Our last installment for South America and mainland Chile, as we arrive back in Santiago from the deep south with a week to spare before we fly to Easter Island and beyond, Pacific island hopping!
It’s two months since we were last in Santiago. Since then we’ve made a huge loop around the bottom half of South America, first crossing to Iguazu Falls in Argentina, making side trips to Brazil, Parguay and Uruguay, down to the far south of Argentina and Tierre Del Fuego, back to Chile, out to the Falklands and finally up to Santiago again – in total about 4000km by air, 1200km by ferry through Patagonia and the remaining 5000km or so on buses!
A week in Santiago
Ten and a half hours overnight and we arrive in Santiago about 7am. We had semi-cama seats – literally ‘half bed’ but frankly not resembling any kind of bed in my book and a far cry from the wonderful flat bed experience we just got to enjoy that one time in Argentina
when we got a good price (and has obviously made me a bit of a wimp about anything less!) Semi-cama seats recline somewhat but are not much good for a proper sleep, unless you are one of my kids or husband – they seem to sleep soundly anywhere! But I do manage a few snoozes and we save a night on accommodation too. (I have since invested in one of those inflatable neck pillows that I thought only old people use. Oh wait, I am old! I love it! But the kids and Martin constantly try to steal it.
It’s only been 2 months since we were last here in Santiago. We’ve somehow squeezed a journey around Argentina and Chile plus our side trip to the Falklands into this time. In those two months, the city has cooled down and is now more balmy than boiling!
We take the metro into the centre and take the short walk to the Amristar Apart Hotel where we’ve booked 6 nights. It’s in an excellent location, with an excellent supermarket right next door and we get an early check in. The kids check out the rooftop pool but its freezing cold and closes down a couple of days later for winter! We make to do lists, do some food shopping and Martin contacts Francesca, a friend from his expedition days 21 years
We head out to enjoy a lunch treat at Kintaro, a great Japanese place, shut last time! Then off on the metro again to meet Francesca and spend a super afternoon with her and Menta, her gorgeous little chihuahua, in the park and around her part of town! She drops us back to our apartment where we rustle up a quick supper at home. Self catering is such a treat!
We spend a day indoors, having a well earned rest. We have a lot of research and organising of our upcoming Pacific journey to sort and the kids enjoy just hanging out and doing a little schoolwork! Later we head out to explore this part of town. We’re in a different and probably better area than last time. We find amazing ice cream and a great park for a late afternoon run around and then home – there is preparation to be done for Dad’s birthday tomorrow – the kids are very excited! Martin cooks the most utterly delicious steak with creamy mushroom sauce which poor Lara misses altogether as she falls asleep exhausted! For me, I have to rate this one of my top meals in SA!!
Pressies in bed and late breakfast at ‘home’ then off to find an intriguing restaurant that sounds much like Heston Blumental’s Fat Duck at Bray, Berkshire. It’s in a very posh part of city, a bit like the Hollywood strip in LA. But its less fat duck and more wild goose. Two cab rides and a lot of walking about and we’ve still not found it !
We give up, One, posh, gold encrusted, Starbucks’ lunch later and further Trip Advisor research using Starbucks’ wifi, we find it – closed! We intend to go back another day but we never make it!!
We head off to Kidzania, we’d seen it with Francesca – a great life sized Boeing 747 sticking out of a building which seemed a bit sinister at first till I realised it was a kids` indoor theme park. The kids get to live and work, earn and spend Kidzania money in a mini (well pretty big really) indoor city.
They absolutely love it whilst Martin and I get to enjoy coffee with free wifi and nice cake/coffee and even a movie lounge the quiet parents-only zone! We stay till closing then head back to our part of town for birthday sushi at Kintaro. Another great travelling birthday. Just Zoe’s now to go next month!
The days tick by, with lazy mornings, chilling, playing, blogging, planning, studying, emailing…Afternoons in the park which at the weekends are a buzz of parties and activities. The kids rent little racing carts, get faces painted and eat candy floss!
Back in our apartment we have a quiet nights eating in and even manage a long promised and utterly divine Sunday roast! again and finishing that delicious steak!
Martin dedicates a couple of days to fixing my computer. It takes a while but he’s finally successful! Zoe cooks pancakes for us for breakfast one morning and has a bit of an accident when the pan slips off the stove onto her naked thigh. She is super brave, puts up with the cold shower on it for 15 min then Dad dresses it and disprin seems to help a lot.
The kids and I head to Kidzania on the metro for a revisit, get ripped off by a taxi driver with a rigged meter and find we’ve come on a day when Kidzania is closed! We then come back by Metro and find ourselves caught up in the wave of rush hour commuter and trains that don’t stop at our station! Its a miracle we manage to stay together and get back on trains as we go up and back, changing lines to find a different route home!
On our final day, we make it out to visit Kidzania again. This time all the kids are working to a strategy – learned on the previous visit! Ben and Zoe’s is to make maximum bucks to spend! LKM’s strategy is to spend spend spend! She makes chocolate, gets her face painted, does minimal work and buys rubber dinosaurs and tattoos, BZ earn enough to buy desired cars and Lego…
We stay till closing at 8pm then head to a lovely restaurant for our final (mainland) South America supper! It’s one of those evenings that’s meant to be special but falls flat as the kids are too hyped from Kidzania to sit still and enjoy haute cuisine!
It doesn’t end too well – we leave without desert, oh the tragedy! Ho hum. We head home grumpy for an early night, we’ll be up before its light to head to the airport for our flight to Easter island!
It’s been a crazy 9 months travelling around this continent. We’ve come to feel quite at home but in some ways we are ready to move on and explore the great Pacific ocean that stretches out many thousands of miles ahead of us ! Our gap year adventures continue!
((We travelled in S America from July 2012 to April 2013. You can read the summary in our blog Nine months, Nine Countries…)