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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Windy Wellington

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The sun is behind us as it chases us in to Wellington Harbour.

dsc07883rWe are aiming for the gap.

We were fortunate in Wellington because an old friend from my Conway days lives in Wellington and he had ‘volunteered’ to show us around. We’d both joined Conway on the same day, and had been in the same class, and we’d kept on touch since leaving Conway 1962.

Because private cars are not allowed on the wharf we used the ship’s shuttle in to the centre of Wellington, where we met my mate.

We considered using the cable car to the lookout, but decided to drive for convenience later in the morning.

300px-wellington_nz-cablecar-topviewPicture from the internet.

dsc07887rIt was an interesting place because the terminus for the cable car was also a museum.

dsc07889rThey had old railcars on display where the passenger sat on the outside (as well as the inside) – health and safety hadn’t been invented.

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The above is a photograph of a photograph showing passenger of yesteryear. I didn’t see any lap straps, but in those times one was expected to look after oneself and not expect the State to do it for you.

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Old St Paul’s the original wooden protestant cathedral, built in 1866. It is one the best examples of timber gothic revival churches in the world. When the new cathedral was built in 1964 this church ceased to be a regular place of worship, but still remains a consecrated church. The steeple is ‘stunted’ due to the high winds that Wellington has to suffer.

dsc07900rMaureen & our guide. Note the flags, which belong to the Royal Navy, the New Zealand Merchant Navy and the US Marines (second division), which were all stationed in Wellington during WW2.

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The inside had a very calming feel. There were some people siting quiet praying.

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I’m not big in to stained glass windows, but did like this one.

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For my Welsh readers you’ll be pleased to know that the slate on the roof of the church is Welsh slate – the church was re-slated with Welsh slate in 1924.

dsc07906rNew Zealand Parliament House- the building on the left is known locally as The Beehive. It houses the offices of the PM and various ministers as well as support staff.

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Between the two buildings (the Beehive and the Parliament Building) there is a tunnel, which allows the  ‘wets’ and the ‘dries’ to remain dry when they have to vote. OK, so it is a bad pun . . . if you’ve not heard about the ‘wets’ and the ‘dries’ look them up under British politics.

DSC07908r.jpgParliamentary Library – to the left of this building is the Parliament Building and further left the Beehive.

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Another lookout point, Mount Victoria.

dsc07915rand this is a Wellington summer . . . .at least I was able to wear shorts . . .

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This year was my first visit to Wellington in 49 years.
I was third mate in the Juna (7,583 gt) in 1968 and we were alongside the wharf in Wellington on the 10th April, 1968.

On this day Wellington was hit by the worst storm since settlement in the early 1800’s.

The winds reached between 100 and 150 kts (185 to 280 kms / hr) and we on the Juna, had every rope that we had out to keep us alongside the wharf.
Around 6.00 am the ferry from Lyttelton to Wellington, the Wahine began to enter the harbor.

wahineWahine, just under 9,000gt

The Wahine had past the light house and had entered the harbout before being struck by the storm, which had become a cyclone. For a more detailed report may I suggest this site.

The Wahine lost steering and struck rocks, after which the captain ordered his passengers and crew to abandon ship. Some the lifeboats could not be used due to the list.

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Some of the passengers made it close to shore on rafts and the waves dashed them against the rocks, and many were killed so close to the shore. In all there were 744 people on board, but 51 died as a result of the ship foundering.

police-012Some of the lucky ones were helped by local people and the police.

I’ve used the above from news items of the day – if anyone wishes to know more and watch the troubled vessel check this link  Wahine it is a ten minute news film of the ship in distress, and of some of those rescued.  New Zealand history site for quick overview.

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Even on a quiet day it looks dangerous.

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The same area on a calm summer’s day when we visited the scene.

On a happier not we had lunch at the Chocolate Fish  . . .apparently chocolate fish is the name of a local chocolate bar.

dsc07925rI had the fish, which was very nice, and it didn’t taste of chocolate.

dsc07922rAs we left the restaurant I saw two ships alongside – ours was the one on the left and the one on the right was – The World  – this is the closest that I will ever get to seeing The World.

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As we arrived back to the Dawn Princess we had to pass The World.

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I did like, what I think they are, spa baths on the balcony of The World, remind me to e-mail Princess Cruises . . . .