We were internetting in the bedroom yesterday at the end of a busy day when the room seemed to start moving around. Val apparently thought I must have found a “special” switch for the bed, but I hadn’t! I felt the wall – yes, definitely moving. I peered out the window – no sign of anything unusual down in the docks. But I thought I saw more than one other pair of curtains twitch from other hotel rooms, so we weren’t alone in wondering what was happening.
The Hotel Ibis is located above the metro terminus (with a car park sandwiched into the third floor), so I wondered if it might be something to do with the train. I went down to reception, people checking in as usual. But I asked one of the staff, was that an earthquake? Yes! Happens frequently, they just get used to them. I said it was my first earthquake – “Congratulations!” she said…
Having googled it, I think it was 6.5 on the Richter scale (which is quite big), and we’ve had a couple of people contact us about it, apparently it even made the news in the UK. Think I felt another smaller one this morning.
We had a nice drive to Valparaiso through the Casablanca valley. We got a personal tour of the William Cole winery (very interesting, a bit bigger than Denbies!), apparently Morrisons is their biggest customer. Val especially enjoyed the wine tasting as she had to drink up most of my wine seeing as I was driving. Then we stopped at the Del Bosque winery for an excellent lunch before heading for Valpo.
We did a walking tour of part of Valpo the next morning (Tours4Tips, they wear “where’s Wally” red and white striped t-shirts). Unfortunately civil servants are on strike so the funiculars aren’t working (it’s an incredibly hilly city, many of the hills are a community in themselves with their own funicular to get there), and the trolley buses weren’t going because it was a public holiday, so there was more walking than they usually include. Valpo was once a very rich port city, but the opening of the Panama canal massively reduced their trade, and it’s never really recovered. A lot of decaying grandeur, the whole city is a World Heritage Site. Then we took the metro (which is not underground) along the seafront to Vina del Mar, a wealthy resort town, quite a contrast to Valpo. And back in time to take a taxi up to do a tour of Pablo Neruda’s house (a Nobel prize winning poet and national hero, he was incredibly famous here) – stunning views over the city, and a very interesting audio tour in English.
Today is sunny (unlike the last couple of days), we checked out and drove up the coast. It’s a four day bank holiday weeked apparently, so the little coastal towns were packed. There are no signs at all telling you which town you are in, but Val did a pretty good job of keeping tabs on our progress. We had lunch overlooking the sea (very windy, big rollers), and have now headed for the Holiday Inn Santiago airport. The pool here is even warm enough for me to go in.
Our flight to Punta Arenas leaves at 7.45am. We have nothing booked for the next ten days or so, which is a bit scary.
I had been thinking of doing a 4 night cruise to Cape Horn, but I’d have needed a millpond forecast for that, whereas the forecast is for gales, so I think that’s off the agenda. We’ll work something out…