20140108

OK, so why Punta Arenas, Chile, of all places? Sun, Dec 22, 2013



A few days after Jimmy and I booked the 17-day cruise from Los Angeles to Santiago (last October), it came to my mind that we should stick around Santiago a few days and explore the city, rather than fly home as soon as we stepped off the boat. We began checking online for places to stay and researched a flight back to LA closer to Christmas.  We called COPA Airlines and made a reservation for the flight back to LA.  All was good.

But... then I got to thinking (burning those brain cells), that as long as we were that far south (in Chile), why not go all the way to the bottom?  We'd probably never get that way again.  Jimmy raised his eyebrows, but I could see the gleam in his eyes!  Logistics, with Christmas smack in the middle, kind of got in the way, but we worked everything out.  We booked round-trip flights with LAN to Punta Arenas, "sandy point," the largest southernmost city in the world.  Had we ever, ever thought to visit South America, much less intentionally spend days at the tip of South America -- Punta Arenas, Chile?  Nope.  Never.  How-some-ever, we are getting wild and crazy "in our old age," and apparently willing to rocket out of our American comfort zone!!!

More online searching got us apartment-hotels in both Santiago and Punta Arenas, five nights each city.  We chose these rather than hotels for a couple of reasons:  Cost (more affordable) and kitchenettes.  Also they seemed homier, less distant, maybe.  We were on our own here, no organized tour or tour guides.  Just me and Jimmy Out and About on a South American adventure.  Our home for the next five days was ApartHotel Quillango, right in the heart of the historic district.  


Sunday, our first full day in PA, we set off on foot, as usual. Right away we discovered this gorgeous José Nogueira Mansion, one of the oldest buildings in the entire Patagonia. It was built in 1890 by José Nogueira and his wife Sara Braun. Nogueira, a Portuguese sailor, was one of Patagonia's most successful pioneers. It's now a luxury hotel with a glassed-in dining room.


A few blocks from our "home," was Plaza de Armas (main square).  Trees were in full yellow bloom.  Vendors selling handicrafts dotted the sidelines.  I bought a gray fluffy cowl thingee to keep my neck warm and pull over my nose and cheeks when that cold wind bit at my rosacea-prone face.  A cruise boat called Oceania (?) was in port and we spoke to a couple from the ship walking near the plaza.  They'd been scheduled to take the tour boat (w/ Solo Expediciones) to Islas Madgalena & Marta to see the penguins today, but the trip was called off due to wind.  We have reservations for tomorrow w/ the same company for the same penguin island excursion.  Hmmm.... 


In the center of Plaza de Armas is the Hernando Magellan monument... complete with obligatory guard dog!


We were never very far from the Straight of Magellan.  These old channel markers (buoys) were part of the miles-long Seaside Walkway park along the water.


Black and white, right?  At first glance (sans binocs) we thought:  penguins!  No, of course not - these are Imperial Cormorants...


...lots of Imperial Cormorants.


Cement benches and tables (some with chessboards) are scattered along their Seaside Walkway.
Hard on the keister!


We HAD to test this Antarctic water to see how cold it is.  Cold.  


We picked up a few pieces of sea glass, and I found a one-peso coin. 


Beautiful day to be Out and About walking along the Straight of Magellan. 


This ambitious statue signifying discovery was outstanding.


All part of the Seaside Walkway.


Looking toward Tierra del Feugo and beyond (Antarctica!)


Along the way we discovered this area of activity.  People exercising to music (feel the beat!), a bike road race was just finishing, kids learning tae-kwando (or something like it).  Very energetic and fun!


Plus tables set up for this board game.  What is it?


Mostly petrels, with some gulls mixed in.


We are nearly at the end of the world!  Pretty danged close to Antarctica!

We stopped at a grocery store (UniMarc) a couple of blocks from our place and stocked up on instant coffee, breakfast bread, bananas, raviolis for supper, etc.  By the time we returned home, we'd put quite a few miles on our feet and we were ready to park it, turn on the TV (uh-oh, all in Spanish, except for BBC, never mind), use their excellent free Wifi, and plan for tomorrow's excursion.  We have to show up at Solo Expediciones at 7 am.  Hope the wind isn't too bad, so we can get to the islands.  What a grand day this has been!

2 comments:

  1. I'm glad you chose to be wild and crazy, so I could follow along. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ditto what Judy said!

    ReplyDelete

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