Martin on Cnicht

Martin on Cnicht

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Puerto Montt

27 November

Today was the third and final day of our leisurely transition from Phase 1 to Phase 2 of the trip. It has been a relaxing time.

Today, a leisurely breakfast with Corina and Christian before a taxi arrived to take us to Punta Arenas airport. Dropping the bags, security, etc was all very smooth in the small but modern airport, and we soon found ourselves on the LAN internal flight to Santiago, via our destination, Puerto Montt. The new plane was full. A good snack and drinks were provided. All a bit more civilised than what we are used to in Europe.

It was perhaps a timely moment to finish Bruce Chatwin's book 'In Patagonia'. I've been reading it for some time, and I finished it just as we were leaving the scene of his travels. I was not as disappointed as Alan Sloman predicted. I found the book quite engaging but rather disjointed and very easy to pick up and put down.

I'm now onto some light reading - Anne Tyler's 'The Accidental Tourist'.

It was another lovely day with a bit of high cloud, but sadly our seats didn't offer views until the final descent, when it looked as if we could be back in England.

The bags soon arrived and we hopped on the bus to town. A traffic jam reminded us of home. There was very little traffic further south, so no chance of a jam! But the continued sight of corrugated iron and painted washboard houses reminded us that we are far from home.

A short taxi ride from the bus station to Hotel Seminario, which Sue booked a couple of days ago, brought us to the end of our booked itinerary, apart from the flight home.

Let Phase 2 commence, then!

We'd looked at car hire online but it was nearly as eyewateringly expensive as some of the prices that other people told us they had paid. It looked as if we would have to pay at least £1000 for three weeks' hire, including £300 for the privilege of dropping the car off at Santiago. So it was with some trepidation that we set off to the 'First' car rental office that we could find, suggested by the hotel. The First office was a bit like a barred windowed taxi kiosk, a good sign in my book. Low overheads, nothing fancy. They efficiently quoted about £500 for the three weeks, including the drop off in Santiago and only a modest insurance excess. So what had we been worried about? I suppose we'll find out when we pick the car up tomorrow.

That left us the afternoon to spend in Puerto Montt, which we had been advised to move straight on from.

We had a lovely afternoon. First we celebrated with afternoon tea/coffee and cake at the  art gallery. The seven layered cake in the top picture was a work of art. The gallery was small but interesting.

Then we walked a few km down the seafront past knitted trees (picture 2) and a giant chess set (picture 3) to the fish market, passing a variety of sculptures, and plaques in memory of some of those who have carved out Chile's history. Prime amongst these was one Bernardo O'Higgins, a driving force behind the conversion of the country from a colony to a Republic in the early 1800s.

But I've chosen the bust of Arturo Prat for the fourth of today's images. Prat was commander of an old wooden boat, the Esmeralda, which on 21 May 1879 found itself under attack from Peruvian artillery on one side and an ironclad warship on the other. The warship boasted 300lb cannon whilst Prat had 40lb at his disposal. When the aggressor rammed Esmeralda, Prat jumped aboard the warship, sword in hand, determined to fight to the end. Which didn't take long. Perhaps that's where the saying "(Martin) behaved like a prat" comes from? No matter, the futile gesture resulting in Prat's death on the warship's deck has, in acknowledgement of Prat's dignity and self-sacrifice, made him a national hero with a thousand avenues and squares named after him.

Here's Sue's take on the rest of the day. 

"Our walk in the sun also passed a statue of a group of people, depicting a German family arriving in 1852. There were lots of German immigrants in this area. Nearby is the Plaza de Armas, the main square, where the benches are adorned with tiled ends, and with the Inglesia cathedral on one side. It is a dark building in a "neoclassical style with a Doric Greek influence reflected on its wooden columns".

It was a busy afternoon along the front, with lots of people walking, or just sitting around. To the south, hills lie to either side of the fjord, and Volcan Calbuco, 2003m, can be seen above the town, with snow on its flanks. It erupted in April this year!

Our aim was to visit the fish market at Angelmó, about 2km from the town centre. Before that was a craft market (feria artesanal) in wooden stalls, selling woollen items, wooden and woven goods, and lapis lazuli jewellery. 

The fish market was fascinating, with salmon and shellfish particularly prominent, and not very expensive. There were also stalls selling cheese, honey, vegetables and fruit. The building was wooden, including a part of it on stilts over the creek. Small boats were busy around it. (Picture 5)

Above the market are small eateries, and we had dinner in one of these, overlooking the creek where birds of prey were circling, seabirds were coasting and a grey pelican was hanging about. After a small Pisco, we had a starter of fish and salad then shared salmon with potato salad, and a plate of 'almejas marineras' (marinated clams - picture 6), whose shells alone weighed a lot. It was heavy on the garlic but very good. 

A walk back, in lovely evening light (picture 7 shows more boats) was helpful as we were rather full! We passed a couple of steam trains (picture 8), the 'sentados frente al mar', a 6m high statue of a couple holding hands and looking out on the ocean (picture 9), and the Jesuit church and its bell tower that was built in 1871."

The final picture (if they all transmit - I know they aren't brilliant but they should give a feel of the place) is of wires in front of a typical building. Wires have been a feature of all the towns we've visited. If you look carefully you'll spot lots of clusters. Sometimes they stretch idly down to street level! Robert would be shocked.

Having gone out at 3pm, we returned at 8pm to find the evening sun lighting our room nicely.

3 comments:

John J said...

Both the cake AND the coffee are a work of art ☺

Glad to see all is going well and the weather is being kind. I gather its cold, wet and windy back in Timperley. Oh well....we could perhaps hope for a delayed return!

Phreerunner said...

Thanks JJ. We hope you are enjoying the sunshine and the escape from other stuff.

I'm sure the weather in Timperley will be accommodating for us when we get back...
We'll need time indoors to process photos etc!

Nightbird said...

Sue- do you remember the knitted tree in Rekyavik? probably not the same artist. Ahhh pisco sours, I remember them well. Delicious!