Being a Tourist for a While

Date: 13th November – 28th November 2012

Where: Santiago – Mendoza – Valparaiso – Santiago – Valdivia

Distance: 6322 to 6334 miles

We spent a very restful two days with Ricardo and his family in Santiago, before moving to a more central hostal…in fact very central. The Plaza de Armas hostal looks down from the 6th floor onto the very centre of Santiago (there was a lift for the bikes thank goodness).

Negotiating escalators in Santiago bus station. Helmet compulsory

Negotiating escalators in Santiago bus station. Helmet compulsory

Eating ‘Meatballs in the oven’ with Ricardo and his family

Eating ‘Meatballs in the oven’ with Ricardo and his family

Nearly home…signposts for Coventry have started appearing!

Nearly home…signposts for Coventry have started appearing!

The view from the hostal over the Plaza de Armas in Santiago de Chile

The view from the hostal over the Plaza de Armas in Santiago de Chile

That night Stavros left Miami and the next morning swooped over the Andes into the airport. We were waiting for him, and swiftly boarded the bus back into town. It was a memorable moment as it was the first person from life as we knew it who we’d seen since meeting Nico in Nicaragua all those months ago (although an ex-work colleague of Geoff’s saw us on the Salar…she thought of us, but didn’t stop the jeep to see if it was us, because the coincidence would be too great!). The hostal was being cleansed of bed bugs, so we dumped bags and went out for food, a favourite Stavrakakis past-time.

The remainder of our time in Santiago is summed up in the photos below, plus a lot of shopping. Geoff in particular completely refreshed his wardrobe!

The two Stavrakaki go in search of dinner at the fish market in Santiago

The two Stavrakaki go in search of dinner at the fish market in Santiago

The changing of the guard…they have a lot of guards!

The changing of the guard…they have a lot of guards!

Meeting friends in Santiago. Top: Gonzalo from SOAS. Bottom: Rodrigo and Lilian from 'Motoruteroes de Colombia'

Meeting friends in Santiago. Top: Gonzalo from SOAS. Bottom: Rodrigo and Lilian from ‘Motoruteroes de Colombia’

Outside one of Pablo Neruda's house, a famous Chilean poet

Outside one of Pablo Neruda’s houses, a famous Chilean poet

Walking round the streets of Santiago, Father and Daughter.

Walking round the streets of Santiago, Father and Daughter.

The view from Cerro San Cristóbal in Santiago, a City in the shadow of the Andes (much like all of Chile!)

The view from Cerro San Cristóbal in Santiago, a City in the shadow of the Andes (much like all of Chile!)

From Santiago we retraced our steps back over the Paso de Los Libertadores to Mendoza. This time with a tailwind, a bus and a Stavros. We all got to see first-hand what we would cycle in an average day, and all of us were mightily impressed. It doesn’t seem that far when you’re on a bike, but in a bus it looked like miles and miles of uphill though a hot desert-like valley!

The weather in Mendoza was as hot as it was before and we spent much of the time wandering the streets under the cool shade of the trees. Trips to nearby thermal springs and vineyards combined with two parrilladas (mixed grills) and a Tango demonstration gave us all a feel for Argentinean life, and we were soon ready to return to Chile, this time to Valparaiso.

Relaxing with coffee in the shade of the Mendozan street-forest

Relaxing with coffee in the shade of the Mendozan street-forest

A Greek in Argentina. Left: With the irrigation channels that keep Mendoza so green. Right: Amidst the colours of Plaza España

A Greek in Argentina. Left: With the irrigation channels that keep Mendoza so green. Right: Amidst the colours of Plaza España

On the roof of the town hall in Mendoza…we could see so many trees!

On the roof of the town hall in Mendoza…we could see so many trees!

The protein shakes appear to be working at last!

The protein shakes appear to be working at last!

Stavrakakis = Food :-)

Stavrakakis = Food 🙂

Different flavours of wine growing for our delectation

Different flavours of wine growing for our delectation

A lifetime’s wine supply

A lifetime’s wine supply

Relaxing at the thermal springs complex at Cacheuta

Relaxing at the thermal springs complex at Cacheuta

The tourists show off their Tango skills with the over-dressed locals

The tourists show off their Tango skills with the over-dressed locals

Valparaiso…the coast..the Pacific…sea level! The first time since Trujillo in Peru, over 3 months ago! We really enjoyed our stay in this town, from the working port, past all the graffiti-covered, colourful houses on its steep slopes, to the views at the top. The naval museum was fascinating particularly the one non-naval exhibit: the torpedo-cage which rescued the miners a couple of years ago. We found it impossible to not take photos, the ones below are just some of them showing life in the Port:

Valpariso is a port where boats seem to stick their noses into every part of life

Valparaiso is a port where boats seem to stick their noses into every part of life

An impromptu classic car show allows Sarah to pose next to her all-time favourite car

An impromptu classic car show allows Sarah to pose next to her all-time favourite car

Ready to go visit the harbour

Ready to go visit the harbour

Unexpected guests watch over the bay

Unexpected guests watch over the bay

Containers mimic the houses on the steep slopes of the town

‘Ricky Boy’ – Containers mimic the houses on the steep slopes of the town

Scrumptious sea food

Scrumptious sea food

Sarah lost in a sea of graffiti

Sarah lost in a sea of graffiti

The streets of Valpariso

The streets of Valparaiso

The trolley-buses of Valparaiso

The trolley-buses of Valparaiso

Lord Cochrane’s (who was not drowned on the Arab as reported) advert for a crew to sail to South America with him

Lord Cochrane’s (who was not drowned in the Arab as reported) advert for a crew to sail to South America with him

These two men are clearly not built to be miners!

These two men are clearly not built to be miners!

Some of the jumbled masses of buildings that make up the town resemble slums

Some of the jumbled masses of buildings that make up the town resemble slums

Sea mist envelops the giraffe cranes in Valparaiso port

Sea mist envelops the giraffe cranes in Valparaiso port

Sarah and Stavros talk future careers with a view

Sarah and Stavros talk future careers with a view

Brightly coloured funiculars adorn the slopes round the town

Brightly coloured funiculars adorn the slopes round the town

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Valparaiso

Valpo, the locals name for their port

Valpo, the locals’ name for their port

Our road trip returned us to Santiago after 3 days in Valparaiso and we set about preparatory tasks to start cycling again. Washing was done, Geoff’s camera was cleaned (at last!), bikes were oiled, punctures fixed and bags packed. Our bus to Valdivia left early the next morning, but it wasn’t till 11 o’clock that we got to bed. From Valdivia we will cycle South while Stavros goes wandering by bus, meeting up every few days for coffee and cake!

Washing clothes in Santiago

Washing clothes in Santiago

2 responses to “Being a Tourist for a While”

  1. Martin wigham says :

    Well, your holiday is over, back to the day job. Enjoyed the blog and pictures, Martin

    • Geoff says :

      Hi Martin, I understand your holiday is just starting! Enjoy the retirement! The day job isn’t much fun at the moment…3 days of rain rain rain. Not many photos in the next blog methinks! Geoff

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