South America Part VIII - Valparaiso, Chile

The next two installments will be rather short. They might have been combined; however, the photos for each are so wonderful that each begs to be shown. Valparaiso, northwest of the capital city Santiago, occupies a narrow horseshoe terrace with a wonderful harbor. The forts around the area played a significant part in Chile’s naval history. The city itself grew in a meandering sloppy way that tends to overwhelm the visitor at first sight. It is this piling of house atop houses though that creates a marvelous den of staircases and twisting streets that could delight the visitor for days.

Photo #1 shows Sander at the top of one of the hills and looking down at the Ascensor Artilleria. There are 14 of these funiculars around the city charging the equivalent of 25 cents. Considering the steepness of the hills this always seemed a bargain when going up. At the top we would find a way to climb down the hill sometimes getting a little lost in the bargain. At the top of Ascensor Artilleria we visited the naval museum, surprisingly well done compared to the others we had visited to that time. There was a room devoted to those sailors who have rounded Cape Horn, a topic that especially interested us.

The blue house (Photo #2) is a bed and breakfast with a marvelous view of the harbor. You can see the concrete walls that were built beneath the house in order to shore up the hill. The last photo also gives you an idea of the great houses that can be seen in the city.

While in Valparaiso we had hoped to find a good flight rate to head even further south to Puerto Montt and the fjords of Patagonia. We had read about the ferry trips that could be had through the fjords to see the glaciers and other sites. Because we do not plan to take Satori this far south, we were keen to find passage on one of the ferries.

The flight rates were not in our budget and the ferry trips through the tour agencies were all-inclusive of travel and lodging. OK, we would take a bus and take our chances to find bookings when we arrived in Puerto Montt.

The overnight bus left from Santiago at 9 PM bringing us to Puerto Montt about 9 AM. There were gray skies and intermittent rain showers and it was COLD again. We were bitterly disappointed to find that a ferry ride on the fjords would be impossible unless we were willing to spend two weeks in Puerto Montt to wait for an opening. In this cold, No Thanks!

We were, however, ready with Plan B, a combination bus and ferry trip across the lake region back into Argentina. The trip would take an entire day and was not inexpensive. What the heck, we had come this far and would treat ourselves to seeing some of the really beautiful scenery that the area had to offer. During lunch that day the city experienced a hailstorm and the afternoon did not bring any relief to the gray skies and cold winds. Would we regret the fact that we were to spend the next day on the lakes?