Puerto Varas

From the island of Chiloe,going north, it is necessary to go to Puerto Montt. We had been advised by various people not to stay in Puerto Montt but to go a few Kms northwards to Puerto Varas. Puerto Montt is a huge port and an embarkation point for all ferries and cruise ships going  south to the Chilean fiords, Puerto Natalis, Punta Arenas and Antarctica -  so we did as advised and caught a bus to Puerto Varas.
From Chiloe the bus drove onto  a ferry to cross to the mainland.We drove down the road.
Straight onto the ferry - it  was waiting for us.
The ferry line is owned by the same company at the bus line!
Where have all the mountains gone? The scenery is all flat now!
Puerto Varas is like stepping back in time! during all the upheavals in Germany in 1850's (before Germany was united as a country) many families emigrated to Chile. At that time the Chilean Government needed people to develop the land. The German's came mainly from Bavaria. We had noticed for some time that the houses were looking very 'German' in structure, but arriving in Puerto Varas we felt we had arrived in Germany! We arrived in time to enjoy the local Bierfest!
German traditions are very strong.
Even the local bier label is printed in German!
The church is an exact replica of a church in Bavaria.

The inside was very plain compared to the German Baroque churches.
We decided to take the bus along the lake to what the locals call 'The upmarket lakeside town'
called Frutillar Bajo. Apparently as the Germans became wealthy they built summer houses in this town. It remains as German today as it was in the early 1900's.
The bandstand is a replica of one in Germany.
And the pier too - I'm sure
I'm sure I stayed in a hotel like this in Bavaria with my parents many years ago.
The best hotel looked wonderful.
With a glorious garden - a bit like our friend Margarete's garden.
There was a German gnome to keep everyone happy.
Many notices were in German and Spanish.
WE did admire all the gardens all neatly clipped.
On the front was a grand piano! Tony had to play it!

In the evening we went to a rather expensive restaurant and drank some fabulous wine made from the Carmenere grape. It was thought to be extinct until a German wine maker did some tests on what he thought was a Merlot vine - to his surprise he found it was the lost vine. The vine is flourishing in Chile and they are making some fabulous wines with it. Let's hope we will be able to get some in Europe - we shall have to talk about it in The Wine Society.
All this great meat we are eating makes us wonder if we will look like this gentleman!


The Archepegalo of Chiloe lies off the Chile mainland. It has it's own culture and is considered a 'Mythical place that has many spirits and witches and many folktales attached to those spirits and witches! I t is very beautiful - the scenery in sharp contrast to the previous few weeks.
The crossing from the mainland took about three hours - I was not seasick! We arrived in Quellon around six o' clock, from the distance it looked different!
It was difficult to find somewhere decent to sleep - but we didn't sleep here!
wandering round the harbour in the evening was  refreshing, the views reminded us of Cornwall.

But the houses along the front were dilapidated.
We had a good look at the wood burning stoves for sale and 
decided that Aga had based it designs on these.
 The next day we were on the bus again to the capital of Chiloe Castro.
Chiloe is famous for its 1860's wooden churches built by the German Jesuits who came to live here after the Prussian wars. We had noticed the buildings along the Carretera Austral were very Bavarian and now we were sure that the Bavarians had settled in great numbers, houses had German proportions. The Churches beautifully constructed. Needless to say they had fallen into disrepair, but luckily in the last few years under the protection of UNESCO they have been made a World Heritage site.
A model exhibition of some of the churches was on display in the tourist information centre.
We explored the town, finding a very welcome cup of real coffee.
the climate in Chiloe is very variable - showers of rain come and go all day when we came out from enjoying coffee and a delicious sandwich the dogs were sheltering from the rain.
The largest wooden church in the world was reflected in the wet pavement.
Inside the church were some remarkable 16th century carvings all reflecting the agony of Christ.
 The church itself was huge and quite beautiful.
 One of the old oil lamps had been converted.
The Nativity was still in position, despite it being the middle of January.
The baby Jesus wrapped in modern swaddling clothes.
 And St George was fighting the dragon.
Walking down to the port we saw the old town and its buildings.

We were surprised to see some old trains.

We decided that they had been imported from the USA.
In the port several boats were loading up to return to their islands. This one would take 2 hours to get home. We asked the  skipper  if we could come but he didn't know when he was coming to the mainland again!

The boat was packed to the gunnels, even the straw was wedged in!
Finally the boat sailed away - just!
Someone was a little anxious about the weight.
Chiloe is famous for its shellfish and when you see the size of these mussels you can understand why!
We were very glad to see that the youngsters were still fishing.

On Chiloe they grow elephant garlic!
In the port all sorts of sights met our eyes.

The work was all too much, and a siesta was needed!
The music was like a Barvarian dance - umm pa pa! But played by Chileans!
We found the craft market - there were the knitters!
 and their products.

If you use seaweed in your cooking this might be just the thing!
Dried kelp too!
And for the soup dried mussels.
And then the bits for the tourists - if you like this sort of thing!
Witches have names in Chiloe - El Trauco is one
And you can have your photo taken with one , if you like.
The next day we decided to take a tour out to one of the nearby islands.
We were to see several of the wooden churches, this one had been moved from one village to the next for 8 kms on rollers towed by oxen.
This one was partially restored
with a very pretty font.
The museum displayed 15th century robes.

In front of a statue was a tray full of melted wax from burnt candles!.
We stopped for coffee.
In a boat shaped cafe.
The bus was then put on the boat to go to the island 
with this odd vehicle from Switzerland! It had been round the world!

It was a little alarming that they did not raise the gate at the end of the boat!
The drive round the island offered splendid views.
A pre lunch stop was to sample oysters, Tony decided to have three small ones.
We remarked that we had never seen such large oysters and were surprised at the speed they girls opened them
Tony enjoyed his three!
But then we went back to the stall  - to see the biggest oysters we had ever seen.
One of our group ate 12 of these - and felt rather ill later in the day!
The first settlers carved everthing from wood - this is a grinding wheel made of wood!
Lunch was not oysters, we stopped in a small town where the seaweed is collected for drying.
Houses were joined to each other.
The tear shaped wooden cladding on the houses was designed so that the rain dripped downwards into the earth more easily. An idea brought from Germany.
Leaving the restaurant we went to see the next church.

Some remarkable statuary was evident, with some very clever lighting.
Jesus was always carrying his cross.
And Mary with Jesus as a small child.
The carving was reminiscent of Bavaria - we thought.
Our final church was the biggest.
Inside it was huge.

From the bellfry the newly restored construction was a work of art.

The ceiling curved, painted and carved.
We wound our way back to the ferry passing more magnificent scenery, onto the ferry again and back to Castro. A wonderful day out in the country!