The Streets of Santiago, Chile

I can’t remember quite what I was expecting flying into Santiago at the start of my first visit to South America. But I have to admit that Chile’s capital city was a revelation.

I guess I hadn’t imagined it would look so European. Much more so than the vast majority of North American cities. Although over the following three weeks, I was to learn this is the norm for South America.

Old Arsenal, to the west of the main historic centre of Santiago

Old Arsenal, to the west of the main historic centre of Santiago

I was also surprised at the apparent prosperity of Santiago, and indeed all the parts of Chile that I saw. Although obviously there are still some very poor areas, our guides Antonio and John (from AFI Services) told us that things have been getting better and better over the last 15 years or so, and the country’s future seems very bright.

Antonio and John gave us a real flavour for Santiago (not to mention Valparaiso and up into the Andes). After introducing us to some of the districts to the west of the city centre by car, they took us for a stroll through a tiny plaza in the Barrio Concha y Toro with the grand title of Plazoleta de la Libertad de Prensa (Small Square of the Freedom of the Press). It was like being back in any number of small towns in Spain or Italy.

Street leading up to Plazoleta de la Libertad de Prensa

Street leading up to Plazoleta de la Libertad de Prensa

If the small plaza has a weighty name, the water feature at its heart has an even more impressive handle: the International Freedom of the Press Fountain

If the small plaza has a weighty name, the water feature at its heart has an even more impressive handle: the International Freedom of the Press Fountain

Our main walking tour with Antonio began in Plaza de la Ciudadanía, outside the Palacio de La Moneda, the old mint that now serves as Chile’s Presidential Headquarters.

Palacio de La Moneda from Plaza de la Ciudadanía

Palacio de La Moneda from Plaza de la Ciudadanía

From here we wound our way through the streets of the historic centre, via Plaza de la Constitucion, to the city’s foremost open space, Plaza de Armas.

The other side of Palacio de La Moneda, which faces Plaza de la Constitucion

The other side of Palacio de La Moneda, which faces Plaza de la Constitucion

Looking across Plaza de la Constitucion

Looking across Plaza de la Constitucion

The former Congress Building

The former Congress Building

Metropolitan Cathedral, Plaza de Armas

Metropolitan Cathedral, Plaza de Armas

Inside the Metropolitan Cathedral

Inside the Metropolitan Cathedral

All distances in Chile are measured relative to this spot in Plaza de Armas

All distances in Chile are measured relative to this spot in Plaza de Armas

Next we relocated to the beautiful Cerro Santa Lucía. This small hill in the centre of old Santiago was once the site of a fortress, but is now a green oasis where locals and tourists come to enjoy spectacular views of the city.

The Plaza Neptuna staircase and fountains at the southern end of Cerro Santa Lucía

The Plaza Neptuna staircase and fountains at the southern end of Cerro Santa Lucía

There are many tunnels beneath Cerro Santa Lucía, although sadly they've been closed since the last big earthquake

There are many tunnels beneath Cerro Santa Lucía, although sadly they’ve been closed since the last big earthquake

Stairs up to the upper viewing platform, Cerro Santa Lucía

Stairs up to the upper viewing platform, Cerro Santa Lucía

View west from Cerro Santa Lucía towards the historic heart of Santiago

View west from Cerro Santa Lucía towards the historic heart of Santiago

View east towards Providencia

View east towards Providencia

That evening we wandered across the bridge from our hotel off Plaza Baquedano into the vibrant Barrio Bellavista neighbourhood. Here we tried Pastel de Choclo (Chilean corn pie) in an authentic local restaurant. I can tell you, it wasn’t the last time we had that for dinner… it was delicious!

Traditional restaurant in Bellavista (which does amazing Pastel de Choclo!)

Traditional restaurant in Bellavista (which does amazing Pastel de Choclo!)

We didn't stop here, but we found it amusing since Rich & Sue have a dog called Charlie

We didn’t stop here, but we found it amusing since Rich & Sue have a dog called Charlie

The next morning we saw a bit of the modern district at the eastern end of Providencia, before heading up into the Andes for the day. (Doesn’t that have an amazing ring to it? “Heading up into the Andes for the day!”) This area is the business heart of the country, which has earned it the nickname Sanhattan, a tongue-in-cheek combination of Santiago and Manhattan.

Early morning view from our hotel across to Cerro San Cristobal

Early morning view from our hotel across to Cerro San Cristobal

Sculpture in Plaza a la Aviación, along Providencia

Sculpture in Plaza a la Aviación, along Providencia

Gran Torre Santiago, the tallest building in South America at 984 feet

Gran Torre Santiago, the tallest building in South America at 984 feet

It's not all new buildings in Sanhattan

It’s not all new buildings in Sanhattan

Once again left to our own devices after a wonderful day in the mountains, we took a walk into the heart of the historic centre, returning to Plaza de Armas at dusk. What a wonderful way to spend our last evening in this beautiful city.

Church and Convent of San Francisco, the oldest surviving building in Santiago

Church and Convent of San Francisco, the oldest surviving building in Santiago

Palacio de La Moneda at sunset

Palacio de La Moneda at sunset

Plaza de Armas at dusk

Plaza de Armas at dusk

Palacio de la Real de la Audencia, Plaza de Armas, was Chile's Supreme Court until 1810

Palacio de la Real de la Audencia, Plaza de Armas, was Chile’s Supreme Court until 1810

Correo Central, Plaza de Armas, is Chile's Central Post Office.

Correo Central, Plaza de Armas, is Chile’s Central Post Office.

And do you know what the best thing is about Santiago?…. Next February I get to go back again! I’m really looking forward to meeting up with Antonio and John once more!

The German Fountain in the Parque Forestal, near our hotel

The German Fountain in the Parque Forestal, near our hotel

This post was inspired by Cee’s Which Way Challenge and Jo’s Monday walk. I suppose you could also say it fits with Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge for the week, which is Habits, since exploring new places, taking photos of my Journeys (actually, Rich does this part, since they don’t really make proper cameras small enough for me to use) and writing blogs about my experiences are some of my favourite habits!

Having the Torre Telefónica right beside out hotel made navigating home really easy!

Having the Torre Telefónica right beside out hotel made navigating home really easy!

If you’re the sort of person that loves exploring historic, faraway places, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

And if that’s not enough for you, the first three Jaspa’s Journey novels will soon be available to enjoy, both as ebooks and in paperback! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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Getting Soaked At Niagara Falls

There are no end of ways to get soaked at Niagara Falls, of which the Maid of the Mist is undoubtedly the most famous. Last week I combined two of my personal favourites into one breath-taking, if sodden, day!

We began at Whirlpool Jetboat Tours in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Back in February, I wrote a post about the thrill of blasting through the Niagara River’s Class 5 rapids in a super-powerful Jetboat.

Doesn't that look like fun?

Doesn’t that look like fun?

A Jetboat heading towards Devil's Hole on the Niagara River

A Jetboat heading towards Devil’s Hole on the Niagara River

Yet as it turns out, I jumped the gun a little with that post. Because last week, with Rich’s family visiting from the UK, we returned to the jetboat… and this time we took a (waterproof) camera along for the ride for the first time.

Those ponchos aren't going to keep you dry, you know

Those ponchos aren’t going to keep you dry, you know

The Devil's Hole rapids, our playground for the morning

The Devil’s Hole rapids, our playground for the morning

Our first taster of what we’re in for today…

All through safely? Want to go again?

All through safely? Want to go again?

The full experience…

Racing up from Devil’s Hole into the Niagara Whirlpool, with a Hamilton turn at the end…

The Class 6 rapids between the Whirlpool and Niagara Falls - even a jetboat can't go in there!

The Class 6 rapids between the Whirlpool and Niagara Falls – even a jetboat can’t go in there!

One last time through Devil's Hole?

One last time through Devil’s Hole?

Absolutely soaked!

Absolutely soaked!

Although I think the views of Niagara Falls themselves are more complete from the Canadian side, my favourite attraction at the falls is actually on the American side. There’s no longer a cave at the Cave of the Winds. What there is, is the most amazing, up-close and personal view of a one of the worlds greatest waterfalls. In fact, you’re so close, you’re practically inside it! And even after the thrill of the jetboat earlier in the day, the Cave of the Winds still took our breath away!

View from the top of the American/Bridal Falls - We're going down there?

View from the top of the American/Bridal Falls – We’re going down there?

The Canadian Falls from the Cave of the Winds walkway

The Canadian Falls from the Cave of the Winds walkway

The Bridal Falls

The Bridal Falls

Fashionistas!

Fashionistas!

The raw power beneath the American Falls

The raw power beneath the American Falls

They have to take down most of these walkways during the winter, and reassemble them in spring - can't think why!

They have to take down most of these walkways during the winter, and reassemble them in spring – can’t think why!

You don't get much closer than this

You don’t get much closer than this

Power and beauty

Power and beauty

Rainbow beneath the American Falls

Rainbow beneath the American Falls

And again

And again

Wonder why it's called the Hurricane Deck?

Wonder why it’s called the Hurricane Deck?

Oh... that's why!!

Oh… that’s why!!

I was wrong before... you can get closer!

I was wrong before… you can get closer!

How's that for Gleaming?!

How’s that for Gleaming?!

Soaked again

Soaked again

I think you’ll agree, both these attractions represent a unique Flair of adventure on the Gleaming Niagara River!

This post was inspired by the photo themes Today Was a Good Day from Cheri of The Daily Post, Flare (OK, so I’m taking liberties by reading this as ‘Flair’ instead) from Paula of Lost in Translation, and Gleaming from Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack?

If you like a bit of adventure and aren’t afraid to get wet, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

And if that’s not enough for you, the first three Jaspa’s Journey novels will soon be available to enjoy, both as ebooks and in paperback! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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Exploring Lima’s Historic Centre On Foot

The Historic Centre of Lima was the second of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites I visited while in Peru in April. And I didn’t even make it to Machu Picchu! The other two were the Nazca Lines (also spelled Nasca) and the Chan Chan Archaeological Zone (post coming soon).

Our wonderful guide, Vanessa Vasquez, began our tour of central Lima in the impressive Plaza San Martin.

Plaza San Martin

Plaza San Martin

The streets of this part of Lima are quite a contrast to the modern districts of San Isidro or Miraflores. Lined with colonial (and neo-colonial) buildings, they provide a rich impression of the city’s Spanish past.

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The ornate entrance to the church of La Merced

The ornate entrance to the church of La Merced

Contrast between the busy façade and relatively simple bell tower of La Merced

Contrast between the busy façade and relatively simple bell tower of La Merced

Many of the streets in the historic district are pedestrianised, so you don’t have to risk getting run over when you pause to take a closer look.

IMGP0119IMGP0171IMGP0169I particularly loved the impressive doorways/gateways opening onto concealed private courtyards away from the noise and bustle of the streets.

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This gate still opens onto the original courtyard...

This gate still opens onto the original courtyard…

...Which is now home to a high-end store, although the original architecture is still preserved behind all the banners and signs

…Which is now home to a high-end store, although the original architecture is still preserved behind all the banners and signs

But my favourite features were definitely the enclosed balconies that once allowed Lima’s richer folk to look out over the comings and goings of the city while retaining their privacy.

IMGP0165IMGP0134Of course, the regal Plaza Mayor was the architectural highlight of our tour of Lima’s Historic Centre, surrounded as it is by one magnificent building after another. Not to mention the spacious beauty of the plaza itself.

Looking across the Plaza Mayor

Looking across the Plaza Mayor

Lima Cathedral

Lima Cathedral

The Archbishop's Palace

The Archbishop’s Palace

Despite its relatively plain appearance, the Casa del Oidor is actually the oldest building on the Plaza Mayor, and was once the seat of The Royal Audience, part of the justice system during colonial times

Despite its relatively plain appearance, the Casa del Oidor is actually the oldest building on the Plaza Mayor, and was once the seat of The Royal Audience, part of the justice system during colonial times

The Government Palace

The Government Palace

Lima's City Hall

Lima’s City Hall

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Lima Cathedral and the Archbishop's Palace across Plaza Mayor

Lima Cathedral and the Archbishop’s Palace across Plaza Mayor

The fountain in the centre of Plaza Mayor

The fountain in the centre of Plaza Mayor

Our time in the Historic Centre concluded with a visit to the Convent of San Francisco. For most people, it’s the bone-filled catacombs beneath the main church that generally have the most lasting impression. And I’m no exception. Sadly, we don’t have any photos, since Rich respected the convent’s request not to take any in the catacombs, but a quick Google search will show you what I mean.

Convent and Church of San Francisco

Convent and Church of San Francisco

The interior of the church of San Francisco

The interior of the church of San Francisco

This post was inspired by Cee’s Which Way Challenge and Jo’s Monday walk.

If you’re the sort of person that loves exploring historic, faraway places, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

And if that’s not enough for you, the first three Jaspa’s Journey novels will soon be available to enjoy, both as ebooks and in paperback! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

 

 

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Jamaica’s Blue Lagoon

Jamaica’s Blue Lagoon is a small inlet off San San Bay in the northeast part of the island, a little east of Port Antonio in Portland Parish.

The turquoise waters of the Blue Lagoon

The turquoise waters of the Blue Lagoon

Legend has it that the Blue Hole is bottomless, but a more scientific approach puts it at about 210 feet deep. Whichever you want to believe, the lagoon’s depth is responsible for its amazing turquoise colour.

Now-abandoned bar at the Blue Lagoon, which once featured in a movie starring Robin Williams... or was it Tom Cruise?

Now-abandoned bar at the Blue Lagoon, which once featured in a movie starring Robin Williams… or was it Tom Cruise?

The water in the lagoon is brackish, since it is partially fed by a fresh water spring.

Just outside the entrance to the Blue Lagoon, in San San Bay

Just outside the entrance to the Blue Lagoon, in San San Bay

There are all sorts of stories about the Blue Lagoon. One is that the actor Errol Flynn would dive to the bottom of it using only a snorkel. Not sure if that one is true!

A chilled-out way to see the Blue Lagoon and San San Bay

A chilled-out way to see the Blue Lagoon and San San Bay

The inlet was traditionally called the Blue Hole, but the popularity of the 1980s movie The Blue Lagoon starring Brooke Shields (I’m still unclear as to whether any of it was actually filmed here) resulted in its name being changed. In my opinion, this actually helps save some confusion, since there’s a second Blue Hole in Jamaica, a land-locked pool up in the Blue Mountains.

Island opposite the entrance to the Blue Lagoon

Island opposite the entrance to the Blue Lagoon

This post was inspired by Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, which this week is Teal or Turquoise.

The Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon

If Caribbean islands are about more than just the beaches for you, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

And if that’s not enough for you, the first three Jaspa’s Journey novels will soon be available to enjoy, both as ebooks and in paperback! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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Cozumel Sunset

I wasn’t sure I was going to have time for my blog this weekend. Then the photo themes of Perfect Sky from Nancy (of Nancy Merrill Photography) and Half and Half from Ben (of the Daily Post) reminded me of a particularly beautiful sunset I once enjoyed from a catamaran off the island of Cozumel in Mexico.

I hope you enjoy it, too.

Half sea, half sky, with just a sliver of land: floating off Cozumel is spectacular, whatever the time of day

Half sea, half sky, with just a sliver of land: floating off Cozumel is spectacular, whatever the time of day

Late afternoon and the sea and sky turn from blue to silver...

Late afternoon and the sea and sky turn from blue to silver…

...And then to gold

…And then to gold

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Not quite half and half, but I just couldn't crop off those wonderful clouds at the top of the frame

Not quite half and half, but I just couldn’t crop off those wonderful clouds at the top of the frame

Waiting for the sizzle, as the Sun approaches the sea

Waiting for the sizzle, as the Sun approaches the sea

Half and half... and half: Sea, Sky and Sun

Half and half… and half: Sea, Sky and Sun

Almost gone

Almost gone

Another day is done

Another day is done

If you take pleasure in the beauty of this wonderful planet we call home, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

And if that’s not enough for you, the first three Jaspa’s Journey novels will soon be available to enjoy, both as ebooks and in paperback! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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The 2500-Year-Old Reed Boats of Huanchaco, Peru

There has been a settlement at Huanchaco since prehistoric times. When the colossal UNESCO World Heritage Site of Chan Chan was a thriving city, Huanchaco was its port. Colonial era buildings indicate it remained important to the Spanish conquistadores. Some experts claim Huanchaco is the original home of the raw fish dish, ceviche. And in 2012, it was designated a World Surfing Reserve.

Huanchaco beach, were the land meets the water

Huanchaco beach, were the land meets the water

Huanchaco pier

Huanchaco pier

Yet the thing that attracts most visitors to Huanchaco are the traditional reed boats used by its fishermen.

Reed boats along Huanchaco beach

Reed boats along Huanchaco beach

Today, the characteristic reed boats go by the name caballitos de totora, which translates as reed horses. This is despite the fact they predate the introduction of modern horses to South America by over 2000 years. In fact, they were first made by the Moche People around 2500 years ago.

Me with some 'reed horses'

Me with some ‘reed horses’

Caballitos de totora are actually found all along the northern Peruvian coast, but are particularly associated with Huanchaco.

The boats are temporary things - eventually the reeds become waterlogged and the boats are taken apart

The boats are temporary things – eventually the reeds become waterlogged and the boats are taken apart

The ‘boats’ get their name from the way the fishermen ride them. Unlike a canoe, which you sit inside, you ‘ride’ a caballitos de totora as you would a horse, with one leg either side.

A 'reed horse' -  spot the fun being had in the background, by the water's edge

A ‘reed horse’ – spot the fun being had in the background, by the water’s edge

The hollowed-out portion in the centre is used to carry fishing nets and other necessities.

A modern twist... these days polystyrene is used to make the boats more buoyant

A modern twist… these days polystyrene is used to make the boats more buoyant

In many ways, caballitos de totora are more like rafts than true boats. But whatever you want to call them, seeing them lined up along the sea’s edge in Huanchaco is like stepping back in time.

Huanchaco beach and its caballitos de totora

Huanchaco beach and its caballitos de totora

Thanks to Lina of TrujilloDelPeru.Com for showing us Huanchaco and its wonderful reed boats.

A local girl saying 'hi' to a pair of Peruvian Pelicans

A local girl saying ‘hi’ to a pair of Peruvian Pelicans

The pelicans don't take much notice as the waves roll in and out

The pelicans don’t take much notice as the waves roll in and out

This post was inspired by Ailsa (of Where’s My Backpack?) travel theme of Land Meets Water and Cee’s Which Way Challenge.

Do you consider the caballitos de totora to be more boats or rafts? In either case, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

And if that’s not enough for you, the first three Jaspa’s Journey novels will soon be available to enjoy, both as ebooks and in paperback! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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Three Rivers Petroglyphs, New Mexico

Petroglyphs are basically rock art; images carved or drawn onto rocks or cave walls, usually during prehistoric times. I’ve been to several petroglyph sites over the years, spread across Europe and North America, including several in Hawaii and the Caribbean.

IMG_0783One of the most impressive, and certainly the most extensive, collection of petroglyphs I’ve seen so far is at the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site in New Mexico, between Tularosa and Carrizozo. Across this 50 acre expanse of desert literally thousands of petroglyphs are preserved.

View across the desert from the ridge at Three Rivers Petroglyph Site

View across the desert from the ridge at Three Rivers Petroglyph Site

In 2012, we spent a wonderful couple of hours hiking around a small ridge within the area protected by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The hillsides are strewn with rocks and boulders, most of which are covered with petroglyphs.

With some friends at Three Rivers

With some friends at Three Rivers

The artwork at Three Rivers belongs to the Jornada Mogollon people. The drawings were created over a 400-500 year period, between 900 and 1400 AD.

IMG_0793The harsh desert conditions coat any exposed rocks with a dark-coloured ‘patina’, which the artists scraped off to produce lighter-coloured designs.

Many of the carvings are geometric patterns, some of which are quite intricate.

IMG_0780IMG_0782IMG_0791IMG_0810In addition, there are over 21,000 petroglyphs (yes, that should say twenty-one thousand!) depicting insects, plants, fish…

Fish-shaped design filled with geometric patterns

Fish-shaped design filled with geometric patterns

…Birds…

Is it a bird? Yes, I think it is!

Is it a bird? Yes, I think it is!

…Mammals…

A sheep

A sheep

Another sheep, this one stuck with what look like arrows

Another sheep, this one stuck with what look like arrows

Yet another sheep

Yet another sheep

A second skewered critter, probably another sheep

A second skewered critter, probably another sheep

A square, chequered animal with baubles?

A square, chequered animal with baubles?

…And even humans.

A human face (on the left)

A human face (on the left)

A whole human figure

A whole human figure

This image of a head uses a natural nodule in the rock as the eye

This image of a head uses a natural nodule in the rock as the eye

This image is particularly lifelike

This image is particularly lifelike

Stick figures

Stick figures

But this was my favourite:

Who knew that herds of giraffes roamed the deserts of North America a thousand years ago?!

Who knew that herds of giraffes roamed the deserts of North America a thousand years ago?!

This post was inspired by the photo themes Symbol from Jen (Daily Post), Pattern from Paula (Lost in Translation) and, of course, Jo’s Monday Walk.

If like me, you’re captivated by the beauty and mystery of petroglyphs like these, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

And if that’s not enough for you, the first three Jaspa’s Journey novels will soon be available to enjoy, both as ebooks and in paperback! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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