Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #1

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #1

 

We anchored off Aghiyuk Island and took a tender ashore for a couple hours of hiking from the black rock beach up to a couple of saddles in the hills that gave us excellent views of the beach and cliffs on the opposite side of the island.  Aghiyuk Island is the northern most and largest of the Semidi Islands.   It has high dramatic rock formations and its gentler slopes are covered with ankle to mid-shin high vegetation.  The location is well known for its abundance of seabirds, marine mammals, and the marine resources upon which they rely.  The Semidi Islands are a group of islands of the state of Alaska, United States, lying offshore in the Gulf of Alaska.  The islands are part of Kodiak Island Borough and are located southwest of Kodiak Island, about halfway between the Alaska Peninsula mainland and Chirikof Island.

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #2

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #2

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #3

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #3

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #4

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #4

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #5

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #5

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #6

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #6

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #7

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #7

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #8

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #8

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #9

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #9

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #10

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #10

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #11

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #11

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #12

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #12

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #13

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #13

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #14

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #14

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #15

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #15

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #16

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #16

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #17

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #17

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Stanley Park is one of the city's main tourist destinations, attracting approximately 8 million visitors each year, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Stanley Park is one of the city’s main tourist destinations, attracting approximately 8 million visitors each year, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; this panorama of some of downtown’s residential high rises was photographed from the Seawall east of the Vancouver Rowing Club on Coal Harbour

 

“Ideally situated on a peninsula at the northwestern edge of downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Stanley Park is one of the city’s main tourist destinations, attracting approximately 8 million visitors each year.  Featuring lovely beaches, miles of well-maintained paved and dirt trails, Canada’s largest aquarium and an array of can’t-miss kid-friendly spots (including a pool, water park, miniature railway and more), this 400-hectare (1,000-acre) haven is recognized as one of the greatest urban parks in the world.   As Vancouver’s first park, with its ever-blooming gardens, pristine coastal areas and roughly 500,000 cedar, fir and hemlock trees, Stanley Park has continued to live up to its “greenspace” designation for almost 130 years.  For these reasons and more, this tranquil oasis is the perfect city escape.” – http://www.tourismvancouver.com

 

Sailboats and yachts in the marina at Coal Harbour east of the Vancouver Rowing Club, Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Sailboats and yachts in the marina at Coal Harbour east of the Vancouver Rowing Club, Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

 

The nine totem poles at Brockton Point are BC's most visited tourist attraction, Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

The nine totem poles at Brockton Point are BC’s most visited tourist attraction, Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

 

A seaplane is visible flying toward North Vancouver from our vantage point on the Seawall walk on the east side of Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

A seaplane is visible flying toward North Vancouver from our vantage point on the Seawall walk on the east side of Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

 

“Stanley Park is consistently ranked number 1 in the world!  And the spectacular 9 kilometer (5.6 miles) Seawall – the city’s most popular recreation spot – is a huge part of that: stunning views of downtown’s skyline, Lions Gate Bridge, English Bay, sandy beaches and lush, old-growth forest.  Paved and mainly flat, the Seawall is divided for your safety: one side for pedestrians, the other for cyclists/roller bladers.” – Official Map + Guide to Vancouver’s Stanley Park

 

The Lions Gate Bridge with West Vancouver visible in the background, viewed from the Seawall walk on the middle of the east side of Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

The Lions Gate Bridge with West Vancouver visible in the background, viewed from the Seawall walk on the middle of the east side of Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

 

Colorful mudflats at low tide visible from the Seawall walk along Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Colorful mudflats at low tide visible from the Seawall walk along Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

 

The industrial area on the north shore of English Bay between North Vancouver and West Vancouver is slated for redevelopment in the coming decades (to become residential), seen from the

The industrial area on the north shore of English Bay between North Vancouver and West Vancouver is slated for redevelopment in the coming decades (to become residential), seen from the Seawall walk along Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; the yellow material is sulfur destined for export

 

The Lions Gate Bridge viewed from the Seawall walk along Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

The Lions Gate Bridge viewed from the Seawall walk along Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

 

Everyone reaching Prospect Point at the northern tip of Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, is surprised to find the tree growing out of the top of the rock column

Everyone reaching Prospect Point at the northern tip of Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, is surprised to find the tree growing out of the top of the rock column

 

We had an excellent luncheon of local seafood at the Teahouse (Restaurant), Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, that was originally built as a garrison and officer_s mes

We had an excellent luncheon of local seafood at the Teahouse (Restaurant), Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, that was originally built as a garrison and officer’s mess during the Second World War when Ferguson Point was a military installation

 

The ducks in Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, were oblivious to the many visitors hiking along the North Lagoon Trail through the park

The ducks in Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, were oblivious to the many visitors hiking along the North Lagoon Trail through the park

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park, Washington, USA, is named for the often-powerful winds that blow across the Olympic Mountain Range_s backbone (panorama)

Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park, Washington, USA, is named for the often-powerful winds that blow across the Olympic Mountain Range’s backbone (panorama)

 

Hurricane Ridge is a mountainous area in Olympic National Park in northwestern Washington State, about an hour’s drive from Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  At an elevation of 5,242 feet (1,598 meters), Hurricane Ridge can be accessed year-round.  In the summer there are hiking trails, although in early July we found several trails closed due to snow on the trails.  The trails offer spectacular views (see photographs, below).  In the winter, downhill skiing is offered at the family oriented hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area

 

Looking east with the Strait of Juan de Fuca barely visible on the left (north) side of the photograph; Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

Looking east with the Strait of Juan de Fuca barely visible on the left (north) side of the photograph; Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

 

The Olympic Peninsula contains coast, forest and mountain ecosystems that combine to create a spectacular wilderness area.  The Olympic Peninsula is home to eight Native American tribes that developed complex hunter-gatherer societies and continue to keep their traditions alive.  European explorers who ventured here in the late 1700s heralded the way for homesteaders.  The Olympics were set aside as a national monument in 1909 and further protected as Olympic National Park in 1938.  Today the park is internationally recognized as a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site, testimony to the rich resources of the region.

 

Rolling hills in front of the mountain ridge of snow-capped peaks, Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

Rolling hills in front of the mountain ridge of snow-capped peaks, Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

 

Purple wild lupine on one of the hiking trails on Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

Purple wild lupine on one of the hiking trails on Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

 

A view from one of the hiking trail summits at Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

A view from one of the hiking trail summits at Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

 

Snow-capped peaks nicely framed by the tall conifers on Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park, Washington, USASnow-capped peaks nicely framed by the tall conifers on Hurricane Ridge, Ol

Snow-capped peaks nicely framed by the tall conifers on Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

 

One of several deer roaming the meadows on Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

One of several deer roaming the meadows on Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

 

The lupines in the meadow provided quite a contrast with the snow capped peaks above the timberline at Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

The lupines in the meadow provided quite a contrast with the snow capped peaks above the timberline at Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Hiking on Santa Ana, Solomon Islands

Our mid-day hike across the island took us to the second village by the coast where we had a chance to met villagers and visit the two remaining historic “spirit houses”, Santa Ana,

Our mid-day hike across the island took us to the second village by the coast where we had a chance to met villagers and visit the two remaining historic “spirit houses”, Santa Ana,  Solomon Islands

 

The first part of our morning on Santa Ana (also known as Owaraha or Owa Raha), Solomon Islands, was spent meeting the local islanders and participating in “retail therapy” (shopping in their open air, artisan market) and then watching a quite varied series of traditional ceremonial dances by dancers from Santa Ana and some neighboring islands.  Afterwards we did a mid-day hike across the island to the second village by the coast.  Along the way, at the top of the island’s hill, are the local schools.  Many of the charming and freindly school children (on a two hour break for lunch) walked with us, hand-in-hand, answering questions about the island and their village and school, then joining us in singing songs (in English!).

 

A view from the top of the hill in the center of the island as we hiked across Santa Ana, Solomon Islands; note how lush the jungle is and some areas have been cleared for agriculture an

A view from the top of the hill in the center of the island as we hiked across Santa Ana, Solomon Islands; note how lush the jungle is and some areas have been cleared for agriculture and coconut trees

 

The children were friendly and very engaging – many walked with us, hand-in-hand across the island and told us about their life on the island and also sang songs (in English) with us;

The children were friendly and very engaging – many walked with us, hand-in-hand across the island and told us about their life on the island and also sang songs (in English) with us; Santa Ana, Solomon Islands

 

These two girls were very happy to pause for a moment for a portrait, Santa Ana, Solomon Islands

These two girls were very happy to pause for a moment for a portrait, Santa Ana, Solomon Islands

 

The second village_s homes are all traditional (no corrugated metal roofs, etc.) and are just inland from the ocean, beach and the spirit houses, Santa Ana, Solomon Islands; note the a

The second village’s homes are all traditional (no corrugated metal roofs, etc.) and are just inland from the ocean, beach and the spirit houses, Santa Ana, Solomon Islands; note the abundance of coconut palm trees

 

These three boys (hamming it up) were not put off by the fact that they are sitting on the low exterior wall of one of the two remaining, historic spirit houses that contain the bones of

These three boys (hamming it up) were not put off by the fact that they are sitting on the low exterior wall of one of the two remaining, historic spirit houses that contain the bones of past island chiefs, Santa Ana, Solomon Islands

 

The highlight of the destination was a chance (for the men – only) to enter and visit the two remaining historic “spirit houses” where the bones of previous chiefs are kept (a third historic spirit house on the island was demolished a number of years ago – the Christian missionaries, beginning in the mid 1800s, did not want to sanction the traditional ancestor and spirit worship).  The spirit houses also serve as meeting houses for the men of the village (women and children are not allowed to enter, but can look in from the end of the houses).  [For an introduction to Santa Ana, see our earlier blog post “Santa Ana (also known as Owaraha or Owa Raha), Solomon Islands”.]

 

The spirit houses, containing the relics and bones of old island chiefs, are a central meeting point for men on the island and continue (even in the age of Christianity on the Island) th

The spirit houses, containing the relics and bones of old island chiefs, are a central meeting point for men on the island and continue (even in the age of Christianity on the Island) the tradition of ancestor and spirit worship, Santa Ana, Solomon Islands

 

In the second spirit house are two large canoes, each filled with the bones of deceased chiefs and relics from each chief_s life, Santa Ana, Solomon Islands

In the second spirit house are two large canoes, each filled with the bones of deceased chiefs and relics from each chief’s life, Santa Ana, Solomon Islands

 

Under the canoes in the second spirit house are paintings of fish that have significance to the tribe and chiefs, along with bones and other relics (and a large wood fish sculpture), San

Under the canoes in the second spirit house are paintings of fish that have significance to the tribe and chiefs, along with bones and other relics (and a large wood fish sculpture), Santa Ana, Solomon Islands

 

Just beyond the spirit houses was a beautiful coastline lined with coconut palm trees, Santa Ana, Solomon Islands

Just beyond the spirit houses was a beautiful coastline lined with coconut palm trees, Santa Ana, Solomon Islands

 

A village elder (seated on the left) told us the story of Karimanua (in good English!) -- a legendary boy from Santa Ana, Solomon Islands, who was turned into a shark by the spirits and

A village elder (seated on the left) told us the story of Karimanua (in good English!) — a legendary boy from Santa Ana, Solomon Islands, who was turned into a shark by the spirits and revisits the island in his human form – with the carver holding the statue of Karimanua (half-man, half shark) that we purchased from him; note that this sculpture and story are unique to Santa Ana Island

 

                                      The Story of Karimanua and Kakafu

            On the island of Santa Ana there was a boy named Karimanua. One day, he and his younger brother, Kakafu, went into the gardens with the other men from the village. In the hot sun, they used heavy wooden sticks to dig mounds for planting yams. Together, they worked for many hours and grew hot and tired. The men said, “You two boys go fetch cold water from the spring-fed pond and bring it back so we can drink.”

            The brothers went to the pond, and when they got there they began to play in the water. First in the water was the younger brother, Kakafu. He played like he was a shark, swimming around in the pond. His elder brother, Karimanua, looked down and said, “It is not good, you are not a shark.” And so he got in the water too. Being of the shark clan, the two brothers swam about with ease. But the elder brother was the better shark. Karimanua was such a good shark that he snuck up on Kakafu from behind and bit his brother in half at the waist. This was very bad, and Karimanua knew it. Desperately, he tried to fit his brother back together again. He pressed him together, both halves of him, but with no success.

            While this was happening, the men in the garden had sent another boy to find out where the two brothers were, and why they had not returned with the water to drink. The third boy approached the pond and saw what Karimanua had done. He saw him attempting to fit both ends of his brother back together. The boy ran back to the men and told them what Karimanua had done to Kakafu. And then all the men rushed down to the pond to see for themselves what had been done. They saw Karimanua, and they chased him. He ran, ran, ran down to the sea, down the path and past the village until he reached the sea. When Karimanua reached the sea, he once again turned into a shark and swam out into the deep water. He swam far away from the men, away from his village and his mother’s gardens.

            Karimanua (“the one who wanders around the village”) sometimes grows hungry and comes to land. When there are feasts in the village, for an important death or other reason, he joins the men in the spirit house as they prepare root crops in large wooden bowls. As they smash up the yams with their wooden sticks, the hungry Karimanua helps them. But unlike the other men, Karimanua uses a hollow bamboo stick. The bamboo catches food, which Karimanua eats before returning again to the sea. Even today, Karimanua can still be seen swimming far out to sea, recognizable by the small gapagapa bird that flies over him and that occasionally lands on his pointed fin. – with thanks to expedition anthropologist Patrick Nason, an expert in Pacific Ocean and Melanesia maritime culture with doctoral training at Columbia University

 

Monemvasia, Greece

view-of-the-new-city-of-monemvasia-and-the-harbor-from-the-top-of-the-rock-or-citadel-of-the-fortified-city-of-monemvasia-ano-poli-or-upper-old

View of the “New” city of Monemvasia and the harbor from the top of the “Rock” or “Citadel” of the Fortified City of Monemvasia (Ano Poli or Upper Old Town), Greece, after we spent the morning hiking up to the top

 

Clinging to the side of the steep, rocky outcropping known as Laconia, the Byzantine town of Monemvasia has been inhabited since the sixth century A.D.  Separated from the mainland by a massive earthquake in 375 A.D., Monemvasia once controlled the sea lanes between Western Europe and the Levant, much as Gibraltar controlled the entrance to the Mediterranean.  According to the locals, seventy years ago the Old Town (or “Old Ship” as one Greek poet called it) was mostly a pile of rubble and unoccupied.  Restoration began in the 1960s and 1970s and accelerated over the next two decades.  The pedestrian city is now the summer home of wealth Greeks, especially on the weekends.  In the winter, only a dozen or so residents remain in the windy and cold Old Town; the rest of the summer shop owners and workers go back to their homes in Athens or other Greek islands.

 

some-of-the-restored-residences-in-kato-poli-lower-old-town-in-the-citadel-of-monemvasia-greece-with-the-wall-of-the-ano-poli-upper-old-town-visible-at-the-top-of-the-photograph

Some of the restored residences in Kato Poli (Lower Old Town) in the Citadel of Monemvasia, Greece, with the wall of the Ano Poli (Upper Old Town) visible at the top of the photograph

 

as-we-climbed-up-the-citadel-or-the-rock-of-monemvasia-greece-we-had-terrific-views-of-epidavron-limiras-gulf-and-the-passing-sailboats

As we climbed up the Citadel (or “the Rock”) of Monemvasia, Greece, we had terrific views of Epidavron Limiras Gulf and the passing sailboats

 

A small group of us hiked from the harbor in New Monemvasia through the citadel gate and then through Kato Poli (Lower Old Town) and up through the rock outcroppings into and through Ano Poli (Upper Old Town) to the top of the Citadel.  On our way back down to the harbor, we stopped in Kato Poli (Lower Old Town) for refreshments, shopping and then a nice luncheon on a terrace with views of Old Town and the Gulf.

 

in-the-center-left-of-this-view-of-kato-poli-lower-old-town-is-elkomenos-christos-church-of-the-elkomenos-or-christ-in-chains-dating-back-to-the-early-christian-period-with-architectural-features

In the center-left of this view of Kato Poli (Lower Old Town) is Elkomenos Christos (Church of the Elkomenos or Christ in Chains) — with the dark roof — dating back to the early-Christian period with architectural features from several eras, Monemvasia, Greece

 

the-beautifully-restored-dome-and-interior-frescoes-of-the-church-at-the-top-of-the-citadel-in-ano-poli-upper-old-town-are-the-result-of-a-two-year-cultural-renovation-project-underwritten-by-the-e

The beautifully restored dome and interior frescoes of the church at the top of the Citadel in Ano Poli (Upper Old Town) are the result of a two-year cultural renovation project underwritten by the E.U., Monemvasia, Greece

 

the-view-from-the-top-of-the-citadel-takes-in-kremmydi-point-looking-to-the-north-of-the-island-monemvasia-greece

The view from the top of the Citadel takes in Kremmydi Point looking to the north of the island, Monemvasia, Greece

 

one-of-the-40-greek-orthodox-churches-in-kato-poli-lower-old-town-monemvasia-greece

One of the 40 Greek Orthodox churches in Kato Poli (Lower Old Town), Monemvasia, Greece

 

a-view-from-restaurant-to-kanoni-of-elkomenos-christos-church-of-the-elkomenos-or-christ-in-chains-monemvasia-greece

A view from Restaurant To Kanoni of Elkomenos Christos (Church of the Elkomenos or Christ in Chains), Monemvasia, Greece

 

the-interior-of-elkomenos-christos-church-of-the-elkomenos-or-christ-in-chains-monemvasia-greece

The interior of Elkomenos Christos (Church of the Elkomenos or Christ in Chains), Monemvasia, Greece

 

 

Parque Aiken del Sur, Puerto Chacabuco, Patagonia, Chile

The Arrayán tree, commonly known as Chilean myrtle, is native to the Andes and was found throughout Parque Aiken del Sur, Puerto Chacabuco, Patagonia, Chile

The Arrayán tree, commonly known as Chilean myrtle, is native to the Andes and was found throughout Parque Aiken del Sur, Puerto Chacabuco, Patagonia, Chile

Parque Aiken del Sur (Aiken del Sur National Park), a privately owned 618-acre (250-hectare) nature preserve and botanical garden, is a short 15-minute drive from the port of Puerto Chacabuco, Chile in the Chilean Patagonia region.  The park has several hiking trails, including the nature trail to Lago Riesco (Riesco Lake), which we walked with a local nature guide.

The Arrayán tree, commonly known as Chilean myrtle (Latin: luma apiculata) is native to the Andes and was found throughout Parque Aiken del Sur on our nature hike.  “Its trunk appears twisted and contorted and has smooth bark, coloured grey to bright orange-brown, which peels as the tree grows. Its fruit is appreciated in Chile and Argentina and its flowers are important for honey production. The Chilean myrtle has medicinal uses for the [local native] Mapuche people.” — Wikipedia

After falling through the rabbit hole, "Alice" was dwarfed by the local ferns in Parque Aiken del Sur, Puerto Chacabuco, Patagonia, Chile

After falling through the rabbit hole, “Alice” was dwarfed by the local ferns in Parque Aiken del Sur, Puerto Chacabuco, Patagonia, Chile

 

 

The waterfall was one of the visual highlights on our nature hike in Parque Aiken del Sur, Puerto Chacabuco, Patagonia, Chile

The waterfall (Barba del Viejo cascade) was one of the visual highlights on our nature hike in Parque Aiken del Sur, Puerto Chacabuco, Patagonia, Chile

Ferns and a leaf vine growing parasitically on a tree trunk in Parque Aiken del Sur, Puerto Chacabuco, Patagonia, Chile

Ferns and a leaf vine growing parasitically on a tree trunk in Parque Aiken del Sur, Puerto Chacabuco, Patagonia, Chile

The forested nature trail ended in a flowering meadow just before reaching Riesco Lake in Parque Aiken del Sur, Puerto Chacabuco, Patagonia, Chile

The forested nature trail ended in a flowering meadow just before reaching Riesco Lake in Parque Aiken del Sur, Puerto Chacabuco, Patagonia, Chile

A flowering meadow overlooking Riesco Lake in Parque Aiken del Sur, Puerto Chacabuco, Patagonia, Chile

A flowering meadow overlooking Riesco Lake in Parque Aiken del Sur, Puerto Chacabuco, Patagonia, Chile

 

Riesco Lake, well known for its quiet and transparent blue waters, in Parque Aiken del Sur, Puerto Chacabuco, Patagonia, Chile

Lago Riesco (Riesco Lake), well known for its quiet and transparent blue waters, in Parque Aiken del Sur, Puerto Chacabuco, Patagonia, Chile

Returning to the ship before it departed Puerto Chacabuco proved to be the most harrowing experience we had in all of 2015 (and we had some good adventures!). Our guide had arranged for our driver to meet us at Lago Riesco (Riesco Lake) at 4:15 p.m. in order to drive back to the port for us to catch a tender before that service stopped at 5:15 (the all-aboard time was 5:30 p.m.).  The appointed time came and went and after a few minutes, our guide found that there was no cell phone signal at the lake. I successfully broke into the lodge/dinging hall on the hill overlooking Lago Riesco and, excitedly, found a short wave (CB) radio. Much to our chagrin, the battery it was connected to was dead and the electricity to the building had been turned off and we couldn’t find the main switch. Getting more nervous about being stranded in Puerto Chacabuco with only the clothes on our back, no passports, hardly any money, and knowing the ship would be traversing the Patagonian fjords for four days before arriving at the next port (Ushuaia, Argentina), we decided to start the hour-plus long hike back to the park headquarters and visitor center. 

As we descended the hill toward the trail, it was with a huge sigh of relief that we saw two local policemen – whom our guide knew. They informed her that the gate on the road up to the lodge/dining hall/Riesco Lake had been locked closed and our car and driver were sitting (on the other side) there for over an hour. We jumped in the car and had a really fast drive through the park on dirt roads (nearly breaking an axle) and then sped down the highway back to the port. A ship’s tender had waited shore-side in case we showed up at the last minute – what a welcome sight! We boarded the ship at 5:29, greatly relieved that we had narrowly avoided the unwelcome adventure of spending four unscheduled days ashore with no cell phone, passport, money, or spare clothing – and no plans/reservations to get from Chile to Argentina. Later we did find out that the ship would have ferried our passports ashore and left them with the port agent so that we’d at least have our IDs and the ability to travel to meet up with the ship at the next port.

Needless to say, we were thrilled with the views as we sailed through the fjords of Patagonia that evening, knowing we almost got to spend an unplanned extra four days ashore…

Sailing through the fjords of Patagonia -- here, the Fiordo Aisen -- after departing Puerto Chacabuco, Patagonia, Chile

Sailing through the fjords of Patagonia — here, the Fiordo Aisen — after departing Puerto Chacabuco, Patagonia, Chile

 

 

Hiking Strada Napoleonica after riding up Europe’s last cable-driven tram/funicular — in Trieste, Italy

Local frogs (plastic) in the "frog pond", actually the Canal Grande with a reflection of the San Antonio Taumaturgo, in Trieste, Italy

Local frogs (plastic) in the “frog pond”, actually the Canal Grande with a reflection of the San Antonio Taumaturgo, in Trieste, Italy

Walking to the tram station in downtown Trieste, Italy, the “frog pond” proved to be irresistible to your wandering photographer.  Apparantly, the frogs were placed on a whim on the portion of the Canale Grand (Grand Canal) closed to boat traffic; they proved so popular that they have remained to humor passersby.

The tram conductor's view as we head out of downtown Trieste, Italy

The tram conductor’s view as we head out of downtown Trieste, Italy

The tram connecting downtown Trieste with the hillside town of Opicina is a hybrid tram railway and funicular.  Originally opened in 1902, it is now the last cable-driven tram railway in a European city.  Through the flat part of Trieste, the line operates as a conventional, electric powered tramway.  As the line begins to ascend, the hybrid system switches to the cable as the power source.

The tram being pulled uphill by the cable, Trieste, Italy

The tram being pulled uphill by the cable, Trieste, Italy

“On the funicular section of the line, the tramcars are pushed uphill and braked downhill by cable tractors, also known as cable dummies or, in Italian, carro scudo. These vehicles are permanently attached to the haulage cable. They are not attached to the tramcars, but the lower end of the tramcar rests against the upper end of the cable tractor. There have been three generations of cable tractors on the line.” — Wikipedia

The tram swotched from electricity to the cable, Trieste, Italy

The tram swotched from electricity to the cable, Trieste, Italy

Our destination for the morning was just before the town of Opicina at the beginning of the “strada Napoleonica” (Napoleon’s road), where we hiked for several hours, beginning in overcast, then mist (see photograph) and then a steady, warm rain.

View of Trieste from the "strada Napoleonica" (Napoleon's road), reached by the Trieste tram cable car

View of Trieste from the “strada Napoleonica” (Napoleon’s road), reached by the Trieste tram cable car

Our 3.2 Km hike along the strada Napoleonica took us towards Prosecco, first along a pedestrian path and then uphill through the woods where Napoleon traversed the hillside.  The area is full of light-grey limestone rocks and cliffs (see photo, below).  The vegetation includes the Mahaleb cherry, oaks, evergreens and terebinths.  Our path was the highest of three routes along the coast — lowest was the moderate speed highway, then the long distance train tracks, with our hiking path the highest.

Grey limestone cliffs overlooking the Adriatic Sea (Gulf of Trieste) from the strada Napoleonica

Grey limestone cliffs overlooking the Adriatic Sea (Gulf of Trieste) from the strada Napoleonica

Our hike took us past the Tempio Nazionale a Maria Madre Regina, an incredibly modernist church perched on the hillside overlooking Trieste and its harbor in the distance.  Constructed just after the end of World War II, the church was built in order to keep faith with with a vow taken by the Archbishop of Trieste, Monseingneur Santin, who was asking for salvation of the city.  In 1959, Pope John XXIII decided to dedicate the Temple-to-be to Mary-Mother and Queen as imploration for the oneness of Oriental and Occidental peoples.

Interior of the Tempio Nazionale a Maria Madre Regina, in the hills of Prosecco, above Trieste, Italy

Interior of the Tempio Nazionale a Maria Madre Regina, in the hills of Prosecco, above Trieste, Italy

The structure of the church is made entirely of reinforced concrete.  The 45 meter (148 feet) high church is a landmark in the hills, visible from long distances.

Interior (closeup) of the Tempio Nazionale a Maria Madre Regina, in the hills of Prosecco, above Trieste, Italy

Interior (closeup) of the Tempio Nazionale a Maria Madre Regina, in the hills of Prosecco, above Trieste, Italy

We hiked a little further on to one of the last tram stops where we waited for a downhill tram for a ride back to city-center and a 10-minute walk back to the ship (now in a solid rainfall).  Having shopped previously, we were able to enjoy a lunch of fresh, local produce and fruit along with some outstanding prosciuto from Trieste and Rialto Market (Venice) seafood that we cooked: cold gamberetti (shrimp) and sauteed vongole (baby clams) with cherry tomatoes.

Luncheon in our ship's apartment with ingredients from Venice and Trieste

Luncheon in our ship’s apartment with ingredients from Venice and Trieste

Late in the evening, the setting sun lit up the main town square, Piazza dell’ Unita d’Italia, providing a nice final view of the city before we headed off to dinner and an overnight departure.

Sunset farewell to Trieste, Italy, and its public square, Piazza dell’ Unita d’Italia

Sunset farewell to Trieste, Italy, and its public square, Piazza dell’ Unita d’Italia