Valpariso to Valdivia - and goodbye to Chile
15.02.2012 - 27.03.2012
From Mendoza back across the border to Chile, to the coastal town of Valpariso, about 120km northwest of Santiago. It’s a very colourful place and as its right on the sea that can only mean one thing…..beach time! It’s been a while since we were on the coast so we took full advantage. Think we took too much advantage by the look of us that evening! Safe to say plenty aftersun needed! Did the touristy side of things too, checking out the 2nd of Pablo Neruda’s houses/museums (the strangest collection of things I’ve seen in someone’s house – he had everything from a merry-go-round horse in his living room to stuffed birds and Chinese carvings but the views were worth the ticket alone!
We returned to Santiago after a few nights and joined Fiona and Paul on a pub crawl for Paul and Aine’s last night with us. The 5 weeks really flew by! Piscolas were the drink of the night, a national drink here. Met some cool people that night including Taylor Lautner’s double! Check the photos if you don’t believe me!
Next up was Pucon, home to the Villarica volcano which we set off to climb on our second day there! Was tough but worth it for the spectacular views on our ascent of this part rocky part icy trail! Unfortunately we couldn’t see into the crater so no lava spotted and the fumes at the top were so overpowering you had to leave after about ten minutes! Got to slide down it though on our rear ends on toboggan like tracks which was the best part! Felt like a kid again!
After a days rest we took on Parque Nacional Huerquehue for a 8 hour trek through woodlands on the Los Lagos trail which took us to 3 different pristine lakes each one as beautiful as the next. The views were stunning with the volcano smoking in the background. It was a long day but the sense of achievement at the end and the beauty of the place made it worth it. Our first proper trek after the Inca trail. Reminded me of New Zealand somewhat.
A weekend stop in Valdivia was next to attend a local festival with a friend we met in Pucon. Rene kindly showed us around for the weekend, took us to local restaurants and to the fireworks display on Saturday night followed by some dancing in a local club. Weird in the clubs here everyone dances in twos, takes a bit getting used to not having the circle of friends that usually crowds dancefloors at home but hey it’s a chance to practice my salsa! A stop at the local Irish bar has really confirmed my opinion that the South American attempts are nothing like Irish bars, just painted green with a few flags here and there. I mean the staff don’t have a word of English and probably don’t even know what Guinness is! We were probably the most Irish thing about the place! Rene challenged me to taste Chilean chocolate before I try the famous chocolate in Bariloche (Argentina) and to be honest I had no objections! Anyone who knows me knows I love chocolate! Got to see the Ireland Italy game in the hostel which was great after the disappointing cancellation of the France game while we were sitting in the pub waiting for kick off! Great result!