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Published: January 9th 2011
We know we are so far behind with this blog ... But if you have a choice of sitting in front of a laptop or going out and having fun then ...
We will probably have to finish it when we get home... Wed 1 Dec – San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
Crossed into Chile by bus from Bolivia with no problems. The driver dropped us at our hotel, Takha Takha, which had little chalet style rooms in quite nice grounds and a small swimming pool.
Atacama is apparently the driest desert in the world and it was sunny and very, very hot. It was really laid back and is described as a 'new age traveller' hangout.
The buildings here in San Pedro were all single storey along dirt streets with brown mud brick facades behind which were trendy bars/pizza restaurants with open wood fires at night and some with live (but not good) music. This was a far cry from the Salt Flats, we felt like we were back in the real world.
We met Max and Lucy for a few beers early in the evening and said our goodbyes – we were
heading to Santiago and they were off to Salta in Argentina. Thur 2 Dec – Santiago, Chile
Arrived in Santiago, our first 'Cosmopolitan' city and, true to form, the first shop we saw was a Starbucks. The Chilhotel we were staying in was small and quite depressing. To be honest we missed Peru and Bolivia!
To cheer ourselves up we went in search of what our guide book described as 'the best Chinese in town'. Unfortunately it didn't exist, a block of flats that must have been there for sometime stood where it should have been. Fri 3 Dec – Santiago, Chile
We didn't get up early .. hoorah!!
We decided to explore some of the City and started with the main square, Plaza de Armas, and then took the funicular at San Cristobal to see the statue of the Virgin.
Santiago didn't impress us, it lacked heart and had no personality. Sat 4 Dec – Valparaiso, Chile
Valparaiso was a breath of fresh air after Santiago. It's scruffy but has lots of character and a bohemian vibe. There's lots of street art and arts & craft shops. As all the
houses are built up the hillsides, there are lots of 'Ascensors' (funiculars) which here are really just old sheds on rails.
Cerro (Hill) Concepcion had good views of the ocean (apparently you are not meant to take pictures or film the battleships there).
We were disappointed with Cerro Bellavista. Our books said the famous murals here were a must-see, but they were either old and peeling, covered with graffiti or just not there! Some that were still visible were not as good as the street art we'd already seen.
We went back to Santiago and decided to head to the West side of town to a steak house recommended in our book .. and it was on the way home from here that Bernie was, sort of, mugged :o(
The metro had closed so we caught a bus. Bernie got on first and swiped her card, then Ken got on and swiped his. At this point Bernie disappeared backwards through the bus door and onto the pavement. Someone had tried to snatch her bag which was, luckily, across her shoulder/body and she was just pulled backwards from the bus! Ken gave chase shouting obscenities but as
soon as he realised that nothing had been stolen he returned to help Bernie. People were helping her to her feet and picking up some belongings that had fallen on the pavement. They were all really sweet and offered us seats. Even the bus driver was concerned, he made sure we knew where we were going. It had all happened so fast. Bernie's back was very sore and it was even painful to stand … and understandably she was very shook up (and did end up sobbing a bit). We headed home and stopped at a bar near the hotel for a couple of stiff drinks to help with the shock.
(Bernie's back is fine now but it did take about two weeks to heal) Sun 5 Dec – Puerto Montt, Chile
We woke up to the 7am alarm feeling hungover. We were flying to Puerto Montt from where we start a 2-day bus and boat trip through the Andes.
Puerto Montt is not a pretty place and is boring. Nothing was open on the Sunday afternoon we arrived, except for one restaurant where we had the biggest burgers we'd ever seen .. and the waiter
had talked us into having fries too. Ate these surrounded by 4 big TV screens blaring out Simply Red in concert. We felt quite nauseas and that was followed by an 80's remix DVD … nightmare! Mon 6 Dec – Puerto Montt, Chile
It was cloudy today so you couldn't see the snow capped mountain that dominates the skyline.
We got a Collectivo to Angelmó which is a quaint little fishing village nearby. We watched a couple of sea lions playing and had a really nice lunch in one of the many seafood restaurants there.
Had a night in watching TV. Bliss!
Tomorrow we head off to cross the Andes...
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