Published: September 3rd 2012August 22nd 2012
Sorry for the delay . . .we are in Brazil now but here are our Chile musings.
What can we say about Chile except 10 days was not enough to see the full potential of this beautiful country but it has planted a seed to make us want to come back……
After a long haul flight from Auckland where our air steward was trying to get us to practice our Spanish we successfully managed to catch a bus from the airport to the city centre. When we arrived, the cheap and adventurous backpackers we are walked the 30 minutes to our hostel. The first thing we noticed was that we felt safe and not threatened nor did anyone seem to bat an eye that we were traipsing through the CBD with back-packs on in the mid-morning rush. That was until we needed a rest for Amy to alter the straps on her back pack and nearly fell over trying to stand up with it on, we amused two businessmen in the process. Once we arrived at our backpackers we were presented with secure iron gates which you had to buzz to enter (this was common throughout Chile and not just in the capital.) We dumped our stuff and wandered around the city it was still the 21st
August just past mid-day which meant we were only 30mins after leaving Wellington. Santiago has a widespread CBD with lots of districts but the main thing you notice is the amount of dogs roaming the streets.
Our second day got off to a slow start, our main objectives were to book our buses and buy an adaptor plug…….this was time consuming as we realised our Spanish was minimal and as much as we could ask for what we wanted we were stumped and confused by most responses and on several occasions smiled like idiots saying ‘poco espanol’ so these simple tasks took half the day but we were feeling very pleased with ourselves and set off to explore more of the city and climb Santa Cristobel. We found the bohemian part of the city but couldn’t find the entrance to the track to the top I think we were still Jet lagged! That evening we went to ‘Liguria,‘ a restaurant recommended to us, again we walked over 30mins in the pouring rain in search of this hidden gem. It was definitely worth it we shared a bottle of Chilean red (our third of the trip second that evening…..well you have to sample the local cuisine) and shared a meal of beef and fish (the waiters recommendations and because we were struggling to decipher the menu!) Great atmosphere and a lot of laughing then the return walk back and the rain hadn’t settled.
Our snowboarding trip had been cancelled on our third day due to the weather but the optimists that we are decided to fill our afternoon by going on a wine tour! We had an American guide who drove us to the vineyard and was our translator for the afternoon. The drive itself was highly eventful. Chilean students are protesting about the fees and pushing for free education. (We stumbled upon one of these our first day exploring the CBD riot police were out and items were being thrown at them, we moved on swiftly.) Today as we drove through the busy main streets gangs of balaclava clad youths were running towards us with rocks and bars, not sure what we would have done if one had been aimed at our car but we got through unscathed and made it to the winery. This wine tour was a lot more touristy and on a much larger scale than anything in New Zealand. We learnt the buildings are strong to withhold earthquakes and weather erosion because the cement is mixed with wood ash and egg shells! Go figure, maybe this should be used in the rebuild of Chch. Most importantly we tasted the wine (very generous tastings). That evening we got a night bus 10 hrs south to Pucon.