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Published: February 21st 2016
VALPARAISO & SANTIAGO 8th February Apart from our tour to Santiago, this was a big turnaround of passengers. Some 1000 were leaving so when we returned to the ship in the evening, there were 1000 new faces.Our tour was one of the first out as it was a 2 hr trip to capital city.Valparaiso is one of South Americas most important ports and gateway to Santiago, transfer from the ship to our coach for the day took us through the container port. The city is known as the "Pearl of the Pacific" and is spread over 42 hills and is acknowledged as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It has been devastated by earthquakes and suffered greatly with the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914.<br style="color: font-family: Arial, sans-serif;
font-size: 13.3333px; line-height: normal;" />On our trip we passed through the wine area of Chile, our guide was a qualified sommelier and very knowledgeable about the viniculture of the region. Chile also exports avocados, blueberries and asparagus. It was a panoramic drive of the city before arriving at the Plaza de Armas and the Cathedral. One of Chiles problems is its homeless and stray dog populations. The latter being dangerous as fights between them over scraps of food occur. A dogfight happened amongst a group tourists which could have been very dangerous. There is some very interesting architecture as you drive through the city notably by the Club Hipico Horse racing track and the Eiffel designed railway arch at the Station. There is graffiti everywhere, which is a crime but was overlooked in certain areas where it considered street art. As in other South American cities the outside of the Cathedral buildings seem very plain, but inside they are ornate
and ostentatious. Here was no different but as usual not enough time to look at all the intricate statues etc. Very hot in the Plaza de Armas, a meeting place for locals and tourists alike.Onward and before lunch (looking forward to the Chilean wine) to a viewpoint in the National park up San Cristobel Hill. Views over city and beyond to the Andes Mountain range. Although it was quite misty you could just make out the odd glacier in the high Andes.Lunch was at a local Steakhouse, although no steak was on view (Salmon), we stated with a local cocktail (Mescatel based) and then onto a nice Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon.The inevitable shopping stop was after lunch at a handicraft market (Los Dominicos), there was enough shade to shelter under to have a quiet siesta for the hour we were there (a purchase was made - but not by me). There
were numerous handicraft shops and artisans hard at workBack to Valparaiso in the late afternoon, the steep streets with the hills serviced by Ascensores (funicular railways) which take visitors and locals to some of the most interesting parts of the city and a birds eye view of the city and harbour.We now have 9 sea days to Tahiti, with a cruise by the Easter Islands.
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