South American Adventure Part 13: Day 22

Day 22 – Saturday, February 18th– Return to the U.S.A.
Dinner was served soon after the delayed departure, and Allan and I both enjoyed the potato soup (accompanied by potato chips made from Chiloe Island potatoes – we sailed past this island for the Puerto Montt stop), and a good piece of beef accompanied by grilled peppers and some sort of Peruvian side-dish. The chocolate dessert was surprisingly unsatisfying.
“Fasten your seatbelts: it’s going to be a bumpy night.” would have been accurate words to describe the flight from Santiago to Los Angeles. The region around the equator seemed particularly rough, and even though we were sleeping in our flat-bed seats, the seatbelts were firmly cinched over our comforters.
I think I slept for about half of the 10.5 hour flight, which wasn’t bad. Better still, the chatty man across the aisle slept for most of the flight: I think he and his wife skipped both dinner and breakfast, which enabled longer sleep. So, it was very quiet…except for the t…

South American Adventure Part 12: Day 21

South American Adventure Part 12
Day 21 – Friday, February 17th – Santiago, Chile

(This entry written by Allan)
Today we started our day as we had the previous day – with breakfast by the pool. The sky was clear and the air was slightly chill but that didn’t matter. We knew it would be warming up later in the day and Steve and I both were smart and wore shorts instead of the jeans we wore Thursday. Once again we had a walking tour lined up that started at 10:00AM and we were to meet in front of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. We walked across the river shortly after 9:00 and went in to the Metro station to catch the Red line. The subway here is easily navigable and I never felt bewildered or lost. For the most part the signage was good and we found our way quickly in the system. After one change of trains to the Blue line at Baquedano Station, we came out into the bright morning sunshine and cooler air at the Bellas Artes Station.  There were two beautiful enormous murals on the wa…

South American Adventure Part 11: Day 20

Day 20 – Thursday, February 16th– Santiago, Chile
We awoke to a beautiful morning, the sunbeams streaming over the Andes mountains across the valley. 

A good night’s sleep helped everyone, which made the mood for breakfast rather jolly. The Sheraton offered an expansive pool-side breakfast, with American-style food (scrambled eggs, pancakes, bacon, etc.) and European-style food (sliced meats and cheeses). They also had several self-serve machines to make espresso drinks (lattes and their ilk). And one large container of regular, hot coffee. (This recalled a story that our guide Claudio told us a few days ago in the Lake District: Chileans like NescafĂ©, which he said really means “no es cafĂ©” or “this is not coffee”).
Mike had done some research on walking tours offered in Santiago (there are several) and we had to meet the Free Tour Santiago guide in front of the Cathedral at the Plaza de Armas at 10:00AM. Thanks to my reconnaissance work the prior night, we walked down to the Metro, got…

South American Adventure Part 10: Day 19

Day 19 – Wednesday, February 15th– Valparaiso & Santiago, Chile
At last, the final day of the cruise had arrived. We were docked at the same cargo pier that the Star Princess was in March 2010. The weather was beautiful, and it was nice to see the funiculars still operating in the port city of Valparaiso, which climbs the hills surrounding the port like San Francisco (albeit without a large downtown area).
While we were supposed to evacuate our cabins by 8:00AM, Mike and Chuck arranged with their stateroom attendant to keep theirs later. We ditched our bags in their room and made our way downstairs for one last breakfast in the Botticelli Dining Room. Allan suggested that we give my Valentine’s Day roses to Cary, the sweet Peruvian hostess who greeted us every morning. She was delighted. We also got a chance to say our goodbyes to our favorite wait staff, like Alex, Allan, and John (who waited on us for breakfast).
This port required buses to transport passengers to the cruise termi…

South American Adventure Part 9: Days 17 & 18

Day 17 – Monday, February 13th– Aboard the Crown Princess – Puerto Montt, Chile
We awoke to glorious sunshine and warmer temperatures as the Crown Princess was at anchor in the bay of Puerto Montt, the third-largest city in Chile. Puerto Montt lies at the northernmost end of Reloncavi Sound, and is the gateway to Chile’s famous Lake District (Los Lagos). The first thing I noticed (apart from the bustling modern town) was a large, lighted cross atop a nearby hill. Not only was it noticeable for its size and location, but also because the outline changed into a veritable rainbow of colors. We were later to find out that this hill is where Pope John Paul II spoke to the masses, and in commemoration they erected the Disco Cross.
Since we had a private tour booked that was scheduled to start at 9:00AM, and this was yet another tender port, Mike went down at 6:15 to get our tender tickets. But the staff were suddenly following policy and he only got one. By the time Allan and I dragged oursel…