Valparaíso to Easter Island, Chile Wednesday January 18, 2017

We had to get up early to drive south from Valparaiso to the airport in Santiago to catch our flight to Easter Island. It wasn’t hard to wake up early as we barely slept. The gulls outside our windows drove us crazy all night long! Wake up call at 5:30 for a 6:00 car pickup.

Good bye Valparaiso graffiti!

This was a picture of a haunted street. I really didn’t understand the story but you were not supposed to linger here, but to drive by fast. So we did.

The sun began to rise on our way to Santiago.

Steve tried to sleep in the car as he had a bad night’s sleep. Between no air conditioning, the gulls, and my snoring-I mean purring, and a sore throat Steve had a very bad night. Even with the soothing sounds of a fan on the app on his iPhone, he slept very poorly. He went to bed at 9:30. I went to bed at 10:30. I woke up at 12:30, and thought great, I have five more hours to sleep. Which I told myself every hour decreasing the amount of time to sleep the rest of the night!

The pretty drive to the airport.

Steve got us some coffee so we could stay awake on our flight. As the hotel was not open for our early breakfast we were given a bag breakfast of a ham and cheese on stale bread and a nectarine. All we really wanted was coffee! The Dunkin’ Donuts had no milk and only artificial sweetener. I tried to pretend I was drinking a large espresso.

Orange juice and ibuprofen. Manna from Heaven for a sore throat.

You can see the smog hiding the mountains! The doodles represent the mountain edges!

We were flying business class to Easter Island. Did you know that it will take us 5 hours to get there?

I loved seeing our plane’s shadow as we ascended!

We leave the mainland. Next stop Easter Island! It is called Easter Island as it was discovered by Jacob Roggeveen,a Dutch Explorer, on Easter Sunday in 1722.

Plane breakfast. Easter Island is in the middle of nowhere! It is a long way from there to any other inhabited land.

You can see where Valparaiso was. On the coast and north of Santiago. Look at all the mountains!

Easter Island.

Yay! We have arrived! We have landed! Looks like I could use a brow lift and possibly an under eye tuck. Would you believe that a hair dresser I once went to suggested I get an eye lift, and Botox in my cheek folds? I always call them Fred Flintstone’s as his face had some really big ones.

Wilma doesn’t have any at all. Maybe she had Botox! Her hairdresser will never tell!

Steve looks like his hair has a lot of volume today. Do you see my grey hair? Not bad for 60, turning 61 in May. Although I am really 62 in real life as I am blogging about a trip that happened two years ago.

Just follow the signs.

We leave the airport and head to our hotel. There are many kids camping here. Not for me!

After a very bumpy ride we reach Explora Rapa Nui. https://www.explora.com/easter-island-chile/

There are other Explora hotels. One is in Antacama, the Chilean Dessert in Northern Chile. It’s elevation is very high so it is doubtful that I will ever visit there. Another location is in Torres Del Paine in the south of Chile. We hope to visit there someday. Two more are in Argentina and another in Bolivia. They are all boutique all inclusive hotels with guided group activities. There appear to be about 20 guests here now. Each day a few leave and a few arrive. The largest hotel on the island has 90 rooms (not Explora).

There is wifi service only in the main bar and lounge. Each day you can select two half day or one full day activity. The one full day activity is a strenuous 7 hour hike which includes a pack lunch. You can be assured that I will not be doing that!

Here is Steve checking us in. Everybody gets a lei!

Don’t I look lovely with my beautiful lei? At least my chin looks firm! Unfortunately the flowers looked good for only about 30 minutes!

The walkway between the buildings is thankfully covered. They get a lot of rain here. It is a good thing that I bought my Patagucci rain jacket. It is very humid here. My hair doesn’t know if it should lie flat or rebound! Oh, my rain jacket was found and it is being sent to the Ritz Carlton in Santiago where we will pick it up on our return trip from here.

Let’s see what our room looks like. We were staying in room 12.

The view out our window. Thankfully the room was air conditioned as it was quite humid here. There was a lovely chaise built into the window.

The view of the ocean and the pool out our window. Do you see the rain cloud? Rain, rain go away.

Our room with luggage all over. We had to hurry to unpack as we were going to have lunch and then go on our first hike. Were we going to wear our sneakers our Keens and socks, or Keen’s and no socks. We decided on sneakers.

We had lots of nice storage on the shelves. Behind the bamboo portions was a toilet on the left, sinks in the middle and a shower to the left.

We had iced tea, it was very lemony.

Lunch started with a lovely green salad.

Followed by ham and cheese on a baguette.

After lunch we met in the lobby with the other guests who will go on our walk in the quarry. We arrive at the park entrance where our guide Natalie produces our park passes, and we set up for what is supposed to be a short walk. This area is called Rano Raraku.

The quarry is not a big hole, but the side of a hill. All of the Moai on the island are from this quarry except for one that was made of basalt. We do not know where that one was from yet. The Moai are made of tuff, a rock made of compressed volcanic ash.

There are 840 Moai on the island. 400 are located in the quarry. We didn’t see that many, and there are bits and pieces of some that are broken. All the Moai that were finished have been toppled . The only erect finished ones that you can see have been restored.

It was very moving for me to come to Easter Island. As a young girl I read the book Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl. Steve has read it also and was quite excited to come here also.

None of these Moai have eyes as they are unfinished. They did not get eyes until they reached their final location elsewhere. If you get a chance watch the video on you tube that discusses the theories on how the Moai were moved.

Here we see half of the Brazilian couple that went on the hike with us. The lady on the left is from Quebec. We think that she was in her 80’s. She was in tremendous shape. She leaves her husband for two weeks at a time and travels the world with her girlfriend. Her husband stays home with the dogs and tells her to “hurry back home!”.

Several of the Moai were toppled over and broken into many pieces.

Down below you will see a rider on horseback. He is there to make sure that people stay on the path.

Here you can see a Moai in the process of carving. It was probably half done before it was abandoned. You can make out the face and the body.

This Moai was different than all the other Moai on the island as it was kneeling. It had been excavated. Originally only the head was visible.

I persuaded the Brazilian woman to sit sideways and to pretend to kiss the Moai. It made a great picture. I would rate this picture as adequate.

Far away you can see the 15 Moai. I hope we will learn more about them!

Moai were carved both vertically and horizontally out of the rock.

A view down the hill and toward the ocean. Somehow my walk turned into a hike!

You can see how eroded this Moai is.

You can see how big the quarry is in this picture.

There are lots of horses on Easter Island. More about them on another blog post.

We were supposed to go on a walk to a crater filled with fresh water, but due to all the recent rain it was forbidden. It was declared unsafe due to all the red clay mud.

We had to drive through a humongous puddle on the way back to Explora.

Back to the hotel.

Let’s take a walk to the pool. The man swimming was from Korea. He and his friend elected to have massages and hang out at the pool instead of doing an activity this afternoon.

The pool was too cold for me. I had read in one of my guide books that it was supposed to be a surreal experience to be in the pool and look at the stars at night. Perhaps I will do that from the hot tub instead.

The water looks inviting but it was so cold!

The hot tub looked very inviting.

We arrived at the bar to discuss our next day’s activities with our next day’s guide. I had a scallop on something green and creamy to whet my appetite before dinner. Doesn’t it look disgusting? It was yummy. I want to vomit just looking at it now. I actually ate that thing? Yuck!

The tortilla chips in the bar got stale quickly in this humidity.

Steve ready for dinner. Lots of wine glasses to drink out of, and windows to enjoy the view. I think that Steve is looking at me like Fred looked at Wilma!

We met a lovely couple from England before dinner and had fun talking politics with them.

Bread to start.

There is always a salad isn’t there?

Followed by soup. Before and after they ladled the soup in the bowl. I love soup that is a production in the presentation!

Our fish.

Yummy dessert.

Look how far west we are!

Did you read Kon-Tiki as a child?

Do you like two part soups?

Do you need Botox injections in your fore head, cheeks, lips, an eye lift and a tummy tuck?

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.