Having spent almost two months travelling through a primarily desert landscape, it was great to finally see trees, flowers and greenery as I got closer to Santiago. I spent 4 days in the city of Valparaiso, one of Chile’s major ports, but more importantly a significant home for the great Chilean poet and politician, Pablo Neruda. It’s also got a UNESCO world Heritage Old Town. This is where I stayed in a lovely B and B with the delightful Marcela and her bi-lingual (Spanish and German) son.
The Old Town is built into the hills that rise up very sharply from the port at (obviously) sea level. This is really picturesque but a bit of a nightmare for the bike and navigation. Heading up what, according to Google maps was the street the B and B was on, the road became progressively steeper and narrower. I found myself eventually at a dead end. The bike fully laden is not particularly manoeuvrable and in the end the only solution was a controlled drop, taking off some of the luggage, dragging the front wheel round and lifting it without allowing it to run away down the hill from me. Maybe not your idea of a good time but it all came out right in the end.
There’s a really nice alternative and energetic vibe in Valparaiso. Lots of very groovy old buildings and great street art. With a big student population, there’s also a lot going on in the streets. While I was there several protests broke out about the left wing student leaders who were elected into the Senate in the recent elections. From fire brands to ‘sell outs’ in about 18 months apparently……
Images from Valparaiso
Now in Santiago, I’m starting the process of re-entering the real world a little by staying in an apartment for a week. I’m doing things like going to the supermarket, cooking food and generally trying to get the road out of my system. From here it’s about 300 miles across the Andes and the Argentinian border to Mendoza, where I’m planning to stay for about 10 days and have a bit more decompression before then taking 3 or 4 days to do the final 700 miles down to Buenos Aires.
More next week.....