Hola Chile, but adios South America

Trip Start Sep 22, 2011
Trip End Aug 11, 2012

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Where I stayed
Ventana Sur Hostel

Flag of Chile  ,
Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hello from Santiago and our next/final South American country, Chile. It's Alex having a turn at writing again.

The journey from Mendoza to Santiago wasn't a long one in distance but the border crossing can take hours so we had an early start.  On the way to the border we stopped at Puente del
Inca which is a natural bridge made out of sulphur. Very strange!  We  stopped for lunch just before the border in a beautiful place amid the Andes.  It was freezing with snow not very far away!  Once at the border we all piled off the truck, filled in our forms, had our passports stamped then sat for about 2 1/2 hours while they searched the truck. We then declared our goods & were on our way.  Apparently some border crossings take longer than 4hrs if you get grumpy officials!

We arrived in Santiago & checked into the hotel.  We were bit sleepy after a long day on the truck so me & Paul headed out for a little snack for dinner. We ended up in a cafe which had the quickest service we have ever known in South America!  We had huge, tasty steak
sandwiches & very fresh orange juice.

After a complimentary cheese sandwich for breakfast (?!) we checked out & headed to our new hostel in another part of the city. Thankfully for our first night we were in an 8 bed dorm on our own.  We walked back into the city centre and came across a great market where I brought a dress (yay new clothes!).  We  wandered around the city centre & shopped a bit.  We brought amazing ice cream from a place called Bravissimo. The ice creams were huge & had every flavour imaginable.  We walked off our ice cream heading back to our hostel to get ready for our last night out with the Tucan lot.  We headed to the restaurant area (Bella Vista) & picked a
restaurant that could accommodate us all.  The girls  started the night with cocktails - I had blueberry champagne.  The starters were amazing; huge & very tasty.  I shared a mixed starter with Ali, & Paul had mixed fajitas.  Unfortunately mains were a little disappointing; I had chicken breast stuffed with shrimp but it was missing the shrimp! To be fair they did bring me some shrimp when I questioned it! Paul found his a little too cheesy.  We did however have a nice meal.  After the meal we wandered around struggling to find a bar that didn't charge to get in.  We found one eventually which turned out to be a gay bar. We should have guessed by the amount of Lady Gaga being played!!  We stayed for a few drinks then found another bar where we stayed for the rest of the night. Many drinks were had & we crawled home at 6am! Very late but good night. 

Needless to say we had a late start in the morning; got up at about 1pm!  We met up in town with the girls that managed to surface & showed them the market we found the day before.  We walked up a hill with a lovely park at the top & some great views of the city.  We headed back to the hotel with the girls & met the newbies joining the trip.  For tea we went out to the same cafe me & Paul found on the first night.  It was just as good again. Back at the hotel we Sat
in the girls room & laughed at them trying to repack their bags - if you thought I had a lot of stuff!!!  It was then time to say bye :-( with many promises to meet up back home.

We are officially of the trip!  And we spent our first day doing nothing! :-). After a lie in we caught up with the blog & found the internet was quick enough to load photos.  We went to the supermarket then spent the rest of the afternoon by the pool in the beautiful sunshine.  For tea we had bbq, Paul was enjoying every last bit of steak he could!

The next day we headed to the seaside town of Valparaiso.  We got the metro to the bus station then a bus to the town.  Unfortunately the town wasn't quite what we expected - it was more like a dock yard than a seaside town.  We got the funicular up the hill to the more bohemian part of town.  This part was nicer with art on the walls & multicoloured houses but most of the shops & galleries seemed to be shut so there wasn't much to do.  We stopped at a famous Victorian cafe
overlooking the town for a cup of tea then we decided to head back to Santiago.  We stopped off at the market again so I could by a skirt I'd been eyeing up all weekend :-)

Our last day in South America!  Our flight wasn't until 11.20pm so we had the whole day in Santiago.  We checked out the went to the post office to post home all the souvenirs we weren't sure would make it through New Zealand customs.  We have no idea if they'll make it!!  The woman behind the counter could speak no English & our Spanish is pretty bad! Fingers crossed!  We walked along the river & up Bella Vista to the funicular to go up Santa Monica (the big hill in Santiago).  The views at the top were amazing!  Santiago is a huge place.  We ate our
sandwiches under the careful watch of some stray dogs hoping to share our lunch then we went for a walk around the top & to see the big Virgin Mary statue.  We went back to the hostel in the afternoon to shower, do more blog & have tea before our taxi to the airport.  In the airport we had our final glass of Chilean wine then said goodbye South America & hello New Zealand!

Well the first leg of our journey is over!  We travelled 7000km, met some great people & saw some amazing sights.  Can't wait to get started on the rest of it now!
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