Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tuesday March 22, 2016 -- San Javier to Santiago Airport, Chile

Well, I am safely checked in and this adventure is rapidly drawing to a close. I should have just about enough time to finish this post before boarding.

We left the Gillmore Winery this morning, and headed north for the airport on the PanAmerican Highway and had a fast, smooth ride to our lunch stop -- the Miguel Torres winery. Unlike the others that we have visited, which were all small operations with limited production, this is one of the large producers. Although they grow grapes in several regions of Chile, all of their processing is done in this one central location (except for the Pisco, which, by law, must be produced in a certain region to carry that name).

The highlight was the luncheon, possibly the best meal that we have had in Chile. We had four courses, each paired with the appropriate wine. The  first course was a fish ball (oddly colored purple) made with grouper. Then came a salad with several pieces of chicken in an excellent teriyaki sauce. The entree was a fetuccini (black in color) which we saw them making on the premises, with lots of clams, mussels, shrimp, and a piece of excellent fish. Dessert, was actually three desserts -- a fruit cup of some sort, a panacota  of sopapillas, and vanilla ice cream.  These words don't do it justice, so I will let the pictures speak for the meal.

Possibly runner up for best meal was last night's dinner, a pastel de choclo. After salad, we had this main dish which was served in a bowl -- the base was similar to the filling of a beef empanada, and the crust was based on corn meal.  Again, the words don't do it justice, but, trust me, it was excellent.

We resumed our journey to the airport, anticipating a 4pm arrival. We had a monster traffic jam and only moved about a mile in an hour. It appears that the only reason for the tie-up was the toll booth. After that, it was smooth sailing to the airport and we arrived before six. Plenty of time for an 8:45 departure. Check in and security were a breeze, and I should be in the air in just about an hour.

Adios from Chile. See you again in 2017, destination to be determined.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016 -- San Javier to Santiago Airport, Chile

March 21, 2016 – Pelluhue to San Javier, Chile

We started this morning with a fairly long shuttle ride to the small and bustling city of Cauquenes where we stopped just long enough to use the rest rooms and ATMs, in order of need. This city was the epicenter of the 2010 earthquake, but they seem to have done a remarkably good job of restoration.

It was quite cool at the ocean when we got up this morning, but it quickly warmed up as we went inland. By the time we started cycling at 11 am, just outside of Cauquenes, it was near 80 degrees, and got even hotter as the day wore on. We had a few long hills which, fortunately, were quite gradual in slope. The paved surface was excellent and it was a good ride.

We made a lunch stop at a small farmhouse, where our hostess was preparing chicken empanadas in an oven which had charcoal both below and above the empanadas. We have had both baked and fried empanadas on this trip. I tend to prefer the fried (wonder why?), but they have all been excellent. While we were waiting for the empanadas, we sampled their homemade “vino chicha,” the local wine that seemed to be for sale at every farmhouse that we passed. This was really the juice of recently harvested grapes – thick and syrupy. It had not yet undergone the fermentation process necessary to turn it into wine.
Throughout this trip, we have seen many signs proclaiming that charcoal is for sale. At our lunch stop today we saw this oven in which charcoal is made.

The next stop was a recommended ice cream store. The ice cream was served soft, and was much like gelato in texture and appearance. It was excellent, and was the perfect fuel to prepare us for the last 5 miles to the hotel.

Our hotel tonight is located on the grounds of the Gillmore Winery. The rooms are by far the largest and most modern of any on this trip. We will be having a tour of the winery before our last dinner together tonight. Adjacent to the hotel building is a small fenced area with 3 ostriches, and two members of the world's smallest species of deer (whose name I have forgotten).

The only drawback is that there is no WiFi in the hotel, and the WiFi in the winery office is so slow that I decided to compose today's blog offline and post it tomorrow, probably at the airport.

In eight days of cycling, we have pedaled 340 miles and done 12,437 vertical feet of climbing.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sunday, March 20, 2016 -- Playa el Cable to Pelluhue, Chile

Last evening, we had a surprise before dinner. Our guides had arranged for a special poolside performance by a group of indigenous dancers who perform as part of their efforts to preserve their heritage. There were four teenage dancers, with the older generation providing the music (which included a percussion insturment made of a horse's jaw.) We greatly enjoyed watching them while savoring appetizers of ceviche, tiny mushroom empanadas, a seasoned crab dish, and of course, the usual pisco sours, wine, and fruit juices. I solved my photography problem (the memory card was corrupted, so I reformatted it -- losing only about six photos that had not been backed up) and took well over 300 photos of the dancers. The one below is selected pretty much at random, since I have not had time to review them carefully.
Today's ride was 46 miles with about 2800 feet of climbing. It was mostly rolling hills along the coast and through the coastal pine forests, but we had a couple of challenging, but short, climbs. We veered off the main route to a small coastal fishing village, Loanco, where we had lunch at a tiny restaurant. Jata was getting gas for the van, and Pablito was still riding sweep, so we managed to order using our limited Spanish, since the waitress spoke no English and there was no printed menu. She offered a variety of empanadas, most of which we had  tried before so we knew the names, but she also offered one with "macha." We couldn't figure that out, so she brought out a small plate of them for us to taste. They were small shellfish, with a taste and texture similar to clams. Most of us stuck to the tried and true queso and mariscos (cheese and shrimp) or plain cheese. We also shared a few large plates of salad.
Me at today's lunch stop

For several days we have been riding through pine forests, and being passed on the highway by large trucks with freshly harvested trees. These are grown to support the paper production industry which is very important here. We have also seen eucalyptus trees, which are also harvested, primarily for construction.

Speaking of construction -- most of the coastal area in which we have been riding was devastated by the major earthquake in 2010 and the tsunami which followed. (Apparently, there were a lot of needless deaths from the tsunami because the all clear was given too early.) Our hotel last night, for example, was completely destroyed in the earthquake/tsunami, and was rebuilt from scratch.

We have encountered large numbers of dogs in our travels. The vast majority of them are very sleepy and docile, hardly raising their heads as we pedaled by. I was only chased once, and it was really only a half-hearted attempt.

As we approached our destination today, we passed a number of strawberry field, with the fruit destined for US markets. I saw only one roadside stand selling strawberries. We have had lots of fresh fruit on this trip, especially at breakfast. Peaches, pears, pineapple, bananas, grapes, etc -- but no berries (although as I mentioned in an earlier post, raspberry juice was available at breakfast in Santiago.)

One of the things that has rally surprised me on this trip is that we have seen no banks or ATMs since we left Santa Cruz. I am sure that our guides will remedy that situation before we all take our leave. :)

Our lodging arrangements tonight are really interesting. Again,we are on the ocean (our last night on the water), and each of us has a separate "cabana.' These are fully furnished vacation units. Mine has two bedrooms, one with a double bed, one with a bunk bed and a twin, and an extra twin in the living area.
Our guides are preparing a special dinner tonight -- and we are invited to help them. So, today's rambling blog comes to an end.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Saturday, March 19, 2016 -- Duao to Playa el Cable, Chile

The only reason that I know what day of the week it is, is that I look at my watch as I write the title for each day's blog.  Unfortuantely, as I count down the days, I see that this wonderful vacation is coming to an end. We have only two days of cycling left.

I wish that all cycling days could be like today. We started out on the beach with bright sun and about 60 degrees. We retraced yesterday's route along right along the oceanfront for about ten miles, and then followed the coast a little further inland next to a lot of dunes. There was one hill, which briefly maxed out at 9%, but averaged only 6-8%. It wasn't very long, and after yesterday, I hardly felt like calling this one a hill. That was about halfway into the ride, and not long thereafter, we gathered for a group picnic under a grape arbor at a small hostel in the little town of Putu. We had some wonderful, freshly-baked empanadas (beef and onion or vegetarian), some cheese made this morning with milk from the famiily cow, and a wonderful banana pie.
Gwen and Andy enjoying the picnic
I usually prepare these blog posts in the afternoon before our dinner, so I have not done much writing about our wonderful meals. Our dinner two nights ago will provide insight into why I gain weight on these tours. We had our evening meeting (where we discuss the next day's ride) on the terrace, where we were served a delicious ceviche, some cheese and seafood empanadas, mushrooms in a special sauce, along with choice of pisco sours (the national drink of Chile), wine, or fruit juices. This would have sufficed for dinner, but that was only the preview. Dinner itself consisted of a generous portion of steak, a variety of potato options, salad and a very rich dessert.

Last night, we started off with a demonstration of the art of making pisco sours, which, naturally, included samples. We then adjourned to dinner with ceviche and various accompaniments to whet our appetites while the Chilean Sea Bass was grilled to perfection. Again, we had a variety of  potato options (the french fries were excellent) and a dessert that appeared to be a butterscotch mousse with nuts sprinkled on top.
Making Pisco Sours

After today's lunch, we had an easy ride to the City of Constitucion. We had to thread through the outskirts with some moderate traffic, until we hit the coastal road. It traversed a nature sanctuary where we could see these huge rocks just off the shore with thousands of birds.We rode a total of 47 miles today.

The beaches in this region all have black sand. I did see a few people bathing in the ocean, but I suspect it is pretty cold at this time of year. I am content just to look at it -- which I can do directly from my hotel room. Tomorrow we shuttle out of this beautiful place before starting our ride, so the bikes are already on the van.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Friday, March 18, 2016 -- Vichuquen to Duao, Chile

We started off with bright sunshine for the first time, and pleasantly cool temperatures. We shuttled away from the hotel on the dirt road, and then started out in the village of Vichequen, with its statue of a witch. I think she was an omen of what was to come.
We had been forewarned that the ride would start with a killer hill, and a treacherous descent. Six of us attempted it; the rest took the van over the hill. I quickly realized that I had met my match and that taking the van might have been the better part of valor. The first four kilometers were all at a 13 to 18% grade. And my bike did not have a third chain ring for the extra low gears. It wasn't long before I was walking (and my bike was extra heavy because I was carrying my big camera and an extra telephoto lens!). Our guide, Santi, who was riding sweep, caught up with me fairly soon and he suggested that we switch bikes. His had a triple. This helped a little, but I was soon walking again. After a few more on-and-off stretches, we reached the first "summit." By this point, there were three of us, plus poor Santi, doing the ride/walk dance. (I later learned that five out of the six of us did some walking.)

I took my own bike back, and the next few miles were rolling hills. The descents provided enough momentum that the following climbs were easy. But then came the extremely steep and curvy descent. I had to ride the brakes all the way.

Once at the bottom, I felt like I had done a full day's riding. But, of course, we had the remaining two thirds of the route to cover. ALL FLAT!!! Initially, the scenery was uninspiring, but as we got to the coast, it became beautiful, and the last third of the ride was right along the ocean, with a tailwind. It doesn't come any better than that.

We all stopped for lunch en route. I didn't feel hungry, so I ordered only one cheese empanada, but quickly ordered a second. Appropriately fueled, I really enjoyed the last few miles along the coast to our hotel.

We are right on the beach and I have a wonderful view of the ocean from my room. The last of us arrived around 2pm, so we have lots of time to relax and curse the very temperamental WiFi. the WiFi is only available in the hotel restaurant area and at times it is impossible to connect; at other times connection speeds seem reasonable.

I am carrying two cameras on this trip, plus my iPhone. For some reason, my card reader will no longer read the pictures from my "big" camera, so I am limited in the pictures that I can transfer to the computer and include in this blog.

Our hotel/restaurant is known as "Donde Gilberto."  I have noticed several restaurants with names starting with "donde" (the Spanish word for "where") followed by a proper name. I had not noticed that before this trip. Translated literally, "Donde Gilberto" would be "where Gilberto is," but the sense of this naming convention is "Gilberto's place."

Today is the end of the "short tour," so three of our group will be leaving us in the morning. The rest of us have three more cycling days. Which means that the last washing of my cycling clothes is now drying on the balcony in front of my room.

Thursday, March 17, 2016 – Santa Cruz to Vichuquen Marina on the coast of Chile

Today is St. Patrick's Day, so it is fitting that we started it in the O'Higgins province of Chile. (We may still be in it, but I am not sure.) It was our first day with hills. We did about 2400 feet of climbing over the course of a 52 mile ride from Santa Cruz to the coast. I had expectations that at some point as we crossed the coastal range we would be at a high point with majestic views of the Pacific. That turned out not to be the case – I first saw the ocean when I was about 200 yards from it. But, what a magnificent sight.

We started out in light traffic in the city of Santa Cruz on a day that was overcast, and stayed that way until we were almost finished riding. That was both good and bad – it was comfortable riding weather (about 60 degrees most of the day), but it did nothing to enhance the scenery which was rather boring for a good part of the day.

We stopped for a group picnic at an olive oil processing cooperative near the town of Lolol, and then continued our March to the sea. It was only in the last two miles that I observed anything worthy of note. First, were several salt evaporation ponds where people were processing and selling salt. Interestingly, many of the road side sands proclaimed that they were selling salt and quinoa. I don't know what quinoa looks like when it is growing, but I didn't see anything that looked like a quinoa field to me. I was later told that they do indeed grow quite a bit of it here.

The second interesting thing was the brown llama that was standing in the middle of the road that I was biking along. After taking his picture, I had to decide whether I could safely pass him. Deciding that the answer was yes, I came up alongside him, and he started trotting along next to me.
It turned out he was looking for a break in the fence to get back into his pasture, and we soon parted ways.

Soon after we arrived at our regrouping point, a small restaurant that serves what Jata tells us is “the best seafood soup in Chile.” I think he is telling the truth. There was so much shellfish – scallops, clams, pala (something new to me) and others that I cannot name – that there was hardly room for broth. We were right on the water, so I got a few pictures of the fisherman landing and sorting their catch of the day.

From there, we loaded the bikes and climbed in the shuttle for a dusty ride along an unpaved road to our destination for the evening – the Vichuquen Marina, a very pleasant lakeside resort. We are about to gather for dinner, so I will sign off, and post this whenever we get a good WiFi connection.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


WiFi hopeless. Will post tomorrow or when we have better WiFi. Good bike ride today.

Sent from my iPhone 5
Guy Cunningham

Wednesday evening update

In the interest of accuracy, I should expand up on my reference to the "gun runner" who was the founder of the Museum. Lonely Planet's travel guide says,"Perhaps as interesting as the museum is the story of its founder, Carlos Cardoen, who allegedly sold armaments to Iraq during the time of Saddam Hussein's reign, and was instrumental in bringing tourism to the Colchagua Valley by supporting the creation of museums and other wine-centric attractions." It also says that, other than visiting this museum, "there's not much else to be seen and done here." This seems borne out by my afternoon stroll.

I did find that I was not terribly hungry this evening, but I chanced to run into Carol, and the two of us stopped for a simple sandwich at a small cafe near the hotel.

And so ends the day.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Wednesday, March 16, 2016 -- Rest Day in Santiago

Today is a rest day, and at 3 in the afternoon, I am tired. So, I will do the blog early, perhaps take a siesta, and be ready for the longest ride of the tour tomorrow. (Needless to say, I will work in a good dinner after the siesta).

We started this morning with a visit to the Museo Colchagua, which could easily be the subject of a short book. It is a private collection, founded a former gun runner who fled to Chile and reinvented himself as a preservationist. The Museum does not have a single theme, but has collections and exhibitions related to pre-Columbian art and artifacts, paleontology, jewelry, mining, agriculture, railroading, technology, armaments (ancient, as well as WWI and WWII), and many more. To me, the most interesting (and moving). was the extensive exhibit related to the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped underground for months, several years back. Here you can see the capsule that brought the miners back to the surface.
Our guides say that they have visited the museum on each of their tours through Santa Cruz and have yet to see the entire collection. It is vast, and very impressive. Speaking of our guides, here they are  in the hotel lobby:
Pablito, Santiago (Santi), and Juan Pablo (Jata)
And here is the view from my hotel room:
After the museum visit, I explored the city a little more. Using directions from the hotel staff, I found an optical shop which was able to repair my primary pair of glasses for 1000 pesos. (About $1.50). I had lost the screw which holds the right temple in place.I had thought that the directions I had were a little vague, but when I got there, I noticed that there were three optical shops on the same block. As I continued walking, I noticed the same pattern -- three or four bike shops clustered together, then another block might have multiple shoe stores. There was very little "upscale" shopping -- everything was simple and utilitarian.
The delivery bicycle is very common.
After a few hours of exploring, I returned to the hotel for lunch. The guides had told us that the hotel restaurant was excellent, and when I saw them eating there, I had to believe it. I ordered a "Chupe," which is best described as the best crabmeat dip you ever tasted (really rich in crab), topped with cheese and popped under the broiler. It was served piping hot -- the picture does not show how bubbly the cheese was when it was delivered to the table. (Yes, I will pay for all this wonderful food when I get home and get on the scale.)
I frequently forget to mention some of the little oddities that I see along the way. For example, last night I stopped in a pharmacy looking for an eyeglass repair kit. Although I did not find one, I did notice the sign that cautioned people not to try out (or sample) the deodorants.
Tomorrow we head west for the Pacific Ocean. The last 45 minutes or so will be in the shuttle because of the poor road conditions, but we will still bike just about 100 kilometers (65 miles) with a few short, steep hills.

March 15, 2016 -- Vina la Playa, through Apalta Valley to Santa Cruz, Chile

Over the course of three rides, we covered about 47 miles (still flat -- the hills will be next week). We left our hotel in a light fog and biked about ten miles to a very old hacienda that has become a national museum. We had a private guided tour that lasted about an hour, which gave the fog time to lift. As we arrived, I took pictures of a few of our group, so it is about time to start showing some cyclists on this blog.





The whole group
The hacienda is mostly preserved as it was originally built, with much of the furniture dating back to the 1850s. It has been extensively restored after a flood in the 1980s, and the earthquake of 2010. 

We then pedaled about 25 miles to the Neyen winery, located in the "Napa Valley of Chile." We arrived there about two, for a lunch which was basically an indoor picnic with lots of very good finger food. Following the lunch we took a tour of the vineyards and saw some of the old growth vines. Chile (as well as Australia and New Zealand) is one of the few places in the world that escaped the phyloxera disease, so that there are some vines in this vineyard that are 120 years old (and others in Chile that are 140 years old.) We concluded our luncheon visit with a tasting of two of their wines. (This winery is owned by the same people who own Quintessa Winery in St. Helena in the Napa Valley).

It was now four o'clock and about 86 degrees, so the ride to the hotel (another 10 miles) was optional, but several of us did it. It was actually quite pleasant, with a little breeze.

We arrived in Santa Cruz, a small city of about 30,000 where we will spend two nights. No riding tomorrow -- we will have a museum tour in the morning and a free afternoon.
Hotel Santa Cruz

Dinner was on our own tonight. Five of us went to a very pleasant Italian restaurant, where we enjoyed some delicious pasta.

Which is why I am finishing up this blog post at 11 pm -- buenas noches.

Monday, March 14, 2016

March 14, 2016, Zuniga to Vina la Playa, Chile

Today was a good 43 mile ride -- flat and easy, but the ever-changing agricultural scenery was particularly interesting, especially for the first half. We are in wine country, so there were lots of vineyards, but also corn, tomatoes, and the occasional fruit orchard. It was cool enough for a jacket for the first hour, but then started warming up nicely so that it was hot when we finished around 2pm.
Near the middle of the ride, we rode next to a canal in which there were a dozen or more very old water wheels. They were used at one time for irrigation, to lift the water from the canal to the fields, but now they seem to serve mainly as photo opportunities.

We also passed an interesting roadside shrine to St Francis of Assisi. It was notable because it was quite elaborate considering how far off the beaten path it was.
Although it was early (about 11am), we stopped for a group lunch at a small restaurant where we were well cared for. The table was laden with chicken sandwiches (plus veggie sandwiches for the vegetarians), sopapillas (fried bread), fresh tomato and avocado, as well as all sorts of fresh fruit including some delicious figs. Then there were pitchers of three kinds of juices -- pineapple, melon, or strawberry -- all freshly squeezed. (At our first hotel, there was always a choice of either peach juice or raspberry juice at breakfast). There was also a good looking dessert which I passed on, knowing that I still had about 25 miles of cycling.
The remainder of the ride was pretty much a straight shot to the hotel, through more of the same  agricultural countryside. We are staying at a winery complex with a hotel which is very, very nice. Since our group fills more than half of the 20 or so rooms that they have, they have closed the hotel to all except us. I liked the entrance sign which gives a new meaning to "straight ahead."
Our hotel

Sunday, March 13, 2016 Zuniga, Chile

I will be brief today because the internet connection is the slowest I have seen in a long time. (The good news is that we do have a connection.) No pictures today because I am afraid they won't be uploaded before we need to pack up.

We left Santiago this morning around 9:30 and shuttled south for about two hours to the Casa Silva winery. While we toured the winery, Juan Pable (“Jata”), Pablito and Santiago set up our bikes, installing our pedals and saddles. Then we cycled the enormous distance of 1.6 km to the “clubhouse” where we had an excellent steak for lunch. All of this before any serious cycling!

There had been a lot of fog during the morning, but it had lifted by the time we finished, lunch, and we hit the road in beautiful sunny weather. Today's ride was a short one (only about 26 miles), and it was mostly flat, but it felt good to be back on a bike after about 10 days off.

We are staying at a pleasant ranch style estate that feels much more like a B&B than a hotel. We will soon be heading off to a nearby restaurant for dinner. (After dinner----) We traveled the two miles or so to dinner by horse drawn wagon. As we were going, we could see the snow-capped Andes behind us and the Coastal Range ahead of us. The venue was an event facility owned by the proprietress of our lodging – a place where they hold weddings and similar special events. They prepared a special dinner for us which was served buffet style – after they lovingly described each dish. Suffice it to say that each one was better than the one before. I even loved the eggplant casserole, and I am no fan of eggplant.

On that note, I will sign off. More riding tomorrow.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Saturday, March 12, 2016 Santiago Chile

Another beautiful day, with bright sun and temperatures in the seventies. After a pleasant breakfast where I met two of my fellow cyclists, I walked about 7 and 1/2 miles this morning taking in the very pleasant areas of Vitacura (where our hotel is located) and Providencia. Both have a mixture of residences including large apartment buildings, offices, and shopping. Along the way I snapped these photos of an appealing art gallery and Latin America's tallest building at the Costanera Center (my initial destination).

I also stopped to take a picture of two window washers working high up on the side of a building. I was cautioned by a security guard not to take photos, so I took the picture several hundred feet further down the road.

At the Costanera Center is Chile's largest shopping mall. It has six floors of shops, including one whole floor of restaurants, with a mix of high end full service restaurants and the usual fast food choices. Unfortunately, it was still too early for lunch, so I resumed my walk and retraced part of yesterday's bus ride enjoying the wide open spaces.
Eventually I ended up at the Parque Arauco, the Mall that I visited on my first day here. Although not the largest, it is billed as "the most important shopping Mall in Chile, and one of the most important in Latin America." I presume that this is because of the large number of very high end shops. I enjoyed a pleasant lunch at an Italian restaurant there and then returned to the hotel.
One thing that struck me along the way was that at every car dealership, all of the new vehicles on the lot are booted to prevent theft.
I have enjoyed the trip so far, but there has been nothing particularly exciting so far. In about an hour we will be having our initial group meeting and then will adjourn to dinner together. Tomorrow we start our tour by shuttling out of Santiago and then getting fitted for our bikes and taking a short ride.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Friday, March 11, 2016 Santiago, Chile

After a good night's sleep, i awoke around seven to find that it was still dark. We are quite far west, so that one would expect to be in a later time zone. Instead, we have late sunrises and very late sunsets -- well suited to the late dining hours which are the custom here. I enjoyed a good breakfast in the hotel and then set off to explore parts of the city that I had not seen on my one prior visit.

I had purchased a ticket on the Hop On/Hop Off tourist bus, which works well, except that the traffic in Santiago is so congested that progress is fairly slow. So, I only made two major stops. The first was at the Bella Vista district, noted for the graffiti covering the facade of nearly every building -- some of it excellent, some of it grotesque, but all of it interesting (not the kind of mindless trash we see so often in the US). Rather typical is this "Salon de Belleza" (beauty parlor).It looks like anything but a beauty parlor (but look at the woman applying make up in the lower right corner of the photo).
From there, I continued on foot to the Metropolitan Park with its funicular to the top of San Cristobal hill. The Park is noted for the Santuaria de la Immaculada Concepcion with its huge statue of the Virgin Mary. The statue is visible from many parts of the city below. Conversely, from the vantage point of the hilltop there are magnificent views of the city (almost 360 degrees), unfortuantely marred by the thick haze (which might explain the allergy symptoms I am experiencing.)

By the time I descended, I was starting to feel hungry so I set off for the day's principal destination -- the Central Market. I took the bus again to the Plaza de Armas and then walked along a pedestrian shopping street until I hit the market, one of the larger fish markets in the world. (If I translated the sign correctly, it is the  world's fifth largest. And, if I didn't, it is still pretty big.) After taking several pictures of lots of things I would probably never eat, I settled into one of the many seafood restaurants in the center of the market and had a delicious swordfish with a seafood sauce. (I had to check my dictionary. The menu
does this make you hungry?
translated "albacora" as "swordfish."  In most of Latin America, "albacora" is albacore (tuna), but in Chile, it is, indeed, swordfish.The pleasure of eating it was enhanced by the musical accompaniment of two roving guitar players. (Reminded me of a certain banjo player at Pike Place Market in Seattle -- inside joke.)

Back to the Plaza de Armas for a quick stroll. The highlight was watching the Carabinieri changing shifts. The area is heavily patrolled by police on horseback, on motorcycles, and with dogs. They say that crime in this city is low -- perhaps this is why.

The Cathedral, which is located on this plaza, does not lend itself to interesting photos, but I like this reflected view in a nearby office building.
Fortunately I have lots of time today to practice my blogging skills. As the cycling begins in the next couple of days, I won't have as much time, but I shall do my best. Hasta Pronto!