Archive for December, 2007

Breathtaking Bariloche – Argentina´s Lake District

December 9, 2007

Hola from Argentina

Yes I´m finally in the country everyone raves about. I think I´ll be here for around 6 weeks which should include Argentinian Patagonia. From the Chilean border we had to drive for quite a few miles through no man´s land, which just happened to be in a national park. The roads had turned very misty, it was quite spooky really. Then suddenly we turned a corner and there was snow. Where had that come from ? (Answers on a postcard if you can find me !!) The temperature has dropped and we stopped at the immigration office for a search of the bus and to get out stamps. I´d actually lost one of my Chilean ones but feigned ignorance and the process was really pretty quick. Although they did scrutinise the Russians in front of me for ages.  The comical thing was while in the queue I noticed a wanted poster up on the wall with a US$100,000 reward. Was I in the wild west again ? I wanted to take a picture but at the same time I wanted to be allowed in to the country so thought better of it. 

My initial impressions are, the country is huge. Better prepare myself for some more long journeys. The men have suddenly improved considerably. Yes the scenery is rather nice. They drive like maniacs. In Chile it´s pretty civilised, here it´s cross the road at your peril and how they don´t crash at the many crossroads I´ll never know. In general they are a lot fairer, there are even ginger Argentinians – imagine that !! There are a few people that still look tribal but in general I could be in Europe.

We arrived in Bariloche and I caught a taxi to my hostel. By a small miracle I managed to get the last bed in the place. I´m staying at Penthouse 1004, it is on the top floor of an office building and the views are stunning(the picture shows it). If Pucon is Wanaka mixed with a Swiss alpine village then this is Queenstown mixed with a Swiss alpine town only twice the size and without the bungys. 100,000 people live here. Although it´s definitely set up for tourists you can see a lot of locals live hereBlack glaciers.  

I went to the tourist information to see what I wanted to do. I haven´t decided how long I´m going to be here. The tourist office is in the main square which is very picturesque. In the centre are a few St. Bernard dogs with little red cross barrels around their necks. You´re supposed to pay to have your photo taken with them. Bit naff but the puppies were cute. Bariloche is also full of chocolate shops. Good looking men and chocolate what more could a girl ask for ? I went to eat in a place called “Family Weiss” and had an absolutely stunning meal. Wild boar with raspberry sauce, mashed apples, spatzels and a side order of creamed spinach. I feel like a queen !! The presentation was amazing, and vegetables finally, it´s been a while. I´m getting a bit sick of bread, it´s served with everything and when you´re hungry you just can´t help yourself. I went for a walk and on the way back to the hostel came across a man drumming on upside down plastic buckets. I´m not sure if he wanted money….yes, I´m liking Argentina already !!

Today is a day of organisation. The boilers broken at home, my Skype needs topping up, the internet banking has locked me out (no doubt as I´m in South America), I need to get flights organised for when my friend Jane arrives and accomodation. I want to book a tour, update the blog and get a bit of culture. Amazingly, I´ve managed to do everything. I went to the Museum of Patagonia first which had a lot of history about the original tribes and some great stuffed animals. The man is coming to fix the boiler, skype is topped up, my banking is working again, I´m going on a tour tomorrow and I´ve booked and paid for all flights. I even managed to pack in some food (no surprises there). I went back to the hostel and bumped in to Kaat, a really nice Belgian girl who´s in my dorm. She had some wine open so we chatted and drunk it. I then got a bottle from the hostel. It cost UKP 2. We then drank that. She went out to meet some people she´d been travelling with in Argentina but I said I´d stay in as it was midnight (got to get in to these Argentinian habits of not going out until then) and I had a long day tomorrow. I went out on the balcony for one last look at the glorious view. Then before I knew it I felt sick. I wasn´t sure if I could make it to the bathroom and someone was cleaning the kitchen. Then without barely any prior notice I threw up. It went all over the floor and table. Mortified, I crept in past the staff and grabbed my food bag which contains my emergency toilet roll. I mopped everything up and then skulked to bed. At least I wouldn´t feel bad in the morning !! The moral of that story is always spend more than UKP 2 on a bottle of wine !! Could anyone who finds my alcohol tolerance  please send it back to me – thanks !!

I did indeed feel okay the next morning. Which was a relief as I had a 2 hour journey for my trip I´d booked. Bariloche is freezing cold but after 2 hours in the bus we alight to boiling hot sunshine. I pack my extra layers in my bag and start trekking with my group. We have come deep in to Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi. I have come to see Mount Tronador and the black glaciers. My guide thinks she´s a mountain goat and is off on a blistering pace. We keep up but there´s a lot of huffing and puffing. We come to a waterfall with views of the mountain in the background. The clouds around the mountain look like cotton wool balls quite strange !! There are yellow flowers on bushes everywhere, they´re not native but add to the view. We then stop for a picnic lunch. I tried some of the driver´s “mate” (pronounced matteh), it´s the Argentinian herbal drink which is so much stronger than coffee and is drunk from a really weird little vessel. (Not sure if it isn´t cocoa leaves really). It wasn´t really something I´ll get in to, a bit green grass like. he was showing me some Lupins and asked if we had them in my country and what they were called – Lupins, I said and he laughed. Then we headed off to yes another waterfall. This was pretty impressive, but I´m saving myself for Iguazu after Christmas. Lucky the flowers on the path to it weren´t in flower otherwise the place would have been infested with rats trying to eat the seeds.

Finally six hours after we started I see black glaciers, pictured below (Note to self, check tour itineries in more detail in future). This was the whole reason for the trip. They were worth it. You can only view them, not walk on them. they are black due to the sediment in the ground although they are white on the inside. But another first for my trip so I´m happy. We got back to town at 7pm, I´m knackered and can´t find Kaat, so write yet more postcards and pop out for a while before an early night. I then got the full Argentinian male experience where they make a strange noise at you as if they are calling a cat to come over. The rule is ignore, so i did, but laughed all the rest of the way down the street. Kaat had got back even later than me and had had the same meal at “Family weiss” I´d had and declared it was the best meal she´d had in months. 

The next morning I checked out and as my bus wasn´t until 6pm went with Kaat for a walk around the local lakes. We caught the local bus to Llao Llao, a lovely hotel where the trail starts. We hiked for about 4 hours. The weirdest bit was when the trees started creaking in the forest. It was almost like they were talking to each other. Either that or one was going to fall over, just standing there listening was pretty freaky. Not somewhere I´d want to be in the dark, it would scare the living daylights out of you. We also saw a huge bird of prey which was a member of the caracara family. I was trying to get a shot (photo not gun) but some other hikers scared it off. We caught the bus back and agreed to meet in 30 minutes to get a taxi to the bus station. I went to the local bra shop and a first occurred. They didn´t have one big enough to fit me. Now I´m not large so I´m wondering if the women are not that well endowed here. Oh well,  it certainly gave me a boost (boom !! boom!!).

We caught a taxi to the bus station and Kaat ended up on the same bus as me. She´s jumping off in El Bolson a hippy town and I´m off to Puerto Madryn in search of my beloved whales. Bariloche is beautiful and 3-4 days is the perfect amount of time. So far I am impressed with Argentina and hopefully I´ll see Kaat again in Buenos Aires in the new year !!

Transport count:

Plane = 15, Bus = 61, Train = 2, Boat =14, Sunglasses = 5, Mosquito Repellant = 8

Take care all

Sally xView of Bariloche mountains

Chilly Chiloe – Chile

December 9, 2007

Hola from Chile

Well I had the surliest bus driver from Pucon to Puerto Montt, it was a direct bus that was supposed to take an hour less so maybe he was in a hurry. In fact I´m not sure that we didn´t leave people behind at one of the stops. Although I have to say i do like the way the bus drivers help people on and off the buses here – very chivalrous !! Puerto Montt looked a bit grim so I managed to get a connection straight through to Ancud in Chiloe. Chiloe is called an island but does appear to be attached to the main land, although the bus did have to board a short ferry for the last part of the journey.

I arrived in Ancud to very cold weather and a torrential downpour, something I haven´t seen in a while. I couldn´t really do anything except write a few postcards and as the rain eased off I went in search of the post office to find them. It felt like I was the only tourist in town although I knew from my hostel that I wasn´t. I was staying at “Hostel Nuevo Mundo” which is very clean and I would highly recommend it. Everyone really stared but a few people said “Hola” so they were all pretty friendly really. Postcards sent it was time to go in search of food. Most restaurants seemed to be empty but I found one with a few locals in and ventured inside. I decided to try and choose some seafood as I´m on the coast but had absolutely no idea what anything was. I ended up with a seafood soup and a cucumber salad (when I say cucumber salad it just consists of slices of cucumber and a little bit of lettuce for the slices to sit on). I must admit I did think as it was called “pepperino” I thought I might gets peppers but cucumber will do nicely.

The next morning I checked out and chatted to a few fellow travellers before embarking on my penguin trip, the real reason for coming here. As the little blighters had managed to evade me in New Zealand (apart from in captivity at the Antarctic museum) I´ve been determined to see them somewhere in South America. The tour bus picked us up at 10am and initially took us for a stop along the coast and to the sight of the little concrete fellows below. The one on the right is “El Trauco”, Chiloe has a completely different set of myths and legends to the rest of the country and he is one of them. Think our troll story and you get the general idea. Second stop along the coast explained about the Pacific shore line down below us. I have to say it was all in Spanish but I got the gist. Then finally to the beach where the fishermen take you out in boats to see the penguins. First disaster was the first lot said the sea was too rough so we had to try another group. They agreed to give us a shortened version of the tour due to the sea. To be honest I was a little dubious as if a fisherman thinks it´s rough he should know, but I met two girls who´d just come back and said it was fine. Next we had to dress accordingly. We were given a lovely pair of green plastic dungarees (photos will be on facebook in the near future) which had green wellington boots attached to them. Very, very attractive – NOT !! I looked like I was auditioning for a starring role in “The Fisherman wants a wife !!”.

We got in the tiny boat and the four fisherman waited until the tide was sufficiently high to push us out to sea and get the engine started. We went around some rocks and there they were, as you can see below. Yes finally, lots and lots and lots of penguins (my little Linux symbol blinking at me on a blustery grey day). We went to see quite a few groups and then were also shown some black comorants and the largest duck in South America. Some of the penguins were swimming although the waves were throwing them about everywhere. We spent about an hour just watching them and then it was time to go back. As we were leaving we spotted some tiny sea lions swimming around. They kept coming up to the boat to look at us, turn on their back for a bit and then dive down again. One went down for quite a while and came up with a huge crab in it´s mouth. The pincers looked pretty big but he held it in a way so that they couldn´t bite him. Nature´s food chain in fromt of our eyes. Oh well time to go back to shore and head on another bus to Castro the capital of Chiloe.

I headed for Castro so that I could go to the Chiloe National park. It has a micro climate all of it´s own and has a lovely rain forrest to walk in. I also met one guy who´d seen a jaguar there, I´m not as keen on that idea unless I can get a good picture and it poses no threat. I was in Castro within the hour and recognised a street name where my hostel should be so jumped off. Now in most cases the LP has been good with hostel recommendations but this one was as far off the mark as you can get. I headed up a side alley. There were some people outside and I asked if this was the place, “yes” they said so I went in. I got shown a very cheap double room which had it´s own TV and stereo. I could have been in my bedroom at home. However, once you are in they totally ignore you and you have to use their own bathroom. It felt a bit weird but I did have the place to myself.

I went in town to enquire on how I got to the park and grabbed some food as I wasn´t even sure I was allowed to use their kitchen. I ate and then went to the main plaza (always a good bet). There was a stage set up for a band and everyone was singing and dancing in the streets. Families were out in their droves, it was all good fun and I did seem to be the only tourist in town. Then I saw continuous people eating hot dogs. Chileans love them. Then I saw it…….it has to be the longest ever hot dog I´ve ever seen. Roads were closed off so that chefs could finish garnishing with mayo, advocado and tomatoes. I took a picture along with most of the locals. It must have been a good 200 metres or so long. Not something you see every day. Well it´s now early evening so I checked on all my buses for the following day and as the TV had cable settled in for the night to watch movies.  Another thing I´ve noticed in Chile is that it´s quite normal for visitors to turn up until midnight. This family weren´t having an early night – but I was !! 

I awoke in the morning and noone was up. I left the money on the table and went outside to be greeted by that other familiar Chilean sight. Six dogs on the door step, puppies included and two trying to mate at the bottom of the stairs. Just what you need first thing on  a Sunday. It was starting to rain so I decided the national park wasn´t the best of ideas and caught the bus back to Puerto Montt. Unfortunately I couldn´t get a bus that day to Argentina, so instead I found another room to myself with TV and booked my bus ticket for the next morning.

Puerto Montt is a place where people tend to catch cruise ships to tour further down in to Patagonia (I want to do that from the Argentinian side). There are a few stalls selling really bad tourist stuff and a few ok restaurants in town. I wasn´t staying in the best bit but at least I´m near the station for my bus the next day. I said goodbye to my lovely hostel owner the next morning and caught my bus. I´m headed to Bariloche in Argentina and I have the loveliest of drivers who is intent on giving me every bit of tourist information he has. Just as well he´s friendly as my passenger next to me is very grumpy. We are given fruit juice and brownies and a woman comes on and sells the best smelling empanadas ever, shame I´ve just eaten the brownie. 

Well I´ve had about 3 weeks in Chile, I´m more or less on schedule. I didn´t get to Torres del Paine but I may do that from Argentina and my summary would be, get out of Santiago asap. Easter Island is great but you only need to do it once. I think my favourite was the desert. People told me Chile was boring, but it isn´t. I think what I´ve really enjoyed is that everywhere I´ve been has been really different. Is it somewhere I´d go back to…..probably not, but never say never………..  imagen-002.jpg   

Transport count:

Plane = 15, Bus = 60, Train = 2, Boat =14, Sunglasses = 5, Mosquito Repellant = 8

Take care all

Sally x

Penguins at last !!

Pukka Pucon – Chile´s Lake District

December 7, 2007

Equipped for my Canopy Trip

Hola from Chile 

Thankfully I was dropped at the correct bus terminal this time. I was going semi cama again with Pullman´s buses. It´s a big orange bus so I was thinking about my lovely New Zealand bus company. We got an English film with Spanish sub titles and then I fell asleep and woke up around 6.30am to very different scenery. It´s all incredibly green, I must have entered the Chilean Lake district. I got off the bus and walked to a hostel I´d picked out in the LP. I was at the correct address but it had a different name so I rang the bell anyway. (The old hostel had moved). The door was opened by what has turned out to be the happiest man in the world. There isn´t a time of the day when he isn´t smiling, singing or laughing. He welcomed me in and said I must be tired after my journey so here is a dorm to yourself for today. Result !! After an hours rest I decided to go out and check out the town. I love Pucon !! It´s like New Zealand´s Wanaka mixed with a Swiss Alpine village. It´s so relaxed. On one side there is a snow covered volcano and on the other a huge lake with a black sand beach (pictured below). The population is only 10,000 but in the summer months it goes up to 200,000. My advice would be go off season. Otherwise you´ll never fit your towel on the beach.

The volcano walk seemed a bit expensive so I decided to book in for the canopy (more details later on..). Then I grabbed some food and went back to chill out. It had finally hit me. I covered at least 3000km in the last week I´m exhausted. So I decided I´d do nothing for the rest of the day.

The next morning I woke up to a world war II bomb siren. As in New Zealand, this is used to call the part time fire fighters in. As more or less everything is made of wood when you have a fire here all you can do is make sure that the properties next door are protected. There seems to have been quite a few, and a lot weren´t insured. I had to go to the post office, which I some how managed, had an empanada ( a sort of South American cheese or meat pasty) and popped back to the hostel. I had to move rooms and am now sharing with an English girl. Thankfully, only for one night. Within three minutes I knew her life story and the fact that she was an only child (I’d never have guessed – NOT!!). Apologies the world over to only children but I couldn’t even finish half a sentence before she’d resumed hers, and it’s not like I don’t like talking. She’s training to be a teacher, no wonder the education system is going to pot if that is who future children are going to be taught by. Oh well now it’s time for my canopy tour.

There was a  Kiwi called Natalie who was also coming and so we chatted for a while. She´d grown up in Wanaka and said Pucon did remind her of it. Then we were picked up and taken to the canopy site. We were given helmets, gloves and a harness as in the attached picture. Then we walked to the first stop. We had to climb a rickety wooden ladder up the tree to the platform. The guides then connect you one at a time to the metal cable. In this case the cable was hanging across a river leading to the next platform. There were three other people in our group and the first guy was attached and whizzed across the river. His friends were two girls and they suddenly started crying and said they couldn´t go and could I go next. Sure I´d done the Nevis how hard could this be (I think that´s my future strategy for everything in life). I got clipped up. You keep your left hand on your harness and your right hand behind the pulley on the cable which you use as a brake when you near the other end by tugging down hard. Timing is quite important. Too soon and you stop and have to haul yourself along the cable backwards. Not soon enough and you could do yourself a permanent injury. We were only about 10 metres up and I shot off. It was great, I was laughing my head off. Natalie to go next and she made it okay. Then the girls, or not. They just couldn´t do it. Whilst their friend was waiting for them, they made the decision to climb down the ladder. I think both of them had egged each other on not to do it – shame. I think the fact that you first had to cross a river really put them off.

In the waiting on the platform time in between you are clipped on so you don´t fall off. Okay time for the second cable. This was a long one. I crossed fine and then it was Natalie’s turn. She actually has no sight in one eye and limited in the other. We didn’t realise how bad it was and shouted “brake” but possibly a bit too late and she smashed in to the cable. I think given her eyesight she is used to things like that happening and took it very well. She will however have a lovely bruise tomorrow. I think she’s amazing for going travelling in the first place, as there are quite a few trips she’s unable to go on but she doesn’t let it phase her in the least.. We carried on for the next hour going through rickety ladders and at our highest around 25 metres up. Some really fast and some slow. By the end of it the guides were even spinning us around as we zoomed along. After an hour an a half of being a monkey it was time to finish. I arranged to have some photos delivered to my hostel later that evening and went out for my last dinner in Pucon.

I opted for a traditional meal called Chorrilliana. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I’d seen it advertised everywhere. Well, what a pleasant surprise. It’s egg and chips with a bit of grilled sliced steak and onions all arranged on a pile. I’m a simple (no comments) girl at heart and I do have a thing for egg and chips as my mother will verify. So I was delighted and it was delicious.

I slept well – at least she didn’t talk in her sleep….and was up with the larks to get my 6.40am bus to Puerto Montt in order to get a connection the same day to Chiloe. I definitely (I know I nearly always say this) could have stayed longer in Pucon, it’s quite stunning, but as I said make sure you go in the off season.

Transport count:

Plane = 15, Bus = 56, Train = 2, Boat =14, Sunglasses = 5, Mosquito Repellant = 8

Take care all

Sally x

Pucon´s black sand beach

Salida Santiago – Chile´s Capital !!

December 1, 2007

Hola from Chile

Well after leaving Casa Aventura I was in a taxi and on a bus in five minutes – not bad !! By noon I was back in what feels like my South American home – “Hostal de Sammy”. All the workers recognised me and we all went for a chat in the courtyard. I´d decided that I´d do a night here and do another overnight bus tomorrow to Pucon, so had purchased my new ticket at the bus station before I got here. Apart from that I did absolutely nothing but chat to people today. It´s a Monday so all the museums are closed, my intentions are to do a city tour tomorrow. So I got up and had breakfast and did my laundry, then I had to wait for it to dry before I could pack and leave my bag in the storage area.

I eventually left the hostel at lunchtime. Republica, which is the area where the hostel is based is a huge university area. There was such a hustle and bustle around the streets it was great. The hot dog sellers were doing a great business – they are mad on them here (as long as they have lashings of advocado, tomato and mayonnaise on them). I went to the metro and caught the train to Santa Lucia to start a walking tour once again. First stop some craft markets – big mistake !! I managed to get all my January birthday shopping done (I´m giving Christmas presents a miss this year as the postage would cripple me). Oh dear, I´m really running behind schedule. I walk across the road and enter the park that houses Santa Lucia in the picture below. The park has a beautiful swirling staircase and more and more gorgeous statues, steps and garden areas as you go up. I look out beyond the city sprawl admiring this lovely architecture with the modern buildings surrounding it (as you can see in the picture), then I get a bit deflated. Maybe it´s the heat, I´m not sure but there doesn´t seem to be any focus point to this city. Where is the water ? The great cities of the world have rivers or ports, think – London, New York, Sydney, Paris. This seems to have a couple of little ponds and a brown little river. I check with the guys at the hostel and they confirm, there´s no decent mass of water to speak of in the place. That to me is possibly why Santiago has been described to me as boring. I don´t think it´s boring but it´s not a great capital city in my book. Sorry !!

On a positive note, their transport is great and so is their system for coping with rush hour traffic. Traffic travels one way in the morning and then a couple of lanes are borrowed from the opposite direction for the traffic heading out of town on their way home. Very confusing if you´re not from the city but what a great idea.

Oh well, time to salida Santiago and head to Pucon.

Transport count:

Plane = 15, Bus = 55, Train = 2, Boat =14, Sunglasses = 5, Mosquito Repellant = 8

Take care all

Sally x

Old architecture mixed with modern buildings in Santiago

Vivid Valparaiso – Chile

December 1, 2007

An artist at work - painting the bin outside my hostelAn example of murals in Valparaiso

Hola from Chile

Well I left the desert and had a 23 hour bus journey back to Santiago. I had decided to go directly there and then catch a bus to Valparaiso. One as they are much more regular and otherwise it would have meant that otherwise I would have had to have changed buses half way through the middle of the night and I don´t know what it is but I can sleep pretty well on them so didn´t want to have to wake up. I did this time have a passenger all of the way next to me which was a bit of a shame but you can´t have everything in life!! So I managed to get to Valparaiso by 10am the next day only 25 hours after I´d left the desert (It´s less than 2 hours from Santiago, a nothing journey here). I caught a taxi straight to Casa Aventura. It´s a really nice hostel in an area called Concepcion. Which for my money is the best place to stay as it´s got all of the murals that you see in the attached photos…and more.

I´d been recommended to go there by several people and it didn´t dissappoint. The town itself has a port and all of the houses are set in very hilly areas which contain lots of old cobbled streets. Very quaint !! For this place you definitely need a good hand brake, the capability to be able to do hill starts and generally just great brakes, I wouldn´t like to have undertaken some of the roads. What makes Valparaiso unique is that someone one day must have drawn a mural on a wall of a building and the whole craze kind of took off. There are just murals everywhere you go and some of them are so amazingly well done. I decided straight away to do the Loney Planet walking tour. I went down to the harbour where you take little half hour boat tours but as the weather wasn´t great I decided not to, so just walked around it instead. Then I walked back to the Los Heroes monument which honours Chile´s Pacific war dead. My one comment on the down side of this place is you have to look where you are walking at there is quite a lot of dog pooh on the pavement. Yes Chile seems to have an abundance of dogs and their litter. Not only do they shit everywhere, they mate, occasionally fight and often are seen playing chicken with cars (although I hear it´s even worse in Argentina). After the monumnet I walked to the Iglesia Matriz (church) which seemed a bit quiet for a Sunday.

To help you get up the hills there are lots of steps or instead the easy route which is the ascensor, it´s a sort of slow funicular tram that takes you up the hill for a very cheap price. I went up the steps to the Museo del Mar Lord Cochrane which was Chile´s first Observatory. No museum but just a nice old building with a lovely courtyard and an outdoor area which had great views of the city. On leaving there I made my way towards the steps and saw a dodgy looking guy look at me and then he got up and started coming towards me. Something wasn´t right so I went back in the observatory and waited. He hung around and I pointed him out to the guard and then left with a couple of other people. Valparaiso isn´t the safest place but apart from that possible incident nothing else happened. Oh well I am in South America. Next I caught the Ascensor El Peral up to Palacio Baburizza which the book described as an art museum. The building was great but everything was locked up, maybe the inside has moved somewhere else.

I seem to have come back to Concepcion and Alegria so walked around admiring the murals. It´s a Sunday and the book said there was a free organ concert (donations accepted) at Iglesia San Pablo at 12.30pm. It´s that time now so off I head. This time the book was right. The church itself was founded by English and German settlers who wanted a place to worship. It´s quite beautiful and the area surrounding it is lovely and serene. The concert consisted of various classical musical pieces and the finale was “Pomp and Circumstance” or to the lay man – “Land of hope and glory”. I could be at the proms right now !! I actually felt quite emotional inside.

The walk then takes you back down to the clock tower (I never know why some sights are included, I guess it´s to pad the tour out a bit). Then time to go the the Ascensor Espiritu Santo to the open air mural museum, I passed the Natural History museum on the way so popped in here aswell. Maybe the mural fad started with the museum. I have to say compared to what I´d already seen in the streets these were a bit of a let down, but they were still okay. Although these were patterns rather than pictures. Mind you I felt lucky to have made it at all, that´s the most rickety funicular I´ve ever been on.

Then my favourite part of the day a visit to Pablo Neruda´s house – La Sebastiana. Boy did he lead an interesting life. He was a poet and writer who won the nobel award for literature. Married three times and later in life went on to become a politician. He was once exiled and then welcomed back in international capacities with various roles. He seems to have quite a few houses around the country but this one was built as if to look like Valparaiso itself. The house had amazing windows looking out over the city and intricate furniture from all over the world. He also seemd to love stained glass windows and some of the walls and floors had such intricate details. It would be great to own somewhere that was so unique.

After that I popped down to the arts and antique markets but really didn´t see anything I wanted. I really have found Chile difficult to shop in. I´m getting hungry so decide to make my way back to a great little place I saw not far from the hostel. On my way I see my first “Father Christmas” – it´s only November !! Seems he´s a long way from home down here. At the restaurant I get chatting to the owners who come funnily enough from San Pedro de Atacama where I´d just left. They had great English and recommended I go for the swordfish and a nice glass of whine. Well why not !! It was delicious, I think the best meal I´ve had here in terms of how it was cooked and presented – very swish gastro pub. After the restaurant I went back outside and watched some new artists making their mark on the town. This time they´re painting bins as you can see in the picture. About four bins were being painted, each had a different design, I think they now might get paid for doing it. One guy was definitely not Chilean, I suppose it´s a great way to leave your mark on a town.

The other place you can go to from here is Vina del Mar, it´s in the next bay along but when I woke up the next morning it certainly wasn´t a day for the beach so I decide to get back on schedule and head to Santiago. So Valparaiso can be done in a day, but you could also make a great weekend of it, it´s very cool and definitely worth a visit !!

Transport count:

Plane = 15, Bus = 54, Train = 2, Boat =14, Sunglasses = 5, Mosquito Repellant = 8

Take care all

Sally x