Published: March 8th 2012March 8th 2012
I have finally found somewhere that has the internet!
The trip over was a nightmare. I have forgotten how boring and tiring flying was. The taxi collected me at 9.30 am on Monday 5 March and the trip to London City Airport was not the easiest. The cirle line to monument and the DLR to the airport. In theory easy but with all my luggage and no escalators it was a nightmare.
The flight was due to leave about 3.30 ish (I forget as I write now exactly when) but was delaid about an hour due to strong wind! Yeek! It was only a small plane for the hop to Paris too! In fact it was not to bad. In better weather you would get good views of the O2 areana as you take off. The plane take a sharp right and flys almost over the top of the Olympic stadium. (Does it have a name: the RBS Stadium perhaps. Seems a good use of their - I mean our -money !!)
The transfer from Orly to Charles de Gaule is easy enough but cost 19.50 euros but CDG must be the worst airport in the world. Sign posts and trollys would help as would help security staff who tell you in good old fashion Anglo Saxon to go forth as it isn't thier job to help you! And whilst I'm hating the French - the food was crap - so there !!
The flight out of CDG was on time but we had to return to the terminal once we had started to taxi out as the was an oil leak and we were delaid an hour. All in all it was about 1 am before we good our food. I put my watch back to Chilean time (-3 hours GMT) which made it seem a little mote normal.
Fortunately, the seat was great. So much room I could only just touch the wall in front. It had a power socket so I was able to use my CPAP machine and get a few hours sleep.
When the cabin collectively came to we were over the Amazon and we saw a fabulous dawn but it wasn't until we descended for the landing at Santiago did we see anything. There was a great view if Atacama and the Andes.
Once I had landed I found a shop selling SIM cards so I bought one. I've not installed it yet as I need iTunes for the phone's unlock code - next job then.
Unfortunately I was set upon by a very helpful offical who spoke good English. He was determined I took a taxi, which made me suspicious, but he explained the bus station was 5 blocks from the hotel(whiich i knew it was) and it was too hot to walk with my bags (which it was). So I took the taxi and it cost me about £50. The man in reception said it should of cost about £15-20 ! My own fault really but I was hot tired and hungrey.
The hotel was Ok. It had air con and shower and sold beer in the bar. What more did I need. Onve frshen up I decided to walk into town and explore. Santiago is built on a grid system so I decided to leave my map behind and not look too much like a gulible tourist a second time. I walked a square and was most unimpressed. As I write my recollection is once of stale urine and run down buildings. When I got back I realised I had headed out of town so went the other way, which was much better.
You know you're on holiday when there are palm trees in the plazas. The whole place reminded me a bit of Spain, which shoudn't be too surprising. By now it was 7.30 pm (ish) and the shops were open and people milling around. It seems Chilean entertainment consisted of watching football or snogging, smoetimes at the same time (the men live dangerously obviously)
I found a plaza selling street food but all of it was the same - hot dogs so I sat outside one of the cleaner bars, hoping for tapas. No - $200 peso to sit outside ! so I move on in a huff next door and went inside and ordered a beer.
Not being able to find anywhere I fancied to eat I headed back as I knew the hotel Had a resturant and it looked clean. I asked if thr food was authentic and was reassured it was. When the menu came it was Indian ! Sod it it was now 9 pm so I had Rogan Gosh, pilau rice and a naan - just like home!!
The next day, now Wednesday 7 March reception ordered me a taxi to take me to collect the motorbike. The traffic was terrible and it took over an hour to get there. Fortunately this time the hotel had a agreed the fare in advance $9000 peso - about £13.
I had a new BMW F800GS. Not quite as good as mine back home but good enough. It took ages to go through all th paperwork and I discovered I had to pay another $300 USD insurance and $13 USD tax. Not very happy. Whatsmore they wouldn't let me plug in my sat nav as it didn't have fuse. It's a BMW and had a canbus system ( yeah I don't know what that is either, accept you don't need a fuse) anyway wasn't going to argue as it was now about 1 pm and I had originally hoped to be on my way by 11am at the latest. I would just use the sat nav on it battery to get me out of Santiago and then turn it off until I needed to find a hotel.
The road north out of Santiago is Ruta 5. Really the only main road in Chile. You are quickly out of the city into semi-arid country, quite hilly and opessively hot. There did not seem to me any agriculture but there were loads of road side fruit sellers so I assue that was the main crop. The vegatation consisited on short stubby trees, with occassional grey/green bushes. Thinking back they may have been olives or some sort of nut
Once passed La Ligua I got my first sight of the Pacific and quite exciting it was too. I felt I was finally in my way.From Longotogoa the road runs alone the coast and it was noticably cooler. A pleasant 17C. To the left the coast was rocky with the occassional small sandy beach, to the right the semi-arid hills I ridden though out of the capital. In the distance off to the right were the mountains fading away in layers of pastel blues and greys. Once they disappeared in the haze you could see coulds which gave promise to some giant peaks.
It was late afternoon and I realised I hadn't eaten so I stopped for fuel but the service station food looked dire so I had some cold water and an ice cream. I was never going to make Vicuna my planned first stop where I had hoped to go out on the night time tour of the near by observatory. I decided to plug on as far as I could before I got to tired. Ordinarily I would worry I hadn't found a hotel by this time (about 4 pm) but it seem from yesturday the Chilean were on a different time to me.
I passed a petrol station and the reserve light went on. (The light that tells you you are about the run out of fuel) Almost exactly as it did I saw a sign that said the next petrol station was in anouther 145 kms ! Great - could of put it before the last stattion! Being a motorway I could just turn round and so cam off at the next junction and turned the sat nav on. It took me to the sea side village on Tongoy where I think I rolled onto the garage forecourt on fumes. Lesson learnt.
I asked at the station if there was a hotel near by and the man looked bewildered and pointed to a big sign on the otherisde of the road - yep, you've guessed it - it read "hotel" ! That'll do.
Cheap and cheerfull no air con but I was knackered and didn't want to go on to La Serena, the next big town.
Tongoy looked, like alot of small towns and villages I had seen as a big run down, almost shanty, frontier like places with no shops but in fact once you walk rounf them they are full of life. The shops jusy don't display the goods in big windows like they do back home. The shops, by and large, but not exclusively don't have help yourself shelves. Everything is behind the counter. It seems you have to pay for what you want from one person, give the receipt to another person who then gives you want you want. Too complex for me so I carried on walking on the seafront.
I decided I must have a paddle in the Pacific (No that was paddle) and walking across the beach I nearly got run over and it turns out the sand doubles as a road. The water was cold so that was that.
I wandered over to the fisherman over by the quay to do a Rick Stein impression. The fleet consisited on 50 or so small yellow day boat on which a flock of (brown I think) pelicans perched. All along the sea front were little resturants and being in a Rick Stein frame of mind I pick the one nearest to the quay, which also happened to be full, which I took as a good sign.
A young girl, eating with her parents came over to offer to help translate. She was learning English a school and wanted to preactice. Actually I think her parents wanted to practice, she wanted to eat. I asked her to order some local fish something she liked. I could batter fish a chips !! That's twice now. Curry on the 1st night and now a good old fashioned fish supper. Oh well
Tired now. More later