A Travellerspoint blog

Valparaiso

overcast 15 °C
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We had heard so much about Valpo and we had high expectations. Actually the first impression was pretty much what we had heard, cables everywhere and run-down colourful buildings on hilltops. The city basically used to be a posh place back in beginning of 1900. However, since then the city has been more or less left to fall apart.

The place has a certain bohemian charm to it with its 30 hills tops and small wooden houses. A cool detail is that they built some sort of old lift systems to get up on the hills, most of them goes back to 1890. Due to the hills, the narrow streets are built completely criss crossed with various alleys and staircases short-cutting them, forming a labyrinth.

We really liked walking around and just getting lost on these hill tops. Most of the old wooden houses are painted in different colours. Also there are loads of street art, both graffiti and strange art objects randomly attached to houses or walls.

Some nice houses in Valparaiso

Some nice houses in Valparaiso

Valpo

Valpo

Cabels and some more houses

Cabels and some more houses

Laura posing with houses in the background

Laura posing with houses in the background

View from one of the hills

View from one of the hills

Unfortunately this bohemian atmosphere attracts a lot of dodgy people. There were a few no go areas, like the old district near the harbour. In the night it becomes the red light district with drug dealers and prostitutes. Nothing happened to us, but we were being very paranoid and constantly looking over our shoulders. We kept being told different stories by people all the time, some saying how safe it was, while the same time we heard people getting things stolen. A couple in our hostel even got robbed by some kid with a broken bottle...scary.

I also got to tell you all about this crazy scam they have with sightseeing boats in the harbour. There´s a public boat tour recommended in guidebooks, tourist office etc. However, this boat does everything to avoid getting tourist onboard. Instead there are private boats charging 10 times the prices taking people out. It became so obvious that the public boat people get money from the private boats just to avoid getting people on the boat. The worst thing with this scam, is that they do not even let more than 3 people go together on the private boats, and these boats can take up to 75 people. Instead 30 boats every hour are leaving with just 3 people on board, so bad for the environment. It is too long to tell the complete story, but those who know Laura well, knows that she does not take any shit like that...and we ended up filling a official complaint to the navy that controls the harbour.

We kept looking for volunteer organisations and were directed to three different places. Everything was very unorganised and in the end we just gave up, as it did not seem to be any help organisations that accepted volunteers. We were not really sure about staying in Valpo either to be honest. Its a really cool city though, it seems like there are concerts and things on every night. We saw some good soul/funk/guitar concert and we also went to a hip hop reggae mini festival. At this festival there were perhaps 200 people, and probably half of them did a song on the stage. Ok, everyone was not good, but I swear that every this city must have the highest percentage of artist in the world.

Free gig in Valpo, this Cuban girl had a cool mix of funk, soul and a few other music types

Free gig in Valpo, this Cuban girl had a cool mix of funk, soul and a few other music types

Though a cool city, three days is enough to see it. We had to wait for my and Laura's credit cards to arrive. My got there after 6 days, after 7 days we gave up waiting for Laura's. We will have to get it resent somewhere else when it arrives... Spanish v.s. Swedish postal service, no competition. After a few days we decided to take a short trip to Horcon which is an old hippie town that have kept its 60is atmosphere. We found the cutest little puppy starving on the streets, so we went and bought some ham for him. After that he would not let us go, since he was so small we had to carry him down stairs as he was falling over. We took him to this deserted beach and introduced him to the sea.

Puppy thinking that Henrik is his new dad

Puppy thinking that Henrik is his new dad

We took the puppy to the beach and introduced him to the sea

We took the puppy to the beach and introduced him to the sea



Oh, I should also mentioned that we met some great people here. We especially liked the guy in the second hostel we stayed in, Jorge. He was so helpful and kind to everyone. Definitely one of the best hostel experiences we have had ever. He treated everyone to the national drink, Pisco sour one night, another night some sort of hot wine similar to Swedish Glogg. As most guests were gringos speaking very little Spanish, he was hanging out with us a lot. The funny thing is that he is so similar to Jose...I mean not so much the way he looked, but more the way he was, his way of smiling, talking etc. Jose tienes tu gemelo aqui.

Jose´s lost twinbrother Jorge

Jose´s lost twinbrother Jorge


Treehugger

Treehugger

Three elephants

Three elephants

One of the painted staircases

One of the painted staircases

Small cafe full of nicknaks were we were sitting chatting to the owner for hours

Small cafe full of nicknaks were we were sitting chatting to the owner for hours

Cats basking in the sun...actually I just liked the photo a lot

Cats basking in the sun...actually I just liked the photo a lot

House damaged after earthquake

House damaged after earthquake

Reina Henrikilla XXI

Reina Henrikilla XXI

Posted by hmontonen 16:16 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

SANTIAGO...PARAÍSO CULTURAL I LA CIUDAD GRANDE DE LAS GENTES

Oda al Camino y a sus gentes!


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Amigos, Santiago es insospechadamente moderno, con un ritmo pausado en el hacer de sus gentes. Santiago guarda mucha personalidad: decidió no ser europea...y ahí reside su encanto.
En la ciudad de Santiago residen más o menos cinco millones de personas...seamos realistas, la pobreza se hace caer por muchas de sus esquinas pero hay una lucha permanente por la mejora. Hay una visión de conjunto: Go Chile, Vamos Chile! se ve en muchas pancartas por toda la ciudad. Y eso es auténtico, es real. Lo sientes mientras conversas con sus gentes...sus miradas no mienten.

Es también lugar del arte callejero. La técnica y arte del graffitti nació en Nueva York en los 60. Chile enseguida adoptó ese arte y es patente en muchas de sus calles. El barrio de Bellavista, aunque un poco en el tono de la Gracia barcelonina, es "the street art" a full! (como dicen los argentino)... a tope! Y es un lujo poder acercarse, verlo, fotografiarlo, caminarlo y admiralo...

graffitti around a corner and over a door...

graffitti around a corner and over a door...

Trying to get us both in with and the great view up on Bellavista hill!

Trying to get us both in with and the great view up on Bellavista hill!

Cerro Bellavista

Cerro Bellavista

No cabe duda que Santiago es Neruda como Neruda es a Santiago. En 1971 Neruda recibió el Premio Nobel de la literatura en Suecia...sólo leed este pasaje (que por otro lado es resumen de lo que siento en muchos momentos desde que me embarqué en esta aventura) y dadle vosotros mismo vuestro Nobel de corazón, allá donde se encuentre:

ODA AL CAMINO
En el invierno azul
con mi caballo
al paso al paso
sin saber
recorro
la curva del planeta,
las arenas
bordadas
por una cinta mágica
de espuma,
caminos
resguardados
por acacios, por boldos
polvorientos,
lomas, cerros hostiles,
matorrales
anvueltos
por el nombre del invierno

Ay viajero!
No vas y no regresas:
eres
en los caminos,
existes
en la niebla.

Viajero
dirigido
no a un punto, no a una cita
sino sólo
al aroma
de la tierra,
sino sólo al invierno
en los caminos.

Por eso
lentamente
voy
cruzando el silencio
y parece
que nadie
me acompaña.

No es cierto.

Las soledades cierran
sus ojos
y sus bocas
sólo
al trasitorio, al fugaz, al dormido.
Yo voy DESPIERTO.
Y
como
una nave en el mar
abre
las aguas
y seres invisibles
acuden y se apartan,
así,
detrás del aire,....

Reading maestro Neruda....could not stop reading!

Reading maestro Neruda....could not stop reading!

El poema continúa para dejarte sin palabras.
Os seguiré contando...mientras tanto con vosotros lo comparto porque sino tenerlo dentro sería demasiado vano!
Un beso. Laura.

Posted by hmontonen 08:06 Archived in Chile Comments (1)

Santiago de Chile - a cool city!

Hidden art, the nicest people!

14 °C

Santiago de Chile

Santiago was somehow unexpectedly cool! The picture you get when you read on guidebooks is that Santiago is dull and lacks personality. However, I got almost delighted with what Santiago has to offer... art, cultural heritage, cool neighbourhoods and, above all, the people. Unlike Argentina, people are more modest and welcoming. They like to talk and learn about you...what you do, why you are travelling, what brings you here...they are indiscribably nice!
We took an overnight bus from Pucón to Santiago and got there on Monday very early in the morning...we had already booked a hostel, called Eco Hostel. Again I was expecting all the fuss of what Eco might involve...and again I was wrong! the staff were very nice and helpful!
That first day we went to have lunch first. A set lunch for 2.000 pesos, like 3 euros! and nice!
Then we went into town and...man! the smog does affect you! well I am maybe very sensitive but I almost got sick, and my eyes hurt so much from the pollution...it was crazy but it is only a matter of getting used to it...or, well, I guess so!
Anyways, Henrik almost dragged me to Mercado Central, where I got even sicker and we had to leave to a more quite area...where, at least, the air felt cleaner!

We had dinner in a Sushi restaurant and drank Pisco Sour as part of the set menu. We had already tried pisco in Perú and did not like it so much. But we decide to give it a chance again....and they were good! We had not really been drinking so we ended up getting very drunk on just two drinks...or I had to stop after 1 1/2 and Henrik had the rest! We managed to finish the meal. When we got back the the hostel there was a small party in the garden, so we stayed up drinking and talking to people until late. Met some really nice people and heard some great travel stories.

The second day we had lunch in the market.its really hysterical, everyone screaming and pulling you to get you to eat in their restuarant. In the end the food was nothing special...Henrik decided not to finish his Paila (fish soup), unsure of what was really inside...those fish bones floating on the soup did not look so great...anyways, we decided to cross to the other market, which is just across the bridge. It is rather more local, cheaper and my fruit heaven! we had the best strawberries (frutilla) I have ever tried in my life...that helped Henrik to get rid of that doughly flavoured soup he had hahaha

Eating at Mercado Central- a total experience...

Eating at Mercado Central- a total experience...


We went to Bellavista...this "barrio" is very cool and trendy...

more art street and Enrique!

more art street and Enrique!


¿? we don not have an explanation for that...

¿? we don not have an explanation for that...

coolest black and white graffitti

coolest black and white graffitti

They could almost become real!

They could almost become real!

Vegas Market, across the river, more local, a fruit heaven!

Vegas Market, across the river, more local, a fruit heaven!


Whiskas om katten sjalv far valja!

Whiskas om katten sjalv far valja!


Esto se llama...not sure: fried bread with spices and some spicy sauce and mustard...

Esto se llama...not sure: fried bread with spices and some spicy sauce and mustard...


Still people have feet on earth and are lovely. We went to a nice coffe place...where I could not help and had to buy a book from Pablo Neruda, the most international chilean poet and a reference inside the poetry. I sat and read "Oda al Camino"... I will post it later on along with the spanish publishing...it is just impressive!

Henrik leaning...before he monks up the situation!

Henrik leaning...before he monks up the situation!


Downtown Mall with only hairdressers on 6 floors, must have been like 300 of them

Downtown Mall with only hairdressers on 6 floors, must have been like 300 of them

taken care by gods

taken care by gods

In a park in Santiago

In a park in Santiago

Posted by hmontonen 07:59 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Vamos a Chile...

semi-overcast 10 °C
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Off next to Pucon in Chile. The border crossing was an interesting experience. The customs office was like going back 200 years, they hardly had electricity, there was even a open wooden fire as the only heating. Also the only thing they search for is for fruit and meat...guns and drugs no problem, but mandarines is a no-no.

Right from the start we loved Pucon. People were so friendly. For the first time we went with one of those hostel people that go to busstations to try to find guests for their place. Again due to low season we had a whole house for ourselves...and at half price compared to the cheapest place in Lonely planet. Sometimes it really pays off to not follow the guidebooks. The lady owning it was so nice too...on the last day she had even hanged up some of our wet clothes to dry.

The only negative thing was that I realised that my credit card was gone...probably for two days at least. Cancelled the card and luckily no one had used the card. Still my pride was hurt...I cannot believe that I managed to loose something before Laura... She made sure to rub it in as well, making plenty of jokes and comments.

The main attraction in this area is the active volcan only 15km from Pucon. Since a few weeks back there has been lava coming out of it even and we were told that some nights you can see a red glow from the top. Unfortunatly, really good weather is required to be able to climb up and look into the vulcan. We tried to wait out the greyish weather, but in the end we had to settle for doing other activities like trekking.

We went on some good shorter one day trekks in the area, visiting some lakes and waterfalls. One night we went to one of the hot springs that the area is famous for. The hottest one was 55 degrees, which basically makes you feel like your being cooked, luckily there were also a few bearable for gringos. It was quite cold and raining a bit, which made the experience even nicer. The only thing missing would have been a nice bottle of Chilean wine.

One day we also tested something called Canopy. Basically you go from different points sliding on a wire. You have to break using only your hand, with a thick glow. Still it required a few practice runs on smaller cables, before we were allowed on the bigger ones. The longest being 850 meter long and 30 meters above the ground. Pretty scary.

I am really impressed that Laura went along to do this, given her vertico. Still she did not want to push her luck too much and went with a guide on the biggest runs. Still...Go Laura!

On the last night we were sitting in a cafe, both very tired and hungry. Suddently the whole building started to move. Both of us first though that it was just in our heads, but when looking up we saw all the lamps swinging from side to side. Then first did we realised that it was actually an aftershock from the big Earthquake.

I was a bit unsure what to do...was sitting booking a hostel with my creditcard on the table. Some people run outside on the street and so did Laura. Apparently this was not because of fear of building falling down (buildings made of wood just moves around a lot we later learned) but to check if the vulcan had erupted... Later when we were eating the staff explained that this was nothing compared to what they were used to. We were told a few stories about earthquakes and vulcan eruptions, which is stressing these people less then when it snows in Barcelona...or when a buss is 5 min late in Sweden):

Twin waterfalls!

Twin waterfalls!

On the edge of a waterfall...

On the edge of a waterfall...

La Playa Negra, Pucón

La Playa Negra, Pucón

On the forest!

On the forest!

I needed some stretch...trust me!

I needed some stretch...trust me!

On top of a waterfall...

On top of a waterfall...

Cool landscape!

Cool landscape!

Jumpy Enriquillo!

Jumpy Enriquillo!

Enjoying a well deserved bath in the hot spring

Enjoying a well deserved bath in the hot spring

Posted by hmontonen 17:21 Archived in Chile Comments (1)

St. Martin De los Andes...bit disappointing

overcast 9 °C
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St Martin de los Andes...not much to say about the place really. We took a bus there via the famous Siete Lagos route. Its suppose to be amazing, listed as one of the top things to do in Argentina and all, but must say that we were not impressed at all. It was just some normal lakes and some wood...no spectacular mountains, waterfalls etc.
St Martin seem like a nice little village, a bit on the poshy side, but still ok. However, it is really a seasonal place i.e. you should either go there in the summer and swim in the lake etc, or go in the winter for skiing. This time of the year it was just a completely dead little village, but hey at least we got a nice hotel room for around 5 Euro per person...what a bargain.

Posted by hmontonen 17:16 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

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