Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Puenta Arenas, Chile--Cemeteries and Museums!

Our first three days were at sea and it was pretty rough the whole time. It hasn’t bothered us that much, although Jim is still recovering from his latest setback, and I am sure the rough seas don’t help.

Gina, our cabin stewardess, has taken to making us “towel animals,” which we have often seen when we stay at resorts, but have never had someone do it for us on a ship. The swans made out of our pool towels…

The Captain ducked into the Chilean fjords to get out of the rough seas and the scenery was lovely.


Snow on the mountain tops…


For a ship as large as ours, we still managed to get pretty close to shore as we sailed through.

And then we ended up back in the open waters where it was rough once again.


The next day...another animal, an elephant!

It was still quite rough and the sky looked quite angry! 



I have been playing trivia with our group, but for the most part staying close to the cabin as Jim recuperates. The next day dawned and it was calm at last!

We docked in Punta Arenas which lies on top of hills overlooking the Magellan Strait. Before the Panama Canal was built, it was a major port as ships stocked up before heading around Cape Horn. Today, it remains prosperous due to its location, with fjords and mountains to the north and the Antarctic to the south.

Jim and I were here two years ago, so I was glad he wasn’t missing anything by staying on the ship. Barb, Ed and I took the tender in search of a taxi to take us on a city tour.

The Gate to the Antarctic…


We hired a taxi driver, Daniel, for a one hour tour. His English was pretty good, which helped a lot. Our first stop was a scenic lookout. The ship looks so tiny in the background…

Punta Arenas…

The taller building on the left is a new hotel overlooking the water.

The vendors know a good spot when they see it. The woollen goods were beautiful and Barb bought a soft alpaca scarf for $8.

Signs to everywhere, but none for Canada…

There are some beautiful homes…

Our next stop was the cemetery. The huge stone gateway was donated by wealthy philanthropist, Sara Braun in 1919.


Her sole request was that she be the only person allowed through the center doors. They were sealed shut, and never used again after she entered.

No problemo…we used the other door!

The cypress trees are just stunning…Ed and Barb with Daniel, our driver.

Someone has a full-time pruning job!

The cemetery is full of tombs of the region's founding families and there are also different sections for immigrant nationalities.

Still lots of dogs everywhere…

A very wealthy section…


But not all families have mausoleums. These are still very nice family plots…


And some not so wealthy...if you do not pay your 20€ per year, they dig up the grave and remove the coffin. Ouch!

The family mausoleum for Sara Braun and her husband, Jose Nogueira. Daniel told us that the family enters once a year and supposedly reapplies her makeup and does her hair. People show up on November 1 to see if it is true. Hmmmm…


And then there are these smaller units. I would assume these people are cremated.

These trees are very old and are cut around the plots as needed.

It isn’t that wide…

Daniel told us that his wife wanted to take his picture once and he hid behind the tree and then jumped out. So when in Punta Arenas… I blamed this totally on Daniel and his stories!

Lovely stained glass in some of the mausoleums…

And poignant statues....

We had spent so much time in the cemetery, that we used up our whole hour of sightseeing. So Daniel dropped us off in the Plaza de Armas, the focal point of the city. The square is dominated by the statue of Ferdinand Magellan, whose ship was literally blown through the strait that bears his name. He was the first European to see the windswept shores and was so relieved to reach the calmer water to the west of the strait, that he gave it the name, Pacific Ocean (peaceful sea). The statue…

The legend is that if you rub the toe of the Indian you will return one day. I do have a picture of me rubbing it two years ago, so I guess it is true!

The dogs would just break your heart…

More vendors…

This dog had the most startlingly pale blue eyes…

The church…

Punta Arenas has a population of about 150,000 and it was very quiet on a Sunday afternoon.


We walked to the Hotel Jose Nogueira, which was initially his magnificent home with his wife, Sara Braun. He was a Portuguese sailor who amassed a huge fortune in the late 1800s in the sheep and cattle business. He died of TB at age 48 leaving his fortune to Sara.


Beautiful entrance with the opening to the second floor.

A unique lamp…

Sara Braun and her husband, Jose Nogueira…

A nice little bar inside where we enjoyed a cappuccino.

Wouldn’t this be a lovely place to have lunch!

I went upstairs to check out the balcony…

Where they would have had an impressive view of the town…

I am not sure what this is supposed to represent, but there was a mannequin inside in a formal dress.

Barb taking advantage of one of the chairs…

The military museum close by wasn’t open, which was fine with us.

So we went to the Braun Menendez Regional Museum. This was originally the home of Sara's brother, Mauricio Braun and his wife, Josefina Menendez.


They gave you covers for your shoes and it felt like skating on the beautiful wooden floors. Ed practicing his moves…

No expense was spared in its construction. Most of the furnishings were brought from England, the wallpaper from France, the marble from Italy, and the wood from Belgium.

Much of the house is maintained in its original condition. The office of Mauricio Braun…

The billiards room…

Phonograph and gold plated wood box…

Some of the walls were made of pressed Italian leather…

Large bathroom!

In the basement was the huge kitchen...


And the servants’ quarters…

The rest of the home has been outfitted with displays of items from sailing ships and explorers; however, it was all in Spanish, so we weren’t sure what we were seeing.

This was in the back yard...interesting!

We took a taxi to a grocery store and bought some wine and then headed back to the ship to rest our tired feet! It was starting to get cold by then and the line up to get back on the tenders for the ship was huge! We saw the skinniest dog licking the pavement for crumbs of food. Someone in the line gave him a muffin. It was heart breaking...

They were going as fast as they could, but of course it seemed that everyone wanted to go back at the same time!

A great day…tomorrow we will be in Ushuaia, Argentina…

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