New-to-us Port: # 8.
The early bird gets the worm, they say. In our case, by hopping on the 8:30a shuttle, we got a lovely cool morning to explore Iquique, empty streets to wander unhindered, and a museum entirely to ourselves. Couldn’t have asked for more.
The complimentary shuttle, provided by the Port Authority, took us to the main square — Plaza Arturo Prat. A ten-minute ride … and in short order, we were clicking photos of the Torre de Reloj (clock tower) … dating back to 1878 … to a time when this part of Chile belonged to the Peruvians.
Next, we headed over to Paseo Peatonal Baquedano … a pedestrian way that connects the plaza to the waterfront. Lined with colorful Georgian-style houses from the period between 1880-1920, I found the street very charming. I understand that the street has been declared a “Zona Tipica.” The buildings now house shops, restaurants, bars, and a museum. All but the latter were closed when we were wandering … just the way I like it.
Museo Regional de Iquique (free) … a little gem of a museum. The building at one time was the city’s courthouse … between 1892-1987. The exhibits range from natural history, to artifacts from indigenous cultures, to a couple of Chinchorro mummies. On the second floor, in addition to artifacts, we found an art exhibit.
Returning to the peatonal, we made our way to the waterfront.
Should we go right to visit Museo Corbeto Esmeralda, the replica of a Chilean warship that sank during the War of the Pacific with Peru? Or should we go left to walk the 2.5-mile long Paseo Costanera (waterfront promenade) along the beaches all the way to Playa Cavancha at the far end? We had no plans to swim in water temperatures that a website described as “non-Antarctic.” An interesting way of saying that it would be cold for all but those who are used to it. The surf was too rough anyway. Regardless, the promenade won out and we turned left.
It was a lovely walk. We took our time, making frequent stops for photos and to just enjoy the seascape and the light breeze that moderated the temperature. (The high today was in the mid-70F range.) While there were beach-goers — and some people braving the rough water … including surfers and body boarders — the long stretch of sand was not crowded. That, we later saw, was no longer the case and the beach was packed by noon.
Our plan, upon reaching Playa Cavancha, was to find a waterfront eatery and have a light meal before returning to the city center. Easier said than done. While some restaurants and bars were preparing for a later opening hour, many looked to be permanently shuttered. But we persisted, and though it was on a side street instead of on the waterfront, we found a place called Doña Filomena … a pizzeria/bar.
Neither one of us had pizza, however. Mui opted for a fish and shrimp ceviche … a huge portion; I ordered a cheese and choclo (corn) empanada. Both were delicious. Mui had his heart set on having a tres leches cake, but they were out. Instead, we had some delicious ice cream to wrap up our meal. Oh, and he ordered mango juice and I ordered a beer … Caleta, if I remember correctly.
To get back to the City Center, we ordered an Uber. But we went there by way of the Corbeto Esmeralda and then walked to the plaza. Perfect timing. A mini-van port shuttle was next in line, so we did not have to wait long for it to fill up.
We were back on Insignia a little before 2:00p … and settled into a couple of lounge chairs on the deck 5 promenade with views of the city in the distance (once the cargo vessel docked on the other side of the pier moved out, that is) … and sea lions entertaining us in the water near the ship.
It is now 5:30p and Insignia is on the move … 30 minutes early, so everyone must be onboard. A glass of wine on the veranda sounds like a good idea … an aperitif before dinner tonight. We are being hosted in the GDR by F&B Mariusz.Read more
New-to-us Port: # 8.