We hoped on the bus in Mendoza, Argentina at about 1pm in the afternoon and thus missing the United-Arsenal match as we had been told that the views along the border crossing were spectacular and must be seen during the day. And they didn’t lie. What they didn’t mention however was the 7 hour wait at the border on the bus high above the Andes mountains.
Up not too early the next day, we demolished breakfast at the hostel and took a stroll around the city centre which is easily accessible by foot and quite beautiful. We quickly noticed the price difference between Argentina and Chile so had to make a little game plan in terms of food…straight to the peso saver menu in McDonald’s. We climbed Cerro de Santa Lucia which gave great views of the city and also of the biggest building in Latin America. All walked out we headed home for some customary spag bol and in the evening visited the local Irish bar “Dublin”, where we were told we could only order drinks if we bought food. 100% authentic then.
Viña del Mar
We arrived early afternoon in Viña and headed straight to the beach which was lovely. Once a bit roasted we made a move for the water, but it was absolutely freezing. Limping back to the towels and smuggling some serious raisins, we decided it was time to have a look around the town and grab some local food. We had some Chilean pino empanadas which were decent but not as good as our own homemade ones. We ended our rehab that night with a few scoops chillaxing under the stars.
Early the next morning we went straight to the bus station and reserved tickets for that night to the island of Chiloe in Southern Chile. With a few hours to spare we did what only we knew best and cooked up a spag bol while watching Ireland getting smashed by Australia in the rugby. With full bellies we headed off for the bus.
Our journey to Chiloe involved a stop off in Puerto Mont for a couple of hours and then another bus/boat across the sea to the island. It beat our last bus on a boat experience in Bolivia and I am glad to say there were no lads with buckets this time. After a nice crossing we hopped off the bus in a small fishing town called Ancud which is easily the most remote place we have been so far. The hostel was also the closest we have ever had to travel as it was literally a 4 second walk across the road. The town was absolutely dead as the Chilean presidential election were taking place that day so it was a bit eerie. After the long journey we took it fairly easy and reserved a Penguin trip the following morning through the hostel. We also decided to give our famous dish a knock for a few nights and cooked up some serious burritos.
We arrived pretty late in Pucon but walked the few blocks to our hostel. After dropping the bags we went straight for some food and back within half an hour for a bit of a sleep. Pucon is a picturesque town located beside a huge lake and is famous as a ski destination during winter season and also its volcano which sits menacingly in the background.
The next day, after having some brekkie, we grabbed a local bus and jumped off at some waterfalls about 30 minutes outside the town which were very impressive. After some Indiana Jones style jumping of fences which said no entry we got a bird-eye view and some snaps. We headed outside after and waited for the bus to take us to the large lake another 20 minutes down the road. With no bus in sight we twice hitchhiked our way down the road and spent an hour or so chillaxed by the lake.
We arrived in Santiago mid-morning and headed to the hostel to have some breakfast before checking in. Afterwards we went into the city centre to record some Irish dancing in the main plaza and then on the way back got a few hair-cuts from a 90 year old man, who I must say still had the skills! The hostel luckily had a swimming pool so we spent the evening chilling with a couple of beers to celebrate the 6 months on Latin America. A celebratory spag bol was had and was then followed by the first ever Wirld vote off. Kev headed off during an emotional goodbye at the hostel mid-afternoon the next day, so a sombre mood set in at The Wirld HQ and Chris and I just did a few lengths in the 3 metre pool before hitting the hay.
We were up early the next day however to see the Ireland – New Zealand which was an absolute heartbreaker and put us in a foul mood for the day. Only one thing for a mood like that: spag bol!
The next day we checked out and did some planning for New Zealand before heading off to Pichilemu with a friend from Paraguay for a few days. After much time wasting we finally got on the bus at 6 in the evening and we were on the way to the famous surf town of Pichilemu.
We arrived in Pichilemu at around 10pm at night in the middle of absolutely nowhere, but were lucky enough to get a taxi immediately and told the main man the way to go. Unfortunately the driver then told us that he had actually just borrowed his uncles taxi so didn’t really have a clue where we were going. Some lad! Eventually we found the hostel which was a cool Eco-lodge, made of refurbished shipping containers. We were absolutely starving but as the town was so small and the hostel so isolated, the only option was a bowl of rice from someone’s left over dinner. Delish! Like a scene out of Into The Wild!
We zig-zagged our way up to Viña del Mar the following morning via Santiago and arrived mid-afternoon to some sweltering heat and rocked up to the hostel to check in and stuff the bellies with some homemade tacos. That evening was pretty boring and even mature, some might say as we did some logistical work for New Zealand and began booking our buses and boats for the coming month. After 20 minutes of booking we had to quit amid a frantic sweat, during what must have been the nearest thing to work we have done in 6 months.
With the sun burn well on the way to becoming St Tropez, we grabbed the bus the next morning back to Santiago to ensure we made it back in time for our flight on the Saturday.
After a quick bus back to Santiago we hopped on the metro and headed straight to our hostel in the trendy Bellavista part of the town. On the way we stopped off at one of the famous “Coffee with legs” cafes which are dotted around the city. Basically chicks in miniskirts serve coffee to seedy men. Class! With little over 24 hours left in Santiago, there was not a whole lot left to do apart from have a few celebratory scoops on the terrace while soaking up the last few rays of sunshine. Fittingly, we arose the next day with groggy heads, ending just as we had started Latin America. After a shower, pack of the bag and a leaving spag bol it was time to head to the airport and bring an end to what has been 6 amazing months.
Chile has been a real gem in South America. One of the most developed countries in the continent, it is a must see if down south as it has virtually everything you could want. Thanks to all the locals we met who let us know a little more about the real Chile along the journey. Off to New Zealand next for Christmas. Hope Santa delivers to hostels!