Saturday 12th July Tom and I started our travels across (part of) South America. We spent the first week in and around Santiago. And actually we spent a large part of our first day together repacking my rucksack as apparently “taking 19 tops travelling is excessive”!
There were lots of things in Santiago I wanted Tom to see, but between the repacking, saying my goodbyes to friends and my Chilean family and the World Cup final we weren’t left with much time.
We did however go to the Mercado Central for a nice seafood lunch and Tom’s first taste of Chilean pisco sour and also up to the lovely Cerro Santa Lucía as well as the beautiful cathedral.
From Santiago we travelled up north to La Serena then onto the Elqui Valley to spend a nice, relaxing half-day wandering around Montegrande & Pisco Elqui. All we did was eat lots, take photos and admire the artisanal markets. It was really good to have a chilled out day after my hectic week before and Tom was suffering from jet lag slightly. The next day we were up early to go to Isla Damas – an island with sea lions, otters, penguins and possibly dolphins and whales! I was SO excited. One of my main aims when I left England was to see penguins in Chile, so you can imagine that I was rather disappointed when the trip was cancelled due to strong winds 😦 . Alas! I shall have to return to see my favourite bird friends.
Instead we ambled around the town centre of La Serena (really not that much to do there), sat in the plaza and people-watched and found a cool spot for lunch (Gavinda – a veggie restaurant run by Hare Krishna Chileans!). Also we managed to get into the Museo Arqueológico for free (which to be honest isn’t really worth paying for anyway) and saw a Moai statue! So that went some way in placating me for missing Easter Island on this trip too.
Our final destination in that first week was my favourite city in Chile so far: Valparaiso!
I took Tom to a couple of my favourite places from the last time I was there. Then we went on a Wally’s Tours 4 Tips walking tour and saw loads of other cool new parts of the city with beautiful, interesting houses and funky artwork. It was a lovely couple of days: sipping cocktails in a bar overlooking the city, chilling out listening to live jazz, eating delicious food and Tom tried his first empanadas! We were recommended a place at the bottom of our hill run by a Chilean mama who offered 60 varieties! But we tried going there 3 times before we finally got the timings right and she served us.
All in all a fantastic first week of travels and we were eager to get down to the south of Chile! 😁
PS. Apologies for the lack of photos, having some technical issues at the moment.