We have gotten to be pretty seasoned bus riders by now. But the scenery on this past bus ride blew us away. I literally took so many photos our camera ran out of batteries! Here are some of my favorites!
Our second day in Santiago didn't go as well touristy wise, everything we were hoping to see was closed on Sunday, and a few other things we were hoping for also didn't quite work out. Also most of the cafes and restaurants were closed, unfortunately meaning we were walking around starving - not the best way to experience a city.
However, a friend from Willamette and AXO, Anne Watson had invited us over to her apartment in Santiago to watch the Superbowl that evening so we spent the day proudly wearing blue all over Santiago (there was no Seahawks gear to be found!) and getting excited to watch the game. Arriving to her house we were not only treated to watching the game, but she also prepared chili and cornbread - such comfort food! Also, much to our delight, English was spoken and we were finally able to hang out with others and understand what was being said. Eric and Anne explained all the football rules to those watching football for the first time. It was nice to finally be in the know of something and not just asking questions! A side note, football is quite a confusing game to explain!!!
We were so invested in cheering for the Seahawks and chatting with others I did not take any photos but it will be a day and game we will always remember! Anne even sent us home with lots of chocolates to ease our bus ride the next day to Mendoza.
We were so lucky to have been with such generous people in Santiago. It made our time there so special and we can't wait to return in a few weeks before our flight to Peru!
After a surprisingly easy night bus ride (thank you sleeping pills!) we arrived to an awesome AirBnB in Santiago and were ready to hit the streets. We were following the Lonely Planet's 2-day guide to Santiago and our first stop was to the Chilean Presidential Palace. We saw a line and decided to wait in it, not knowing what it was for or what it would yield. However, it turned out to be our best decision for the day! While in line we were told women are to go on one side, men on the other, so Eric and I split up. The man behind Eric and him got to chatting and became fast friends..
Our new friend, Kevin, was on a similar quest to see the city and offered to pay for the cab to the funicular ride if we were interested. Of course we said yes, and off the three of us went. When in line to buy some water before entering the funicular, Kevin proclaimed to be our "dad for a day" and treated us to not only water, but the funicular ride. And it didn't end there! At the top of the funicular he told us a story about a nice couple that him and his wife had met years ago while traveling in Turkey and how he wanted to pay the kindness forward. After explaining all of this, he offered to take us to one of the best restaurants in Chile for dinner. Of course we accepted, feeling lucky to have a new travel friend and one that was so generous!
We spent the afternoon doing laundry in our AirBnB (one of my top 3 favorite parts of Santiago) and getting ready for dinner.
The dinner was not only some of the best seafood we have had but also in one of the coolest restaurants. We had a great time getting to know Kevin over dinner and even though we were one of the first to enter the restaurant, we were also of the last to leave! Such a fun evening.
I love the idea of putting kindness into the world, and even know we don't have the funds to necessarily do it financially, try to do it daily by including people and bringing people together on the road. Kevin, know that we will of course pay your kindness forward and how much we enjoyed ourselves with you!
The bus was finally serviced and we were able to take our El Cani hike. The reviews we read did not lie, it was a hike going straight up for the first hour. Steps or ladders would have been more appropriate for the incline we were tiptoeing up. After passing some cows at the refugio the incline lessened a bit and we settled back into our usual pace. We passed a few uninteresting lakes and then came the steepest climb yet to reach the mirador. 30 minutes of straight up rewarded us with 360 degree views of the whole area. It was a bit cloudy so the tops of the volcanoes in the distance were hidden but it was a stunning scene.
Returning back down we were wishing for a zip line to the bottom as our joints screamed at us to get back to flat ground. It started to sprinkle a bit as we walked and we picked up the pace as to not get caught on the clay surface that would surely become a dangerous slip-in-slide when wet. We made it to the bus stop, and onto the bus, right as it started to pour. And it literally didn’t stop until the morning! We were so lucky to have had the timing we did! A great hike with a lucky ending for us.
We further rewarded our hiking efforts by taking a day off at the beach. The black sanded beach was pretty much empty when we arrived around 11a. We hired two lounge chairs and two umbrellas. We both had our kindle’s and were excited to read by never did because of all there was to watch! The beach started to fill up so much so that we could hardly see the water from our lounge chairs (whereas before we were practically on the water!). People were walking by selling a range of items from sandals, to visors, to little sweets. And then the people that were there! They seem to care much less about body image. One woman after another walked by in itsy bikinis – I say good for them for having the bravo to sport the look in public! Another woman sat by us plucking her chin hairs (it was so gross it was hard to not watch with an open mouth!). Accompanying all of these unusual scenes were also really cute families playing in the water and lots of couples on dates. It was fascinating! Here are some pictures of the beach when we finally left around 6p.
Tuesday we set off to hike El Cani, a hike that another friend had recommended. When we got to the bus station the driver shook his finger at us (NO!) and said the bus was broken and there would be no bus. We laughed and then figured we should get on the bus overflowing with tourists going to Parque Huerquehue. When we arrived we figured we would just take the park rangers recommendation and do the Los Lagos hike. This six hour hike led us through some steep climbs with rewarding miradors and lake views. By the time we reached Lago Verde we were ready for lunch. At which point, we both ate turkey sandwiches. For those of you following along at home, this was a big deal for me. I haven’t eaten more than a bite of meat for so long that I can’t remember whether it’s been 5 or 6 years. However, as we have traveled and Eric has lost weight, and I have gained weight, I realized adding some protein to my diet might be a bit healthier than bread, cheese, and butter. So, slowly, when there are no other options, I’ll be adding meat to my diet. Needless to say, Eric is thrilled! Here’s our selfie he wanted to take to commemorate the occasion.
At any rate, after this momentous occasion, we hit the trails again, going by 4 more lakes as we made our way around this huge national park. After a steep descent back to the ranger office to wait for the bus we celebrated our efforts with a cold cervesa, of course in our Dinner Island koozies.
We had a beautiful bus ride into Pucon, and relatively quick at only 5 hours. We went through some really cool forests with tons of monkey trees and also saw very barren landscapes. When we arrived into Pucon we found our little shared house/hostal. From the recommendation we received, to what we arrived to, it was a bit disappointing. This spot is a bit like staying in a strange grandma’s house with a brown and yellow color scheme and lots of lace. Part of traveling is adjusting to these situations and trying to keep our spirits up while also wondering who was putting up all these fake positive reviews on TripAdvisor. At any rate, we set off to get some Chilean pesos from the ATM. At which point our card was taken by the ATM and we had no clue as to why. So we had zero Chilean pesos and no other ATM card with us. Luckily the grocery store took credit cards and ours was accepted to purchase food for dinner and some much needed wine and chocolate.
The next day we spent our time getting settled in this new little city. We somehow were able to get our ATM card back (and this all happened in Spanish, thank you very much). But we never did figure out why it was taken. At any rate, Pucon is growing on us and we are excited to explore the city some more. The city is located on a pretty lake with some rolling hills in the distance. It’s a pretty ritzy place with some nice Land Rovers, Range Rovers, Mercedes G Wagon, and Lotus. The people are all dressed for vacation in nice clothes. It’s fun to sit on a park bench and watch it all go by! The restaurants all look nice and there are a lot of fun shops to poke around in.