Santiago and around

12-20 March 2003.

We arrived in Santiago on the 12th of March via Madrid, and were pleased to find a very hot, sunny morning.  The weather lasted for the whole time and were pleased to find a welcoming European like city. We spent the next two days trying to unwind, find intern et cafes and basically try to understand any of the Spanish language!

We met up with Nick and Jo from our old flat in London and revelled in the fact that we could eat what we wanted with Nick's very good Spanish. We have realised that we are going to need to learn Spanish very quickly.

The 4 of us went Mountain biking in the Andes on a boiling hot day. We were only convinced by the leaflet that said "Sit back and relax while we drive you up the mountain and you can ease your way down the hill at your own pace." The reality was two hours mountain biking up hill, with a Hitler bike instructor who kept telling us NOT TO STOP. He got us very lost and we had to turn back on ourselves which may not sound much, but the route was often a single track with a steep cliff drop. If you took a wrong turn you were history. It was not exactly the easy entry to mountain biking that Claire had hoped for!

Needless to say, we had a fab time, the views were amazing, and it all seems so much better now that it is over. Jason saw several condors and we had a close encounter with a tarantula which nearly got run-over.

Claire was too busy focusing on gripping the handlebars for dear life and avoiding the rocks. We finished the day with a huge BBQ (read meat eating competition with the locals). It appears that these meat eating rituals are endemic to South America and are more of a test of ones manhood than single track mountain biking down a 60 degree rock face. The more and the rawer the meat the more you seem to be admired.... needless to say the 767 to Easter Island from Santiago was a 4 and a half hour Dutch oven for those unfortunate enough to be in cattle class with Jason who managed to hold his own in the animal stuffing competition.

This is the picture where tough guy Nick fell off and scrapped his arm.

In the evening, we checked out the tacky tourist part of Santiago. We visited about 20 pubs which were all like the Walkabout and contained some wannabe Shakira screaming down the microphone.

Peter Thompson you are a super star, the hotel that you treated us to was a Crown Plaza was beautiful.    The bedsheet even matched Jason's shirt.

Thank you so much, we had a lovely evening in the hotel which we spiced up the evening by sampling the local spirit, Pisco.  

It was also funny to see the reaction of the reception staff and business men who were convinced that we were in the wrong hotel.  Let's just say backpackers don't normally use it and the immaculately presented but slightly snobby lady on reception took great delight in reminding me in perfect American-English that this was a US$120 a night hotel. I even think she grimaced slightly when she found the pre-paid reservation!

Next Page Region Map