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Arrive in Ecuador- 3rd country

Quito, Quito, Quito


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Day 53- Thursday 25.4.13
Santiago/ Quito
Pick up at 4 am!!!
Arrive in reception and no pick up to be seen. The receptionist says another 5 mins and then calls a cab. Finally the transfer turns up about 25 mins late. Luckily we have left loads of time so are ok. We arrive at the airport and check in. A long day of waiting for flights and airports. We have a connection in Lima. Where, when we arrive they are doing fire alarm checks. Very odd. Anyway get our connection, no problem. Although it is only 12 o'clock it feels like 6 pm to us. Arrive in sunny Quito ahead of time. Have a pick up at the airport. What different scenery! Get to our hostel and meet Elena. And go straight to sleep! A long day of traveling. Wake up have a local fish dinner.

Day 54 Friday 26.4.13- Day 60 Thursday 2.5.13
Quito, Quito, Quito-
The last week has been a doing week! Day one we headed out for our sleeping bags. After a long day on the Main Street with not much success, we check the web for places; we stumble across a tiny shop with so much stuff in it and ask on the off chance if they sell sleeping bags. In broken Spanish we communicate- they have them, right thickness for Colombia which is not very as it is so hot and at a bargain $30 each. We were looking at prices double that in other shops. We feel quite proud of ourselves.
The next day we start looking at Galapagos and Jungle trips for June as our friends Nikki and Andy are coming out for 2 weeks. Amazing how much is shut on Saturday. Continue the search on Monday. After a few days going round the Mariscle it felt like we were in the Truman show or something. After lots of discussions later we narrow it to 2 options. Get it booked, looking forward to seeing Nikki and Andy and the trips we have planned.
Also done this week-
Lots of local meals out which varied in quality. A very strange experience at an Italian restaurant up the road from our hostel. Went in and it was like someone’s living room from the 1970’s at that point we should have left. Food was average but very expensive and not worth the price especially in Ecuador. We have had some great meals out too, discovered a lovely pizza place and another pizza place where all the waiters dress up as cowboys, very funny.
We had lunch for a dollar!
old town

old town


Spent an afternoon in old town where as soon as we arrived it started pouring down so go t in a cab back to the hostel.
The next day we went to old town in the morning and saw a lot. The cathedral which was very eire as we were the only people there. It cost $1.50 each so bargain. There is a picture of the last supper there that has a guinea pig as the meal. We also went to Monasterio de San Francisco where we asked for a guide to explain things to us, it was very informative and an amazing place, the oldest church in Quito. We also saw La Compania de Jusus a very ornate church with lots of gold leaf. Apparently it is classed as ‘the most beautiful church in the whole of the country’. After feeling a bit churched out we go for lunch in a local café. Very cheap.
We discover a hot chocolate shop that makes 55%, 70% and 100% chocolate hot chocolates. Amazing. We go back almost every day for our fix.
more old town

more old town


Monasterio de San Francisco

Monasterio de San Francisco

After a week in La Floresta area we check out for the start of our Colombia trip. Elena has been great, we have understood most things, but at times has been awkward as our Spanish is so poor. It really makes us want to learn more. It has been a great place to be based for a week and we have felt very safe and in a lovely homely environment, thanks to Elena.

Posted by Ford and Bates 15:50 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Bye bye Santiago, Chile


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Day 50- Monday 22.4.13
Valparaiso/ Santiago
We say our goodbyes to Boris, who has been a great host and now friend. Jump in a taxi to the bus station to get back to Santiago. We arrive and head to the hostel. We are staying in Bellavista a bit more central than before. The hostel seems ok for a few nights.
We meet Yvette for a drink and some food at the lovely Chilean restaurant. Tell her of our adventures on the weekend, try a bit of Spanish but not much!
It feels very strange saying goodbye. Another chapter closed, we will miss Yvette and the comfort of knowing a local you can call upon.
Feel quite emotional saying goodbye, but keep in touch!

Day 51- 23.4.13
Santiago
Our 3rd year wedding anniversary
:-)
For our Colombia trip we need sleeping bags, we have done all the research, know what sleeping bag and shop to get it from. Head to the largest mall in Santiago. No sleeping bags available - the guy stock checks all the other stores, nothing available! No stock! We will have to attempt to get something in Quito.
Very frustrating Internet cafe experience checking in for our flights, couldn't get the seat allocation to work properly, couldn't print boarding passes. Another job to try to do tomorrow.
Head to a lovely restaurant Toro just round the corner from our hostel for a nice meal.

Day 52- 24.4.13
Santiago
Boris recommended that we go to Cerro St Lucia. A hill in the middle of town and at 12 noon they fire a cannon. We head up to the top. Lots of winding paths and wait in anticipation with a few others at the top. Well we weren't expecting such a loud noise. It totally shocked us.
Cerro St Lucia

Cerro St Lucia


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Then we try and find the pre Colombian museum. We walk around the block about 3 times to realise it is a building site, they are doing it up and it is re-opening in September!
Stumble across an Internet cafe and manage to print our bording passes.
Then we head to Memorial museum another recommendation by Boris. Which shows the military coup and how Chile suffered. A very thought provoking museum.
Then we find a lunch spot on our way back. I have the biggest taco ever and Laurence has loads of emdanaditas ( mini empanadas). We get back to the hostel and book our airport transfer in broken Spanish. All understood pick up 4am!
empanadtias!

empanadtias!

Another packing mission, although things seem to be fitting in better than before, must be all those little things we are throwing away.
We will be sad to day goodbye to Santiago but our budget is in much need of cheaper destinations!!!

Posted by Ford and Bates 18:21 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Valpo


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Day 47- Friday 19.4.13
Santiago/ Valparaiso
Pack up the appartment and set off to the bus station for seaside town of Valparaiso. Buy our tickets ok. Find our bus. Journey takes about 2 hours and as we approach it starts to rain! Can't believe it. It is baking hot in Santiago and raining here!
Find our b&b which is down a very dodgy looking street and ring the bell. Wait, wait, wait, until a guy across the road pokes his head out of the window saying he will be 2 mins. We are very confused. It turns out Boris is receptionist and cook at the cooking school across the road.
Head out to explore Valpariso.
Not what we were expecting. A big port town, some amazing buildings, with lots of artworks, lots of hills, but all very run down and a bit shabby. Interesting place.
one of the many murals

one of the many murals


one of the crazy stairs

one of the crazy stairs



Head back to b&b to get ready for dinner. Get some recommendations from Boris of a bar and a restaurant to go to on constitution hill.
We find the bar- 40 Pisco. Which serves Pisco in 40 different ways. I have a Pisco sour and Laurence has a house recommendation. It comes with celery and all sorts in it, but very nice. We are the only people there apart from a couple of blokes who are interviewing what looks like the owner. They then get out a camera and start doing a photo shoot- all very odd. After about an hour I ask them what magazine they are working for- an American publication called AFAR, a travel mag. If anyone sees it look out for an article on Pisco bar in Valpariso!

yummy pisco drinks

yummy pisco drinks


photoshoot!

photoshoot!


We head to Boris's recommended restaurant. A neuvo cuisine kind of a place. Nice twists on local food.
We then get a Collectiveo home! Which is a type of taxi that you flag down that goes a certain route but only costs 500 pesos! Bargin! (Cross between a bus and a taxi) And you can be in it with total strangers also going in the same direction. A great night in Valparaiso.

Day 48- Saturday 20.4.13
Valpariso
What a special day- Holly and Toms wedding! We are very sad to be missing it but will be thinking of them today on their amazing day.

The weather has turned for us and it is a glorious sunny hot day.
We head into town for the free walking tour recommended to us by Boris.
A really informative tour seeing the main areas of Valpariso. Cerro Conception/ Cerro Alegre/ financial area/ port area.
one of the many funiculars

one of the many funiculars

another mural

another mural


another mural

another mural


walking tour

walking tour


Have lunch at a cafe near the b&b on the terrace overlooking the town.
Then we decide to head to Vina Del Mar just up the coast on the train for the afternoon. A bit more of a sea side town, but still not quite what we were expecting. Hang out on the sea front for a bit. There are loads of horses and carriages that you can catch up and down the promenade, but every time one comes near we steer clear as Loll is allergic to horses!
We then head back on the train to b&b wondering what to do for dinner. There is an Austrian couple also staying in the b&b and are ordering pizza- what a good idea. So we order one too. Boris and his mum are just finishing theirs, we all have a drink and chat and pizza. A lovely evening.

Day 49- Sunday 21.4.13
Isla Negra
We are going to celebrate our 3rd year wedding anniversary today (it is actually on 23.4)
What a lovely day. We decide to get the bus to Isla Negra to see Pablo Neruda's house there. Amazing little spot on the coast.
Did the tour of his house which is a cross between a boat and a train with many amazing artefacts collected and displayed.
what a lovely spot

what a lovely spot


Isla negra

Isla negra

We then had a great fish lunch right on the shore line over looking the bay in glorious sunshine. What a lovely way to celebrate our 3 years!
We then catch the bus back, luckily we only have to wait for 5 mins, but flag it down from a stop in the middle of nowhere.
We manage to find somewhere for dinner on conception hill as most of Valparaiso seems to be shut on Sunday eve. Quite refreshing from coming from UK where everything is always open!
We have had a lovely time in Valpo, and a lot to do with Boris and his recommendations. Thanks Boris!

Posted by Ford and Bates 18:49 Comments (0)

Santiago


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Day 36- Monday 8.4.13 to Day 46 Thursday 18.4 .13
Santiago

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So what can we say about Santiago. Well we have had an interesting 2 weeks here.......
1) Spanish lessons
We started our first lesson on Monday 8.4. Met our spanish teacher Yvette an hour earlier than we expected- we then realised that Chile had not put there clocks back yet and our watches were wrong. Luckily we were up and ready to start after finishing our half eaten breakfast! Only 4 hours behind the UK. Started with the vowels and alphabet and pronunciations. It is harder than we expected keeping focused and revising. But I think after 20 hours we both feel we can understand more and have the confidence to try and speak and put sentences together. It is a start in our learning process which will continue throughout the trip. Hopefully with more vocab by the end of it!

2) Medical Emergency number 2!
So, my ear was still blocked up and not feeling right ever since Patagonia. I felt that here was the place to try and get it sorted before we hit altitude in Quito and start our colombia leg. So on Monday 8.4 we had a trip to the Clinique medical as instructed by our Spanish teacher with a note saying I needed to see the ear specialist. We managed to get an appointment about half an hour after we arrived. We go to floor 7, the ear floor and pay a receptionist for the appointment. A very nice female doctor who luckily speaks English, prescribed me heavy decongestants and said I needed some ear tests to make sure it was nothing more serious!
Another day, Wednesday 10.4 another appointment! This time for my tests. Another payment. This time the medical assistant who didn't speak any English. I had to do a hearing test in Spanish. I managed to understand what she wanted me to do so my Spanish lessons must be working! See the Dr again, no issues with my hearing. Perfect test results. But prescribed antibiotics as thinks there is a mild ear infection. Hooray- at least I have been seen and now having treatment.
A week goes by and I start to feel better but then take a turn for the worse and decide to go back to the Dr as feel terrible. So another day, another appointment, another payment! As I mildly break down in the doctors surgery, she starts prescribing me 100's of prescriptions. Things to take now to help the blockage. Things to take on the plane if still blocked. Emergency antibiotics if I need them in Quito or Colombia (these she very kindly pulled out of a plastic bag from behind her desk so I didn't have to pay for them) and waved me on my way- saying the infection looks like it has cleared and my ear just needs unblocking. After a few days I feel much better than I did- so whatever she had given me had worked. We now have enough medication to last us our whole next 6 months!
In negotiations with our medical insurance to claim back! Looking hopeful need to put in claim when back in UK.

Around Spanish lessons and ear issue we tried to explore Santiago.
In no particular order.......
Staying in an apartment in Providencia.

Had lunch at Mercardo Central- an amazing fish market with restaurants. A recommendation from Yvette.

Went up Cerro San Cristobal (a hill) in the funicular to see the statue of the Virgin Mary.

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Met up with some of Yvette's friends for a great night out in Bellavista. Went to a typical Chilean restaurant. Where Laurence had, surprise surprise, the local sausage and spicy mash , and on to drinks in Providencia. It was really nice to see a local side to the city and have a Friday night out.

After deciding not to go to Loolapalooza we brought tickets to see The Cure on Sunday 14.4 We headed to the national stadium on the metro, no problem. Asked what time the last train was (in our best spanish) to be told 10.30! We had no idea how we were going to get back. Oh well. Onwards to the stadium we would work that out later. Arrive and head to the bar for a drink, but they are only selling no alcohol beer. Apparently alcohol is not served at large events as the crowd would get drunk and start fighting!!!
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The cure are doing a 3 hour set with 30 songs. We last for 2 and a half hours and decide to try and head to catch the bus before the thousands of people leave.
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Again in our best Spanish we ask where is the bus stop and what bus we need. Find it and get back in about 15 mins. Great night out.

Wine tour to Concha y Toro who produce the Casillero del Diablo wine. Very nice day out with wine tasting and a visit to the famous cellar where the devil guards the barrels!
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Chilling out in the park in Providencia opposite the apartments we are staying in.

Had a lovely meal in a vegetarian
restaurant recommended by Yvette.

And then all the usual, laundry, shopping as we were in an apartment, cooking, revision. Nice to be in one spot for a while, while I was recovering.

Posted by Ford and Bates 18:36 Comments (0)

Goodbye Argentina :-( Hello Chile!


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Day 33- Friday 5.4.13
Welcome to Chile!

Sunrise

Sunrise

So an early start of 5.30 to catch 7am bus! Lovely drive through the Andes, more amazing scenery- don't think we will ever get used to it.

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Crossing the border took a while as the whole bus needed to go through, Laurence and I got back on the bus once we thought it had finished and we were politely waved off the bus again by a border official as we needed to get our bags checked!

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Arrived in Santiago after 8 or so hours!
Lovely apartments we are staying in while we learn Spanish. Head to the supermarket so we can cook some nice dinner.
A lot of the people on the wine tour were talking about a festival in Santiago called Lollapalooza, after a lot of deliberation we decide to try and get tickets for this in the morning :-)
Another hour behind the UK now 5 hours different.

Day 34- Saturday 6.4.13
Santiago
A quiet day, we check out a huge shopping mall up the road. It is weird coming from Argentina which does not have many international brands to a city with very familiar western brands. We decide not to go to the festival and try and get The Cure tickets for next weekend instead.
Chill out in the apartment, think we need to catch up on ourselves after last couple of weeks.
tickets! Hooray

tickets! Hooray

Day 35- Sunday 7.4.13
Santiago
Wake up to band practice next door! Then realise it is the Santiago marathon happening right outside our apartment! We are going to go check it out.
Have a lovely wander round the marathon. There is a stage at 37km mark right outside our apartment. So hang around there watching all the runners. Then walk up to about kilometre 40 where there is more music and people - a lovely atmosphere. Then head back for lunch. We go a different way and end up walking twice the distance- in very hot weather! And it is their autumn!
Chill in the apartment for the afternoon, looking up what to do in Santiago for the rest of the week.

Posted by Ford and Bates 18:15 Comments (0)

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