Published: May 3rd 2010April 24th 2010
Sorry this has taken so long, the internet connection in Bolivia is not great!
And so off to Chile. We had hoped to spend more time in Chile however uncertainty regarding the residual effects of the earthquake meant that we entered the country close to Santiago. We spent three days in Santiago and a weekend in a nearby city called Valparaiso before heading north to the Atacama Desert.
It was good to be back in a city after a long time spent in the wilds of Patagonia. We stayed in an area (Barro) of the town called Bellavista, in a hostel sharing the same name. The Barro had a great vibe to it and had a great number of bars and restaurants. We spent our first day visiting a look out across the city and then heading to the Santiago home of one of Chile’s, if not South America’s, finest poets - Pablo Nuereda. PN is a bit of an institution here, and his poems can be found in most of the travel literature. He had three homes in Chile; the one we visited was built for his mistress and then third wife Matilda
The rest of
our time in Santiago was spent sightseeing in the city - not too hard as the town centre is pretty compact. This included seeing the city centre, visiting a museum and finishing it all off with an ‘El Completo’, (i.e. a hot dog with onions, guacamole, tomatoes and mayonnaise) and couple of Piso Sours. We also picked up a traveller orphan, called Rich, who came with us to Valparaiso
Roughly an hour from Santiago is the port city of Valparaiso. This town is famous for its artistic tendencies, indeed much of the town has been used as a giant canvas. Street art can be found everywhere; and the majority of it is used in some satirical fashion. The city is also famous for its hills. To the undoubted relief of its residents, in the 1800s the city installed a number of elevators to ease their daily commute and over the centenaries these elevators have become icons of the city in their own right.
San Pedro de Atacama
In order to reach the Atacama we had to endure our longest bus journey - 24 hours in total. Not fun. When we arrived it was akin to
being on another planet. There was no vegetation, just stark, windswept, awe inspiring landscapes. We spent three days in the (less than awe inspiring) town of San Pedro de Atacama, and visited the different parts of the surrounding desert, including the Valley of the Moon and the El Tatio Geysers. We also went for a dip in some thermal baths and went on a stargazing tour, led by a crazy French astronomer - the highlight of which was seeing Saturn and its rings.
From San Pedro de Atacama we headed north east and on to Bolivia - but that is a different story.
Hope all our well xxx
There are more photos below