Friday, February 25, 2011
So we got her and I went "ummmmmmmmmm" at Chris and he looked nervously around (I think because he thought I would freak out at the surroundings). This is why: this is our street:
and trust me, this is the upscale part of town.
However, the insides of all of these places, while rustic, are very charming, surprisingly well appointed, and at times, downright luxurious. I was really just doing this for effect, I had seen the pictures of the hotel inside and knew it would be fine, and it's actually pretty nice. The whole town is made of adobe, which is funny, 'cuz Chris was trying to get away from Adobe for a few weeks (tee hee). Anyway, they handed us the world's largest (again, not confirmed by Guinness) key chain:
(remember that that is my gigantic, bigger than my husband's hand, man hand in the picture)
and we went on our way. We headed out to lunch in a rustic little tavern with a dragon head sticking out of the wall:
(The Germans who were actually sitting under this thought this was a riot as I stood on their bench to get this shot.)
As I said yesterday, we went to see the Valley of the Moon. It was stunning. First we went on a walk down a dune:
into a slot canyon:
Where the rock is actually MADE of salt and is really thinly covered with dirt. I know, I wiped off some dirt, saw crystal and licked it. NaCl all the way. Chris has a picture. Here's some of the highlights:
Then we went to climb a dune and look out over the alien landscape:
And then to the 3 Marias and a small salt mine:
And then to watch the sunset, where because Chris can bring rain to even the driest desert in the world(tm), we got treated to some rainbows:
And some awesome skies:
Today we got up for a 9 am pickup, which is actually quite late, and went to the salt flats and lake of Chaxa, and to a couple of lagoons and small villiages. At the salt flats we were delighted to see some flamingos up close:
beautiful still water for nice reflections:
and some big sky:
The lagoons were lovely:
and we were treated to a family of vicunia (also a camel and related to the guanaco of Argentina):
Later, in one of the villiages, we saw farm llama roaming the streets:
If we can just fins dome Alpaca, we will have seen all of the camels of South America!
When we came home, we went out looking for dinner. We were talking to a girl and suddenly I turned and saw this coming out of the door of the restaurant, which sold me on the place:
Then he disappeared into the night to defend the good people of the Atacama from the forces of evil.
And that was that. Ok, gotta go sleep now. One more week to go and then we are en rout home. Hope the whole Bolivian Adventure is as awesome as the rest of the trip has been!
After the drama of being delayed a day, which sucked, (but really, when you are spending 6 weeks in South America, you should sort of expect to be held up at some point, or it's not really a very good South American Adventure) we arrived at the Radisson to find that they were awesome, the room was nice and they even had American plugs. YAY! We also found that they had suicide windows, which totally entertained me or a few minutes:
(incidentally, that building across the street is the tallest building in South America)
You could go SPLAT if you wanted. You'd never find *that* in the states:
We went out in search of food, since it was dinner time and found that 2 blocks away from our hotel, was a totally awesome array of restaurants. We chose one that promised a gourmet market and it was fantastic! I don't know if we have mentioned it but Argentina has a monotonous food selection. In every restaurant the menu is essentially the same:
- Lomo (steak)
They all have the same salad: lettuce, tomato and onion, and most have some sort of chicken breast selection. Don't get me wrong, the food was good, it's just that 2.5 weeks of it was kind of long for the same thing every night. I don't really like pizza and I simply cannot eat steak for every meal.
Anyway, Chile has almost everything! YAY!
The next day we got a hop on, hop off bus tour ticket and really only got about 1/2 way around the circuit before we were forced to come home because it would stop running.
We went to the park to ride the funicular:
to the top of a giant hill, to "observe Santiago's remarkable extension" (I love translated Spanish!)
Sadly, it was really hazy out so we really could only see like 1/10 of the city, but I saw it on a windy night and it is BIG.
We went to Pablo Naruta's house:
and saw tons of really awesome wall murals in that neighborhood (there's a ton in the set if you are interested):
Found a building with the most awesome iron/copper work on it:
had some lunch and then hopped back on the bus.
After that is was mostly huge historical buildings that are now used for government or museums and the main church of Santiago:
this was kind of awesome:
And for dinner, we actually found tepanyaki! Our chef even worked at Benihana for 10 years! It was awesome. I was so, so, so happy to find that after so long of eating the same foods! YAY!
The next day, we slept in until 11 because we have been getting up super early for weeks and not going to bed very early either and we needed a sleep-in day. We decided to go back to some of the stuff that we missed on the tour the previous day and i figured out that the subway ran right under most of all of that. Have I mentioned how incredibly clean Santiago is. It's remarkably clean. Like, i noticed. It's very strange, and kind of awesome. Well, anyway, the subway is the same way.
We saw the world's hugest flag (fact not confirmed by guiness). The pole in the pic is 160 feet tall and there's a bus that is way closer to me than the flag in the picture for scale. When it gets wet it weighs 21 tons:
I met some guards:
and we accidentally went to an art exhibition about art in the Americas. It was legit, too, they had a Warhol.:
Then we climbed St Lucia hill and saw a stature of Neptune:
some cosplay kids (!!!???):
And a rad view of the city:
Then we ate and came home and quickly packed and I posted that I needed to sleep. Which I really didn't do very well, but A for effort. In short, Santiago is a really awesome city. Do not come here in winter as it is both cold and the smog is really, really bad, people say, but the city is clean, lots of people speak English, and they have fantastic food. I was not disappointed once. This is for sure on our "come back again for sure and check it out more" list of places we'd both like to come back to.
There, now I know that you all were on the edge of your seats waiting for that and you can all calm down. Sadly, after tonight, we will be doing the Altiplano desert and Solar de Uyuni part of our trip and will probably go off the grid for 4 days while we cross into Bolivia the really, really hard way. I'm trying to upload pictures from San Pedro now so that you can see them. I'll post again when that is done.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Today is not our day for mini-busses.
Sent from my iPhone
Sent from my iPhone
We got to Calama, grabbed our bags and hopped on a mini-bus to San Pedro de Atacama. The bus promptly broke down right outside of the airport. A new bus showed up in 15 minutes to take us away. On the bus we met a guy from London and a retired professor of USF who lives in Mexico now. We got to the town, checked on and went to lunch. Our friend from London was at the restaurant so we ate together. We then hopped on a 4 hour hour of the valley of the moon. It was really a trip, and very much does look like the moon in some places.
We walked through washout shoots, up to the top of dunes and visited a few other awesome places there before enjoying sunset and returning for dinner. The mountains there are literally solid salt, with forth just on the surface. If you wipe the dirt off, it looks like a huge crystal mountain, it's kind of crazy.
Anyway, I'm supposed to be eating soup so I'll post pictures later, but I did not want to neglect you all!
Sent from my iPhone
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Anyway, roll on over to my Flickr for some of Santiago (the rest posted probably tomorrow), and I'll do my best to post a full city report when I'm on the ground again and after the body is buried.*
* not an admission of any kind of actual guilt in the event of some sort of court-ordered investigation any time in the future.
Sent from my iPhone
Monday, February 21, 2011
I think both countries are really cool, and the driving situation was actually quite amusing in Argentina, but it's cool to have something that I am more used to for a few days. Also, this is all based on us wandering like 6 square blocks so far, so take it with a grain of salt. But just wanted to say that first impressions are great, the hotel is wonderful (Radisson), and the people are fantastic so far. Also, we are on the 16th floor of our hotel and can see the city stretch out at night and it is huuuuuge.
Tomorrow we do a hop on, hop off bus tour of the city so I will have a better impression of reality, and hopefully pictures to share! I do wish that we had not lost of of the three days that we had allotted for Santiago due to weather, but I guess that means that we will have to come back!
There was a lot of this for many hours:
I will not waste your bandwidth with the 20 pictures that I took that look just like that. Pretend that you are bored and looking at dirt. It was like that.
Then we saw this:
(Guanaco. It's like a llama. It's a camelid, which means it is related to Camels. Speaking of Camels, I learned on the ship all about the wild Camel problem that they have in Australia. Apparently, there are enough that it is a "problem". How odd.)
(Nandu. AKA Rhea. Like smaller, wild Ostriches.)
Which was pretty awesome. We also saw a Piche in the road, but were so freaked out with a hairy Armadillo that I neglected to take a picture before it scampered off, so I took a picture of the picture that they have in the visitor's center of their National Park. It looked like this:
I found a Hidden Mickey at a scenic viewpoint:
I spent about 30 minutes very excitedly confused by this picture. I understand what the words mean, but I have no idea what the picture is supposed to be of:
And then this sign baffled me as well:
as at this point in the trip, I had not seen a tree in several hours.
FINALLY, we see Fitz Roy, which should look like this:
But actually looks like this, thanks to the fact that is summer, the glaciers are melting and there's lots of water in the atmosphere:
We stopped in El Chaltén, had a pretty good lunch and then hiked up a huge rock to a summit called los condores viewpoint, mostly because I said "that doesn't look that big" before I actually knew what I was talking about. Our car is somewhere in the town below:
We went back down the rock, had a beer brewed in the town (pretty good!) and then headed home. I yelped on the way because I noticed that we had a lago with Flamingos in it, which we did not expect here (expected in San Pedro). Fortunately for us, I have binoculars with u son this trip. Here's a far off picture:
They did not do the dance. That made me sad. Maybe later.
For those of you who have no clue what I am talking about, watch this. Its incredible. I would pee my pants if they did this while I am here:
Then we had an *outrageously* awesome sunset, which my camera cannot capture, but I tried (this was at 9:45 at night):
And came back to the hotel really late, packed up, and went to bed, listening to the music festival that was going on in the town. The next morning, we had to get up early to get to Santiago... and we all know how that went!
*and by "Arizona", I mean "land that looks exactly like Arizona"