Thursday, March 20, 2014

Valparaiso – March 20, 2014 – Third Leg

Today begins the third and last leg of this voyage.  We purchased this voyage as two legs. Fort Lauderdale to Valparaiso then second leg Valparaiso to Los Angeles.  We originally started with a guarantee for both legs, but when a Caribe balcony came available for this leg we jumped at it.  So today consisted of packing up all our stuff and moving it to C238.

Still forward but two decks down and twice the size of balcony and on the port side this time. 

We were told that we could pack up our stuff then either they could move it or we could move it and after relaxing in the Atrium for a bit around 9:30 went up and saw our cabin was available so he moved our stuff himself with no problems.  Of course we are very able bodied and this was no issue for us.  If you require they will gladly move the stuff for you too.  Note we left all stuff on hangers on the hangers and just moved them easily to the new cabin.

Our new steward Ronald introduces himself to us and we ask for the standard, four towels, top sheet and wine glasses.  We don’t have ice but I am guessing that will come tonight.

We were here two years ago too and we did an extensive tour that day so we knew more or less what we wanted to do today.  We grabbed a sweater (it is colder today and overcast but I have a feeling the sun may peak thru later on). 

Once again we are docked at a very industrial port and when you get off the ship you have to board shuttle buses that will take you to the main port building which is about 2 km away.  Again you are going to have to have your bags scanned thru security upon disembarking to make sure you are not bringing any fruits, vegetables or open food.  Chile has a huge agricultural industry and they do not want to risk anything ruining it.  Also make sure you bring your declaration form the ship gave you prior to arriving in Chile.

A lot of construction is happening around the port building but you can make your way out of the building and cross the tracks and walk along the main street called Antonio Varas.  If you turn right you can retrace the route the shuttle took to head back to the main square.  Actually the main square is located right where the ship is but as pedestrians you can not access the square unless you walk back from the port building.  A bit of a pain.  Wish the shuttle buses dropped us off here or picked us up here.

The port building is quite large and has facilities here for renting a car, transportation to Santiago, currency exchange, washrooms, small vendors and of course tours.

For us today we crossed the tracks and went to the Metro Station Baron where we purchased a transit card that you load with money.  We loaded one card with 2,990 Pesos – about $6.00 and that will be enough to get us to Vina del Mar and back. 

It is a short wait for the train and the cars are not crowded at this hour and the ride to the Vina del Mar station is quick (maybe 15 minutes).  You can also stop at the Miramar Station if you want a stop closer to the Casino and beach. 
When we arrive we walk out to the street to Alvares Viana.  

There are many stores here, churches, and hotels.  We stop in a grocery store for some essentials and then walk across the bridge.  Note there are numerous bridges you have to take to cross the canal.  We walk along Av. San Martin and see a Starbucks and grab a latte inside and rest for a bit. 
We continue our walk and pic out a nice restaurant to enjoy lunch.  We stop at La Dolce Vita and take a table at the window. 

The waiter offers us a menu in English but we say no we want to try and figure out the menu in Spanish.  Bernie orders a beer and I order a drink, not sure what it is but heck that is part of the fun and it turned out to be a great drink.  We order a medium pizza of prochuito and mushrooms and it is very very good.  The final bill comes and it is cheap, under $20 for the entire meal. 

After lunch we walk up 8 North Avenue to Avenue Libertad.  We stop at the museum Fonk and take some pictures.  We continue along the Avenue and cross over the bridge and make our way back to the Train Station where we board the train to go back to the port.

We arrive back at Station Baron and we walk into the port building. It is very quiet and we only have to wait a few minutes for the shuttle bus back to the pier.  We are back on board at 4 pm.

I wander about on the open decks to take some pictures so I can help those of you who may visit Valparaiso in the future.  The pier is close to downtown Valparaiso.  The area around the port is a little rough so do pay attention to your valuables, pick pockets have been known to take advantage here.

grocery store is the glass building on the left, square is just to the right of it, the port gate is just in front of grocery store but you have to walk back to it

There is a large grocery store to the left of the port gate (note the gate, not the port building).  The funiculars are all around and are very inexpensive to take and will save you climbing a ton of stairs.  There are some amazing views from up the mountain so do try to head up there. 

Valparaiso has lots of art painted on to the sides of buildings.  For us in North America we may call it graffiti but here it is stunningly beautiful.

Taxis are easily available and a taxi to Vina del Mar is around $8 - $10, make sure you set the price before you get in the car.  There is a bus that can take you to Vina as well it is the number 82, but I personally recommend the train.

If you want to go to Santiago it is around a 2 hour bus ride or a 1.5 car ride each way.  Taxi fares to Santiago will range around $150 - $175.  Princess did have an excursion that will take you to Santiago for the day, it will drop you off and then return you back to the ship. 

Oh I forgot to mention we saw Johan our sweet friend but who we call family.  He has just come back on board after his vacation and he looks rested and I am just so happy to see him.  We look forward to catching up with him.

here you can see where the ship docks, the dotted line is the shuttle route.  The port gate is right near the ship but the port building is where the dotted line ends.

shuttle buses

We have to do Muster drill again cause of Maritime Law, if you are on for 30 days or longer you must attend Muster Drill again.  However the drill has been delayed due to late tours returning and I am guessing it is taking longer to bring on all the supplies.

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