Suitcase on wheels     stuck in the snow   sniffer dog

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

42. Road trip contd... (Santiago, Chile)

While the road on the Argentine side of the border was more or less a slow, straight ascent, the descent of the Andes on the Chilean side was a rapid and twisting road with around 20 hairpin bends.

Road Trip Santiago - 20 - Sulphur
A bright yellow sulphur deposit

Once we'd quickly gotten the Andes behind us Chile opened up into a green wonderland which reminded me a lot of the North Island of New Zealand. I've never seen grass as green as that of the Waikato region of NZ where I grew up, until now. But while the Waikato grass is used to feed dairy cows, here wine is the big earner.

Road Trip Santiago - 39 - Chile pano
Andes in the background

We drove into Santiago, the capital of Chile, at around dusk. First stop was a shopping mall where we could all change some money. Although it was Saturday evening, the shopping mall was packed with crowds and crowds. It was like it was Christmas shopping madness. Juan called up his friend Leo, who we were all coming to visit, and we followed Leo's car to his parents' place. Leo's family and friends were very welcoming, giving us the spare room to share, and his Dad put on a great asado Chilean style for us and their extended family.

Leo Asado - 01 - Leo Snr
Leo's Dad, Leo Snr prepares the meat

As the night wore on we were introduced to Pisco Sour which is a popular Chilean alcohol drink with a lemon flavour. With all the food and the Pisco and the driving I was worn out, so once again went for a midnight nap to recharge my batteries as we were intending to hit the town that night, it being a Saturday. Bad idea. Juan came in an hour later to ask if I wanted to go out or sleep, and I responded with "sleep". What he should have done was remind me that we had driven all the way and we were in Santiago Chile for one night of partying and dragged me out, rather than given me a choice! So the boys went and hit the town and came back the following afternoon with numerous girls' phone numbers each, while I stayed in bed only to be woken at about 3am with a burning stomach for which I blame the Pisco.

The next day was Sunday, so once the others had returned to Leo's house from the night before we set off in two cars for Valparaiso, 2 hours away on the Pacific coast. One thing immediately clear was that driving in Chile is a lot more expensive than Argentina. Petrol is about twice the price, and we also had to pay two toll roads amounting to about NZ$10 to get there. Still, the road was a nice straight4 lane highway.

Valparaiso is a large city of about 200,000, and adjoining it is ViƱa del Mar, another city about the same size. We followed the coastal road for another half hour through a few other towns which were still part of the same metropolis, before stopping at Con Con, to sample ceviche, which is raw fish marinated in lemon. Unfortunately, ceviche was off the menu due to a toxic algae bloom, which was fine by me. So we ordered our fish cooked, and it was great. I hadn't had a decent plate of fish and chips in months as Argentines aren't fish fans, so I enjoyed it. From the beachfront restaurant we watched the sun set, before heading back into Valparaiso to do a bit of night sightseeing.

Valparaiso - 01 - Sunset
Sunset at Con Con

As well as being a picturesque city built on the steep hills surrounding a bay on the Pacific coast, with nice looking beaches (but freezing cold water year round, I'm told), Valparaiso is also famous for is its ascensores (elevators) which run up the steep hillside, as a form of public transport. So after getting lost driving around in circles looking for one, we eventually parked our two car convoy and took one for a ride, walked around the hills a bit, and then took another back down to near where we'd parked. Valparaiso was spectacular at night too, with the hills all lit up in the yellow glow of streetlights. Quite cold though, being winter.

Valparaiso - 05 - Valparaiso pano
Valparaiso at night

Valparaiso - 04 - Boys ascensor
Leo Thad Me Posse Juan Matias Juan-Pablo in the ascensor
Valparaiso - 09 - Ciber cumming

Umm, ok

After a spot of cyber cumming at the internet cafe we headed back to Santiago that night and went to bed at a reasonable hour. More later...

2 Comments:

  • G'day Matt - Rua informed me of this, it's genuinely interesting stuff. Especially as I am someone who intends to soon travel and teach English. I have since created my own thing on this blogspot, it seems pretty straightforward...

    Keep it up!

    Cheers
    Barnaby

    By Blogger afraid, at 4:14 PM  

  • Hi Barnaby,

    Thanks for the comments, I'll keep it up. Nice blog site you have too. I've never heard of the Herzog guy but it's an interesting interview, cheers.

    -Matt

    By Blogger mattyboy, at 1:48 PM  

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