Such a busy week or so and lots to report back on. From Bariloche we headed 4 hours north to the small Argentinian town of San Martin de los Andes which my questionable Spanish translates as ´San Martin of the Andes´. We weren´t expecting much from the town but it is a mini version of Bariloche and so suited our taste exactly.
We went up to the lookout on the first day although as usual the trails were not marked and you were left to your own devices to find the route to the top of the mountain. My boy-scout training came to the fore as i handily left strategic markers in the form of mis-shapen sticks along the way. Of course they proved of no use as we went a completely different way back down the mountain after finding the look out at the top. Nevertheless the views were stunning with the lakes, mountains and a small beach making San Martin postcard perfect. Back at the hostel we took advantage of being the ONLY guests by taking control of the Ping Pong table. Hannah played the role of Forrest Gump perfectly while myself, her opponent, took the role of Desmond Douglas / Carl Pern (look those names up on Wikipedia!). The ping pong was seriously addictive and before long we had worked up a bit of a sweat and the competitive spirit in us both threatened to de-rail the rest of the travelling!
On day 2 in San Martin, Phil "Eddie the Eagle" Dean and Hannah "Bodie Millar" Cockle once again donned the winter warmers and took to the slopes. It was a much more successful day. It is funny how there actually being snow can make a difference to the quality of skiing!
The resort was perfect for my limited skiing ability and Hannah´s piste map reading ability. It was small with lots of wide, red and blue runs. We had a great time and unfortunately for followers of the blog, there were no massive wipe-outs to report back! We both remained unscaythed, including from the button lift! and it was great to sport our Spidey hats again. When i say unscaythed, i went to bed that evening with stinging eye balls that resembled red snooker balls. We searched NHS direct and it turned out that it is possible to get sunburnt eyeballs! Maybe i should have worn sunglasses. Who was to know that white snow reflects sunlight into your eyes??
We moved onto Pucon and therefore back into Chile. We should have realised something was up when the bus journey took 2 hours more than it should have. Another warning sign was the name of the town, Poo-con. It was an absolute poo-filled con as the weather and town were rubbish! We had originally planned 5 nights there to enjoy all the outdoor acitvities on offer including climbing the volcano that overlooks the town. However we cut short our stay and tried to get as soon as possible.
Put it this way, we only actually managed to see the volcano once during our 3 days and you have to wait for good enough weather to climb the darned thing. Like Michael Fish on steroids, we checked the weather forecast constantly during our 3 days hoping for a break in the weather. It never came and we reluctantly decided that we were not going to be doing our Sir Ranulph Fiennes impressions and climb the volcano. We opted for a slightly softer option for an outdoor excursion than climbing the volcano... going to the hot springs. They were good although it was very, very dark. This was in order to create ambience and relaxation but in our minds it only created nervousness and apprehension as we wound each other up by pretending there were critters in the pool. At one point i put Hannah´s bikini strap on her head and she thought it was an eel!
We managed to get a bus out of Pucon a few days early but there was not many bus seats left so we were left with a "Classico" seat. Don´t let the romantic name fool you, this was not a great seat. It was made even less appealing when the man in front of Hannah started snoring incessantly. Hannah shook his chair so ferociously i seriously thought she had broken the guys neck!
Our mood improved dramatically when we got off the bus and started exploring Santiago. It is a truly amazing city. We spent the first morning getting acquainted with our new surroundings (and getting re-acquainted with an old friend named BKing). The city is the most modern city we have seen in South America. At the same time it is clean and safe with loads of atmosphere. We booked a walking tour for the second day and lucklily we were the only ones on the tour. This means we were able to bombard our unsuspecting English speaking guide with a million questions about Santiago, Chile and the rest of South America! It was a great 4 hour walking tour of the city. The history side of things was really interesting and then they showed us two central parks with amazing lookouts over the city. As you can just about detect from the pictures below, the city is surrounded by Andean peaks but these are often covered by smog and pollution from the city. Nevertheless, the city looked amazing from such a high viewpoint.
The plan for the next few days is to visit Valpairso (about 2 hours from Santiago) and then come back to Santiago for a football match at the weekend and some more sightseeing before flying to Auckland next Tuesday!