Chilling out in Chile.....16-18 Nov

Trip Start Sep 09, 2010
Trip End May 28, 2011

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Flag of Chile  , Valparaíso,
Friday, December 24, 2010

Tuesday 16th November

Arrived in Valparaiso, which is about an hour from Santiago, early in the morning around 5am. Most people got off at the station a few miles from Val at the nearby beach resort, we were the only ones left on the bus. We had to get off with our backpacks in the middle of the street as the bus station was closed. We hadn't booked a hostal, so we had to take a taxi and just went down the list of Lonely Planet recommendations. The few we knocked on were all fully booked. We were tired and getting worried we would not find anywhere. Eventually we found one that had rooms – the Hostal Acuarela, 862 Templeman.  The guy that lets us is in a youngish with dreads; he is pretty laid back and chilled out. He lets us stay in a double room for free to catch up on some sleep, we then have to move into a 6-bed dorm, sharing with other girls but at least it has its own bathroom, and I discover I am not the only traveller to bring along their hair straighteners!

The guys who appear to run the hostal are really nice, there is a lovely vibe to the place, and even though they don’t speak much English they make us feel welcome.  A very relaxed atmosphere compared to the awful hostal in Mendoza.

The weather was overcast, but by the time we had walked down to the Port area the sun had come out and it was lovely and warm. We went on a short boat ride around the harbour and were surprised to see lots of Seals up close – ah they are so cute.  We had a yummy meal in a restaurant just down from the hostal called Pasta & Vino. We treated ourselves to good food and wine, well after a couple of long bus rides and that shitty hostal in Mendoza, once in a while the budget has to be forgotten. But really the prices are very comparable to the UK and Europe just a bit expensive when you are travelling and trying not to spend over $10 a’s a challenge. Early night and joy of joys sleeping in a bunk bed! 

Wednesday 17th November

Wow what a lovely breakfast. It appears one of the prerequisites to working here is to be very polite, chilled out and have dreadlocks...I like it. We were served a lovely fruit salad, fresh coffee and homemade bread all to the sound of Reggae classics from the likes of Bob Marley. What can I say, one of the best breakfasts I have ever had....I could live here. I am trying to book a flight from Buenos Aries to Lima, so I have more time travelling and don’t have to do the 4 day bus ride from BA to La Paz...that would be a killer. But I need to get it sorted soon so Katharina and I know how long we can travel together I might have to leave her if I can’t find a flight. And it’s not looking good. The cheapest I’ve seen is $600, which I can’t afford, but will keep looking.

An Irish couple staying at the hostal said they were going on a walking tour of the city, we decided to join them.  It cost under 10 for 5 hours. There isn’t really that much to see in Valparaiso, no famous buildings or landmarks but it has an abundance of character and really interesting public art, some may call it graffiti but colourful artworks adorn many  a wall, which gives the city a unique vibrancy and feel  that I’ve not seen before.  In parts it reminded me of Paris, it had steep winding streets like La Paz and Cusco, and with a distinct hippy feel to and being by the sea it is also reminiscent of Brighton too. An American guy who had lived in Val for 2 years took us on the tour, and gave us a bit of a history lesson too.  It’s had a chequered past. It was an important harbour at the turn of the 19th century, then there was slump, it’s been the victim of earthquakes and is pretty run down. But tourism may help play a part in improving its fortunes. I really like it.

Thursday 18th November

We have booked our next journey to Bariloche, Argentina for later today. It will cost 26,000 Chilean pesos under 40. At the bus station we bumped into these young Danish guys from the hostal and ended up getting a bus with them to a place called Casablanca that had been recommended to us.  It was a 40 min bus ride there and back again so we wouldn’t have much time, so once we got to the town centre in broken Spanglish we asked a taxi driver to take us to a nice vineyard.  Well he couldn’t have chosen better. This is more like it, and what we expected it to be like in Mendoza. We were taken to Casa Del Bosque. A beautiful setting amongst dozens of vineyards...As we only had a couple of hours to play with we went for the basic wine tasting session. The guys went for the full tour.  It was 6,500 peso around 10.  We were taken to this room, which was like a rather plush, posh dining room. It had a large dark wood oval table with glass cabinets. We were given a menu card which explained all about the wines they produced and then we chose which 3 we wanted to taste.  I think it was one of the nicest wine tastings I’ve ever been to. The young gentleman who did the tasting with us was only in his 3rd week, but he was lovely. What a great way to end to our time in Chile, I want to comeback. The people here seem to be much happier, friendlier and nicer than in Argentina... It is the 5th anniversary of losing mum. There is a church in the town centre, before we get the bus back to Val I pop in and say a prayer or remembrance.  Another night bus...and border crossing. Bye bye Chile...I hope to visit again.
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