They did not save the best for LAST!

Trip Start Feb 14, 2012
Trip End Mar 04, 2012

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Flag of Chile  , Valparaíso,
Saturday, March 3, 2012

We spent the final day of our delightful trip exploring Valparaiso, Vina del Mar and Santiago Chile, before catching our flight back to Atlanta.

We disembarked early and searched for our luggage, prior to boarding the bus for a day tour and transfer to the airport.  We were delighted when we realized that our luggage would meet us at the airport prior to our departure. The port at Valparaiso is huge and is the most important port on the west coast of South America.  It was founded in 1536 and was the first port in Chile founded by the Spanish conquerors.  The city, located about 70 miles from Santiago, lines the bay.  It is built on the 45 named and densely populated hills that surround the beautiful bay. Around 300,000 people inhabit this lower income working person's city.  

Several buses followed our same itinerary.  Our first stop was a light house with a fantastic view of the bay. The area was filled with small green Peruvian parrots.  They were everywhere.  

The tour guides were to give us highlights of the area and to stop at important places. Unfortunately our driver was new and our guide had to spend her time guiding him through the city.  Though our guide was knowledgeable, she was not able to share the information.  She was frustrated and so were we.  It was a very disappointing day and got worse as the day went on.

We proceeded to the neighboring city of Vina del Mar, the Garden city.  This delightful city
is known as a playground of the well to do.  Valparaiso is dedicated to commerce and Vina to pleasure.  Chilieans come to Vina to be seen.  The sidewalks are always crowded with men and women in their finest.  Most wealthy Chileans own a house or apartment in Vina. 

The Casino built in 1932 captures the essence of the city.  Dress attire is required in most rooms and those wishing a more relaxed gambling arena are advised to visit the American casino.  
When we left this area, our bus driver hit a curb and broke the front door.  It would not stay closed, so we had to travel very slowly.  We missed many of the stops on the planned itinerary on our way to Santiago and arrived at the lunch site very late.  While we ate the other drivers helped our driver secure the door and we had to board through the rear door the remainder of the day.  While the food was plentiful and varied, but the chicken was half cooked and the drinks very warm.  We were protected from the sun by tarps, which created a sauna.  We were entertained by dancers of all ages.  The little ones were adorable

We arrived in Santiago and viewed the lovely building with architecture that reflected the various cultures that had been prominent in the area.  Unfortunately, due to the driver's inexperience and the guide's frustration plus the broken door, we did not see much or learn much about the city. Our tour of Santiago was as bad as the earlier part of the day. Our driver had not driven in the city before, so he was unfamiliar with the streets or hotels.  We had to drop other travelers off at three different hotels.  At one large hotel, he passed the hotel entrance four times.  The traffic was so bad that this fiasco used up about an hour of our time.   

We were delighted when we finally arrived safely at the airport,  We did not get our money's worth and as we heard about the great tours the other guests experienced, we were even more disappointed.  We ate dinner with some of the bridge players from our cruise.  We regaled with tales of our bus ride.  We were even more disappointed when we heard about their fantastic tour.

Our flight was delayed and then we were allowed to board early. Oops, after we traversed the long walkway, went through security again and stood waiting for about 30 minutes, we were told the pilot was not happy with the tires on the plane and would not leave until they were changed.  The early boarders were, of course, those handicapped, elderly or with young children, but no one from the airlines tried to help us by offering chairs.  Finally we were told to return to the terminal, so these same elderly, handicapped or families had to traverse back up the long walkway.  It was exhausting for most of them, and in some cases we had to help push the wheelchair bound people
back to the terminal.  Finally we boarded the plane for a safe uneventful flight home.  It was a great trip and, except for today. everything went smoothly.

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