Tale of 2 Days

Trip Start Oct 16, 2010
Trip End Aug 01, 2011

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Where I stayed
Hostal 1127

Flag of Chile  ,
Sunday, April 3, 2011

We barely made it for our 11:45am Turbus ride from San Pedro de Atacama to Antofagasta. Out of breath and sweaty, we enjoyed the climate-controlled bus and comfortable seats. What a nice bus for a 6 hour rode and only $15. An hour later as we stopped in Calama for a short 20 minutes to pick up new passengers, the driver alerted us of not only of the stop but also how long we would be stopped for. We love Chile and it's civilization.

Calama is a much bigger town than we thought and looks worthy of a stopover. Unfortunately that would not be our destiny as we were headed to the coast. The landscape from Calama to Antofagasta was very dry sand dunes and colorful pastel mountains with the occasional rail-crossing.

Upon arriving at the big beautiful Antofagasta bus station we were able to quickly transport to our hostel, Hostel 1127. It was difficult to find given that there is no signage but the trick is to simply go to the address, 1127 Coquimbo and ring the bell. The hostel is very comfortable and Gonzalo was very kind as he showed us around and gave us a map of the area. He suggested a beer festival and a restaurant for dinner. Since we only had a day or so in the city we decided to go on our regular five mile jaunt seeking our every corner of the city we could. We were quite hungry but it is so difficult to make a decision when a whole new city is opened up to you. We perused Plazamall (the first real mall with real stores with real brands we have seen in a few months), the beautiful beachfront, fake Coney Island, the fanciest McDonalds ever and a spectacular permanent sports complex along beachfront.

As we continued to starve in search of some seafood along the beachfront we finally made our way all the way down to the Enjoy Casino. Once arriving at its entrance we realized that we were at a huge crossroads. We saw that the beer festival was in the Parque Cultural Huanchaca right across the street from the casino so when arriving at the entrance we had to either go left into the beer festival or go right into the casino. It turned out that our stomachs determined that we turn into the casino to eat. The Afuego restaurant in the casino did deliver the seafood we were looking for but it is pretty steeply priced and the service was absolutely atrocious. We didn't even want to leave a tip but it is the standard to tack it on in Chile. The night however switched direction quickly once Raymie hit the blackjack table. He won $100 in about 10 minutes and we were out. And on top of this we found out that we were supposed to pay $5 entrance for the casino that we skipped unknowingly.

Antofagasta day 2

The hostel provided us some nice toasties for breakfast. Given that we only had one night reserved in the constantly full Hostel 1127 we had to make a choice to either find another place or catch a bus to La Serena. We decided on the later. We picked up some tickets at the Pullman station downtown and toured the second half of Antofagasta. We checked out the Plaza de Armas, cathederal, pedestrian streets and spent some time in an Internet Café. Raymie had to make some final edits to a paper that will soon be published before lunch. Bongos was a nice stop for some authentic Chilean lunchfare. Raymie has some huge churrasco bongo sandwich (roast beef, sauerkraut, avocado, carrot-pickle relish, mustard, mayonnaise, etc.) and Bee had weird spinach Greek like something special of the day. Another four mile walk today and I think we covered as much of Antofagasta as possible in our short time her. 
P.S. go to the Mercado Central for lunch. This was the one thing we realized too late.

Given that we had plenty of time to kill before we our night bus left we did the proper American thing and used the internet and had a couple drinks at TGIFridays. We watched the sunset along the waterfront and then had dinner at Pizzante. Not sure that either of these are worth a recommendation but Fridays poured a good drink and the pasta at Pizzante was decent.

We picked up our luggage at the hostel and off to the bus station we head for an overnight bus to La Serena.
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