Back in the sunshine

Trip Start Mar 10, 2011
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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Itīs been over a week since my last blog. This is partly because there hasnīt been much to say and partly because I caught a horrible virus in Santiago which landed me in bed for a while. Iīm ok now, but itīs started to spread around. James got it 2 days later and this morning Edīs starting to feel a bit ill. I guess itīs part of the traveling experience. Weīre all bound to get a few bugs along the way....

Since Patagonia weīve slowly been making our way up north to Mendoza, Argentina, known for itīs wine and good weather. Itīs taken a week of coaching, the longest being a 36 hour coach ride! I never thought Iīd ever manage to be on a coach that long but Iīm starting to get used to it, I just plug in my ipod and sleep. Along the way we stopped off at a few towns and cities, the first being Punta Arenas, famous for the Magellanic Penguins that live nearby. Unfortunately, theyīve all emigrated for the Autumn, just before we got there.  Shame. We then headed up through Argentina and back into Chile to the port city, Puerto Montt. We were a bit disappointed here as there wasnīt much to do either, so we headed up to the capital of Chile, Santiago.

I was quite excited about visiting Santiago. Thereīs something about big cities that I really like, the busyness, the noise the people.... It reminds me a bit of home. We arrived early in the morning so we had a full day to wander around. We got the Metro to "Down town Santiago" as they call it and headed to the main square "Plaza de Armas" a huge square with loads of people. In one corner of the square there was a big hut where people gathered round to watch the locals play Chess, in the other corner you had street artists and crazy mad people shouting all sorts of things (another thing all big cities have in common, nutters). We also visited the famous fish market. It stunk! 
Afterwards we went for a coffee, but it wasnīt your average Starbucks. The sign outside said "caffe" so we thought, why not? When we got inside it was more like a strip club. Girls walking around in skimpy bikinis serving coffee. The bar was full of local business men drinking their coffee as if it were a normal coffee shop. Later on that day whilst looking through the Lonely Planet book we read that this was normal in Santiago, they call it "Coffee with legs"! After our strange coffee experience we went to Santiago's oldest bar "La Piojera". It was full of university students getting absolutely smashed! They all seemed to be drinking the same drink. They called it a "terremoto" which translates as "earthquake". "Four of those please!", we asked the barman. They tasted a bit weired, kind of like coke and wine with pineapple ice cream on top. They did the trick though, after a pint I was ready to go back to the hostel....

I woke up the next day at 6am with the most painful tummy. At first I thought it was something to do with the terremoto I had, then I started to get a fever and realized that I was ill. I must have caught some sort of virus. I was to unwell too go out that day so I lay in bed feeling sorry for my self whist the others went out into town. The next day I felt a bit better. We went to visit Chileīs natural history museum and then went to "Bellavista" in the evening, a popular area for restaurants and bars.

The next day we got a bus to Mendoza. It was a beautiful 9 hour bus journey through the Andes into Argentina. Mendoza is a nice relaxing city. It rarely rains and itīs boiling hot during the day. The main attraction are the wineries nearby. We rented bikes and visited a few of them, where they gave tours and free wine tastings. Iīm now a wine expert... Did you know itīs made grapes? ;)

Tonight we get the bus up to Cordoba, Argentinaīs second biggest city. Not sure what to expect... Iīll keep you posted.

Ciao
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Simon on

Great blog entry Dave. Looking forward to the next one!

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