We finally arrived in Santiago at 8.30am after a 17hour flight from Manchester, England.
The flight wasn’t too bad, with a good choice of films and TV programs, they also kept us well fed and watered. David and Louise behaved themselves quite well, although Louise was bored after just 2 hours. Stephen and Barbara were not sitting with us, which I think was a bit of a relief for them not to have David bothering them for 17 hrs.
The plane put down in Barbados for re-fuelling and we were allowed to get off for an hour. This was very welcome as we could have a walk about before getting back on the plane for the final leg of the flight. Most people slept the rest of the way until they were woken up to be given breakfast before finally landing.
Anyway back to Santiago, we were all loaded on to buses for the journey to the port, about one and half hours away.
As you are whisked through the Chilean countryside it’s hard to imagine that you are on the other side of the world, looking out of the widow it looks just like Spain, and a lot greener than I expected it to be.
We arrived at the port just before lunchtime and were very quickly checked in and taken to the ship. We went straight to our cabin (mini-suite no less) to be greeted with champagne, chocolates and flowers - very nice.
After relocating Stephen and Barbara, who we mislaid at the airport, we decided to go to the restaurant for lunch, 2 bottles of wine later we all went back to our cabins and slept.
When we woke a couple of hours later I realized that we were still missing a suitcase but Stephen soon turned up with it, he had found it in a corridor on C deck with luggage labels missing, so panic over.
Then it was time to set sail, so off to prom deck for a glass of champagne, but what’s this no streamers, no band, just lots of locals to wave us off on our way.
After pre-dinner drinks in the Crows Nest and dinner at table 7 (as usual) in the Oriental restaurant, we decided on an early night as we had an early start the next day.
Tour D - Petroglyphs and vineyards.
When we arrived we left the bus and walked to some nearby rocks to look at the Petroglyphs. These are drawings carved onto the rocks 2000BC. We walked on further before clambering up some more rocks to look at the views. Of course Thomas had to climb even further up and hang over the edge to take more photos, as he does.
Then it was back to the bus for the short journey to the Vina Francisco de Aguirre where we were to visit the winery. On arrival Miguel asked us if we had ever been to a winery before, and when most people said yes, he replied that we would just have a quick look before moving on to the wine tasting. The wine tasting took place in an underground cellar carved into the hillside. We were then invited to purchase some wine and as it would be rude not to we set about buying just about every bottle in the shop, for David’s birthday of course.
Then it was off to lunch. We pulled up outside a very unpromising looking building, but once inside you could see why we were there as the views were stunning. Hence the name, Panoramic restaurant I guess. You could go out onto a balcony and look right down the valley over the foothills of the Andes and vineyards below.
For lunch we were given river prawns and some sort of sea snail to start with, Miguel said that the snails where endangered but the bloke that owned the restaurant knew a man! The main course was just lots of meat with more meat and for desert papaya and ice cream. All washed down with pisco sours and more wine. Then it was back to the bus for a very good-humoured journey back to the ship.
This was a wonderful day. We saw plenty of Chilean countryside, drank lots of Chilean wine and returned to the ship happy and exited for the rest of the holiday.
Day 4 - Monday 1st December
Day 5 - Tuesday 2nd December
Cusco/Machu Picchu (Peru)
Our guides travelled with us and pointed out all the places of interest, this was good as it made the train journey seem shorter. We followed the Urubamba River along the valley before we entered the denser undergrowth of the rainforest. We were shown where the tented village for the start of the Inca trail was, we didn’t think we will be doing that though as you have to cross a mountain range at a height of over 4000mtrs
After 4 & a half hrs on the train we finally pulled into the station at Aguas Calientes which looked like it had just sprung up to service the tourists that are going to Machu Picchu.
We were then all piled into buses for the final leg of the journey up the mountain. As we wound our way up a very narrow and windy road I was looking for the first signs of Machu Picchu, this also took my mind off the steep drops at the side of the road. Once at the top we were taken for lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge Hotel before dividing us back into our groups for touring the site. We were soon taken through the entrance and round the last corner. The first thing that we saw were the terraces that the Inca’s used to farm, but this was nothing compared to the sight that we saw on rounding the next corner and start to see the full site. We followed the guide around the site for the next 2 hrs, he was very good and seemed to know when people needed to rest, due mainly to the altitude. He was soon leading the way to the top house to see what he termed "the postcard view" of Machu Picchu and when we got to the top the view took your breath away. Everyone was now taking photos so I thought it was time to bring Paddington out of my bag and show him darkest Peru. He was a big hit, with everyone wanting a photo of him.
It was now time to make our way back down to the town for the train journey back. David and I avoided all the locals trying to sell the usual Machu Picchu tourist tat, and settled on a beer and chips before returning to the train. The journey back was over 5 hrs and seemed endless as is was dark most of the way, but we finally got back to the hotel at 9.30pm. We were all exhausted but still managed dinner before bed.
It was a wonderful day but very hard work. We will all be pleased to see Oriana tomorrow.
Day 7 - Thursday 4th December
We decided to go and do the quiz that night, not a big success though, so we went down to Harlequins to drown our sorrows and finally managed to stay up past 2.00am.
Day 9 - Saturday 6th December As the Scott’s and ourselves were not on tour until the afternoon we decided to go ashore mid morning, using the tender privilege disembarkation tickets that were delivered to our cabin yesterday. We were taken by tender into the harbour of St George’s which was built on a crater made by an extinct volcano. When we got off the tender and started to walk around the harbour we were soon getting unwanted attention of what seemed like every taxi driver in Grenada, we carried on trying to ignore them and walked to the town centre. In contrast to the pretty harbour area the town centre was scruffy and unwelcoming, so David and myself decided to head back to the harbour and find somewhere for lunch - no change there then.Tour J - Bonaire Beach BreakUp early again to go to the beach snorkelling. As we stood on the balcony looking out at Bonaire you can see all these pretty little house in different colours and its just like you imagine a Caribbean island to be. Woke up in time for bacon pannini in Alfresco 24/7, it was starting to become quite a habit. P&O had a "great" idea to put the clocks forward at 12.00am so all of a sudden it was lunchtime. After lunch in in the Peninsular Restaurant I had a massage which was very good and I soon found myself nodding off.As it was chocoholics that afternoon, Stephen and Thomas turned up with plates of cake for afternoon tea (and we still haven’t eaten David’s cake). All we seemed to do was eat and drink, so we must have been on a cruise.’s 40th Birthday)As we had been told that we would start to transit the canal at 8.00am we decided to get up at 7.30am so that we wouldn’t miss anything. We were told that some people were sitting on observation deck at 5.00am - there is always someone mad enough.