It was not quite as long as we had planned - just the five nights in the end - but as has become quite clear, being home is the best place to be right now.
So, to help us all pass some more time, I have had a look at the few images I took when away and most of these come from a day we spent in Valparaiso, on Chile's Pacific Coast.
Wikipedia has the following to say about the city:
Valparaíso (/ˌvælpəˈraɪzoʊ, -soʊ/; Spanish: [balpaɾaˈiso]) is a major city, seaport, and educational centre in the commune of Valparaíso, Chile. "Greater Valparaíso" is the third-largest metropolitan area in the country. Valparaíso is located about 120 kilometres (75 mi) northwest of Santiago by road and is one of the South Pacific's most important seaports. Valparaíso is the capital of Chile's second most populated administrative region and has been the headquarters for the Chilean National Congress since 1990. Valparaíso has two state-owned and several private universities.
Valparaíso played an important geopolitical role in the second half of the 19th century when the city served as a major stopover for ships traveling between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by crossing the Straits of Magellan. Valparaíso mushroomed during its golden age, as a magnet for European immigrants, when the city was known by international sailors as "Little San Francisco" and "The Jewel of the Pacific". In 2003, the historic quarter of Valparaíso was declared a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site.
Notable features include Latin America's oldest stock exchange, the continent's first volunteer fire department, Chile's first public library, and the oldest Spanish language newspaper in continuous publication in the world, El Mercurio de Valparaíso.
The second half of the twentieth century was unfavorable to Valparaíso, as many wealthy families abandoned the city. The opening of the Panama Canal and reduction in ship traffic dealt a serious blow to Valparaíso's port-based economy. Over the first 15 years of the twenty-first century, the city reached a recovery, attracting artists and cultural entrepreneurs who have set up in the city's hillside historic districts. Today, many thousands of tourists visit Valparaíso from around the world to enjoy the city's labyrinth of cobbled alleys and colorful buildings. The port of Valparaíso continues to be a major distribution center for container traffic, copper, and fruit exports. Valparaíso also receives growing attention from cruise ships that visit during the South American summer. Most significantly, Valparaíso has transformed itself into a major educational center with four large traditional universities and several large vocational colleges. The city exemplifies Chilean culture, with festivals every year, and street artists and musicians.
There is a lot more online but as you can read, this was quite a place in the day and even now the old town area is alive with atmosphere due to the vast amount of graffiti and murals that adorn practically every wall and many buildings. We were lucky to have an excellent guide with us and here is a small selection of the most colourful and striking murals and some of the city views that I took during our morning stroll.
This is one the main streets in the Italian area - the architecture of the city varies between English, Italian and some German but it is always very clearly Latin American!
There are many local crafts in the original local buildings and the corrugated steel sheets are used to protect the wooden structures from the ocean's salt blown in on the wind.
I would love to know how long these took, given the scale!
You can see how steeply the area rises. Valparaiso is built on hills and was devastated by an earthquake in the early 20th century. Many of the rebuilt areas stretch away from the ocean and are on a more secure rock structure.
As the streets get narrower, so the murals get more colourful
This is one of the most popular local hotels
Another example of the colours around every corner
And of course, in this age of social media, everyone has an online presence!
More and more colours...
This is one of the original Italian family houses built in the city. It is still occupied...and graffiti free!!
This is the entrance to one of the most modern of the funicular railways in the city! These have been running for well over 100 years.
Because I am a photographer, I must take pictures of rust and general wear...
At the bottom of the funicular - you can see it is not very long but extraordinarily steep!
The port is still a major Chilean Naval base and this is the HQ.
At the start of our holiday, we had three days in Santiago and it is not a very photogenic city at the best of times. Whilst we were there, demonstrations were a daily event and most were by the schoolkids. We did walk over the river to the north of the city but all I can really show you is the river itself as a sort of summary of the city.
But they are kind enough to have somewhere to sit a while if you're tired...
All in all, it was a long way to go for a short time and I think that we have pretty much done Chile in these few days...apart from the Patagonian part! We will do this when we return and life is back to what we know and love.
I hope you have enjoyed the images. Thanks very much!