14 hours is plenty of time
05.03.2012 - 05.03.2012 29 °C
Pucon can keep its rain – we were headed for sunnier pastures north. After a 10 hour overnight bus trip where I got precisely 0 sleep we were in Santiago. What am I – the world’s premier magnet for snorers? Anyway we had 14 hours in Santiago and a few things planned so after dumping our bags with the nice man at the ‘custodia’ office we walked into town to see what could be seen.
I wasn’t prepared to do anything without first having a coffee. I probably wasn’t even able to do much more than find a coffee store. After that necessity accomplished it was time to find our “free walking tour”. Note that nothing is ever really free and the people taking these tours reply on tips – the recommended tip being pretty reasonable though. At the appointed place at the appointed time we met Antonio who would turn out to be our own private tour guide as no-one else showed up. Result! Thus for the next 4 hours we followed him around listening to political, historical, architectural and personal facts about Santiago, Chile and himself. All very interesting! The street art caught my eye – countless walls, fences and doors have been given a colourful makeover.
Antonio confirmed something we had already worked out for ourselves in the short time we had been in Santiago – “coffee shops” come in all shapes and sizes, but the “girls” working in them aren’t there to make coffee if you know what I mean. Be very careful which cafes you enter!
The only other noteworthy event of the early morning was an extremely close call between Mike and another stray but otherwise nice looking dog. Careful not to spill his coffee (bought from a proper café, not the men’s club variety of course) the dog eyed up his ankle but Mike shouting “bite me and I’ll wop yo ass” sent him running. The absolutely side-splittingly hilarious part (for me) was watching the face of an elderly man as he walked past at that precise moment. He understood 100% what Mike said and found it almost as funny as I did. Glad to be able to provide some entertainment for the locals on their way to work on a Monday morning.
After our tour it was time for the best empanadas Santiago has to offer, at the oldest establishment (cerca 1930). Pretty good too (maybe even better than those we had in Bariloche but it’s a tough call). This little feast was followed by a small lie down in the park because by this time we had been walking around non-stop for 5 ½ hours and the sun was killing us.
Feeling somewhat restored our next objective was to climb San Cristobel. Only 45 minutes of straight up climbing so not up to our usual mountaineering standards but in 29 degrees C the sunscreen was literally dripping off by the time we reached the top. The view from the top was pretty spectacular (not up to Cerro Campanario standards though). A few pictures at the top was followed by unknowingly following the LONG path down, taking about 2 hours to get back to the ice-cream store that had taken our fancy beforehand.
A slow stroll back to the bus station and that was the end of our 14 hours in Santiago. 10 hours of walking and we had managed to do everything we wanted to, with a few extras. Getting on the bus for another overnight journey was made close to perfection by the fact we had paid an extra £2 for a “cama bed” – almost fully reclining. Not bad for bus travel, and that bad boy chair was very comfortable. Having to get out at 1.30am to do all the necessary immigration/passport stamping and bag searching was a real kick in the teeth though.
Next stop: wine, wine, and more wine in Mendoza with a bit of bike riding and a bit of really excellent food.