Puerto Montt

Puerto Montt is a town in southern Chile known as the gateway to the Andes. It began life quite late, not until 1853.

For a ship’s tour of nearly eight hours the cost would be USD $169 per person, so it was research time to cut the cost.
It wasn’t long before I found GV Tours, a tour company that has several offices across Chile. They were easy to deal with, and they were prompt in answering all my questions. The cost for a three-hour tour, which is about our limit, was USD $55 per person, with the use of a small bus, driver & guide. Other people on the ship had the same idea and I think we ended up with about twelve to fifteen passengers in total.

We wished to experience a scenic drive to Petrohue Falls, see alpacas, and visit places of interest during the drive. The ship docked on time, but it was raining.
On boarding the bus I looked out of the window to make sure that I would be able to take a few scenic shots as we traveled to Petrohue Falls.

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Not the ideal way of photographing the scenery – and it was summer time.

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The scene as we arrived at the main gate of

Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park.

The park is named after Vicente Pérez Rosales, who organised the colonisation by Germans and Chileans of the area. He was born in 1807 and died in 1886.

To reach the Petrohue Falls we had to walk along a muddy track & with additional hazards of slippery rocks in the pouring rain, but one can not blame the tour company for the weather.

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This might give you some idea of the conditions, umbrellas were the order of the day, and wet gear was required by everyone.

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The water was wild and dramatic as it poured over, under and through small gaps in the rocks.

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This what we’d hoped to see  in the background, but the mist & rain defeated us. . . .

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Even in the rain the falls were impressive.DSC04340r

 

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I wondered if we would see anyone trying the above  . .  we didn’t, I took a photograph of a poster of what you can do at the falls.

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Far more peaceful, I doubt that the fish would agree with me.

From Petrohue Falls we walked a little further to Laguna Verde, which is a lake hidden along a pathway in a thick forest of Coihue trees.

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You can see the rain on the water, which is green due to the algae and minerals in the water – they do say who ever drinks from this lake will have good luck for the rest of their lives . . . I had the feeling that drinking from this lake would shorten my life some what, so perhaps it is true . . . as long as your life is very short.

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What we’d hoped to see.

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Lake Ilanquihue –

We’d hope to see Osorno Volcano, across the lake – the above is what we saw . . .

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We left Petrohue Falls and drove to a lookout point for more photographs of the lake, but the weather was still ‘uncooperative’, so we crossed the road to check out a few wet animals.

DSC04358rAlpacas are gentle and curious as to what is going on around them – they followed our movements without fear and as I pointed the camera they looked in to the lens as if they all done it before.

 

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Alpacas are smaller than lamas, and are bred for their wool. Lamas are are bred as pack animals.

Our next stop was Puerto Varas and the weather was a lot kinder.

The town was colonised by German migrants who had answered the call from the Chilean Government in 1853 to open up the area, which at that time was a vast wilderness. Many of the houses that we saw had a strong German influence.

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German Club dated 1885

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The town had a pleasant feel to it, and I don’t think it was due to the blue sky, which helped to brighten our spirits.

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We found a small market that was selling mainly clothes, and many were made from alpaca wool. Although light in weight they were bulky so cramming them in to an already full suitcase was out of the question.

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Puerto Varas was built on the banks of Llago (lake) Llanquihue. We walked along the shore line and came to Teatro del Lago (Theater of the lake). The town has a festival of music in January and February each year but when they don’t have a concert the building is closed, although we were able to walk around the outside of the building.
In the largest auditorium it can seat 1200 people and is made completely of wood. From a distance it has a stripped appearance, and at first I thought that it was painted metal, but once you get closer one is able to distinguish the different types of wood.

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Lago

Main entrance area – this part faces the road.

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View from the side of the theater

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The walkway around the theater is also made of wood – the railings are metal.

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At last a view that we were able to photograph, even though we couldn’t see the volcano. Took this from the end of the walkway around the theater.

Overall we enjoyed our day out, but must admit I am pleased that we didn’t fork out USD $169 each!

  What we were hoping for

Thanks to http://www.sharynsstudio.com for the video.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sailing & White Night

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Cast off, the voyage has started as we make our way from the dock area to the open sea.

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Some just like to sit in the spa, with little interest in our sailing, but that is their choice

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A pleasant warm day with clear sky, but not all are interested in the passing scenery.

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Even after all their years at sea the two master mariners above still enjoyed the beginning of a voyage.

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We are now at sea as the land falls behind us  . . .

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I have dozens of photographs of sunrises and sunsets, and never get tired of the ocean view, and my limited attempt to capture the right moment.

White Night

White Night is an evening when everyone is encouraged to dress in white, but it is not compulsory.

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Preparing for the White Night, which is a BBQ style experience.

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The area around the pool becomes livelier as more and more passengers arrive to find a table with friends

DSC04998rOur wives in the spirit of White Night.

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The Captain (standing near the man in a coloured shirt) made a point of visiting every table to greet the guests and make sure that they were happy.

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The ships’ Master, Carl Smith, is from the Isle of Man (UK) and has been at sea for thirty years, not quite as long as my two friends.

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BBQ meat on one set of coals and lobster on the other

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You have your plate and this line of food is just one small area from which you can fill it, I went for the Asian dishes cooked to order (not shown).
I asked one of the cooks, who was Malay, to cook me a stir fry, and he asked how spicy would I like the dish, and so I told him to do it exactly as he liked it – so he made it as such, and it was great! Spiced just right . . .

We could go back to the food area as often as we liked, but I only went back for a small desert, and some cheese and biscuits – the choice of different dishes from around the world was mouthwatering.

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The evening moves on, and the deck light come on because at the end of the meal the dancing will start.

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The three of us first met in September 1960 – John (left) & Will (right) stayed at sea and commanded their own ships. I left the sea and joined an airline.

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The crew march around with the flags of their own nation, while the passengers wave their napkins.

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Speeches of appreciation from Captain Carl, after which the band strikes up for the dancing.

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At least nobody fell in the pool – the seating, BBQ and dancing is all around the pool.

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This is the last photo as Maureen & left to go to bed – a real sign of age, it was only 11.00 pm. . . .

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But I was up early enough to watch the sun rise – again . . . .

 

 

 

 

A look around inside ‘Pursuit’

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Our cabin – it was adequate, except that the pillows of today are multiplying – one doesn’t have a single or double pillow anymore, we have to have pillows for show, yet few viewers are invited in to one’s bedroom . . .  note the long tube like pillow that spent all day at the back of the sofa, out of the way.

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Azamara’s vessels are small, and have a feel of a country club rather than the razzmatazz on the large cruise ships that aim at families with children. The above is an area that leads to a few shops and on the right is a coffee bar with cakes (all inclusive), passed the shops is the ‘theater’, which is not all that large compared to other cruise ships, but more like a night club.

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The area was also used for chocolate evening – as much as you could eat . .

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Chocolate fountains and fruit on a stick – people were allowing the chocolate fountain to flow over their fruit stick – excuse the pun, but not to my taste.

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The theater – you can see how close the ‘stage’ is to the audience. On walking in you are asked what you would like to drink . .  all very civilised.

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The audience is very close to the entertainers – the two above are part of the permanent group of ship’s entertainers.

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Entertainers joined at one port, stayed a few days, and then departed either for home or to their next ship. This singer, Helen Jayne, had a Scouse accent (a Liverpool twang), and when I asked her where she was from, it was Lythem St Annes, which is just outside Liverpool. She has a very powerful voice. The video is not all that good, but you get the idea, fast forward through the chatty bits.

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Another indication of how close the audience is to these dancers – Dima & Sasha from Kiev – we’d seen them before in 2016, but well worth seeing again with their new routine.

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Discovery dining-room  a very pleasant area with tables that can seat from one to more than ten.

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On one particular day the centre of the dining room was turned in to a presentation arena for lunch, and the ship’s officers carved the joints and served the passengers. We  helped ourselves to various items, and then the ship’s officer would serve the fish or meat dishes. Once we found a table the steward would arrive with the wine list.

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A whole roasted pig, with crackling just waiting to be carved.

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Another shot of the dinning-room as the evening meals is about to start.

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One of the stairways from deck five to deck four leading to guest relations.

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Guest relations desk.

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Another example of the staircases from one deck to another – quiet quality.

As for bars, we had a good choice – the coffee shop that I mentioned at the beginning of this blog also offers wine and beer.

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At the entrance to the main dining-room there is a small bar – ideal place to wait for friends before going in to dinner.

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Nothing better than sitting outside in the sunshine and having a drink with friends – I never get tired of watching the wake.
But our favourite place was the ‘Living room’, which was a large semicircle comfortable location overlooking the bow. DSC04527rQuiet, light music at 5.00 pm, and hors d’œuvres, hot & cold, were also served at 5.00 pm.
The Living Room was open from very early to very late and one could wander in there at 9.30 am or earlier for coffee or what ever you wanted. We used to meet our friends in the Living Room at 11.00 am on sea days –

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The picture windows around the Living Room allowed one to photograph anything of interest, without going outside, particularly if it was cold. I copied this picture from Azamara’ s web site.

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One of my favourite places was the Drawing Room,which was also the library.

The picture is from Cruise Critic, for some reason my copy didn’t register. . . . . .

Sail Away & White Night to follow.

 

 

 

 

 

Santiago to San Antonio

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Santiago is over 100 kms from the port of San Antonio, which is now the main cruise port for Chile. It used to be Valparaiso, but the unions became too troublesome so the Chilean government moved the main port to San Antonio, where they don’t seem to have the same labour problems.

To get from our hotel to the port could have gone via public transport (bus), which takes over two hours, but we would have to take a taxi from the hotel to the bus depot in Santiago, and again in San Antonio from the bus depot to the cruise ship.
Or we could hire a minibus and driver and receive a door to door service . . . . no argument from anyone . . . . we all wanted our own transport.

After some research I found Santiago Chile Travel that specialises in private transport. I booked an eight seater mini-bus with plenty of space for all our luggage. If I could find another couple we would be able to reduce the cost per couple overall, so I advertised on Cruise Critic and an American couple (Bob & Donna) ‘bought’ the two empty seats. The big plus was that we would not be expected to pay for the bus until after we arrived in San Antonio, so if anything went wrong (sickness etc) and we had to cancel, we would not be out of pocket.

I must admit dealing with Chile Travel service was a dream – very easy to deal with and prompt in replying to my e-mails. For the record, in case anyone wishes to use them, this is their web site http://www.santiagochiletravel.com

Fortunately Bob & Donna planned to stay at our hotel, so we were able to meet before the journey to San Antonio.

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Happy Hour had just started . . . . .

Once out of the city the road opened in to a highway and the driver didn’t waste any time. Foot down, and we were soon traveling at speeds of over 100 km / hour.

The first photograph of this blog shows the highway not long after we left Santiago, but as time went on the traffic thinned.

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Was it because I had arranged the transport or was it because I was tall, that I had the seat next to the driver. On the other hand it could have been that nobody else wanted to be so close to the windscreen at 110 + km/ hour.

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Door to door was just under 90 minutes.

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We arrived at San Antonio – a real working port, with few frills for passengers,

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The cruise terminal . . I think the authorities are planning a new one . .

and we could just see our cruise ship through the cranes.

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Azamara Pursuit  – our cruise ship.

Originally one of eight sister ships for Renaissance Cruises – but this cruise company went out of business.
The ship was launched in 2001 when she was known as R Eight. After the company went bankrupt she was seized by creditors and laid up in Marseilles in France.

She entered cruising again as Minerva II (2003 – 2007) for Swan Hellenic, a British cruise company, she was their only ship, she later became Royal Princess (2007 – 2011), Princess Cruises , and then Adonia (2011 – 2016) for P & O Cruises, and under the same name she was used by Fathom Line, and was the first ship in fifty years of a US cruise line, to sail in to Havana harbour and offer cruising holidays to the Cubans.
This lasted just over a year, after which, the Adonia was transferred back to P & O, before being sold to Azmara and becoming Azamara Pursuit. 

Carnival Corporation owns all of the above cruise companies, except for Azamara.

The ‘Pursuit’ joined Azamara Cruises in March 2018, and after having her hull inspected in dry dock in the Bahamas she sailed to Harland & Wolff in Belfast, for complete refurbishment to bring her up to the same standard as her sister ships Azamara Quest & Azamara Journey, which the company already owned. Her ‘new’ maiden voyage was August 2018 from Southampton in the UK.

The Azamara brand is owned by Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, and the Azamara Pursuit is the first major expansion for Azamara in ten years.

The Pursuit is 30,277 gt with a passenger capacity of about 750, although she was not full when Maureen and I sailed in her. She has a crew of 380.

San Antonio is a real working port –

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I took the above picture from our balcony . . . .

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One has to get ones priorities right -we’re on-board so it must be lunchtime.

What wine is it today? Certain alcoholic drinks are included in the ticket price, and the wine changes daily – both red & white – the white this day was Italian and New Zealand (chardonnay for the Italian and pinot gris for the NZ wine). I think the red was a choice between Californian or French. The changing of the wine was always something to look forward to each lunchtime.

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A wide choice of food and you just wandered around and helped yourself – waiters brought the wine and any other drinks that you wanted. I did like the Sicilian white that was on offer later in the cruise.

It’s very easy & enjoyable to get used to a certain life style . . .

 

 

 

 

 

Cerro San Cristóbal

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From our bedroom window we could see the top of San Cristóbal Hill and the white statue.

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Our friends from the UK  had arrive while we were sight seeing via the Hop on Hop off bus, so during ‘Happy Hour’ in the Club Lounge we all decided to visit San Cristóbal Hill, the following day. The hill is 850 meters (2798 feet) above sea level.

The hill was named by the Spanish conquistadors for St Christopher, in recognition of its use as a landmark, the original indigenous name is Tupahue. The statue of the Virgin Mary is 14 meters (46 feet) tall on top of an 8.3 meter (27 feet)  pedestal, and the total weight is 36,600 kgs. (80,689 lbs).

We spoke to the travel desk of the Crown Plaza and they advised taking a taxi to the cable car station for the ride to the top, and to return via the funicular railway. Our Hop on Hop off tickets were for two days and gave us access to both the cable car & the train service.

Because the UK couple didn’t have the Hop on Hop off tickets we all shared a taxi to the cable car station, this cost us USD $3 / couple, and when we reached the cable car ticket office our UK friends claimed a ‘seniors’ ticket (which we all could have claimed) and their ticket was a lot less than the extra that we paid the previous day as part of the hop on hop off ticket! We live and learn . . .

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The climb begins

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The city morning haze had not yet burned off . .

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The haze was clearing . .

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If you feel energetic you can walk up to the top, which will take you about 45 minutes, and requires 300 meters (985 feet) of elevation, or you can drive up if you have a vehicle – there is a parking fee when you reach the top.

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Near the base of the statue was a small church  . .

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Inside the small church.

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A panoramic view of Santiago.

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The statue that we come to see.

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The images inside the pedestal of the statue – I read that Pope John Paul II prayed in here, and later blessed the city of Santiago on April 1, 1987.

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Below the statue there is an amphitheater, which is used for various religious ceremonies. On the right of the white roofed stage, in the above picture, is the entrance to the funicular railway.

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The funicular railways has been running since 1925 –

the angle of drop is 45 degrees.

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It reminded me of the Peak Railway in Penang, Malaysia, and also in Hong Kong.

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Both trains stopped as if it was a Mexican stand-off – who goes first?

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We both began to move at the same time . .  pride has been satisfied

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Trains that pass in the day . .

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All clear . . . the above is the rear of the upward bound train.

At the foot of the hill the train station is at the Bellavista area, which is classed as the Bohemia of Santiago. In this area are many restaurants, bars, theaters, galleries & clubs, as well as handicraft and clothing shops. When we walked through the area it was late morning and very few outlets were open.

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We crossed the bridge, which would take us back towards our hotel, and noticed that the railings were covered in ‘love locks’.

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The next section changed to blue locks . . .

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We found our way back to Plaza Baquedano and time for lunch and we thought we’d give Blasco’s a try. It was a mix of bar and restaurant.

We were shown to the basement, which was the dining area. The waitress’ were friendly and tried their best to understand our limited Spanish, but it was all good fun.
We were offered menus in English, which gave us a choice of a decent number of local dishes. Maureen managed to get across that she required a gluten free meal, which was speedily created.
A happy memorable meal, after which it was back to the hotel to pack for our trip to the port tomorrow to join our cruise – plus we didn’t want to be late for Happy Hour this evening . . .

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GoldenWedding

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22nd February 1969 – it was cold wet day in Liverpool, UK.

What to do to celebrate fifty years of happy marriage? We like cruising so how about a cruise around Cape Horn at the bottom of the world?

So be it . . . . .

Our plan was to fly to Santiago in Chile, have three nights before joining a ship in San Antonio for a sixteen night cruise to Buenos Aires, with three nights in BA before flying home.

Everything had to be just so – so we required a hotel – after checking various hotels in Santiago we decided on the Crown Plaza, and we would stay on the Club Floor.

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We mentioned our plans to friends with whom we’d traveled before, and one couple from New Zealand decided to join us, and another from the north east of England also joined us.
The two males and I had joined HMS Conway in September 1960, and we’d kept in touch over the years, so the trip would also be a mini-reunion. They had both retired from the sea as Master of their own vessels, and had previous experience around the South American coast during their working life at sea.

Maureen & I and our NZ friends flew out of Sydney to Santiago on Tuesday, and arrived about 90 minutes before we left Australia, thanks to us crossing the dateline. The flight was actually over twelve hours.

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We flew with Qantas in one of their last remaining B747s, a comfortable flight in premium economy.

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Our hotel room on the 20th floor.

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Views from our window

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In the early evening we went for a short walk around the area of the hotel – the UK couple would not be joining us until the following afternoon.

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A short walk from the hotel and we found  Plaza Baquedano, with a statue of  General Manuel Baquedano on his horse.

The General had been commander in chief of the Chilean army during the Pacific War of 1879 to 1884, which was also known as the ‘ten cents war’ or ‘Saltpeter war’ when Bolivia tried to tax Chilean mining of the rich nitrate of coastal Bolivia, even though they had agreed not to tax the Chileans.
The war escalated and Chile found herself fighting both Peru & Bolivia. The first five months of the war was a sea campaign, which Peru lost. Bolivia didn’t have any ships, but relied on issuing certificates of marque to anyone who would be willing to fight for Bolivia at sea.

Britain, the US and France stood by the Paris Declaration of 1855 which outlawed privateers. The sea war was now between Chile & Peru – which Peru lost.
Bolivia lost her coastal nitrate strip to Chile, which is why Bolivia today is landlocked.

Plaza Baquedano is also used by the people as rallying place when they wish to make a point – I don’t know what the rally was for in the short piece of film.

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 As the sun set over Santiago I just had to take this photograph of the snow capped mountain. We had just passed Plaza Baquedano.

The following morning we decided to use the hop on hop off bus to get a ‘feel’ of the city, plus it was getting to hot to walk around.

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As you see it was 11.00 am and already 31.2 c outside.

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Santiago is a pleasant town with modern buildings mixed with the older historic buildings, and quite a few parks.

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The roads were clean and traffic was orderly.

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Santiago looking to the future.

The Costanera Center Torre, also known as Gran Torre Santiago, – sixty four storey tall making it the tallest building in Latin America. It is the second tallest in the southern hemisphere, the tallest being in Melbourne, Australia.

DSC04187r In the city centre the old still has an attraction – The Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago can be seen (the two small towers). Construction began in 1748 and was completed in 1800. The square is the Plaza de Armas.

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The Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago entrance.

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Inside the cathedral

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Plaza de Armas – the main square of Santiago. The building with the flag flying is the central post office.

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I took the above from the bus . . .

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Plaza de Armas – being good Aussies we moved from shadow to shadow to keep cool.

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Giant flag of Chile flying over Citizen Square, Avenida La Alameda.

The flag pole is 61 meters (200 feet) tall the flag itself is 27 meters (88.5 feet)  by 18 meters (59 feet) and was erected to celebrate the bi-centenary of Chile in 2010. The square is beyond the flag. I took the photograph from the top deck of the bus, a quick point & click.

If you have a  golden wedding you need some music and the obvious choice is something called Golden Wedding

Turn the sound UP!

 

 

 

 

Singe a King’s Beard

 

We sailed from Southampton the day after we’d arrived with a fresh group of students.
This voyage was to Vigo, again, and later Cadiz, where according to Sir Francis Drake he ‘Singed the King’s Beard’ .

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Sir Francis Drake Singed a King’s Beard in 1587.

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Drake’s original map, the pink arrow shows how he approached Cadiz harbour.

 

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Spain at the time of our visit was controlled by General Franco, and had been since 1939 after the Spanish civil war, which began in 1936. When he was promoted to the rank of general in 1925, he was the youngest European general since Napoleon. General Franco died in 1975, he was eighty three.

For those who are interested you might like For Whom the Bell Tolls, which is a fictional account of Ernest Hemingway’s experience during the civil war.

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The book was published in 1940, and turned in to a film in 1943, staring Gary Cooper & Ingrid Bergman. Click on the above link for the film’s trailer

On our arrival in Cadiz we didn’t singe anything except ourselves on the beach.

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Cadiz in 1965

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Maureen & I visited Cadiz in 2015 – a lot more tourists . . .

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If Drake had joined us on this cruise he wouldn’t have recognised the fort, because he attacked the city in 1587, and the seven star fort was not built until 1598.

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From the beach position.

Next day it was Lisbon, and we arrived at 6.30 pm, which was a great time to arrive, because we were able to see the night life, without having to chaperone any of the passengers.
Eventually some of us found our way to the Texas Bar. A bar that was well known by many who went to sea, and others who liked music.

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In the 1960’s this was the place to visit in Lisbon – how the mighty have fallen.

Tables were scattered around, and a small band played in what looked like the front half of a large rowing or sailing boat. Nothing strange in seeing bands in various gimmicky settings, but the ‘boat’ was half way up the wall, in the far corner of the room.

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In 1965 this place was jumping with music, and you had to push your way in.

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I found the above on the internet – the players in the photograph are, I think, US servicemen, not locals, so they must have been off a visiting war ship. I only saw (listened to) local Portuguese bands, I didn’t know that they allowed visitor bands.

As the evening progressed the place filled and the noise level increased. The band had to play louder and louder.
The band did take requests, via the patron’s passing notes with the title of the music and  accompanied by folding money – of course.

It always happens – the band played the wrong song, and someone took ‘umbrage’ and tried to stand on a table to get at the boat, in which the band was playing. It was then that I saw barbwire wrapped around the side of the boat. Until it was pointed out to me it just looked part of the boat’s decoration to give it authenticity, as in fishing lines. The music critic couldn’t quite reach the boat, so he was saved from receiving some very nasty cuts. The barb wire is not shown in the above photograph

I asked a waiter if this was normal and he told me that they had to introduce the barbwire some weeks earlier to protect the band! So they had ‘elf an safety, even then . . .

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A tired memory of more than fifty years later, but I have read that it still opens at 11.00 pm each day, but I don’t know if that is true or not.

We sailed the following evening, the cruise was nearly over – three and a half days and we will be in Tilbury. During the homeward trip we arranged a tug of war between the students and the first-class passengers. The students won and later all the officers attended a show put on by the students.
It was a good show and part of the show was a comic sketch about two cadets – both caricatures of myself and another cadet, because we had the most to do with the students.
It went down very well with the other officers and I even recognised some of my own foibles. Do I really walk like that??

This cruise was a short cruise, and we were soon back in  Tilbury Docks (London), at 08.00 am on a Sunday to disembark our passengers. We sailed ’empty’ at 6.00 pm for the Firth of Forth in Scotland to board a Scottish school cruise for the Baltic.