Chile – Day 4 – Valparaiso & Vin Del Mar

Today we decided to sleep in a bit until 8am. We ended up having a buffet breakfast down in the lobby of the hotel since it was only $9 and included coffee. After breakfast we got ready and started walking along the waterfront to Vin Del Mar. The waterfront was very relaxing and was a mix of a modern reconstructed boardwalk and old decaying train depot buildings with abandoned trains along the side. We noticed a ton of homeless dogs and with a quick Google search we determined that there are an estimated 2.5 million stray dogs in Chile and the canine population is growing faster than the human population. A sobering statistics is that with 17 million Chilean’s; the canine population is slated to surpass the human population in as soon as 6-10 years. Something needs to be done about this.

Half way to Vina Del Mar we came to Portales, where there was a small beach with some food booths setup. We were not quite yet hungry so we decided that we would come back here later on. At this point in time it would have been nice to walk along the waterfront more but I had drank way too much water and needed to find a bathroom.

2019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 012019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 022019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 032019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 052019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 092019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 102019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 132019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 142019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 152019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 162019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 172019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 192019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 21

We boarded the train to Vina Del Mar and found a Starbucks to go to the bathroom and we ordered some Frappuccino’s. Catherine had Java Chip Frappuccino and I had a half sweet Cookies & Cream Frappuccino. I was starting to run low on money so we stopped in at the bank and picked up some more money before continuing our walk along the waterfront. The beach in Vin Del Mar was very beautiful and packed full of people, including some people fishing from the boardwalk. After walking along the beach we explored the city of Vina del Mar. We saw a flower clock that had real moving hands, a magician that appeared to be floating, a castle, and an old Palace.

2019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 222019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 232019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 242019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 252019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 272019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 282019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 292019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 302019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 312019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 322019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 332019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 362019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 372019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 382019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 392019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 402019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 422019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 432019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 452019-01-29 Vin Del Mar 46

After exploring Vina Del Mar we took the train back to Portales, where we both got delicious freshly made empanadas for only $4 each, which is about double the going rate they were in Santiago, but this is more of a touristy area. I had pulled beef, chorizo, mushrooms and cheese; while Catherine had chicken, mushrooms and cheese. After eating our food we took the train back to the hotel, where we relaxed for a few hours before venturing out back into the cerro’s of Valparaiso.

We head back out at 6:00pm to explore the cerro of Artilleria. This was definitely one of the more dodgy areas of town and has a rating of “orange” on the scale of neighbor safety. The scale includes the colours from Red, Orange, Yellow and Green; with red being the least safe to green being the safest. I’m glad we visited it though because it was quite the unique community with beautiful views of the port and entire city, as well as some unique art. While we were up in the community we met this family that was visiting from Montreal. The dad was originally from Valparaiso and moved away when he was only 12 years old. This was his first time visiting since he moved away. He told us that practically nothing has changed since he was a child, but they were trying to do a better job of preserving some buildings and the funiculars.

2019-01-29 Valparaiso 012019-01-29 Valparaiso 072019-01-29 Valparaiso 102019-01-29 Valparaiso 112019-01-29 Valparaiso 122019-01-29 Valparaiso 132019-01-29 Valparaiso 142019-01-29 Valparaiso 152019-01-29 Valparaiso 17

Chile – Day 3 – Valparaiso

Today we woke up at 7:30am. We packed our bags while waiting for the cafe’s around us to open. Most of the cafe’s don’t open until 8-8:30am. We decided to go to a coffee shop called Coffee & Me. C had a cappuccino and I had an Americano. The food at this cafe was very expensive so we decided to get food elsewhere. Across the street from Coffee & Me was a NesCafe branded coffee shop were we both go panini’s for $4 and some more beverages before heading back to the hotel. C had a Chai Tea Latte and I had another Americano. As you can tell I don’t really like sweet beverages very often.

We told the hotel that we were checking out a day early because we were going to head to Valparaiso. After checking out of the hotel we made our way to the Red Metro line right below our hotel and took it all the way to the other end of the line and got off at Pajaritos station.

After exiting the metro at Pajaritos station we went to the TurBus checkin counter to purchase tickets to Valparaiso, which ended up only being $18/pp return-trip, which was a bargain compared to the cost of the tickets online. We boarded a 10:20am bus to Valparaiso. During the bus ride we played a few games; hangman and 94% (a game on her iPad where you guess what words are associated with a certain theme).

The bus arrived in Valparaiso at 12:15pm. Within 3 minutes of exiting the bus C realized she left her jacket on the bus and when we went to go back to the bus it was gone. We talked to the check-in counter at the bus terminal and they said the bus driver would return it within 30 minutes. We were skeptical and thought the jacket would be gone, but we waited around for 30 minutes and sure enough the jacket turned up. What we think happened was the bus driver stopped and met another bus on the highway back to Santiago and did the exchange. This level of service goes above and beyond the level of service I’d expect from any company and TurBus gets a 5/5 star review from me.

We exited the bus terminal and walked towards the train station where we boarded an LRT style train towards Puerto train station, just two stops away. After exiting the train station we checked into our hotel; ibis Valparaiso, which was right at the train station. After dropping off our bags we went exploring the cerro’s (hills) of Valparaiso; which are officially recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site.

We started off by grabbing some panini’s from the self titled Panini Cafe. I had a cubano panini and C had a chicken, cheese and mushrooms. We visited Plaza Sotomayor, Cerro Concepcion, Cerro Carcel, Cerro Alegre, Cerro La Loma, Cerro Pantheon and Cerro Bellavista. The other Cerro’s are known to be pretty dodgy areas and therefore decided not to visit them. We took some classic photos such as climbing the very long and tall Valparaiso Stairs, Piano Stairs, and the steepest and oldest funicular in the city; Ascensor Reina Victoria, which opened in 1902.

2019-01-27 Valparaiso 0012019-01-27 Valparaiso 0022019-01-27 Valparaiso 0032019-01-27 Valparaiso 0042019-01-27 Valparaiso 0062019-01-27 Valparaiso 0102019-01-27 Valparaiso 0112019-01-27 Valparaiso 0152019-01-27 Valparaiso 0162019-01-27 Valparaiso 0202019-01-27 Valparaiso 0212019-01-27 Valparaiso 0232019-01-27 Valparaiso 0282019-01-27 Valparaiso 0642019-01-27 Valparaiso 0762019-01-27 Valparaiso 0802019-01-27 Valparaiso 0832019-01-27 Valparaiso 0842019-01-27 Valparaiso 0852019-01-27 Valparaiso 0922019-01-27 Valparaiso 0952019-01-27 Valparaiso 0972019-01-27 Valparaiso 1002019-01-27 Valparaiso 1012019-01-27 Valparaiso 0492019-01-27 Valparaiso 0502019-01-27 Valparaiso 053

Below Ascensor Reina Victoria is where we had some dinner at Altamira Brewery (Casa Cervecera Altamira). I had a black IPA (7.5%) and Regular IPA (6%), while C had a Pina Colada. All the drinks were fantastic. For dinner we shared a plate of fried covered in cheese and pulled beef brisket. After dinner we decided to walk back to the hotel and watch an episode of Marvelous Miss Maisel. If you have not watched that show I highly recommend it!

Chile – Day 2 – Santiago

Today we woke up at 7:00am. We got ready fairly quickly and then walked to a nearby Starbucks. I had a regular drip coffee and C had a Chai Tea Latte. We then walked back to Santa Lucia Hill and explored the hill. Santa Lucia Hill sits on top of a volcano that last erupted an estimated 15 million years ago. On top of the hill is a beautiful park, chapel, and Fort Hidalgo. Fort Hidalgo was recently restored and reopened to the public and traditionally a cannon shot is fired at exactly noon.

2019-01-25 Santiago 0422019-01-25 Santiago 0432019-01-25 Santiago 0452019-01-25 Santiago 046

After exploring Santa Lucia Hill we walked over to Plaza De Armas. Plaza De Armas is the main square of Santiago. It is the centerpiece of the initial layout of Santiago and the square grid pattern of the city was laid out from here. Santiago (officially known as Santiago de Chile) was originally founded in 1541 by the Spanish conqueror Pedro de Valdivia. Santiago has a population of 6.3 million people and is home to 40% of the entire population of Chile.

2019-01-25 Santiago 051.jpg

Right across from Plaza De Armas is Cathedral Metropolitana de Santiago which took 52 years to build and was first opened in 1800. Previous cathedrals stood in its spot but were destroyed by earthquakes. Chile is known to have some of the world’s largest earthquakes in recorded history, with the largest being the 9.5 magnitude earthquake on May 22, 1960 near Valdivia, Chile. That particular earthquake left 2 million Chileans homeless, killed approximately 6000 Chileans, and created Tsunami’s that reached as far as Honshu, Japan. The 18 foot high waves reached Honshu about 22 hours after the earthquake and left 1600 homes destroyed and killed 185 people.

2019-01-25 Santiago 0522019-01-25 Santiago 0532019-01-25 Santiago 0542019-01-25 Santiago 0562019-01-25 Santiago 0572019-01-25 Santiago 058

After visiting the beautiful Cathedral Metropolitana de Santiago we walked through the nearby Central Market and over to Centro Cultural Estacion Mapocho, which was a former railway station (built in 1913) that was converted to a cultural center/musuem. The beautiful semi-restored train station is built in Art Nouveau style architecture, which is some of my favorite architecture, alongside Art Deco and Mid-Century Modern. You can refer back to my France blog posts, among others to see some other beautiful Art Nouveau and Art Deco architecture.

2019-01-25 Santiago 0592019-01-25 Santiago 0612019-01-25 Santiago 062

We continued exploring the area and came across a hip modern area called Eurocentro, and narrowly avoided a protest in front of the University of Chile. There were about 30-40 armed military personnel with riot shields ready to pounce if things got out of control.

2019-01-25 Santiago 0692019-01-25 Santiago 0712019-01-25 Santiago 0732019-01-25 Santiago 0762019-01-25 Santiago 0772019-01-25 Santiago 0782019-01-25 Santiago 0792019-01-25 Santiago 0812019-01-25 Santiago 082

After that we took the Yellow Metro line from Santa Ana station to Departamental station. Santiago is home to one of my favorite style of Metro systems; the rubber-tyred Metro. There are only about 25 systems like these in the world and I’ve been on about 1/4 of them. The rubber-tyred Metro was first applied to the Paris Metro in 1951, and is also used in Montreal, Canada. The benefits are better grip, quieter, and a better ride.

After exiting Departamental station we walked to the nearby community of San Miguel, which is a rundown lower income community with many tenement buildings. The appeal of this community to us was the huge open street market and the massive murals on the sides of the tenement buildings.

2019-01-25 Santiago 0852019-01-25 Santiago 0862019-01-25 Santiago 0892019-01-25 Santiago 0932019-01-25 Santiago 0942019-01-25 Santiago 0972019-01-25 Santiago 1002019-01-25 Santiago 1012019-01-25 Santiago 1032019-01-25 Santiago 1042019-01-25 Santiago 1052019-01-25 Santiago 106

We were getting hungry and were in search of Arepas, which is a Venezuelan & Columbian food that is fairly popular to Chile as well. Arepas is made of ground maize dough and is cut in half and stuffed with cheese, meat, tomatoes, etc. You can have it in many different styles. We took the Metro and walked to numerous places on google maps that supposedly sold Arepas, but sadly they were closed or didn’t sell them. We settled on some amazing freshly made pizza at a nearby restaurant. We ordered a Neapolitan style pizza, which absolutely delicious.

After eating we explored the rustic community of Varrio Italia, before walking back to the hotel and calling it a night. Originally we were supposed to stay one additional day in Santiago but we opted to go to Valparaiso a day early starting tomorrow.

Chile – Day 1 – Travel Day & Santiago

I have to start of with an apology for a half month delay for this travel series. Internet connectivity was questionable at the majority of places we visited, and I was combating a very nasty flu which left me with little energy to write. Anyways, let the adventure begin!

IMG_1749

Today was mostly a travel day for us. We woke up at 8am, got ready and my dad drove us to the airport. We travelled from Calgary to Toronto on one of Air Canada’s last Boeing 767-300ER flights before they are retired from mainline service to Air Canada Rouge; a low-cost subsidiary of Air Canada. The flight departed Calgary at 11:45am and we arrived in Toronto at 5:15pm. After a 2 hour layover in Toronto we departed for Santiago on Air Canada’s flagship Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. The flight arrived the next morning at 8:45am.

SSJAE0604

After landing in Santiago we went through customs, which was actually a fairly painless experience contrary to what I had read online. After clearing customs we boarded a Centropuerto Bus that took us to the city center station of Los Heros for only $3.20/pp. Once we reached Los Heros we took the Red Metro line ($1.30/pp trip) to Manuel Montt station, which was right below our hotel; the ibis Providencia. We checked into the hotel and had a quick two hour nap before venturing out into the city.

After waking up from our nap we walked along the Mapocho River, which was extremely turbid and fast flowing. The river led us to the beautiful community of Bellavista, where we stopped at the Fukai Sushi restaurant and ordered some sushi rolls. We tried three unique rolls that we’ve never had before; Guacamole Rolls, Baked Brie Rolls, and Seared Salmon with Almond Slivers. We’ll call this lunch/dinner since it was about 3 in the afternoon.

2019-01-25 Santiago 0012019-01-25 Santiago 0032019-01-25 Santiago 0042019-01-25 Santiago 0052019-01-25 Santiago 0062019-01-25 Santiago 0072019-01-25 Santiago 009

After having our meal we walked to Funicular de Santiago, which took us to the top of San Cristobal Hill. The funicular was opened in 1925 and definitely shows its age. The views provided from the top of the hill are absolutely fascinating. We had 360 degree views of the entire city, including one of my favorite of the newest flagship building in Santiago; Gran Torre Santiago, which is a 300 metre tall skyscraper that towers over the city. Gran Torre was completed in 2013 and is the tallest building in South America. Also at the top of the hill was Virgin of the Immaculate Conception (Virgin Mary).

2019-01-25 Santiago 0122019-01-25 Santiago 0162019-01-25 Santiago 0182019-01-25 Santiago 0202019-01-25 Santiago 0212019-01-25 Santiago 0232019-01-25 Santiago 0262019-01-25 Santiago 0272019-01-25 Santiago 0282019-01-25 Santiago 031

Instead of taking the funicular back down the hill we opted to take the gondola across the hill and down the other side, exiting near the Gran Torre. We ended up walking around a bit before taking the Red Metro line to Baquedano station, where we got off to get ourselves some of the famous ice cream from Heladeria Emporio La Rosa. C had I both had two scoops of Ice Cream. C had Raspberry & Pineapple, while I had Vanilla & Cookies and Cream. It was starting to get late and we were tired so we walked past Santa Lucia Hill before walking back to the hotel. We walked a total of 23km today, which our feet and bodies definitely felt considering we only got 1.5 hours of sleep on the plane as well as a two hour nap.

2019-01-25 Santiago 0322019-01-25 Santiago 0332019-01-25 Santiago 0342019-01-25 Santiago 0352019-01-25 Santiago 0372019-01-25 Santiago 038

Christmas & New Years 2018

As 2018 slides into 2019 I sit back and reflect on what a wonderful year I had. I changed my career path from Structural Design to Business Development. I met my wonderful girlfriend Catherine and was also able to travel to all these amazing places:

  • Thailand (Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi, Koh Samui)
  • France (Paris, Mont Saint Michel, Toulouse, Lyon)
  • Spain (Barcelona)
  • Drive US Route 66 with my Father
  • Visit Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary with my Mother
  • Kenya
  • Tanzania
  • Greece (Athens, Santorini)
  • Switzerland (Zurich, Jungfraujoch)
  • Ottawa with Catherine TWICE!
  • Jasper National Park

9 Squares Instagram 2018 29 Squares Instagram 20189 Squares Instagram 2018 3World Travel Map 2018-07-26

On New Years Eve I prepared Catherine and I a delicious dinner of salmon, garlic mashed potatoes, and mixed vegetables, then we went skating at Canada Olympic Plaza before making a toast to 2019 with some champagne and fireworks.

DSC00209DSC00236DSC00248DSC00252DSC00569DSC00574DSC00598

I’m extremely looking forward to 2019 as there are quite a few wonderful things planned.

  • Travel to Chile / Argentina / Paraguay / Brazil
  • Travel to Vietnam / Chile
  • See Darci Lynne Live in Portland
  • Moving to a New House
  • Numerous Alberta Hikes (Galatea Lake & Lillian Lake, Junction Creek to name a few)

Chile & Argentina 2019Vietnam & Cambodia

Zurich

The next stop on my three weeks of travel was the beautiful city of Zurich, Switzerland. I spent two days here, with one of the days being a side trip to Jungfraujoch, but more on that later.

Accommodation was at the ibis Airport Hotel. The cost was reasonable at $70 CDN, although the rooms were rather simple, but the beds were comfortable.

Zurich is Switzerland’s largest city at 408000 people. Switzerland has a population of 8.2 million people. Before we take a look at Zurich let’s look at a bit of history of Switzerland and how Zurich came to be.

Switzerland’s history is rather young. Switzerland was inhabited by the Gauls Raetians and was under Roman rule in the 1st century BC. The Gallo-Roman culture was combined with German influence during 235-284 AD time period. The Swiss Confederation was founded in 1291 as a defensive alliance among three cantons (similar to states or provinces). Other localities joined the original three cantons over the years. The Swiss Confederation became independent of the Holy Roman Empire in 1499. The constitution of 1848 replaced the confederations with a centralized federal government. This constitution was modified again in 1874. Switzerland’s sovereignty and neutrality have long been honoured by the major European powers and the country was not involved in either of the two world wars. Switzerland did not become a European Union member until 2002, but maintains its own currency.

Zurich has an extensive tram network that would make many other cities jealous. The trams run every 6 minutes and are very punctual. This keeps traffic extremely light in the city as most people take public transport. Other cities that I have visited that have had great success with trams are Amsterdam, and Melbourne. Two cities that I’ve visited that used to a great tram network before the 1950’s rush to build automotive highways were Auckland, New Zealand and my home town Calgary, Canada. The mayor of Auckland even ordered the removal of some of the tram lines in the middle of the night! It’s a shame because these two cities are absolutely plugged with traffic.

Zurich is an extremely wealthy city, and Switzerland is also an extremely wealthy country with a large population working white collar jobs such as Google (3000 people in Zurich alone), fine quality jewelery and watches, chocolate, and banking and finance.

Zurich straddles both sides of the Limmat river and has many bridges that offer fantastic views, and a beautiful viewpoint from Lindenhof Park. Another wonderful spot for photographs is Grossmunster church, a Romanesque-style Protestant church, which was built between 1100 and 1220 AD.

2018-09-03 Zurich 0022018-09-03 Zurich 0032018-09-03 Zurich 0042018-09-03 Zurich 0062018-09-03 Zurich 0082018-09-03 Zurich 0152018-09-03 Zurich 0162018-09-03 Zurich 0202018-09-03 Zurich 0232018-09-03 Zurich 0252018-09-03 Zurich 0262018-09-03 Zurich 0272018-09-03 Zurich 0282018-09-03 Zurich 0302018-09-03 Zurich 0312018-09-03 Zurich 0352018-09-03 Zurich 0442018-09-03 Zurich 0572018-09-03 Zurich 0592018-09-03 Zurich 0612018-09-03 Zurich 0622018-09-03 Zurich 0642018-09-03 Zurich 0672018-09-03 Zurich 0692018-09-03 Zurich 0792018-09-03 Zurich 0822018-09-03 Zurich 0832018-09-03 Zurich 0862018-09-03 Zurich 0872018-09-03 Zurich 103

Check back shortly for the final installment of my trip; a trip to Jungfraujoch, a notable saddle in the Bernese Alps, connection the two peaks of Junfrau and Monch.

Santorini

I just spent a few days on the beautiful Greek island of Santorini. Santorini’s history dates back to roughly 5000 BC.

Accommodation was at Villa Danezis. This luxury villa was rather affordable at $70 CDN per night and is managed by the owners who live on site. The villa has ten beautiful appointed rooms with nice art work, a sizeable outdoor pool, a beautiful patio area, and morning coffee with delicious home made muffins.

2018-09-01 Santorini 542018-09-01 Santorini 562018-09-01 Santorini 57

During my stay I rented a car as it was a lot easier than trying to take the local transit, despite it being a more expensive choice. When I was on the island I did the famous Fira to Oia hike in reverse, which took about 3 hours to complete and is rated moderate. The hike takes you through both the ancient districts, and along the mountainous terrain between the two districts, with many beautiful old churches painted in blue and white. All of the “towns” on the islands are now just referred to as districts of Thera (Thira), since 2011 when the government decided to do so.

I explored Oia and Fira in detail, visited the old Akrotiri Lighthouse on the south side, and the ancient towns of Akrotiri and Ancient Thera.

2018-09-01 Santorini 042018-09-01 Santorini 052018-09-01 Santorini 062018-09-01 Santorini 072018-09-01 Santorini 092018-09-01 Santorini 102018-09-01 Santorini 112018-09-01 Santorini 122018-09-01 Santorini 132018-09-01 Santorini 182018-09-01 Santorini 232018-09-01 Santorini 262018-09-01 Santorini 292018-09-01 Santorini 322018-09-01 Santorini 332018-09-01 Santorini 632018-09-01 Santorini 662018-09-01 Santorini 672018-09-01 Santorini 692018-09-01 Santorini 712018-09-01 Santorini 722018-09-01 Santorini 732018-09-01 Santorini 742018-09-01 Santorini 752018-09-01 Santorini 762018-09-02 Santorini 162018-09-02 Santorini 172018-09-02 Santorini 182018-09-02 Santorini 192018-09-02 Santorini 222018-09-02 Santorini 232018-09-02 Santorini 26

The ancient town of Akrotiri date’s back to as early as 5000 BC, when it was a small fishing and farming village. By about 3000 BC the community had developed and expanded significantly. Akrotiri continued to prosper over the years with the introduction of paves streets, an extensive drainage system, and high quality pottery and craftsmanship. This all came to an end in 1627 when the volcanic eruption of Thera buried the entire community in volcanic ash. The community wasn’t found again until 1867 when some locals found some old artifacts in a quarry. Extensive modern excavations of the site occurred in 1967 by Professor Spyridon Marinatos. Excavations are still ongoing to this day.

2018-09-01 Santorini 342018-09-01 Santorini 362018-09-01 Santorini 372018-09-01 Santorini 382018-09-01 Santorini 412018-09-01 Santorini 422018-09-01 Santorini 442018-09-01 Santorini 462018-09-01 Santorini 472018-09-01 Santorini 502018-09-01 Santorini 512018-09-01 Santorini 52

The ancient town of Ancient Thera date’s back to 9th century BC until 726 AD when it was buried after a small eruption of the volcano of Santorini covered it in pumice stone. The ancient city was re-discovered in 1895 by Friedrich Hiller von Gaertringen and excavations started to occur between 1961 and 1982, and 1990 and 1994.

2018-09-02 Santorini 092018-09-02 Santorini 102018-09-02 Santorini 112018-09-02 Santorini 122018-09-02 Santorini 132018-09-02 Santorini 142018-09-02 Santorini 15

I also ate some of the most amazing food I’ve had in my life. The meat and vegetables are so fresh and the Greek meals are delicious; whether it was traditional Greek coffee, Greek salad, fresh sea food, or vegetarian dishes. Yes you read that correctly, vegetarian dishes! Santorini has vegetarian only restaurants and they serve incredible food; my personal favorite being Tranquilo where I had Greek salad and goat cheese filled hot peppers.

IMG_9747

Another fantastic restaurant that you must visit is To Briki. I had traditional Greek coffee served with old wine grapes soaked in honey, deep fried Greek cheese, and amazing smoked salmon and avocado bruschetta.

Check back shortly for my next blog post where I explore the beautiful city of Zurich!