We are about to pass hour 9 of 14 hrs on a bus and I figured it would be a great time to start writing my first blog entry. Rex has been the masta of the blog and has done all the entries so far. Incredible boredom is starting to set in right now and it seems the last 3-4 hrs of a trip always seem like the longest.
To give you guys a little but of a rundown of where we are and how we got here, we left Cusco,Peru on the night of Saturday Feb 2nd, on a overnight bus to Arequipa. After a crazy whirl wind bus ride of 3 different buses, a boarder crossing and being in the driest desert in the world, we were super amped to finally get to Arica, Chile. From there we spent 3 nights there, surfing and planning our next leg. After some weird rash, amazing mahi mahi and fun surf, it was time for us to move on. On Wednesday the 5th we flew out from Arica to Santiago and it was only going to take 4 hrs….what a treat. We were initially debating on busing to Santiago but we decided it was worth the money to avoid 30 hrs of checking out more desert. And by desert I mean not even a damn tree in sight! Nothing! Nada!! Just good old sand and rock and a bunch of it!
Flying was the best decision yet!
We had avoided the reciprocal fee for entering Chile via bus and still got to cover some ground without paying an insane amount of money. To give you a little Insight, flying in South America is not cheap, ESP. From one country to the next. Your best bet is always to try and get into the country and then fly within. You will save up to $500 per person and like I said for Chile, avoid the $160 reciprocity fee for coming via land and not flying. I must say figuring that out is one of my more proud research/creative planning moves. (Yes, I am padding myself on the back)
We got to Santiago at 9 am, got sorted pretty fast and decided to take the Free Walking Tour which conveniently started at our hostel.
We, unexpectedly, ran into another couple that we had travelled with a few days earlier and were excited to see.
The walking tour was a blast. We would highly recommend this tour to anybody. They guy who runs it, is a local but has lived all over the world. He started this tour, after leading his friends from out of town around town and figured, why not do this for other travelers?!
Long story short, he gives you a more cultural, off the beaten path point of view, from a “coffee with legs”, to the oldest bar in Santiago, it was a blast! Oh and all on tip basis, so pay what you want!
I just want to touch base really on two things we saw:
The definite highlight was coffee with legs! In a nutshell: beautiful women, in string bikinis, serving coffee. This only exists in business district of Santiago. And it’s not very well documented. But you feel like you are walking into a strip joint, black lights, pumping techno, striper shoes and almost naked ladies, only to find a barista making one of the better espressos I have had in a while. Pretty genius I think. I guess about 20 years ago there were only 3 of them and now there are 300 within the business district in Santiago . No dancing, no sex, no booze just a good old coffee shop with legs! And this is only in Santiago!!
Second best was the oldest bar in Santiago. We all got a terromoto drink, which is no joke! Let’s talk intense, knock you off your feet intense!! Homemade pineapple sorbet + home made wine + some other alcohol + grenadine = hangover
Somehow we ended up ordering a grande and every other person in the bar stared at us like we were crazy! We drank it between 4 of us and ended up with a pretty solid buzz at 4 in the afternoon.
Santiago was definitely a pleasant surprise for us, besides the above mentioned, it is extremely well put together, with a great public transportation system that is similar to any large european city, nice people, a climate like Southern California, roads without potholes, toilets with toilet seats and tp, proper sparkling water and a lot of history and culture. The mountains with snow are right around the corner and the ocean is at your footsteps littered with beach breaks, in a nutshell : it has the key to our hearts:)
We spent the rest of our night hanging out at the pool at our hostel and drinking with other travelers we met throughout the day. It was a nice evening which we both really enjoyed and next thing you know we were up at 6 am again, getting ready to head to the bus station.
As previously mentioned the roads have been such a great surprise for us. Perus buses are better but the roads just suck! The buses have wifi, toilets, descent food, free movies/entertainment screens. Chilean buses might not be the greatest (a seat, a window, no AC, semi functioning toilet) but man-o-man…the roads are smoother than a babies butt!! (Disclaimer: We have only taken one bus so far in Chile, so there might be some fancy buses out there too, we were just happy we got a bus down to puerto montt, due to it being high season and lack of Spanish skills to ask)
Within the 12 hrs bus ride, we have seen a great change in scenery and we were quite happy to take a day bus instead of another night bus.
Like I mentioned before, Santiago has a similar climate to southern California, desert with some trees and brush, rolling straight from the mountains into the ocean. It’s warm but not too warm and cooler at night.
We have now transitioned into a more Oregon coast like scenery and it seems like we are just driving north along the west coast of the us, except we are in South America and heading south…really far south:)
Tomorrow we hopefully get onto a ferry for 4 days and end up at our destination of Puerto Natales, the gateway to Torres del pain national park and the famous “W” hike! It only took us a week to get down the here!