Valparaíso, Chile Tuesday January 17, 2017

After a fitful sleep at we woke up and went to breakfast. Unfortunately the room had no air conditioning and it was quite warm outside. We left the windows open so that we could have a breeze, but the gulls were always squawking! In addition, there was a park below with lots of people hanging out late into the night!

Here is another view of the hotel. Our room is on the third floor of the building on the upper left by the arched window.

This is a picture of the outside of the restaurant where we had dinner last night and breakfast this morning.

Off we went with JP, and Maxima our driver in our Peugeot van. Valparaíso is so colorful!

I am used to signs showing evacuation routes from super highways due to snow closures. This was the first time I saw a sign for a Tsunami escape route.

Houses were built anywhere there was a place to support a house. Even though Chile has lots of earthquakes, there are not many deaths, due to the strict construction guidelines.

The sun was blinding here. JP and Steve are shielding their eyes from the glare.

JP was into crazy poses. I’m not really into them, and don’t do crazy well, but I am a good sport. Here we are anyway at the famous floral clock doing a crazy pose.

We are now in Viña Del Mar, it is known for its beautiful gardens. It is within the Valparaíso region, and is Chile’s fourth largest city. The chef at the hotel last night called Valparaíso the San Francisco of the third world!

Here we are, on the Promenade. It is early, so not many people are out and about.

Here is JP pointing toward Valparaiso.

Here is the other direction, toward Con Con.

Here is the Casino, as I don’t gamble and it was early in the morning; we didn’t go inside. Plus the men in tuxedos, and the women in gowns and fine jewelry are probably still asleep, so there would be nothing to look at and report on!

We continue our stroll along the Promenade like the two love birds that we are. I smartly suggested we remove our dorky hats for the picture. See that white shirt I am wearing? Well, I will leave it in the hotel tomorrow by mistake and not ever see it again!

Ah, some energetic joggers. The rock in the background is called the “Michael Jackson” rock as it started out black. #imjustrepeatingthejoke

Above the u shaped rocks, there were seals playing. They were fun to watch jumping and diving into the water. That is Valparaíso in the background.

Here are Steve and JP watching the seals. Maxima, our driver, is keeping an eye on me!

We depart the beach with JP and Steve looking for babes in bikinis.

Let’s go into the park Vina Del Mar which was named after Jose Francisco Delvarga.

This is an old house across the street from the park. This is what many of the houses looked like when the city was founded. Now it is mostly skyscrapers.

They host many concerts here. Preparations were underway for a concert in two weeks.

Inside the concert arena.

We could not understand this sculpture hanging down from the rooftop of the amphitheater.

We continued our walk in the park and examined many of the old specimen trees.

JP was very upset that so many of the tree limbs had to be cut down due to the rot that the old tree had.

This is a photo of the house where Senor Delvarga lived.

You can see damage from the earthquake that is being repaired.

We depart Vina Del Mar and all its flowers.

We go to the Mueso La Sebastiana next. fundacionneruda.org This was the home of the Nobel wining Chilean poet, statesman and womanizer Pablo Neruda.

Neruda’s home had charming views of Valparaíso. He loved to get together with friends, especially on New Year’s Eve when the bay lit up with fireworks. During the summer at our house in Lake George, I am always running up and down our deck looking at the fireworks over the lake. I am easily entertained.

The colorful house from below.

Here we are in a normal pose.

We left the museum as the crowds began to gather.

Mural of a young boy fishing.

The houses are all a mishmash of styles. JP told us that a number of the houses are built right on top of each other, so it can be difficult finding the right address!

Panoramic view of Valparaíso.

I spy something.

The murals have many different themes.

Many of the murals were commissioned by business people or the city.

I found this one creepy.

All through the neighborhoods were murals.

To get to our restaurant Maxima had to back the van up a narrow street. Well, it was that or back up after he dropped us off. I think he wanted to impress us. He did!

Lunch was at Maralegre, (maralegre.cl) located in the boutique hotel Casa Higueres. casahigueres.cl

Steve and I were pretty hot and tired from all the walking around in the sun. It was nice to take some ibuprofen and not be on our feet. Steve has felt a sore throat for the past few days. I think it’s all the smog. We shall see when we get to Easter Island as there won’t be any smog there!

Here I am equally happy, this vacation has been so wonderful!

My view over Steve’s shoulder.

A closeup shows a house with earthquake damage, or ready for renovation or both!

We were offered tomato berry watermelon gazpacho to start. I drank Steve’s as he doesn’t care for tomato juice, or fruits. It really helped to cool me off.

Fresh rolls and butter, much better than stale rolls! As the lunch went on the butter melted completely in the hot sun.

Salad was greens with cheese, thinly sliced pear and quail eggs.

I ate half before the waiter brought out the dressing!

Steve had a Pisco Sour, I had an Aperol Spritz.

We were offered a palate cleanser of apple anise ice. It was quite refreshing.

Steve had the tagliatelle, sun dried tomatoes, sage and almonds.

I had the wagyu beef, shrimp angel hair pasta with truffle oil. No I did not finish!

Before dessert I had Steve and I change seats, just like at my fancy candle lit dinner parties!

My new view.

The dessert was called chocolate vanilla or vanilla chocolate in Spanish!

The waiter poured hot chocolate on the mousse so it melted like a reverse volcano. This might be my Vulcan Hudson afterall!

More graffiti.

Steve with improper arm placement for my picture taking. I could however, ask him to move his arm at any time and he would do so. I just like to make fun of him!

This is called the English section. When the English immigrants came to Valparaíso they married the Spanish aristocracy and stayed in this area. They were considered of higher status because they were English. The Germans moved to the Lake District. These homes were painted pastels: blues, purples, whites and greens.

A panoramic view of the port.

We could see four cranes constantly moving containers.

Here I made JP and Steve do a crazy pose.

This house was in very bad shape, but it had an amazing view.

Graffiti and laundry hung out upstairs to dry.

The main square. There was an artisan market under the canopies.

Because the city is a UNESCO site the original outsides of buildings are protected. You must keep the outer facade protected, but can erect a modern building inside! The result is bizarre.

A tomb in honor of the naval war heroes that died in a battle in 1879 against Peru. It is continually protected by a sailor, who you can see on the left of the statute wearing dark pants and a white shirt.

#thisiswhyitakethepictures

Have you ever ridden on a funicular in Valparaíso? Come along.

First you met the previous riders of the funicular.

Our car enters the station.

Enter brunette bombshell. Steve keeps his eyes properly elevated. When he is married to a bombshell like me, what more does he need?

We are off! Higher we shall go.

Still higher.

We finally reach the top and exit and it returns to the hotel.

After our ascent in the funicular, we walked to our hotel. hotelpalacioastoreca.cl I was delighted to find that our hotel was just across the street! We asked JP if he would be our guest for dinner tonight. First Steve and I were going to go for a swim at the hotel.

We wanted to soak in the wood fired hot tub, but the fire was out and the water was cold.

Instead we went for a swim in the indoor pool at the hotel and I tried to stand in front of the water jets. I wish the pool was a little bit warmer.

We went back to the room and while we were changing we heard sirens going off. We weren’t sure if it was pre warning for an earthquake or a fire in the hotel. We were in hysterics trying to decide if it was better to run out of the room naked, or to put your clothes on first. By the time we put our clothes on the second set of sirens was over. Phew!

We went to dinner at the little restaurant across the park from our hotel. The place where the all night revelers held court!

Steve was his usually happy self at dinner. He only gets grumpy in the morning after he has had a bad night’s sleep. Then, once he gets his coffee he is good to go. I must admit that whenever I say or do something I shouldn’t,he gets disappointed in me. Of course, that rarely happens. Ha Ha! Well, maybe once a month. Would you believe week? Okay, maybe I misbehave once a day, but then it is an accident!

I must admit that I find Steve terribly handsome. When Scott Brown was running for the Senate seat in Massachusetts I said that I thought “Scott Brown is terribly handsome!”. Steve of course has never let me forget that. Every time he is on television Steve mentions my quote. I am lucky that Senator Brown was not re-elected. I think I have told this story several times already, but I never tire of it!

Forty years ago, I mentioned that I thought one of the male members at the gym was also good looking. Steve promptly replied ” I have seen a better head on a cabbage!” So now I generally keep my thoughts to myself!

Here is our waitress telling JP, “No, that is not available.” We could only choose from a third of the menu!

I ordered a blueberry Pisco sour. They also offered ginger, mint, or regular.

We had the salmon with potatoes and it looked disgusting. It was delicious. You might call it salmon with glop sauce!

Here is a view out my window in the restaurant.

Close up we can see that these people had a dinner party going on. How lovely!

For dessert I had the strawberry mousse. Of course I finished the whole thing! Unfortunately there was no chocolate anything or ice cream on the menu for Steve.

JP had apple pie for dessert. We had a nice discussion about politics and taxes. The previous mayor of Valparaiso was accused of corruption and the new mayor is only 31! He was elected because everyone thought he was too young to be corrupt!

In Chile there is income tax, property tax, and a 19% sales tax. All our extras at the hotels were billed in American dollars and we were exempt from sales tax on that. (Our hotels were all prepaid by our travel advisor.) The Chileans have free health care and there are many places for the homeless to live, so we rarely saw someone sleeping on the street. There were many people hustling at traffic intersections hawking goods, and people performing juggling for tips. The street artists and vendors pop up all over and the police are always asking for their permits. If you don’t have one, you say it is your first time, or that you didn’t know it was required, pack and then return ten minutes later.

What flavor Pisco Sour would you order?

What do you think about a 19% sales tax?

What looks better, your head or a cabbage?

Valparaiso Chile. Monday January 16, 2017

So this will be an overview of the trip so far. We flew from JFK in New York City nonstop to SCL Santiago Chile on January 5.

We stayed one night in Santiago and then flew the next day to Balmaceda via Puerto Montt. That was the black line on the map. We were then driven to Coyhaique where we stayed a week at the lodge. Then we flew to Puerto Montt (the red line) where we drove to Puerto Varas and saw Lake LLanquihue and all the volcanos with Isabel (except when it was cloudy!). We then flew back to Santiago and drove northwest to Valparaiso which is on the coast. Then we will fly to Easter Island. I will keep the rest secret for now!

Santiago is inland and surrounded by mountains. There are three major tunnels between the interior of Santiago and the outskirts. Smog gets progressively worse as you near the city center.

As we say good bye to Puerto Montt, I will give you a little more Chilean history. Chile was declared independent from Spain in 1818. The government felt that it was important to exert sovereignty over the south of Chile and 212 German colonists came to Lake LLanquihue to farm. It is interesting to note that what you and I consider middle Chile, is considered South Chile to Chileans. Further south, where the Fjords and Patagonia are was not colonized until the middle area was established, and was already considered the South! Confused? I am. Just remember Patagonia is south of south Chile.

Good bye Lake LLanquihue! Good bye Volcano Orsono!

Hello clouds!

The clouds lifted the further north we flew. You can see the Andes again.

A closer view of some of the volcanoes. The one on the left already blew its top off and a glacier sits in the cone. You can tell the volcano is inactive as you can see the glacier.

When we landed I found out that the large group with us on the plane was an Alumni group from Harvard. Even though they went to Harvard, they had to board the bus with us to go to the terminal.

JP, (Juan Pablo, who was our guide earlier during our stay in Santiago) and our driver picked up and drove us to Valparaiso. It took about a 90 minute drive from the airport. Did you know that there are 5 Valparaiso’s in the world? Valparaiso is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Valparaíso is also the third largest metropolitan area in the country. Before the Panama Canal was created, the city was a major port for those traveling between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The city is known for its funiculars, graffiti, cobblestone streets, and colorful clifftop homes. There is lots of graffiti here, the city has not banned spray cans yet. Valparaíso is in the process of installing street cameras in hopes of decreasing the amount of graffiti.

There are beautiful murals all over.

After winding through many narrow streets and hills we arrived at our hotel. You can see how narrow and steep some of the streets are.

Hotel Palacio Astoreca hotelpalacioastoreca.cl will be our hotel for the next few days. Steve and I have been enjoying our stays at these smaller boutique hotels as opposed to the many hundred room hotels. These smaller hotels are all quite unique. Our hotel has only 24 rooms. The entrance to the hotel is near the front of the uppermost van in the picture.

The hotel was damaged in an earthquake about ten years ago. The inside has been renovated and it has a quite modern style. I don’t really know how to describe the outer architectural style.

This is a reception area off the lobby. The reception desk is off to the left.

There was a lovely library in the hotel and Steve climbed the movable stairs to get a couple of books. He now knows many facts about Picasso.

Our room was on the third floor. Thankfully there was an elevator! We were assigned room #17. It was the receptionist’s favorite room. We liked it too!

Steve examining the rooms before our bags got unpacked and spoiled the pristine room.

This was another view of the bed. For some strange unexplained reason there was a strange wooden frame around the side of the bed. It made it very difficult to get in and out of the bed. Steve considered this an “unfriendly bed”.

The bath with a waterfall shower head.

Hmm, should we see if this leads to the outside?

It does! Steve is a good sport and imitates an exhausted traveler lying on the chaise lounge. Now I must tell you that some of these clever posed pictures are not Steve’s ideas, but mine. He takes great pictures of his fingers so I have to direct him in the poses that I want commemorated. He is a good husband and plays along with me, I think that I will keep him.

Here is one of the views from our patio. Con Con on the top left, Reñaca a little to the right. Vina Del Mar is across the water above the large salmon building in the center of the picture. Valparaiso follows to the right and the bottom of the picture. Our room had a beautiful view of the bay, although I think all the views from the hotel were fabulous!

Here is a video from our balcony during the daytime.

Let’s go to dinner at the hotel, shall we? We need to descend the spiral staircase to the restaurant on the first floor. (I hate spiral staircases!)

It’s 7:30, and we are ready for dinner. Most people in South America don’t eat dinner until 8 p.m. Your eyes are in focus, I am trying the blurred shot to soften the wrinkles in Steve’s face. Just kidding, I don’t know what went wrong!

A lovely Pisco Sour, the orange on the foam is a dash of bitters, which cuts the sweetness of the drink.

Our rolls couple, ready to be slathered with butter and eaten!

For his starter, Steve had the house special. Bacon foam, mashed potatoes, and Scallops topped with a saffron foam. It was ethereal!

My skinny knife for my beef entree.

I had the beef filet with gratin dauphinois potatoes, topped with a muleteer salad and pickled zucchini cubes. Steve had the salmon. I forgot to take a picture of it!

It’s years later, and I look at this menu, wishing I could have one of everything right now. However we were too full that night to order anything more. However, if the menu was prix fixe, no doubt I would have insisted that Steve and I each try something different and share! The pricing was in Chilean Pesos. Now 1000 pesos is equivalent to about $1.50.

The sun had set before I got a chance to take a picture of it glittering over the water. I sure didn’t miss the street signs, and utility poles! Does this win the prize of worst picture ever? No! It doesn’t have a finger in the view!

Back up to the room, I discover our special treat!

I love pistachio macaroons ! In fact, I love all macaroons!

Here is the video from our balcony at night.

Good night Valparaíso!

Have you enjoyed my trip so far?

Have you ever been on a college alumni travel tour?

One of my readers has, can she figure out how to reply to the question?

Her initials are JLB, in case she has not figured out the answer to question number 2!

Wish me luck on her answering question number 3! As she doesn’t read old blogs, I rate my chances slim to none.