There was once a more innocent time when our (my) clumsiness resulted in the mere destruction of a glass table or the loss of a toy dog. Well, those days are well and truly over. The start of the new year coincided with a significant escalation in items we have lost or broken. We also regrettably introduce a new category for this round of confessions – theft. The only good thing about that category is that I am not completely at fault for it, and instead am the victim of the actions of an external party.
So in a continuation of our confessions from last year we present the latest update of how clumsiness has continued to blight our travels.
We absolutely loved Chile.
It’s not that we weren’t expecting to. But while we knew in advance that we wouldn’t be able to get to some of its most well loved destinations – the Atacama Desert in the far north, Patagonian Torres del Paine in its most southernly tip, and Easter Island way out in the Pacific – we knew little about just what else the country had to offer.
But lots to offer it has. These are our highlights, and just what made our time in Chile so special.
Our month is Santiago will without a doubt go down as one of the best spells of our entire trip. Lively, laidback and with loads to do, Santiago surprised us in how much it has going for it. In our four weeks there, we got properly stuck in, making the absolute most of the bustling bar and restaurant scene, frequently taking Amber to the city’s many playgrounds, soft play areas and interactive museums, doing a splash of hiking, and even getting involved in a bit of volunteering. It was a jam-packed month and supremely enjoyable.
Amber and Duckie getting to grips with a spontaneous lindy hop lesson in Santiago’s Bellavista Patios
After spending January in Santiago the rest of our time in Chile was largely spent with friends and family exploring the central coast and south of the country. Like me, Chile is very long and so we always knew it would be impossible to see all of the big highlights in one visit (again, like me). The Atacama Desert and Chilean Patagonia in particular were two such places that logistically, and particularly with a baby, we just couldn’t do. That said, what we did see over the final few weeks really enhanced our sense of the country, and in the case of Chiloe in particular, gave us a wonderful insight into a distinct and unique side to Chilean life.
In this blog entry we briefly sum up this 3-4 week period before our adventure took us north into Peru.
After spending a month in Buenos Aires in October, we realised the value of longer periods of stability while travelling, not only for Amber but also for Claire and I. As such we decided that following a busy couple of months of travelling in November and December, we would lay low for a bit, try to save some money and generally keep things quiet during January.
Santiago was to be our base. The capital of Chile is often overlooked by travellers who use the city as a transit hub in order to reach Chile’s main draws such as Patagonia or the Atacama Desert. However, the city has enjoyed something of a revival recently, boosted by government investment and a subsequent cultural boom.
We had spent 3 days in Santiago in December while on our way to the Chilean coast for Christmas and had rather giddily / drunkenly claimed that the city was the best place we had ever been to. I think it’s safe to say this wasn’t necessarily accurate and could have had something to do with the fact we knew we were coming back for a prolonged period in January. However, even in this short period, we saw a city that was buzzing with a vibrant, young edge. It immediately felt more down to earth than the somewhat haughty Buenos Aires.
And now, having spent pretty much all of January in the city, our opinion hasn’t changed. We loved it and thought the best way to celebrate our time there was to give people a taste of the sheer variety of things to do. So below is a list of not far off everything we did in Santiago, from bars and restaurants to cultural spaces and viewpoints. It’s all there.
AirBnB has been absolutely pivotal in making our trip affordable and practically possible. All but one of our 18 different accommodations so far have been booked through the site.
Not only are hotels (and indeed often hostels) far more expensive but without the kitchen facilities available in our AirBnB properties feeding Amber and ourselves would be impractical / impossible.
AirBnB has also give us the chance to meet local people and experience neighbourhoods and properties that would otherwise have eluded us. That is not to say it’s all been plain sailing. Putting your stay in the hands of a random punter instead of the professional services industry can lead to problems, some more serious than others. In this post we’ll look back on our accommodation for 2016 and pick out the best and worst that AirBnB has offered.
Award: Biggest property
Winner: Luna Azul, Punta Ballena, Uruguay
For our second week in Uruguay we stayed at this vast 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom detached holiday home (only affordable as we stayed here way out of season). It even had its own name. In a predictable reaction to its size and the quietness of the neighbourhood overall we decided it was haunted. At least we didn’t feel quite so alone if we imagined a ghost making use of the third bedroom.
Amber helps give a sense of perspective in front of Luna Azul (ghost can be seen in top left window)
If anyone has a better pun for the title please feel free to leave a comment.
The arrival of Christmas coincided with our arrival in Chile, having earlier made the decision that the Pacific coastline would be an ideal place to spend our first ever Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere.
We arrived in Santiago on 19th December following our flight from Mendoza. Chilean customs are known for their zero tolerance approach to bringing certain foods into the country. What you are and aren’t allowed seems to be a topic of much debate. As it turned out we lost dried kidney beans, raisins and Amber’s leftover lunch but managed to keep flour, curry powder (phew) and pasta.
The view from our apartment in Santiago. That’s not a fresh morning mist obstructing the view of the Andes, it’s pollution