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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