A Travellerspoint blog

Santiago

sunny 70 °F
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Santiago is a very crowded bustling city but it also has a lot of parks and increadible weather (80 and sunny every day), at least at this time of the year.
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I visited the mercado central, where the fresh fish is brought in daily from Valparaiso. I had a soup (paille especial) that had all kinds of fish and seafood in it, I did not know what half of it was. However, there was definately there was shrimp mussels and squid in it.
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I got a chance to go out and see the nightlife here in Santiago in the Bellavista neighbordhood. Wow, lots of people were everywhere, in the clubs, outside, and this was at 2 AM as things started getting started.

I also visited the museum area and visited the Museo de las Memorias, which dealt with the period of Pinochet's dictatorship from 1973 to 1990, where thousands disappeared because of political views. Outside was a piece of art representing the desaparecidos.
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The museum area also had a beautiful park with many exotic trees.
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The last day in Santiago I met a friend from Columbia, Francisco, in the hostel. He is starting school here and we walked the town.
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Visiting La moneda palace meant so much more after the museo de memoria.
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Afterward I had another soup from la vega mercado area, where the locals go.
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That night, I met another friend who took me through a sunday market, called ferie de las pulgas. It was mobbed with people and in one spot there were people just selling marijuana but most people sold handicrafts.
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Then we took the metro south of town. There was a religious german township we walked through.
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Then, we went to the mall for some food as we conversed in Spanish.

Overall, I came into Santiago to relax a bit and to mix up a big city in a trip that has focused a lot on outdoor adventures.

Posted by solorooster 06:06 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

First day in Santiago

sunny 75 °F
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The overnight busride from Pucon to Santiago was 10 hours and I expected it to be 13. I was asleep when we got to the bus station. My first order of business was to get from the bus station to the hostel. I bought the metro ticket and went down to the train. It was 7:30 and all of the trains were jam packed with people.
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I was carrying 2 packs and a bottle of juice. Finally I just stuffed myself in one of the trains. It was wall to wall people and I could barely move. One old guy got my attention by appearing to not have his balance. He made eye contact with me which I though was strange. I was holding onto my bags tightly, everything I thought was fastened to my body and my pockets seemed unreachable beneath the bags. However, I got my wallet stolen anyway! I only lost the cash, a lock, and the wallet itself but boy did I feel stupid. Lesson, avoid contact and crowds of any kind. I got through pickpocket meccas like Barcelona with no problem and I come to Santiago thinking it is one of the safer cities here and it happens.

After checking into the hostel ...
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I decide to relax a bit and then go out a bit exploring the city.
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I started out looking to find a tourist bus to sit in all day but I never found it so I climbed Cerro San Cristobal and visited the statue of the virgin. It was smoggy but the summit was very nice.
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After that I replaced my wallet and lock for a combined $4 and went back to the hostel to relax for an hour before meeting a friend who lives in Santiago who I met my second day on the trip in Lima.

It was good to see him and fun to walk around the city with a local and also nice to speak Spanish and have to rely on it. He showed me Castillo Hidalgo, another hill in the city with a ceremonial fortress built on it with great views of the city.
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Then we walked through some neighborhoods ending up in the center where I saw the presidential office and plaza de armas.
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He showed me the Peruvian neighborhood, which is rare since Chile and Peru don’t get along.
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Finally he showed me the Bellas Artes district, which is the bohemian area of the city, and we ate at The Clinic, a political/communist themed restaurant with a ton of personality and humor. I drank my first terremoto of the trip, which is wine, pisco, and lemon ice cream. I also ate barros luco, steak and cheese sandwich unique to Chile.
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Overall it was quite a long and nice day that got better after a not so good start.

Posted by solorooster 07:59 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Parque Nacional Huerquehue

sunny 65 °F
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As Pucon grew on me I decided to stay 2 extra days in Pucon after climbing the volcano. The weather is good now and I wanted to spend a day in one of Chile’s nicest forests. Everyone was recommending Parque nacional Huerquehue, known for its lakes and forests. I was pondering taking the lakes route, but a friend from the hostel also decided to come and wanted to do the Sendero San Sebastian, a more challenging trail to one of the highest points in the park. I agreed to do it.

The day started off with a one hour busride from Pucon on paved and unpaved roads to the park entrance. We ascended to about 600 meters with nice views and started the hike near the base of a lake. The trail ascended to a ridge and after 40 minutes of straight climbing, we entered into a zone of large ancient trees, including the araucaria tree, a symbol of Chile, which is a unique pine tree that only grows in Chile and Argentina between 37 and 40 south latitude. These trees were massive and unlike the occasional domestic ones seen around town. They were over 100 feet tall in places with 5 foot diameter trunks!
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We walked through this amazing forest for over an hour and as we continued to ascend, views of lakes and volcanoes came into view as well.
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The terrain was jagged and felt like something out of the age of the dinosaurs.
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After mostly good trail, the last quarter of the hike was steep, muddy and rocky in places. However, the reward was well worth it. The top, at nearly 2000 meters, revealed at least 8 volcanoes and 4 lakes, one of which was scenically located in the glacial cirque that we climbed and surrounded by araucaria trees. Unlike the volcano trek which was crowded and well-orchestrated by guides, my friend and I climbed the mountain and encountered no one on the way up and no one in the hour on the summit!
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Upon the descent, we had 2 hours to kill before catching the bus so we hung out by the lake at the bottom.
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After the hike, we came back to the hostel and cooked hamburgers … not ordinary ones but with cheese, egg, tomato, onion, and avocado … nice!
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After over a month in Patagonia and 8 days in the lakes district I have come to the conclusion that one could spend an incredible amount of time here trekking among the amazing terrain here. However, for now, I have decided to try the city and see if I can find some non-touristic activities. I am taking the overnight bus to Santiago.

Posted by solorooster 04:45 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Horseback ride and Mapuche country

sunny 60 °F
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This morning I checked out the Playa Grande before heading on my horseback ride. This is a black sand beach in Pucon.

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There was an araucuria tree there, the tree of Chile

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A pasture on the way back from the beach got me in the mindset

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One of the many beautiful birds that seem to be everywhere

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In the afternoon, a friend from Germany and I went on a cabalgatas (horseback ride) in the Mapuche town of Qulehue. The Mapuche are native to the area and survived the europeans arrival. My horse's name was Chincol and he was "flojo" or lazy often straggling behind the group.

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The ride started near many farms with plenty of animals.

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Then, the trail ascended in the woods with views overlooking the area.

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After some prodding by Gregoria, our guide, Chincol brought me back to the village. Gregoria's wife, Herminda, cooked up some traditional food all prepared in a ruka, a traditional Mapuche dwelling with a straw roof. We also drank mudai, a traditional wheat drink with a clear milky white color.

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Afterwards I tried to play a trutruka, a hornlike instrument ... the key word here is tried!

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Overall it was a fun day although I am not sure I have a knack with animals ... Chincol did not really listen to me on the ride:)

Posted by solorooster 19:35 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Climbing Villarica Volcano

semi-overcast 55 °F
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After a party the night before I set the alarm for 6 AM. The alarm woke me up at 5 because my phone had daylight savings adjustment and I didn't realize it until I was all ready (there is no sign of daylight here in Pucon until after 7). Then, it was hurry up and wait. We all got picked up from the hostel at 7:30 (supposed to be 6:30) and did not get a ride to the mountain until 9.

It turned out to work out fine. The first view of the volcano happened at the beginning of the hike as the fog began to lift.
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We started the day at 1,400 meters just about at treeline. Getting above the clouds was beautiful as volcanoes Llaima Lonquimay and Cerro Nevada popped through the clouds.
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We hit the snowline around halfway and had to use crampons from there.
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The view through the clouds below was amazing with lakes and mountains with the black volcanic rock contrasting with white snow in the foreground. It was a crowded mountain today as many days had passed since the good weather. We got to the summit, 2,847 m (9,341 ft), and the vista opened up and revealed more volcanoes (Quetrupillán y Lanin) and the spectacular glaciers on the east face of the volcano. Looking into the caldera, it was really deep but there was some steam coming out around the edge. This was not my first volcano I climbed but it was the first active one.
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The descent is where things got intersting. After a 4 hour ascent, it only took 1:45 to get down the mountain as the snowcovered part of the hike we slid down the mountain. It was fun and scary for me but most of the others just thought it was fun. Most that know me know that I am not a fan of descents.

After the hike today, I rewarded myself with 2 completos (hot dogs with tomato and avacado), french fries, and freshly made mango juice.

Posted by solorooster 08:06 Archived in Chile Comments (2)

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