For a change of pace, we decided to take a cruise for 2 weeks during the Christmas holidays that started in Santiago (Valparaiso),Chile and sailed down around Cape Horn and up to Rio de Janiero. We would get to see Chile, Argentina, Falkland Islands, Uruguay and Brazil.
After spending 19 hours on planes and in airports we arrived in Santiago. I had arranged for Cristian from Patatour Chile to meet us at the airport. Upon introductions, we discovered that he had learned English as a Mormon missionary. What a small world! We had about 4 hours before we had to board our Princess Cruise so he introduced us to our driver, Juan and off we went. So much of the countryside between Santiago and Valparaiso looks just like where I grew up in the Sonoma Valley in California with it's rolling hills, vineyards and olive orchards.
Then it was off to one of the homes of Nobel Prize winning poet Pablo Neruda. Ski is a fan of his work. His house in Valparaiso is an interesting architectural piece with small rooms stacked on top of each other. He has an incredible collection of art and artifacts from around the world including quite a few stained glass windows and doors. We were not allowed to take photos inside, which was a bummer.
By now we were ready for some local cuisine. Cristian had been telling us about their meal times and what they eat including about the local bread they have for their afternoon meal served with Pebre a Chilean salsa type dish. We wanted to try that and Ski really wanted some Ceviche which is raw fish marinaded in citrus juices. He had gotten hooked on that when he was in Bolivia in November. We went to a darling little cafe called El Peral, not far from Neruda's house in the foothills overlooking the harbor. Spencer and I had some fabulous risotto with mushrooms, a salad with deep fried cheese and the dessert, a fruit puree over berry cake, which was equally delicious.
After lunch we headed to some local art galleries nearby. One of them had a lovely back porch that overlooked the colorful houses above the port. While wandering back down towards the ship I had to stop every block or so to take some photos of the street art. One thing Valparaiso does not lack is color!
Oh, one other thing we did was stop at a flea market. I found 2 old Russian alarm clocks. Ha! Had to go to South America to get my Russian antiques. I also bought a spanish book with a very cool cover. I could have bought more but with 4 people following me around I felt the clock (no pun intended) was ticking.
If I could have brought this house sculpture home with me I would have. It was so cool.
We were pretty tired when Cristian dropped us off at the ship. I was looking forward to laying down for awhile. Since we were boarding 3 hours after the boarding had started, there were no lines. I recommend this for anyone going on a cruise especially if you are leaving from an interesting port. Spend time sightseeing first and board as late as possible. That way you avoid all the lines and your stateroom is ready for you when you arrive.
Our first night onboard we opted for the buffet since none of us wanted to dress up. After a game of shuffleboard, a pretty pathetic round of HORSE on the basketball court (you have to make some pretty big adjustments for a moving ship...that's my excuse anyway) and an attempt to work on the community puzzle we sank into bed and were rocked to sleep by the gentle waves.