostolic mission in a place of difficult geography and scattered population, they built chapels everywhere, with over 150 chapels on the island, rarely more than 10km apart.  16 have been declared UNESCO World Heritage, including the yellow Cathedral of Castro and the church in Conchi.

First stop was the Gamboa Bridge over the Gamboa River where we viewed the "palafitos", wooden houses built on stilts above the water, something very typical on the island.

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The tide fluctuates 5 metres and at low tide the people gather seaweed to sell.  We saw some at the markets in Castro.  It looked disgusting.  I'm not sure if they eat it or not.  Yuk!

This cemetery is a very old one and costs a lot of money to own a plot there.  Because it was so expensive, once they had the land, they built up and stored a lot of bodies above ground.  There are other normal cemeterys and some cremation is also done.

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Everyone seems to drive reasonably good cars, but their homes are very small and run down - almost in a state of disrepair.

We went to Vilupulli Church, a National Monument which was built in the 1700s and visited by Charles Darwin in 1853.

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We visited Chonchi, the three-storey town, with its houses arranged in steps on the hillside.  It started as a Jesuit missionary residence in 1754 and the construction of the church was started at that time.

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There was a huge monkey puzzle tree in the yard. I don't really know about these trees but a lot of the others did. I don't think they are native to South America but I also don't know where they come from.

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Check out the foundations!

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We also visited the Museum of Traditions which showed how the people used to live.

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Hanging out with some locals.  The smaller women was really cuddling in!

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Back to Castro and visit the yellow Casteo Cathedral.

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All the buildings are so beautifully coloured.

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On the way back to the ship we called into the local Castro markets.  Lots and lots of different varieties of potatoes are grown in this area.  And the cloves of garlic are HUGE!

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This is seaweed.

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Back on board in time for lunch and we sailed straight away.  We are sailing through a very calm channel.  It reminds me of European River cruising.

The doctor called in to give me two sea sick patches for the open sea journey tomorrow and one for the Galapagos - just in case.  He wouldn't let Baptiste remain in the room while he asked me a few questions about the patches and if I had had any side effects.  I said I didn't mind him being there but he wouldn't let him stay.

It is a beautiful sunny afternoon, sailing on a calm sea.  Patch on and all is well with the world.  Had a little snooze and meeting Rikus for our disembarkation debrief at 7.00 pm at which time he will have a surprise for us!  Wonder what it can be?

Our meeting for 7.00 pm was put back indefinitely because of the sighting of blue whales.  Everyone was running from side to side to try to see them but they were quite a long way away.

Rikus has reserved tables for us for dinner outside on the back deck of the sixth floor.  It was lovely sitting out there, watching the sunset.  As soon as the sun went down, the wind came up and it got quite cool.

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We met with Rikus at 9.00 pm and he went over tomorrow's program and our disembarkation.  Then our surprise!  He had put together a CD of our trip with everyone named in it.  It was really great and he did one for Antarctica too.  We just have to give him a memory card or a USB stick and he'll down load it for us.  He is such a nice guy.

Have put my name down for a tour of the galley.

I leant Shirley my kindle so she could read "Three Weeks" before the cruise finishes.  She keeps pressing the wrong buttons and getting herself into trouble.  She is liking it, like I did.  It is so descriptive.

Posted by gaddingabout 20:11 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Quito, Ecuador - Wednesday, 18 March 2015

We had a pretty good night's sleep and awoke to cold, fog and rain. Very disappointing as we were hoping to have a view of the mountains surrounding Quito. We went down for breakfast to a lovely room and a fantastic selection of food, especially the fruit. It's still raining and miserable so we stayed in the room for the best part of the morning. We read a couple of tourist books about Quito and decided to brave the weather and get a taxi to the local under cover market. It wasn't very busy but the alley ways were quite narrow so we paid attention to our belongings.

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I bought a nice pink wooden necklace and Phil bought a panama hat. It's quite nice and suits him. We wandered along the streets but there is not much around here at all. We saw the big park that Paul Kelly mentioned and decided to be very brave and eat locally.

Phil had shrimps (prawns) in a creamy, lemony sauce. It was a cold dish. I had rice, salad, chips and a "flattened" fish in batter. It was quite nice and so far we have had no ill effects.

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We caught a taxi back to the hotel and spent the afternoon reading and blogging.

We had a room service light snack for dinner, after our big lunch. We're not too sure about wandering around the streets at night. It probably isn't a very good idea.

There are sirens blaring out here all the time. We now have a map of Quito and know where the city proper is, so will venture into there tomorrow.

Posted by gaddingabout 06:31 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

At sea - Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Couldn't get to sleep last night for a very long time. The ship was rocking gently in this very calm sea - not bothering me at all.

Ordered a late breakfast.  We are now well and truly in the open sea and there is just a gentle rock.  If only all ocean cruises were like this - you'd never get me off!

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Had a very lazy day.  Had lunch in our cabin and then I watched the movie "The Judge".  It was very good.  As we were at sea all day, there wasn't much to do but relax.  As this was a full day and night in the open sea, I was prepared to write the whole day off and lie on the bed, however, the sea was a lot  calmer (even though it didn't look it) and I felt great all day.  Of course, I have a sea sickness patch behind my ear so that probably helped immensely.

We had a quick daily briefing with Rikus and then dressed for the Captain's Farewell Gala Dinner.  On the way to the Cocktail Party, prior to the dinner, the Captain told me that he had been speaking with Rikus, our Scenic Tours Cruise Director about me and my sea sickness that morning, and that he had decided to change course and sail closer to the shore, hoping that the sea would be a lot calmer - and it was!!  What a fabulous, caring Frenchman he is.

At the Cocktail Party, Sarah of the red stilletoes on the ice float drinking champagne, was the MC and she called all the key staff up onto the stage.  We went crazy when Baptiste appeared on stage and clapped and cheered for him.  All the other Aussies who had met him in our cabin, cheered too.

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The dinner took a long time and we didn't get back to our cabin until about 11.30 pm.  I wasn't very tired so watched a movie in bed called "10 Laps" and finally went to sleep at 1.15 am.

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Posted by gaddingabout 17:27 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Puerto Montt, Chile - Sunday, 8 March 2015

Gateway to the famous Lake District. Visit the Petrohue Falls and Puerto Varas.

Woke up a lot during the night but this morning woke up to a very still sea.  We are alongside in Puerto Montt and I took some nice dawn photos of the lights of the town reflecting in the water.  It is so nice to be calm and still.  I have one more day at sea before we get off.  Not looking forward to it but there's not much I can do about it.  I have lost three kilos which is good, but not such a good way to lose it.

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I think I will "do a Pope" when we disembark in Valparaiso and kiss the ground!  I am never going on an ocean cruise again!!  Ever!

Around mid morning we met Rikus downstairs and our group went for a walk along the harbourside, into the town centre.  It was a beautiful sunny day and we all got quite warm and started stripping off.  After quite a while, Rikus turned around and went back to the ship but Phil and I continued on and ended up in a shopping centre.  No one speaks English and we don't speak Spanish.  We went to a few chemists trying to buy some more sea sick patches, but they don't exist so I will contact the doctor on board and get two more, one for our next day at sea and one for the Galapagos - just in case!

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We were due ashore again at 1.30 pm for our afternoon excursion to the Petrohue Waterfalls and Todos Los Santos Lake, when we suddenly realised that it was almost twelve midday.  We raced back to the port and had to wait for the tender to leave, and got back on board at about 12.45 pm.

We gulped down a very quick lunch and raced back to our room to freshen up for our afternoon tour when Rikus phoned to say that the morning tours were late getting back, so we would be going ashore at 2.15 pm instead of 1.30 pm.  Phew!  Time for a little rest.

We boarded a smallish bus which would have normally been okay because we are only 21, but the seats were extremely narrow and some of our couples are quite big and it was rather uncomfortable trying to squeeze two into a double seat.  A couple of men sat in a seat on their own and I got to sit in the front seat because we were travelling quite a way in the bus and I still had an upset stomach from the sea sickness.  Everyone in our group has been very sympathetic.

We drove to the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park.  Our guide was Gabriel and he was a young English teacher who had very good English, as you would expect!  He said that English is compulsory from Grade 5 onwards, but most schools teach it from Kindergarten, though not many people speak it.  Isn't that the truth!

The weather was warm and sunny, which was quite different from the day before which was pouring rain.  It rains just about every day in this area so we have been very lucky with the clear, fine day.  It enabled us to get great views and photographs of the three volcanoes, Calbuco, Orsorno and Tronador.

We arrived at the Petrohue Rapids.  The mighty Petrohue is one of Chile's most beautiful and exciting glacial rivers.  The water crashes through the lava channels that were formed after the eruption of the Orsono Volcano in 1850.  We went to get back on the bus only to discover that it had broken down.  Luckily the busses containing the French from our boat were visiting the waterfalls, so we divided our group into two and hopped on the French bus.  Our guide came with us and Rikus went with the other group.

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Just a short ride and we were at Todos Los Santos Lake.  As this is a volcanic area, the sand on the beach was black.  If only they could see an Aussie beach!  There are more than 5,000 volcanos in Chile and about 25 of them are active.  One just north of this area erupted a few days ago.

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We were so close to Mount Orsono but the sun was in the wrong position but the photos turned out okay in spite of that.

A brightly coloured school.  It would make you happy to attend!

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Our guide had made a few phone calls and a new bus arrived to take us bqck to the ship.  We were back on board just before 7.00 pm.  The road in the National Park was supposed to be dreadful, but they had recently bitumised it and graded the remaining dirt road and it was fine.

Greg and Jan Allen came and had dinner with us in our cabin and we all had a nice evening, though we didn't get to sleep until after 11pm and we had an early start the next morning.

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Posted by gaddingabout 17:14 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

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