A Travellerspoint blog

Rio De Janeiro - Copacabana, Maracana and Parties

sunny 32 °C

Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand
Just like that river twisting through a dusty land
And when she shines she really shows you all she can
Oh Rio, Rio dance across the Rio Grande

Rio by Duran Duran

Hello from Rio De Janeiro. We only arrived on January 31st but we have already been up to loads, so let me laucnh straight into an update for you.

Thursday January 31st
We flew out of Santiago at 1.30pm and landed in Rio at 7.30pm local time. We are staying at the beautiful Casa Aurea Hostel in the funky district of Santa Teresa. It is by far the best hostel we have stayed in, a converted mansion run by a Swiss guy. There is a good crowd of people staying here, it is social but far enough away from the madness to get a decent nights sleep.

We got picked up from the airport and checked in, dumped our bags and jumped in a taxi into Central Rio to meet our friend Fraser who is out on a two week holiday. We arrived at Fraser´s hotel at 10pm and he was waiting in reception. It was great to see a familiar face. We have been very lucky to have been visited by Lynn´s folks, Fraser and our friend Craig who is coming to Peru. We have also stayed with Ken and Gwen and various family members in Oz and NZ, so we have never been lonely.

We headed down to Copacabana Beach and had a good few beers catching up on all the news and gossip from back home. There were a few colourful local characters hanging around and some of them were hanging out of their tight tops! Boob jobs must be big business in Brazil! We had a fairly quiet night ahead of the carnival, back in bed before 2am.

Friday February 1st
We slept late and got up at 11.30am to be met by a lovely continental breakfast. We had fruit, nice cheese, ham and rolls, orange juice and tea. Lynn phoned her friend Pheona through Skype, a brilliant invention. After that we headed into town to meet Fraser, lifted some cash ahead of carnival and went back to Copacabana for some food. We admired some Brazilians playing football and marvelled at Sugar Loaf Mountain in the distance.

At dusk we jumped a cab back to Santa Teresa for a couple of beers and headed to the Bloco (street party). The place was jumping. Everyone was dancing, singing, banging beats on percussion and drums, wearing colourful clothes, singing, smiling, drinking and dancing some more. It died down and we went to our hostel for a couple of beers before going back out to another street party with a full on samba band and singers. It was jumping and great fun. Everyone seemed so happy and the streets were jam packed with people having a great time.

This was the night before carnival officially started so it left us eager to see the official start on Saturday. With this in mind we called it a night at 2am. Fraser got a cab to his hotel and we walked back through the crowds to our hostel and feel asleep to the sound of samba drums playing in the distance.

Saturday February 2nd
We woke to the sound of samba drums playing in the distance and dozed until 11am. By 12pm we were out back on the streets of Santa Teresa with me sporting an orange wig and sparkly red tie and Lynn wearing a tiara. The sun was out in force, people were firing water pistols at each other, everyone was wearing something crazy, people were out in their gardens with hoses and firing them at people on the street to help cool us down from the dancing. The samba drums played their tunes, people sang, danced, partied and generally looked incredibly happy. You can´t help but smile at it all. Carnival had officially started.

We spent a couple of hours dancing and wandering through the crowds. People of all ages and backgrounds, nationalities and race, coming together to dance and sing. You can´t beat it. We went back to our hostel as we had booked tickets for the Vasco da Gama v Botafogo football game at the world famous Maracana Stadium. We were going with 4 Aussies and booked tickets through a company called www.bealocal.com

The cost for transport and tickets was a little over 20 quid, well worth it. The bus picked us up an hour late at 5pm and we wound our way through the carnival traffic, making it to the ground at 5.45pm. The game was due to kick off at 6pm and Vasco took to the field on time but Botafogo didn´t come out until 6.15pm. Typical South Americans, never on time. The ground was only half full but the fans were in full voice. I should add that half full in the Maracana is still 50,000 people. We were in with the Vasco fans and I sat next to a nice young Brazilian guy who spoke English. My lucky day. We had a good chat about football, hooligans (we were near the hooligan section), Scotland and Zico!

Botafogo took the lead with a ripping shot from around 30 yards. It was an open game with lots of skill on display, some tough tackles, and some great noise and colour from the fans. Botofogo scored a second and looked to be in charge of the game.

It all changed after half-time, Vasco looked a different team and scored from a corner. Shortly after that Botafogo were reduced to ten men after a needless chop on the halfway line. It was a red card tackle! Vasco equalised and looked to be heading to victory until with ten minutes to go they gave away a penalty and had a man sent off. This sparked riots among the Vasco fans and we were lucky to be up in the top half of the stand. The penalty was scored and the game finished 3-2. 5 goals, 2 red cards, a mini riot and outrageous skill and tackles. Just your normal Brazilian game then!

After the game we got dropped off at Frasers hotel, after a bit of a roundabout route. There was a massive street party on just across the road and we grabbed some beers from a stall and joined in. Floats, samba bands and dancers were parading down the street prior to going to the sambadome.

We got chatting to one of the samba schools directors and I told him I was Scottish. He shouted over a dancer who was dressed as a caveman/warrior and said Éscocia´. He immediately took my beer off me, handed me his hat, arm tassles and loin cloth and ushered me into the samba school to take his place. I left him standing in his blue y-fronts with Lynn and Fraser as I danced with the band and dancers.

I was with them for almost an hour. We had a warm up and then stood around for ages before we got to the section near the judges and then the full samba drums kicked in and we were off. I got a few strange looks and laughs from the crowd as I was the only white guy among the dancers, with a bit of a beer belly! It was a great feeling and I was soooooooo pleased to have taken part. Lynn and Fraser walked along the side drinking beer with their new Brazilian friend and ended up buying him 3 beers. He was in no ruch to take his place back.

After my dancing stint came to an end we hung around and watched some amazing dancers, costumes and floats. The effort put in by the Brazilians, some who are very poor, is nothing short of incredible. Kids, Mums, Dads, Grans and Grandads all take part, you can´t really get a babysitter during carnival!

We got home at 3am, exhausted and elated and looking forward to more.

Who knows what I will have to tell you when I next write!

Murray and Lynn

Posted by murray2701 07:19 Archived in Brazil Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Valdivia and Santiago

sunny 28 °C

We had a quiet end to the month of January. We were quite tired from a number of overnight buses and we also wanted to chill out before the Rio Carnival. So you may want to skip this section of the blog and move on to the Rio section!

Saturday January 26th
The day started early as we had a bus at 7am. The bus crossed the border back into Chile and we reached our destination around 2pm. We discovered that there was a beer festival on, good timing. The sun was shining so we checked into the Buenos Aires Hostel, ditched our bags and headed for a few beers and hotdogs. The local brewery Kunstmann put on a massive beer festival every year and have loads of German dancing, drinking games etc.

When we arrived the main tent wasn´t open so we had a couple of beers and German hotdogs sitting in the sunshine. We then wandered back into town and booked an overnight bus to Santiago for the night of the 28th. We returned to the beer festival at night and watched a load of Chileans act like Germans complete with traditional costumes and dancing games. If you´ve ever seen National Lampoons European Vacation, it was a bit like that!

Sunday January 27th - My 32nd Birthday
We didn´t make breakfast as we woke up at 11am. We obviously needed the rest after our early morning bus and beer festivities the day before. We had a very relaxing day strolling around a park, by the river and around a market. We booked flights from Lima to Cusco for our Inca Trail hike in March and got a good deal of $211 for the three of us (our friend Craig is coming out for that).

We phoned our folks and had a very quiet night in, deciding to save my birthday celebrations until Rio. We watched the Jack Black movie ´School Of Rock´ and had an early night.

Monday January 28th
Overnight buses are, in theory, a good idea. You sleep through the night and wake up in a new town or City. However you have to spend a day waiting for the bus and when you arrive you tend to be pretty tired after a broken sleep. Valdivia is a pretty riverside town on the West Coast of Chile, but there isn´t a great deal to do in it. We did go on a short boat cruise in the afternoon, but we spent the rest of the day killing time until the bus left at 10pm.

Tuesday 29th January
The bus arrived in Santiago at 8am. It was our most luxurious bus yet with loads of leg room, seats that reclined to almost 180 degrees, a waiter serving snacks and drinks and the usual dodgy film. We headed back to the Bella Vista Hostel, where we stayed when we first arrived in Chile. We slept for a while and had a late lunch. I treated myself to a lovely swordfish steak and Lynn had a massive steak sandwich. We wandered round the shops and Lynn bought a nice dress for the carnival and I got a new shirt. At night we had some drinks in the funky Bella Vista Social Club and then pizza and a bottle of wine.

Wednesday 30th January
We woke at 11am but we hadn´t slept well as some people had been out clubbing and woke us up coming back into the hostel. After breakfast we headed back up to the outdoor pool on the hillside above Bella Vista and had a pleasant afternoon sunbathing, snoozing and swimming.

At night the Manchester United v Portsmouth game was on ESPN. The hostel has a brilliant lounge with widescreen TV, so I plonked myself down in front of that and watched Cristiano Ronaldo continue is amazing streak of form with two brilliant goals, the second being a screamer of a free-kick. In this form Ronaldo could win the Champions League for United. Portsmouth were dire and United should have scored a lot more.

We had an early night and dreamt of the carnival, football and samba dancing.

Posted by murray2701 07:11 Archived in Chile Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

A 30 hour bus journey, the Andes Beatles & Bariloche

sunny 27 °C

'Love you forever and forever, love you with all my heart. Love you whenever we´re together, love you when we´re apart' I Will by The BeatlesSunday 20th January
The alarm went off at 3am. Ouch! We headed around the corner to the bus station and the bus left promptly at 4am and we both fell asleep not long after. Buses in Chile and Argentina are extremely modern with plenty of leg room, chairs that recline up to 180 degrees (on some buses), toilets, films and food.

Our first bus actually headed South to Rio Gallegas and arrived at 8am. Our tickets that we had originally bought had changed so the 36 hour bus journey turned into a 30 hour bus journey. This immediately improved my mood! The second bus left at 10am and headed to a place called Comodoro Rivadora. I had planned to re-read the excellent Anthony Keidis (from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers) autobiography and listen to my Nano, but the bus played a series of films to keep us amused. The scenery outside was pretty desolate and bleak, the roads were straight and we watched 4 films to pass the time - Next, starring Nicholas Cage. Do not watch this under any circumstances, it is terrible. Employee Of The Month - watchable only if you are on a long bus journey. Big Momma´s Adventure 2 - I did dig out the book at this point. The only watchable film was 'Failure To Launch starring Sarah Jessica Parker about guys living with their folks into their 30´s and being in no rush to move out. I could relate to that one!

Our bus was delayed by roadworks, meaning that we arrived in Comodora Rivadora at 9.45pm and our bus was scheduled to leave at 9.30pm. Thankfully it had waited and a few of us transferred over double-quick. This was the most luxurious bus yet with leg rests, more than ample leg room, blankets, a waiter (I kid you not) and more films. This time it was an Anthony Hopkins film called 'The Perfect Crime' that we watched while eating dinner before falling asleep.

Monday 21st January
Our waiter awoke us at 7am with a light breakfast and another film! 'You, Me and Dupree' that was surprisingly funny at times, although naturally predictable.

Our bus sped through the desolate scenery and pretty soon it changed into lush green forests, mountains and lakes. We were close to Bariloche and arriving in the Lake District. The bus arrived at 10.30am and we jumped a cab into town, checked into the Freedom hostel for one night and headed straight into town for lunch. As it´s peak time for travelling in Argentina and as Bariloche is such a desirable location for Argentinians and foreigners we are spreading our 5 night stay across 3 hostels as we couldn´t find one for 4 or 5 nights!

Bariloche is a lovely town with an town square surrounded by lovely old buildings on 3 sides with a view out to the lake and the mountains on the horizon on the other. We had a wander round then went for a sleep. At night we treated ourselves to dinner at a nice restaurant and had steak washed down with Quilmes and wine. Lovely!

Tuesday 22nd January
After breakfast we had to check out and move to another hostel - La Justina. It was only a few blocks away, so we dumped our bags there and headed into town with some laundry and then booked a bus back into Chile for Saturday. We´re heading to a city on the coast called Valdivia that is supposed to be nice. We´ll stay a few nights there before heading back to Santiago for our flight to Rio and the CARNIVAL!

We had a pretty lazy day wandering around in the sunshine eating ice-cream, looking at market stalls and generally appreciating the chance to stretch our legs at will after a long bus ride. The bus wasn´t as bad as I thought it would be though and I´m now glad we took it and saved some money for Rio.

At night we went to the Town Hall to see a band that played Beatles songs on traditional instruments. The night was billed as De Los Andes A Los Beatles (From the Andes to The Beatles). 3 guys and 2 women in their 50´s (I reckon) took to the stage and played acoustic guitar, flute, percussion, bass, small guitars and various pipes. The band jammed and only the vocal melody played on flute or pipes was instantly recongniseable. They were all fantastic musicians and as we were sat in the front row we had a great view.

Check them out at http://www.andes-beatles.com.ar/SITIO%20LA%20FRAGUA%20ENGLISH.htm

The highlights included a brilliant romping version of 'A Little Help From My Friends', 'Blackbird', 'I Will' and an encore of John Lennon´s 'Imagine' segueing into 'Give Peace A Chance'. We both really enjoyed the night and I wish I had bought a cd. I might order one through their website!

Wednesday 23rd January
We went down to breakfast quite late, after 10am and discovered that two Scottish girls were also staying in the hostel. Elspeth and Lucy, only 17 and 18. I don´t think I would have been capable of travelling around South America at that age. In fact I don´t think I was capable of turning on a washing machine or cooking!

We chatted away and then Lynn and I went out and caught a local bus 25km out of town to hike up Cerro Lao Lao hill, offering stunning views of Lago Nahuel Huapai - a lake over 100km long. It was good to stretch our legs and work up a sweat. Thankfully (for trekking reasons) there were a few clouds in the sky so it was a little cooler than they day before, when trekking wouldn´t have been pleasant. We had some sandwiches and an apple each at the top of the hill and spent a good half hour just gazing out at the scenery. Stunning.

The bus on the way back was rammed to the point where it seemed ridiculous. The bus driver stopped to let more people on when I really thought it was a physical impossibility. But people kept squeezing in. Thankfully Lynn and I had got on at the foot of the hill so we had seats all the way back.

We got back into town and treated ourselves to a Chorizo sausage roll each from a BBQ stand set up at the top of the market. It was delicious and we vowed to go back the next day for a steak sandwich.

We decided to have a cheap night and bought some food for a veg stir fry and cooked that at the hostel and had dinner and drinks with Elspeth and Lucy.

Thursday 24th January
We had to move hostels again, this time checking out of La Justina and heading to the rather plush modern Marco Polo. More of a hotel than a hostel. It was great to get a nice clean, modern room, with our own sparkling en-suite toilet and a shower that wasn´t just powerful but one with warm water! The simple things that keep me happy!

We wandered along about 1km out of town where you could get a cable car up a hill for views out across Bariloche and the lake. We had a juice and then on the way down we went on a concrete tobagon run. You sat on a sledge with wheels and flew down the hill, it was great fun.

After and afternoon siesta we each got a steak sandwich from the BBQ stall. Mmmmmmm. Our new hostel offers dinner and breakfast as part of the price so we chilled in our room for a bit. I had bought Ian McEwan´s ´Saturday´a couple of days ago and I would highly recommend it. I read 'Atonement' after Lynn had finished with it and surprised myself by enjoying it. McEwan is an extremely descriptive author and I miay buy some more of his books if we find another English bookshop.

After dinner we wandered into town and were passing the cinema and decided to go in to see the new Will Smith movie as it was only around 1 pound 50p a ticket. The film was alright, pretty scary at times. After that we were home for 12.30am and I finished 'Saturday' by 1.15am before a good nights sleep.

Friday 25th January
We may rent bikes today and cycle along the lakeside, stopping at little pebbly beaches to chill. Then again we may have a very lazy day as it´s pretty warm.

If I don´t update the blog when we get back to Santiago I´ll speak to you all from Rio De Janeiro!

Murray and Lynn

Posted by murray2701 05:14 Archived in Argentina Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Perito Moreno Glacier and a long, long bus trip

sunny 25 °C

´A little bit of soul is worth more than gold´Everybody Needs Somebody by Primal Scream

Hola from Argentina, the twelfth country we have visited on our round the world trip. We´ve had a few lazy days since I last wrote, but we´ve also visited the beautiful Perito Moreno Glacier so here is a quick update on what we have been up to.

Wednesday 16th
We had a very lazy day hanging around Puerto Natales. We probably needed it after our exertions trekking in Torres Del Paine, but although Puerto Natales is a nice wee town we had probably exhausted ourselves of it the previous day. But we hung out and chilled out, which you need to do now and again.

Thursday 17th
A day of travel. Our bus didn´t leave Puerto Natales until 2pm so we had a long lie and some lunch before jumping on the bus to cross the border. Two English girls were on our bus and caused us no end of amusement. They must have been mid-late 30´s and God only knows how they have managed to travel around the world. Just after an hour we reached the Chilean Border Crossing and we all got off the bus with our passports ready, along with an official slip that you receive when you arrive in Chile. The two girls had lost their slip. Not a big deal really, but it was to them.

´Oh s@@t, what are we going to do, they´re not going to let us into Argentina, we're stuck here´ said one of them.
'Oh my God, I don't have that bit of paper everyone else has, what are they going to do? Will they keep us here?'
'I have my mobile, I can phone my friend who speaks Spanish or I can phone the British Embassy.

This went on and on, despite the fact that I said they would get another slip. They would just have to wait a bit. But panic stations continued with Lynn and I unable to look each other in the eyes otherwise we would have burst out laughing. Needless to say that they had to wait ten minutes and then they got another slip and the problem was over. I can only imagine that travelling must be one constant source of stress and worry for the two of them.

Anyway after that, and I suppose it was funnier when you were there, we sped through dusty roads towards El Calafate. We eventually arrived at 8pm, only no-one told us there was an hours difference so it was actually 9pm. We checked into the Buenos Aires Hostel, dumped our bags and headed into town.

El Calafate is a nice wee town in the middle of nowhere, reliant on tourists visiting the Perito Moreno Glacier and sheep farming for existence. Everyone that we met in Chile that had been to Argentina had been raving about the steaks so we immediately headed for a steakhouse and ordered 2 medium sirloins and 2 Quilmes beers. One girl we met in Puerto Arenas had actually been a vegitarian for 15 years and then switched back to meat after being tempted in Argentina! The steak was lovely and Quilmes has shot into the top 3 beers from our travels list along with Chang and Monteiths Zesty. During the meal we discovered it was 11.30pm rather than 10.30pm and we headed back to the hostel for a good nights sleep.

Friday18th January
We slept well and woke around 10am, eventually leaving the hostel at 11am and heading to the bus station to book on the 3pm bus to the national park containing the Perito Moreno Glacier. The bus was $10 ARG each, around 1 pound 50. Before the bus we had a nice walk around the shops and had a sandwich. The bus took under an hour to get to the park and we then had to pay a park entrance fee of $40 ARG. We got dropped off at the boating section as we wanted to take a boat right up to the face of the glacier. The boat was $35ARG each, so the cost mounted up but we still had a day looking at one of natures wonders for under 30 quid each.

The boat left at 4.30pm and we headed around the bend towards the glacier, one of the only advancing glaciers in the world. We passed by chunks of ice that had broken off and admired the seemingly endless sea of ice that stretched before our eyes. We took loads of photos as the boat went back and forth along the glacier, about 50 metres or so away from the face.

Just as we turned to leave a huge chunk of ice came off and crashed into the lake. Lynn and I looked at each other in amazement and just as we were catching our breath a smaller section broke off into the water. We headed back and caught one more section of ice falling off. We didn´t have any luck catching it on film though.

After we landed we caught a shuttle bus round to the walkways that take you to excellent viewing positions of the glacier. We didn´t have to wait long until we heard some cracks and echoes and some ice fell into the lake. This happened pretty regularly throughout the next 90 minutes. Who would have thought that ice watching was so much fun? I can´t slag off train spotters or bird watchers anymore!

Check the following link for more info and better pictures than any of ours. The pictures will tell you more about the beauty of the glacier than I ever could. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perito_Moreno_Glacier

The bus back left at 8pm promptly and we were back in town for just after 9. We headed to a funky wee bar we had walked past the night before and had some dinner and a couple of beers.

Saturday 19th January
Occassionally you have to do things that you don´t want to do. These things are usually not much fun, although you can sometimes be surprised. Today we spent a couple of hours assessing ways of getting from El Calafate to Bariloche. It basically boiled down to a 2 hour flight for 150 quid each or a 34 hour bus ride for 40 quid each. I hate to say it but we are getting the bus, our days of flashpacking are over!

So we leave at 4am tomorrow morning and will arrive in Bariloche at 4.30pm on January 21st! Are we mad? Yes I think we might be. Try as I might I couldn´t justify the cost of the flights to Lynn and believe me, I tried. Still, looking on the positive side the money we are saving will help us enjoy Rio all the more when we arrive there.

We are going to be fairly substantially over our initial budget by the time we return, but hey, we may never do this again. Rio, Machu Picchu and hopefully (if the budget allows) the Galapagos Islands are going to eat a huge hole in the remaining funds we have, however, apart from that Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru and our return to Argentina in May should be pretty cheap. I hope so!

So we´re chilling out for the rest of the afternoon, having an early meal and then catching some shut eye before going for the bus. I´d better go and charge my ipod!

Speak to you soon.

Lots of love
Murray and Lynn

Posted by murray2701 09:21 Archived in Argentina Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Torres Del Paine

sunny 16 °C

´Time may change me, but I can´t change time´Changes by David Bowie

Hola everyone

We´re in Patagonia in Southern Chile and late last night we returned from 4 days trekking in the absolutely stunning Torres Del Paine National Park. It was a pleasure to trek in such a beautiful and diverse part of the world with glaciers, mountains, lakes, rivers, streams, condors circling overhead and plenty of fresh air. Details of what we have been up to since I last wrote are noted below.

Monday January 7th
We got up at 8am, had breakfast and checked out at 9am. We walked to the bus stop and the 10am bus left at 10.20am. We both conked out for the first two hours of the trip, which was good as it killed some time. We arrived in Puerto Montt around 3pm. There was a light drizzle in the air and Puerto Montt didn´t strike us as being a nice place. It´s an essential stop though for travellers heading further south in Chile.

We checked into a hotel for the night and wandered around town, breaking the rule of no MacDonalds for the third time in 6 months. Sometimes you just feel like junk food and a real sugar rush from a regular Coke. Well I do anyway! After that we booked a flight from Puerto Montt to Puerto Arenas at the very reasonable price os $125US for the two of us. We only booked a single flight as we didn´t know how long we wanted to stay down south. After a wander by the harbour we had an early night.

Tuesday January 8th
Quite a long day. The alarm woke us at 7am and after a light breakfast we were back at the bus station at the back of 8am for the 8.30am bus to the airport. Our flight left at 11.10am, an hour late. Lynn sat next to a Spanish girl who filed and painted her nails for the whole 2 hour flight.

After picking up our bags we found the bus into town was full but someone sorted us out with a lift for 4 quid and we got dropped off at the door of our hostel. The hostel looked a little rundown from the outside but the owners son Allessandro welcomed us with a big smile and it was cosey and homely inside. We walked into town and booked the bus to Puerto Natales for 2pm the next day and got a bite to eat. Back at the hostel Allesandro had decided to have a BBQ for dinner so we all chipped in 3 pounds each for meat and wine. We met a nice English couple called Dave and Louise, an English girl called Teresa and an American called Jacob and chatted away while Allessandro readied the BBQ. It took a while!

Allessandro´s brother is a dentist in Buenos Aires and happens to be the dentist for Diego Armando Maradonna! A photo of Allessandro and Maradonna takes pride of place in the hostel. I was pretty jealous and it brought back memories of the 1986 World Cup when I was ten. Maradonna almost literally won the World Cup single handedly for Argentina. His solo run against England and his two against Belgium in the semi final were moments of football genius.

Anyway, the BBQ was eventually ready at midnight! Chileans take their time preparing food. After a week off alcohol we had a couple of glasses of red wine with the meal - steak, some excellent sausages, veg and all kinds of stuff. Allessandro and some of the other hostel guests were raving about the steak in Argentina. Can´t wait for that!

Wednesday January 9th
We didn´t surface until 10am and had breakfast chatting to a nice Englisg guy called Ritchie that had just arrived. We hung around until 1pm and then walked to the bus stop for 1.30pm. The bus left promptly at 2pm and we were delighted to discover that it was brand new with big leather seats, loads of leg room and a toilet for emergencies. We slept for a bit and arrived in Puerto Natales at 5pm and wandered to the hostel we had booked that morning.

A cool dreadlocked guy called Rodriguez answered the door and told us he was just finishing preparing our room. He was still making the bed - actually building it! We dumped our bags and walked to the main square and had a lovely meal of beef, mashed potatoes and veg in a red wine sauce. While walking back to our hostel we bumped into Dave and Louise who had got an earlier bus and went for a few drinks with them. They are travelling for 3 months in South America and 3 months in South Africa. We ended up playing table football and unfortunately Dave´s Liverpool beat my United 5-4 in two thrilling games with both teams playing adventurous 2-5-3 formations.

Thursday January 10th
We had a nice long lie until 10.30am and then got up to sort out our Torres Del Paine trekking. That in itself wasn´t too much of a problem, however we were told that if we paid in US dollars it would be cheaper. Changing Chilean money into US dollars was a problem. Rodriguez and I went around 5 places that all refused to change more than $100US. We eventually found the only place in town that would give us the $400US and had to wait an hour in a queue. Still by 3pm it was all sorted and we felt that it was great value. For $200us each we stayed in refugio´s (glorified and very nice hostels) each night and got all our meals.

At night we went to meet Dave and Louise, stopping off at a second hand shop and each buying two retro ski jumpers for 2 pounds 50p each. After that we went for a lovely meal with Dave and Louise at a pizza and pasta place called Mesitta Grande. We then went back to the pub for a few games of table football and United won two games.

Friday January 11th
Ooh it was a 6.20am alarm today. We got up and had breakfast and waited for the 7.30am bus to Torres Del Paine, which eventually arrived at 8am. We slept on the bus and woke two hours later at the park. We were swiftly transferred to a boat that took us across Lago Pehoe. The scenery was already pretty spectacular.

We checked into our refugio and after sandwiches we set off on our first trek. A 22km round trek to Glacier Grey and back. We moved swiftly as we had set off at 1.30pm and were giving ourselves around 8 hours for the trip, so we would be back for dinner!

We wound up a couple of hills until we were walking alongside Lago Grey, glistening and shimmering in the sunlight, with chunks of ice that had broken from the glacier floating peacefully on the surface. It took us almost exactly 3.5 hours to reach the Mirador (lookout) to Glacier Grey. We had caught glimpses of it on the way but up close it took our breath away. A seemingly endless stream of ice stretched in front of us. I´ll upload some photos to flickr later. I hope they do it justice. You could always do a google search to see some professional photos.

After a break for a sandwich we headed back and made good time, getting back at 8pm with time for a shower and change of clothes before dinner. We met and chatted to a nice English couple called Ben and Sheena and also Ritchie who was camping but had sneaked into the reugio for dinner. We were sharing a room with two Swiss girls and we chatted to them before crashing out at 10.30pm.

Saturday January 12th
The alarm went off at 8am and we prepared for our hike. We were heading from Refugio Paine Grande to Refugio Los Cuernos, around 13km. It was going to be tough as we had to carry all our stuff. We had left some stuff at the hostel in Puerto Natales but we still had around 10kg each to carry in our backpacks. The sun was shining after an early morning shower and we really enjoyed our days treeking along the banks of Lago Nordenskjold. We met Teresa about an hour into the trek and walked with her until her campsite at Campamento Italiano. We sat on a pebbly beach just before we got to our refugio and marvelled at the natural beauty surrounding us.

We had a shower and a relaxing afternoon playing travel draughts. At night we had dinner with Ben and Sheena who were camping outside and headed for an early night at 10pm.

Sunday January 13th
Woke up at 8am and organised our bags before breakfast. We had a 12km walk with our backpacks along the Lake to Hosteria Los Torres. We walked for 4.5 hours and the backpacks didn´t feel as heavy. I suppose we were used to it. We checked into the hostel in the afternoon and enjoyed a couple of beers and a nice chilled night. In the distance we could see the rising peaks of where we would be climbing to tomorrow. We had a quiet night and chatted to a dutch couple for a bit.

Monday January 14th
We left our big bags in the hostel and set off up the mountainside towards Glacier Torres and the 4 peaks that dominate the skyline of the park. The first hour or so was completely uphill, but after 45 minutes we got into our stride and motored on. We wound down into the valley beside a stream and then back up again through a wooded area. We then got to the final ascent, a one hour scramble up some rocks to the viewing area. It was a real scramble but great fun. It was quite cloudy at the top, it wasn´t as sunny as the previous two days, but the clouds parted at times to allow us a beautiful view of the peaks. We met a nice Italian couple at the top and then Ben and Sheena appeared so we ended up spending over an hour at the top.

On the way back down we bumped into the Italian couple sitting on a rock by a stream about 3/4 of the way down. The guy looked in real pain and his girfriend informed me that he had slipped and his shoulder had popped out. Thankfully a guide was leading a group of older people behind us and I managed to flag him down and with his first aid knowledge he ´popped´the shoulder back into place. Ouch!

We enjoyed a leisurely walk back to the hostel as our bus wasn´t until 7.30pm. We had a shower and a couple of beers before the bus back to Puerto Natales, checking back into our hostel at 10pm and heading out for a pizza immediately afterwards!

Tuesday January 15th
Had a long lie until 10am and we´re now just deciding what to do next. Puerto Natales is a nice wee town so we may stay a couple more nights to chill out and then head back to Puerto Arenas and try and book a flight to Puerto Montt. From there we may get a bus to a town called Bariloche in Argentina for 4/5 nights, but we´ll wait and see.

Off for some lunch now.

Murray and Lynn

Posted by murray2701 07:53 Archived in Chile Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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