Tuesday, 22 July 2014

A small taste of Chile

Punta Arenas

We left Puerto Natales on a very quiet Sunday morning in a bus to Punta Arenas. We didn't know that these buses had a stop at the Punta Arenas airport on the way. We could have went straight to the airport instead of spending a couple nights in Punta Arenas.

During the ride, we spotted animals like rheas, birds and sheeps. When we arrived in Punta Arenas, we hadn't booked a room so we started wandering in the downtown area to explore all the options. It was very quiet in the streets on that Sunday afternoon.  The room we picked was not quite ready so we waited in the living room area. When we walked upstairs, a nice surprise awaited us. It was a large room with a nice bed, a couch, a small table with two chairs and a private bathroom. We were quite impressed once again, which made us realize we don't need much to feel like luxury anymore.

On Monday morning, we woke up around 9 AM from an uninterrupted sleep. This hotel was more expensive than what we originally wanted to pay, but it did make up for it with the breakfast. We had not been that full after breakfast for a very long time!

In the evening, we went for a walk towards the waterfront to look at El estrecho de Magallanes one more time. This is the route we took, further west, when we arrived in Chile after our Antarctica expedition that left from New Zealand.

As we were waiting to cross the street on the pedestrian area, a school bus stopped at the crossing to give us our right of way. We started crossing the street and we heard something crash into the bus. A young guy on his motorcycle rear-ended the bus and fell on the ground. The bus moved to the side and the people in the next vehicles all came out to help the young man. One of the guys decided to put the motorcycle in his pickup box, so we helped him out. We felt kind of bad even though it was not our fault. We were crossing at the pedestrian crossing and the guy was obviously not looking in front of him. He looked shaken but without injuries. 

Santiago, Chile

It's time to leave the beautiful Patagonia. We boarded the Sky Airline plane in Punta Arenas and enjoyed the complimentary meal, including a small glass of wine before reaching Puerto Montt. Once landed, we waited in the plane while some people disembarked and others got on. For that second flight, we were also served some more food to our surprise. After picking up our bags, we waited in line for the CentroPuerto Bus, which after being stuck in traffic for a while, brought us to Los Heroes metro station. We had forgotten all about city life and though that everything was moving, and moving fast! We were not used to it anymore and found it very distracting and overwhelming. We hadn't book a room here either, so we decided to have a look at a few hostel before taking a decision. We picked the Happy House Hostel and it was amazing. It had very high ceiling rooms, many areas to hang out and even a swimming pool. But most important detail, it was the biggest room we had so far on our trip!

We woke up after a very good night sleep even though it was quite noisy, and went to the breakfast area. We had a lot of food; coffee, eggs, toasts, fruits, cereals, yogurt and juice. For some reason AA was more clumsy than usual. She put some instant coffee in her cup before filing it with coffee from the thermos. She had assumed that the thermos would be hot water because of the instant coffee and hot chocolate powder in bowls in front of it. Nonetheless, when taking some cereals she managed to somehow flip the small bowl around and spill cereals all over, twice! It seemed very entertaining to the two English guys and the Japanese girls!

Later on, we went for a walk in the city, roughly following the walking tour route we saw on a map. We made our way to Plaza de Armas, visited the Santiago Cathedral. It was very interesting to see that the church was actually being used, with people praying and even confessing to the priest. Most of the churches we visited on this trip were empty or full of tourists. We saw Santa Lucia hill and we headed towards San Cristobal Hill. 

After our second night in Santiago, we woke up for the checkout and had breakfast. This time AA was not as clumsy, and we looked online for hostels in Valparaiso before walking to the bus station. The streets were very quiet as it was a holiday. There were many policemen ready for action but we didn't see any protest. When we arrived at the bus station, we waited in line to buy tickets to get to Valparaiso. As there are buses every 20 minutes, we were not in a big rush to buy the tickets.


After a short 1.5 hours bus ride, we arrived in Valparaiso. We walked to reach the Cerro Concepcion neighborhood where we had spotted a few hostels. We stopped in the one that sounded the most interesting but unfortunately they were full for the night. The owner was very nice and offered to call other hostels for us to find a place. He called our second choice, the Hostal Casa Aventura, and they had a private room available for our last four nights in Chile.

We woke up early and had breakfast with the other guests, talking about our experience crossing the Southern Ocean on board Infinity. It was funny because two of the guys had met Bowie in Natales. It's a small world! It was very grey all day so we relaxed.

After a grey day where we didn't do much, we were happy to see it was very sunny and warm. Right after our breakfast, we decided to walk along Calle Aleman all the way to Pablo Neruda's house. We had forgotten the wallet in the room and didn't have any cash, so instead of going in, we made our way back down to the center and the hostel.

We had decided to visit other areas of Valpo, but as we were getting hungry, we went to the supermarket to buy some things to make sandwiches for lunch and get some snacks for the flights the next day. We sat on a bench by the port, and as we were eating, a French girl from the hostel walked by. We ended up talking to her for hours, enjoying the sun before retiring to our room to pack our bags.

Bus to Santiago, flight to Canada

Late in the morning, we made our way to the bus station. It was much more lively than when we walked from the station to the hostel, with all the shops being opened. We arrived slighly earlier than what we had planned at the station and booked our seats on our return ticket. We left not even 10 minutes later, sitting comfortably in the bus. We got off in the Pajaritos station. We got on the airport bus, AA wondering why two seats close to the front were empty. Thinking nothing more of it, sat in the seat and stepped in a puddle of fresh vomit. The CentroPuerto bus left shortly after. There was a lot less traffic than when we arrived in town and we made it to the airport too early. We waited in the check-in area for the Air Canada desk to open. The line-up was very confused and the agents didn't seem in a big hurry to get us trough. We went through security, very relaxed and visited all the shops in the secured area. 

During our hike in Torres del Paine Nacional Parque, we had decided that instead of finding a free workaway place somewhere in South America, we could go back to Canada and help our parents with their summer projects. We decided not to tell them ahead of time, so we could surprise them. The surprise was getting closer and we were both very exited! Just imagine how excited they are going to be when we show up unannounced when we are supposed to be in Chile, 8930 kilometres away.

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