Sunday, 7 September 2014

Valparaiso & Vineyards

Hello again, and apologies for the lengthy Summer break, or  (if you live in the Falkland Islands, as I do) Winter break.    A few issues have conspired against me writing recently - more work as a driving instructor; exceeding our August "megabyte" limit for access to the Internet; and trying to sort the many photographs taken on our recent trip to the UK and South America.
Valparaiso graffiti
To start at the end, we finished up in Valparaiso, a historic port about 90 minutes drive from Chile's capital, Santiago.  Valpo, as it is known to its friends, is very different from the modern, high-rise sprawl that is Santiago.  It sits on ten hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Cable-car with Chilean flag
The hills are very steep and many little cable-cars were built about 150 years ago to make life easier for the residents.  A few funiculars are still operating today and are popular with locals and tourists alike.
Street graffiti
Another noticeable feature of the city is the graffiti - it is everywhere, and artistic!
Apparently, it is also illegal, unless the artist obtains the house-owner's permission. So, many owners ask for graffiti artists to "paint the house".
Painted kennel
Valparaiso is a bit like San Francisco - built on steep hills, with funiculars running up and down them. It overlooks the Pacific Ocean, and is also prone to earthquakes and fires!  However, it grew quickly soon after Chile became a nation, as more and more ships came round Cape Horn, on their way to the California Gold Rush.
The port and docks
Most of its port business and wealth disappeared in 1914, though, when the Panama canal opened, which saved sailors the long, dangerous journey through the Drake Passage!  The lack of money in the city has had the effect of preserving the glorious, but faded, old buildings, rather than replacing them in the name of progress.  About 10 years ago UNESCO declared the old  centre of the port as a World Heritage Site.
Valpo at night.  Hotels on hills have good views....
The city still has trolleybuses, which reminded me of the Transport Museum in Glasgow, which I visited a few months ago.  An open-air museum here!
There is also a connection between Chile and the village of Dundonald, Scotland, where I was holed up in April and May this year, waiting for eye operations.  Imagine my surprise when wandering round in the Chilean Naval Museum to see a picture of Dundonald Castle.  It seems that the Chilean Navy had been founded by Lord Cochrane of  Dundonald in the early 1800s! He even helped liberate Peru!,_10th_Earl_of_Dundonald

What is it?
It is quite an interesting museum and I managed to get into one of its latest exhibits, above.  Can you guess what it is?  It was used at a very famous event a few years ago......It was on the news a lot....!

Answer next time.

On the way to the airport in Santiago, we had to travel through the Casablanca Valley which is full of vineyards, so we called in at a couple.....(we had a driver/guide).
Alpacas keep the weeds down on an organic vineyard
 One vineyard used alpacas to keep the weeds under control, and the wool iss given to the workforce to supplement their income.
Cheese and wine
 The Casablanca valley has a cool climate and virtually no rain, but sea fogs roll in from the coast to moisten the vines.  Crisp Sauvignon Blancs are produced here as well as delicious Pinot Noirs.  A grape variety, Carmenere, is rarely found outside Chile, but produces lovely red wine.

I would encourage you to try some of the produce of Chile.  The Pacific Ocean on the west; the Andes in the East; the Atacama Desert in the North, and Antarctica to the south.  Chile is cut off from the rest of the world, and its isolation helped restock the world's vineyards when the Phylloxera aphids destroyed most of Europe's vines in the 19th century.




  1. Great post, Peter! It makes me wish we had the time to see Valpraiso when we were in Chile. And I think we saw the companion to your mine capsule at a museum in Santa Cruz. :-)

    1. Thanks, Kerry. And congratulations on guessing the mine rescue capsule! Your prize is a bottle of Carmenere...let me know when you want to collect!

  2. Excellent Pete - welcome back!!