Saturday, February 20, 2016

Travel Update & Photo Dump: Santiago and Valparaiso

A couple weeks ago I had wrapped up my bike ride and was trying to sell the bicycle. I thought I could sell it to another traveler in Puerto Montt or Puerto Varas, cities at the northern terminus of the Caretera Austral. But all the inquiries to my online ad came from Santiago and Valparaiso, large cities several hundred miles to the north. So I put the bike on a bus and headed north.

Here are some friends I made at Pearl's Place Hostel in Puerto Montt, Chile.

And this is Puerto Varas, 20km north of Puerto Montt. It's a beautiful town with a picturesque lake and volcano.

Santiago is a pretty nice city. 6 million people is 1/3 of Chile's population. There were many beautiful parks that I enjoyed strolling through. Here's an example:

And I was shocked to see a street sign labeled San Olav as I was looking for the Brazilian Consulate. The entire neighborhood was made up of Scandinavian-themed streets, foremost among them were the Norwegian streets, of course.
I needed to get a visa for Brazil where I will go in April. The time between now and then I will spend in Valparaiso, Chile and then make my way east via Aconcogua, the tallest mountain in the Americas and the wine region around Mendoza, Argentina. In those cities I plan on taking another two weeks of Spanish language lessons. This whole amazing adventure would definitely be even better if I could communicate better with the locals. Getting better at Espanol is high on my to-do list. Of course, as soon as I take these classes I'm going to Brazil where they speak Portuguese and I'll still be out in the cold linguistically. After Brazil the plan is to head back through Bolivia, then Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.

Valparaiso is an amazing artistic city full of steep hills going down to the harbor. Think of a post-apocalyptic San Francisco that's been taken over by artists. It's a little gritty, but the art and the steep streets, stairs and funiculars give it a special personality.

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