Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Santiago

The journey from Mendoza to Santiago was a mix of jaw dropping views from the Andes surrounding us, to sadness that I was leaving Mendoza so soon, and excitement that I was moving on. My planned week in Argentina has blossomed into 5, and with sadness I've already scratched Northern Brazil, French Guinea, Suriname and Guyana from my itinerary. I have a little under two months to get to Mexico: I need to get moving.

Definitely get a window seat, this journey is one that you will want to see. The border itself is at a staggering altitude, so warm clothes are a must, and be prepared to channel your inner calm as you wait for everyones bags to be searched for traces of vegetable or meat products!



And yet this weather, a mild mid twenties temperature with a bright, blazing sun just imposes a certain sleepiness to everything here. Santiago is perched in the cul de sac of a group of mountains, and these combined with the artwork around the city give a very pleasant experience in which to walk around.

We headed to Valpo on the second day, which is a small port town about 100km away from Santiago. The buses here could really use a tune up; ours broke down when trying to climb a hill and we passed at least one more after we flagged the next one down. Still, it was cheap, and depending (ladies) on how much you flirt with the guy at the check in desk depends on your fare price. They literally just pick a number out of thin air for you to pay. When you arrive, you are initially greeted by a dirty and mostly unattractive city that makes you wonder what kind of psychedelic drugs the Unesco team took when they awarded this port city world heritage status, but then, after climbing the hill behind Acensor Concepcion, you will find yourself in a colourful and artistic paradise of small alleyways, charming restaurants and interesting hostels.



And, if the idea of a nice beach entertains you, you can always catch the train down to Vina del Mar, the famous beach area of Chile (we didn't go, but headed back to get some food).

The next day, after recovering from our seaside adventure, Anjie, Sheri and I headed off for wine tasting and a tour at the famous Concha y Toro, which was enjoyable and informative, but way more expensive than the wineries in Mendoza. Definitely worth a visit if you are interested in wine, just grab the metro down to Las Mercedes and jump on a taxi from there.

Other than that, Santiago offers a pleasant enough downtown, an architecturally interesting cultural center, and a multitude of street art that can entertain for a few days. From here, it's a long bus journey north to San Pedro de Atacama, and onwards on a jeep across the salt flats. I'm pessimistic at best about the internet up there, so apologies if you don't hear from me for a few days! I'm doing my best to get pictures up online ASAP.

Thanks for reading,

Andy

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