Cruise Days 18 and 20 – Puerto Montt, Chile

Cruise Day 18 we docked in Valparaiso. This is where the first cruise we booked ended and the second was to begin. Originally we were supposed to get off the boat and go through the whole standing in line process to get back on board, but Norwegian thankfully decided we could have our cabin attendants move our luggage to the new cabin and all we had to do was go to Guest Services to obtain our new key card. I say thankfully, because I was wrung out sick and just wanted to get back in bed.

Cruise Day 19 was a sea day and I needed it to recuperate as we had tours booked for day 20 and 21.  By the time we docked in Puerto Montt I was feeling much better. Not great, but okay enough to go on a tour.

I had really been looking forward to Puerto Montt for it’s beautiful landscape. It is the gateway to Chile’s lake district – a land of volcanoes, fjords, lush green hills, and with a distinctive German influence.

Our tour included the highlights of Puerto Montt, capital of the Lake District, and the nearby towns of Puerto Varas and Frutillar. The latter two towns are located on Lake Llanquihue, the third largest lake in Chile.

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Puerto Varas is the wealthiest town in Chile, where many of the elite come to vacation or have second homes. I should have taken a picture of the market place we went to for all the colorful knitted products. The knitted and crocheted capes are to die for! I bought one made of Alpaca yarn in Arica and now wished I had bought more.

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Drive by shot from the bus of the main church in Puerto Varas

 

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Fruitillar, a charming village founded in 1856 by German settlers and noted for its Alpine and traditional German style architecture is where my camera got more of a workout.

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Beautiful grounds of the German museum

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German museum

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Lake Theater in Frutillar has eye catching wood siding in various colors

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The setting of this little village on the lake is magnificent. The Osorno Volcano is often compared to Mt. Fuji for it’s perfect symmetry.

Sorry to be whipping through these posts so quickly, but I am so far behind and can only write when in port. The ships’ internet is too slow to do much of anything. It seem like forever, but this cruise is still ongoing and tomorrow is a sea day again.

Cruise Day 15 and 17 – Arica and Coquimbo, Chile

Arica, known as the “City of Eternal Spring” is located at the edge of the Atacama Desert, the driest desert on earth and is in the very northern part of Chile near Peru and Bolivia.

The Atacama border dispute between the three countries in the late 1800’s resulted in Chile acquiring all of Bolivia’s coast and the southern tip of Peru.  The end of the dispute a treaty was drawn whereby Chile kept the territory and coastline it won but gave Bolivia free access to the port in Arica, explaining what seemed to be an oversized port for the size of the town. The port is so large that shuttle busses transported ship passengers to the front gate that is located in the city center.

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This downtown park is directly across the street from the gate to the port. The rock is called El Morro and people walk or drive up to see the views. $5 US taxi each way.  

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Arica has a pedestrian shopping street that is pretty long. The far end has a city wifi zone but so far our T-Mobile has worked very well each place we have been.

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There were festivities in several locations for children with dress up parades and dancing.

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Newspaper and magazine stands are prominent in every downtown in S. America

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We normally look in the churches of every town but this one was under renovation and we couldn’t figure out where to get in. We also didn’t try very hard.

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On the other side of El Morro are beaches for swimming. We walked as far as the first one and when Steve said we had walked about 5 miles already I decided to return to the boat. I have had Plantar Fascitis in one heel since July and a day of walking means pain that night with the intensity depending on how much I walked. Five miles will be and was a killer.

 

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Leaving Arica, the 3G signal was so strong from the antennas on top of El Morro that I was able to text with my daughter for at least an hour as the ship headed south along the coast.

Day 17 – Coquimbo

Coquimbo was another town right off the ship where no transportation was required. Normally, if we decide to take a tour through the ship, we go to the lobby the night before and book it. No planning ahead for us! There were several to choose from that interested us but I was beginning to not feel too good so we just walked off the ship for a quick look around.

Coquimbo is the port city for La Serena, one of Chile’s regional capitals. As such, Coquimbo doesn’t have much going for it other than nice views of the bay.

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Singer on the town square

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La Serena in the background

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This pirate posed for tips and $1 was fine with him. The ship’s photographers take pictures every time we get off the boat and they want $15 for a picture.

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This is the hall we passed through getting on and off the ship. Coquimbo provided free internet here and the dancers. Some employees from the tourist bureau  asked us to complete a survey so they could improve their tourism structure. (Licensed, english speaking tour guides at the port could help them a lot). Norwegian charges mucho $$$$ for tours. $59 is the least expensive in the north and as we go farther south we are looking at more like $125 and up for each of us. 

That evening I got the gut wrenching, twisting, agonizing stomach pain that, to me at least, signaled food poisoning.

Cruise Day 13 – Lima, Peru

We took a tour in Costa Rica but unfortunately it was not very good and not as described so I am not going to write about it.  The port is in an area where it is pretty much required to take a tour to see anything and we just chose the wrong one. That means we will have to fly down some day and check out what we missed.

In between Costa Rica and Lima, we stopped at Salaverry Port near Trujillo City. We didn’t get off the ship so nothing to write home about from there either.

The tour in Lima made up for not seeing much at the last two stops.The ship docked in Callao, about 10 miles from Lima but really the two cities just blend together and have a combined population of about 10 million. There is so very much to see here that I wished we could have had several days. It is also the place where those passengers going to Machu Picchu began their 3 day journey with a flight to Cusco before rejoining the ship three days later in Arica, Chile.

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Along the way to the city center we passed an area with buildings built in a French architecture style

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Many of the buildings have been neglected for years and very slowly, the city is restoring them one by one.

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The bus stopped in the Plaza Mayor, also known as Plaza de Armas of Lima, a world heritage UNESCO site and let us off for a walking tour.

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Construction of The Basilica Cathedral of Lima began in 1535

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Someone asked our Peruvian guide if people could get married in this cathedral. He said yes but you have to be very important and that the last wedding here was 9 years ago between a Peruvian singer and an ostrich model. Oopla! He meant to say Austrian model.

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There are 14 separate chapels along the sides of the pews. 

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Each one was more ornate than the last. I could show you pictures all day long of this cathedral it is so fantastic. 

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The first chapel on the right as we entered is the burial chapel of the city’s founder, Francisco Pizarro. The walls and floor of this entire chapel is done in a Venetian mosaics style. In other words, the murals you see here were not painted, they are made of little squares of tile.

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Here you can see a close up of the tiles in Pizarro’s chapel.

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Next, we walked across the plaza to the Palacio del Gobierno (Presidential Palace) and luckily for us it was noon and the changing of the guard. This meant a military band and nicely uniformed soldiers. 

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This is a popular event and all I could do was zoom my camera in and then crop, crop, crop.

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I don’t know what this was called but we walked through here to get to the 17th century Monastery of San Francisco.

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A courtyard at the monastery designed in the Moorish style

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Beautiful tiles on the walls

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The bus picked us up at the convent and this smiling little lady was motioning me through the window to buy whatever it was she had in her hand.

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Now we are on our way to Miraflores, an upscale residential and shopping district south of downtown.

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Miraflores is newer and more modern than the rest of the city

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El Beso (the kiss) is a famous statue in the Love Park along the ocean. Our guide said there are contests here to find out who can kiss the longest.

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La Rosa Nautica restaurant on a pier

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Lima has some beautiful areas but most of it looks like this

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And this….getting close to the port.  Not that bad really, compared to Mexico. 

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Leaving for Arica, Chile

Cruise Day 7 – Guatemala

It is actually day 12 but I need to catch up the rear if possible. We have had several days at sea and our last port had no signal at all. Today we have 3G in Lima so will see how this goes.

We opted for a bus ride to Antigua so that we could walk around town on our own and not be restricted to what a tour guide would show us. I’m sure we missed some things that way but that’s okay. It was a 90 minute drive from the port and we climbed to an elevation of 5,000 feet, all the while with a view of volcanos out the front of the bus. The one named Fuego is active and would spit smoke and ash regularly throughout the day. These volcanos make for a dramatic backdrop to Antigua.

On the way we passed many small coffee farms and our excellent tour guide told us quite a bit about them. He explained that coffee growers only want women to plant the little trees and also to make the grafts that have to be done to each and every tree. The reason? Women are more careful, have small hands, and they have a different PH balance than men. I first thought the guide was joking but he wasn’t. He said that if a woman grafts the coffee tree the success rate is 95% but if a man does the success rate is only 45%.

We passed by a large shop that modifies the US yellow school busses into the very colorful city and rural busses for the people of Guatemala. I don’t know about the rest of Guatemala but in Antigua these busses are decked out to the max with lots of very shiny chrome, designer mud flaps, and a more professional looking paint job. The guide explained that many men haven’t gone to school and can’t read or write, therefore the wildly painted busses have a purpose. Based on their design, the illiterate men know where the bus is going. Most women have gone to school but in poor families, the boys are kept home to work in the fields.

Antigua is a small city founded in the early 16th century and was formerly the Spanish colonial capital of Latin America. It is a world heritage site and has a vibrant culture. The streets are all an uneven cobblestone so we had to be extra careful walking. Antigua is a fascinating city and a few hours was not nearly enough to take it all in. Every single building is worthy of several pictures. Almost every building has a massive front door that stays open to show off a lushly landscaped courtyard. Add all the beautiful architecture to beautiful and gentle people, and it is one of the top places we have ever been to.

Now hopefully I can get some pictures to upload:

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Volcano Fuego

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Iglesia La Merced

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Couldn’t leave without trying some Guatemalan coffee and  yes it is delish!

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Antigua, like all Latin American cities, has a large plaza in the town center

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Not a very good picture but you get the idea

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We found a restaurant whose menu looked appealing. The waiter sent us up a narrow spiral staircase to a rooftop patio and this is the view we had from our table of the Ruins of Antigua. It doesn’t get any better!

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