Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Day 32 ~ Santiago (Valparaiso), Chile~3/3/09 & begining of Leg 3

The alarm went off way to early this morning. We had breakfast in the Lido & then headed off the ship at 8am to deck #1 ~ where they said the wheelchairs and scooters could get off ~ Not!

Ruth sat on her scooter at the top of the ramp for over 15 min waiting for Carnival staff to bring a lip for the ramp . . . Again ~ Not!

So I finally went back up to the top of the ramp and told Ruth to stand up and have them assist her up the mega first step onto the ramp and then have them lift her scooter up on the ramp and once there ~ she could get back on and navigate the ramp on her own.

While she had been waiting at the top of the ramp I had already arranged for a w/c van with a real w/c ramp & it was now sitting at the bottom of the patiently waiting for Ruth ~ to take us to the terminal because there was no way she could climb into Valparaiso’s shuttle buses with 5 steps straight up waiting for all walking passengers.

Our Ship is docked in a huge cargo port and no one was allowed to walk anywhere except on and off the ship.

The shuttle ride took about 10 minutes. Our tour group had all gone ahead of us – Jean, Jeanette, Shirley, Annie & Allan and were waiting for us.
We arrived at = 830am.

In the terminal there are the following services available ~ telephones (Chile has *$5 dollar phone cards), internet, coffee shop, taxi office, money exchange, gift shops & most important Nice, clean bathrooms ~ including a large accessible bathroom.

It took us about 10 more minutes to find our tour guide & driver amongst the 100 or so tour buses, taxi’s & vans plus a myriad of guides waving signs looking for their people.

However, once we boarded our taxi van ~ we were off = 845 am to explore Valparaiso & Vina Del Mar.

Founded in 1536, Valparaíso is Chile's oldest port city recently declared a World Heritage by UNESCO. Prior to the construction of the Panama Canal (1914), the port of Valparaiso was the most important in the South Pacifica as ships from around the world called here once they crossed Cape Horn or the Strait of Magellan.

Valparaiso consists of two completely different areas, the lower area (next to port) is known as the El Plan, and the upper level is a place of Mass dwellings and known as El Plan Alto.

Our tour explored a labyrinth of streets that stretch over many tiered hillsides facing the bay and we rode on one of many “Anscensor’s” antique funicular’s (wooden cable car elevators) used to transport the resident’s “Portefeios”& tourist up and down very, very steep hills past numerous steep & winding roads.

We saw imaginative architecture and bright colors of the centenarian homes built by the first Europeans to settle here.

Breathtaking views and a panoramic lookout point of the Pacific Ocean awaited us at the “21 de Mayo” promenade.

We visited La Matriz church, “Plaza Sotomayor” with its impressive Naval Heroes Monument & the Ex Governors Palace, and the Justice Tribunal building.

En-route we passed Plaza Victoria, the National Congress building and the Santa Maria University.

Contrasting the aged elegance of Valparaiso I the “Garden City” of Vina del Mar. Vina del Mar is renowned for its beautiful avenues lined with immense old trees, well kept parks, popular resorts,, long shady beaches and holiday fun.

Upon arrival to the city we saw the Vina “Flower Clock”, impressive Presidential Palace, Brunet and Wulff Castles, and the posh Vina del Mar Casino & luxury Hotel.

In Vina Del Mar ~ Jean, Jeanette, Annie, Allan & Shirley got out of the van in a busy shopping area and were given exactly 30 min to look around while Ruth & I, the driver &our tour guide continued to explore the nuances of Vina del Mar.

For those of you interested in using this tour service when you are next here ~

SouthExcursions ~
Ingeborg Zahn
Tel: 032-269-1612
Cell: 09-967-49729

Our tour guide & driver brought us back to a very busy Valparaiso terminal = 130pm. There were many people dragging suitcases behind them and only one very busy line winding its way thru the terminal for new passengers with their sail and sign cards in hand & back to back passengers to wait for & get on a free shuttle to the ship.

Once outside ~ the same handicapped van Ruth & I had used before was parked to our right loading another couple with a scooter so we headed over to it & asked if we could join and rode back to the ship with them.

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