Meeting up with our newest friends, Mark and Terry at their hotel which conveniently was right around the corner from ours, we waited for our driver/tour leader, Sergio to pick us up at 8:00.
Finally at 8:30 he showed up, with an infectious smile, but no explanation for his delay. Things simply move at their own time here in Latin America.
Since Mark had made all of the arrangements and we were simply tagging along with them, we have no idea what we are scheduled to see or do today other than the end result is for us to be deposited at our ship in San Antonio by way of Valparaiso.
Our first stop was about an hour down the road at a beautiful winery. By now it was 9:30 in the morning, but the thought of a glass of wine, even very good Chilean wine did not sound good to any of us. So, after a quick look around, a couple of photos of blooming artichokes, and staged stomping of the grapes, we moved on.
Next on the itinerary was the Museo Fonck. The giant stone carving, or Moai, out front was from nearby Easter Island. More information about how they are carved can be found inside the museum as well as displays of enormous insects, a two-headed lamb and a macabre display of shrunken heads.
The town of Valparaiso is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
“Valparaíso played an important geopolitical role in the second half of the 19th century, when the city served as a major stopover for ships traveling between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by crossing the Straits of Magellan. Valparaíso mushroomed during its golden age, as a magnet for European immigrants, when the city was known by international sailors as “Little San Francisco” and “The Jewel of the Pacific”.” ~ Wikipedia
Valparaiso has a mile climate, similar to San Francisco or Santa Barbara. The major drawback that Chile faces on the likability scale is their strong and frequent earthquakes.
Driving past the main square in the center of town, one can certainly admire the original, now protected architecture, and get a feel for her historical grandeur.
We began our exploration by taking a short ride up the side of the mountain in a funicular. From our elevated viewpoint, we could take in the port and surrounding hillsides.
What has struck me the most here in Chile is the fascinating blend of graffiti and street art. Sometimes it is hard to tell one from the other, but most often the brilliant colors and distinct talents have transformed the side of a building, fence, garage door or a plain wall into an amazing work of art.
Here are some examples of the many, many paintings we observed during our walk-about, which included a second funicular ride up to Palacio Baburizza.
There are also numerous stray dogs and cats sprinkled around the city. They seem to be well cared for however, and many of the shop keepers put out food and water for them. When in Santiago, we observed a dog waiting for the cross walk sign to change before crossing the street. We had been told by Nicole, one of our walking tour guides, that many of the street dogs were so smart that they even take the subway or bus and know where to get on and off. Our tour guide, Sergio, confirmed that story.
Arriving at the ship around 3:30, we smoothly completed our embarkation paperwork and boarded our ship, the Emerald Princess.
Our balcony cabin is relatively spacious, and we quickly unpacked for dinner. Our reservations had been confirmed for a 6:00 pm seating, but upon check-in, were advised that was incorrect, and we had a very early 5:15 time. With the five-hour time zone change, that equated to us having dinner just after noon our time. Oh well, we adjust quickly, and with an early bedtime, it will soon be irrelevant.
Our next day will be at sea, so time to sleep in, relax, and once again settle in to life at sea.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that we had a lovely day seeing some local sights, especially the colorful city of Valparaiso, have arrived safe and sound and are all settled-in on board what will be our floating home for the next 14 days.