We spend just over a week in Chile and one of the highlights is the Cabernet Sauvignon-divine. Our first stop is Santiago, the capital. It’s one of Latin America’s safer cities that can be explored on foot or by public transport quite easily, and has all of the things you need (I make two visits to Starbucks here for some chai). Its not particularly attractive to me, the sun generally does not shine here, the buildings look tired and old, and there is generally a brownish grey feel and colour to the place-not pretty. Still, over the next two days sometimes alone, sometimes with a friend I walk though the streets lined with shops, visit markets selling everything from fruits to handicrafts, sit peacefully in churches, and relax back at the hostel. One lunchtime we go to a huge seafood market in the centre and I share a delicious paella with Lawrence. We run out of things to do the following day so wonder around killing time and feeling quite hung over from the night before so not good! I decide that Santiago must be a great place to live and work for a while, but not the best for seeing sights or exploring for a few days, one has to live it to really appreciate it. On our final evening we board an overnight bus for the Lakes District.
Pucon is a delightful little place. I’m so excited as we drive to our next hostel as the scenery is breathtaking. Hostal Donde German is wonderful, it feels like we’re in a cosy country little barn with a lovely lounge area with cosy rugs and cushions, a huge kitchen that feels really warm and toasty thanks to the wooden fire places. This is really nice, the next few days here are great. Pucon is a village turned resort and many backpackers and big budget holiday-makers come here. The restaurants are not cheap, there are many shops selling expensive travel gear and you can even buy some gorgeous expensive chocolate here-not forgetting the wine of course. Pucon is very small and easy to get around on foot, with a shimmering lake that acts as a mirror for the snowbound Volcan Villarrica (volcano). I spend my first day here with Michelle, walking around the town and buying lots of goodies for dinner now that we have a kitchen. It’s great hanging around the house. Not a late night tonight, we have a volcano to climb the following morning!
Saturday 21 November is another fantastic day on my trip, the day I climbed a snowy volcano-well at least attempted to! We have two guides and there are 6 of us in the group. We end up splitting into two as me, Kristi and Michelle are not as fast so lag behind with Uber. Steve, Alexa and Marianne are ahead and become smaller and smaller. We are completely kitted out from head to toe in special hiking gear, its really cold but once you get into a rhythm it feels much better. The snow is thick and the setting beautiful. I’m so out of breathe and very disappointed in myself. If I’d been attempting this a couple of months ago I would’ve found it much easier I think, but the numerous weeks of late nights, travel and poor diet have left me exhausted and feeling very unfit. Uber lets us know that we have slowed down to the point that we will not make it to the top. This is enough to convince the three of us to give up and begin our descent. We’ve had a brilliant time, and my two Aussie companions have especially as this is the first time they have laid their eyes on snow. We take many photos and put another layer of gear on our bums and slide down the volcano-this is brilliant! At the end me and Kristi have to walk back in snow up to our knees, we’ve been up since 5.30am and now we’re absolutely exhausted, its around 3 in the afternoon. We finally get back to Pucon and there are beers and snacks waiting for us on arrival. We peel off our layers and enjoy a drink with Uber our guide and laugh about our failed attempt, but oh what a fantastic day! In the evening we have homemade hamburgers for dinner and pop out for a few drinks. Michelle orders a hot chocolate and the waitress ends up spilling it all over my lap-not fun. Oh well it means we get some free drinks and I enjoy more and more vino tinto, not bad eh?
The following day I’m tired and achy so it’s a lazy day window shopping, catching up with my diary and watching TV (Notting Hill is on the English channel yet again, oh well it will have to do). Alexa and Steve cook a mean spaghetti Bolognese in the evening, its so nice not eating out for a couple of days. I love the time we spend in Pucon, we leave early the next morning for our next destination.
Our arrival into Puerto Varas is a bit miserable, thanks to the weather. It’s cold, wet and drizzly. The 6-hour bus journey here didn’t end well so we’re off to a bad start; Sebastian had his bag stolen while he was snoozing. His laptop and paperwork are all gone, not good. Michelle is feeling really ill and has been throwing up throughout the journey. We check into our hostel and go and grab a bite to eat. I spend the afternoon with Kristi and we explore the little town. In the evening we find Puerto Varas is very quiet, not many people about at all. Is the poor weather or the time of year? I’m not sure. The following day we’re supposed to go on a day trip to do some trekking and see a huge lake but the rain is coming down and we’re not really in the mood. Especially as Michelle is now very sick and spent all night in hospital, Sebastian has had a lot on his hands to deal with! I’m feeling exhausted so after breakfast get back into my pyjamas and have a snooze. Me and Lawrence find buy some red wine from the supermarket and Kristi joins us for pizza, there’s not much else to do here on our last night so we may as well eat and drink merrily!