Wednesday, 5 December 2012

And so to Chile...........

Greetings from sunny Santiago, the capital of Chile. 

This is five borders we have crossed now and each time they have let us in , with the minimum of hassle!! Our last few days in Mendoza were fine, the horse-riding didn't come off so I did a city tour instead!! Not quite the same. We pigged out one night on an Argentinian parilla.........meat!! Mendoza was an okay city but for the wine capital of Argentina we were unimpressed, the wine was not cheap, nor was it readily available-several cafes near the main Plaza only served beer!! I was served white wine at room was 30 C........come on!! It was very green, lots of open space, loads of trees and had a very French feel. Massive city park, which was lovely to walk round.

But we left Argentina on Saturday morning and the 6 hour journey was fabulous. We climbed up from Mendoza and past the highest peak in South America (partly hidden by cloud) and Chris missed most of it as he was asleep!!

We crossed the border at Los Liberatadores, passport control was easy but the bags were X-rayed and sniffed by a cuddly bag from our bus was searched ..........he had contraband onions in his bag.......Chile doesn't allow any fresh food to cross its border. Then down the other side round 29 hairpin bends...........and we arrived in Santiago.

Our apartment was easy to find but when we got here it had not been cleaned and the considerable debris from the previous renters was here for all to see.After much telephoning etc, and a very helpful lady who was on reception, we spoke to the owner Francisco who apologized and said he would be round to clean and change beds etc. We went out for some food, and happened across one of the many "little Peru" areas in the city and had Peruvian style lunch ..........complete with aji ( chili sauce). I found the food in Argentina a bit bland. 

The apartment was sorted and we have made ourselves a little "home" for a week. Yesterday we moved the furniture as the flat had the TV in the bedroom and not in the lounge area- luckily it was easy to do and cable was connected on Monday so we now have BBC news!!Santiago is very westernised, the flat is immaculate, on the 19th floor-we can see the snow-capped Andes. 

It has been good to re-charge our batteries and we have the next stage of the plan sorted. Santiago is a nice city, not as busy and noisy as some. We shopped in the local market for fruit and veg and fish on Sunday, and queued forever in the supermarket-which was belting out Christmas songs. 

Yesterday we had a lovely day , first at the National Museum which detailed the history of Chile but skated over the Pinochet/Allende eras!! Then we went to an area to the north called Belle Artes where there is a fabulous pair of art galleries in French inspired buildings. The art was an eclectic mix and the Templo de Polve (temple of dust) was a pile of dust!! There was also a room with a collection of dried out tea-bags!!! The peace and tranquility was shattered first by a big group of badly behaved Chilean schoolchildren and then a very loud group of American tourists.......they certainly know how to make their presence felt!!  We then tried to find "Chinatown" but failed and came back to the apartment out of the heat of the afternoon sun. We have used the underground and have our Bip card which saves queuing for tickets.

The sun is shining again today and I am going out for a shopping morning, this is the last civilized place for some time and I need some bits and pieces. I am cooking tonight and found some satay sauce so am making an oriental meal with noodles.........yummy

Our plan now is to go down and enjoy the Chilean Lake district-we leave on Saturday and have booked a train to Chillan, and then we will make our way by bus to Pucon. Although accommodation here is a bit more than Peru and Bolivia other things are not bad, travel is cheap and eating out isn't bad. In Argentina it cost 4-5 pesos just to sit down and the main courses came without accompaniments and they were 18-20 which made eating out expensive. (7.5 pesos to £1)

A little bit of home, gates forged in Scotland adorning Mendoza

Huge modern church that was strangely intimate!! 

Front seats in the bus .........that's Chile in front

The train station Christmas tree.........bit different to Newcastle central palm trees!!

Belle Artes
We have booked a week there and we will hire a car or a bike for 2 days and check out a place for Christmas and possibly New Year. It looks a lovely area with lakes, snow-capped mountains...........plenty of walking etc which will be good after a week in the city. We have also sorted the end of the trip, we have to be in Lima on 21st February for a flight to Fos Iguazcu-the Brazilian side of the falls, we will spend 2 days there seeing both sides of the falls and then fly to Sao Paulo and overnight in an airport hotel before flying to Barcelona on 25th February............all that remains is to try and book the last flight but the TAM website won't accept our booking............

So folks, as Christmas looms and some of you are in the midst of winter, we are enjoying Santiago and looking forward to the next stage and then eventually heading north and back to Peru.........but those plans can wait.........

Take care

Norma xx

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