Hola Amigos!We’ve only been in South America for a few days and already we’re big fans… as you know our adventures started in Santiago, Chile’s huge sprawling capital. We’d booked into a cool little hostel in the Bellavista area of town which turned out to be a really good decision – it’s definitely the area to be, not only did it feel a pretty safe area (high on the agenda!) but it also had tonnes of cool street bars, traditional restaurants and little shops to browse around. It was also really close to the highest lookout spot in Santiago… you take a Fernicular (kinda like a cable car slash railway thing?) high up the hill and are rewarded with excellent views across the town and of the Andes in the distance. It’s only once you’re up there that you really get the whole scale of the place – massive!
On our first full day we decided to take the “free” walking tour around town, which again was a great shout… the local guide who spoke excellent English took you around Santiago’s main tourist areas giving you a passionate account of the place, the history, the people and the politics. The 4 hour tour really gave you a great flavour of the town as well as helping you to get some much needed orientation around the place, a definite “must” for anyone travelling to Santiago!
After a couple of nights in Santiago we were pretty happy to move on, so took the 2 hour bus journey to Valparaiso on the coast…. from what we’d been told it was one of those places which you either love or hate – those that don’t like it so much would say that it’s a busy hustle and bustle kinda place with power cables draping over all the streets, graffiti everywhere and houses almost tripping over each other as they work their way down the hills towards the water, but for all of us who love “Valpo” we’d just say that it adds to the bohemian charm of the place. It’s a photographer’s dream, with beautiful brightly coloured tin houses and more street art (commissioned graffiti) than it’s possible to take photos of.
When we were dropped of at the bus station we immediately felt uncomfortable and put our guard up, a really friendly old guy came up to us and warned us (in spanish) to be careful with our things as there were lots of dodgy people around, so we made our way across town on a local bus and eventually managed to find our hostel – Casa Valparaiso. The owner immediately put us at ease, welcoming us and giving us all the information we needed to make the most of our time here.
We spent the afternoon walking around the town taking photos of literally everything and enjoying a few cervezas (beer) along the way. We had our first game of “gringo bingo” where you order from the menu and have no idea what you’ve just ordered… in this case seafood soup filled with shell fish (it seriously looked like a bush tucker trial!!)
Yesterday we did another free walking tour (another great one!) and once again managed to see all of the best sights of Valpo… here’s just a few snapshots of the place…
(the view from our restaurant overlooking one of the squares)
(a small example of the tin covered houses on the hill side)
(one of many multi coloured streets)
(this work in progress piece of art has taken 5 years to create and is painted all around a hostel in the Bellavista area of Valpo)
One of the best things about the place is the people we’ve met here, everyone in the hostel has been so friendly, we’ve made loads of new friends and had 2 really good (if a little messy) nights out – the first at a club who’s name is translated to “the egg”! A massive place on 5 stories with an amazing live band in the main room and everyone dancing in a salsa/samba style – Amazing!! Things don’t really start to get going until around 2am, so we have a few drinks in the hostel with everyone first including Teramotos (earthquakes), wine and Pisco, then head out and dance the morning away until 4 or 5am.
We’ve got a couple more days here and then we’re moving north to San Pedro de Atacama, home of the driest desert in the world! Apparently it’s a pretty cool place to go sand boarding, horse riding etc. Before that we’ve got to prepare ourselves for the 24 hour bus journey to get there!!
for now, love to all back home
Stefan and Claire