07.12.2009 - 07.12.2009 21 °C
Well we arrived safely in Santiago and got checked into our Marriott Hotel. This is a fantastic hotel and the service was excellent. We strongly recommend this hotel for any traveller to Santiago. The views are spectacular.
Gateways tours conducted an excellent private tour for us. Our guide Jose and drive Claudio were extremely professional. Jose has worked in several parts of Chile and Brazil so had excellent advice for our tours after the cruise is over.
We toured downtown area, Government plaza (he explained about the September 11, 1973 military coup with Pinochet. He was a bellman at the Sheraton when this occurred, so he has very vivid memories of this experience). The public washrooms here cost $300 pesos ( $0.60) per person and very clean. The church in the market square was quite spectacular. It has been rebuilt 3 times due to the earthquakes in the area.
We also took a drive to the Virgin Mary. This is a very important landmark for the locals. Today was a national holiday celebrating the Immaculate Conception. The road leading to this statue is closed today as several thousand citizens will hike to the top of this hill to pray to the Virgin. This statue was built by the same artist as the Statue of Liberty.
We had a fabulous seafood dinner at El Apero which means cowboy gear (saddle to spurs) in Spanish. It was fantastic. Jim Stanton, check out the photo taken at this restaurant. It reminds us of a bottle of wine we drank with you.
Today, we toured the countryside on our drive to Valparisso to catch our ship (Star Princess). It reminded us of California and the Okanagan. Plenty of cactus and produce. Their main exports include table grapes, kiwis, avocados, peaches and tomatoes.
Vina del Mar (wine by the sea) is a beautiful tourism area for the locals and is located next to Valparisso. The wealthy spend their summer vacations here and most Argentina vacationers who live in the western part of their country, also travel to this City, as it’s closer than Buenos Aires.
We had a great departure from port and are now at sea for three days on our way to Punta Arenas. Can you believe we have a great ship to explore and we have decided to order room service and stay in and watch movies. We are all EXHAUSTED from the past few days. I broke my toe on the airplane ride to Santiago so need to get it taped tomorrow so I can function properly.
Just a reminder to those we promised to Skype from the ship, it DOES NOT work, so you need to call us on Skype. We will only have the computer on sparingly so if you see us online try and skype right away.
I will try and post as many photos as possible but it may take time and at the rate of $0.75/minute you may have to wait until the end of the cruise to see some of our photos.
We hear it’s cold in Calgary....too bad.
We will post again once we see Punta Arenas.