San Pedro de Atacama

You can’t live in Chile for two years without having visited the driest desert in the world! Well that was my motivation behind my recent trip to San Pedro de Atacama. It had always been one of the top destinations that I wanted to see here in the Chile. If it were a toss up between the North and the South I would pick the north, people think i’m crazy but the landscapes are unlike anything you can find in NZ and i’m a sucker for experiencing something completely new.

Getting there
Many people choose to drive to San Pedro from Santiago – its roughly 3200kms there and back at a total of 34 hours (17 hours each way) . I am not one of those people, firstly its just far too long for me – not a big fan of long road trips and when crunching the numbers it just didnt add up. For the gas alone it would cost around 200.000 peso then the piajes (road tolls) would roughly be 100.000 so thats around $500-$600 just to get there no thanks. Luckily Sky airlines have decided that they are going to try beat the price of a bus ticket to most destinations around Chile making it so much more affordable to see more of this beautiful country. We went during the peak time in February and paid a total of 102.000 peso for both of us which allows you to have checked in luggage but no snacks – there are options to buy food on the plane buts its only a 1.5 hour flight so no biggie.

Transfers
The closest airport to San Pedro is Calama which is around an hour and ten minute drive so we arranged a transfer to take us there and back at a cost of 20.000 peso each total. You can catch a bus that may save you a few peso but you have to take a taxi from the airport into the city, take a bus from there to san pedro then possibly another taxi from the bus stop to your accommodation and we just didn’t want the hassle. The transfer company knew Altos de Quitor well and dropped us off right outside. If you haven’t booked a transfer ahead of time i’d say Fear not! as when you arrive there are around 8-10 transfer company booths right in front of you and many people just booked on the spot. I don’t remember the name of the company we chose buy it was booth number 8.
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Accommodation
Without a doubt I always use booking.com when i’m looking for a place to stay. We decided to camp at Altos de Quitor  – They provide you with everything you need for camping including the tent, mattress, pillows, blankets and the facilities were really awesome. The tents were big enough to stand up in and they provided a solar light that you can attach to the roof. There is a pool and also a common room with a TV, Kitchen, free bicycles and free water. I mean look at that back drop! Its around 2.2 kms out of the center of Atacama which was perfect! it took us around 10 mins to bike or 30mins to walk. I loved walking back at night -there are no street lights so you can see the sky so clearly, no wonder this is one of the best places in the world to see the stars. I believe San Pedro de Atacama is home to the highest observatory in the world so if you are a space lover this should definitely be on your list of dream destinations.

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My favourite part about walking back from the city center was seeing people riding horses. Here they are taking a little break to drink from the river.
These were two separate groups on different days.
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It would be impossible to share my experience in just one post so i’ll do a little series 😉 I truly LOVED this place – there is so much to see and do… I’m hoping to re-live it through these posts.

Chao for now x

 

 

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Santuario de la Naturaleza

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I have quite possibly found my new favourite place in Santiago to spend a hot summers day – Santuario de la Naturaleza Perfect for BBqs, trekking, mountain biking and best of all swimming.  Its in Lo Barnachea which is about a 25 minute drive from Providencia.  The river is the great Rio Mapocho before all the yucky stuff gets put into it. You do have to pay to enter 4.000 for adults, 3.000 for children the entrance fee includes the use of a BBQ if you can find one which are scattered all throughout the park and some right on the river so you can easily relax in the water while firing up the Barbie. The key to getting a good location is obviously to arrive early, Id say 10am-12pm.

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After we finished with the BBQ we walked up the river to a spot where we would like to relax. What I love about this place is that you can find your own little private ‘river beach’ as we like to call it and feel as though you are the only people there, now who doesn’t love a little privacy?! Hard to find in Santiago 

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I think its a great place for kids as you can chose either deep or shallow places to swim for the little ones. We stayed until about 6pm and during our time there we saw a cat with a litter of kittens who we fed quite a lot, lizards, tadpoles, giant bugs we don’t know the names of and spiders that walked on water :/ I found out afterwards that Santuario de la Naturaleza is famous for the spiders that walk on water. They are fast little buggers.

Check out the location on Instagram for some awesome pics of the place!

Jess
xx

Fish & Chips | The right way

I FINALLY found a good place to eat fish & chips yassssss which goes by the name ‘Mr Fish Fish&chips’

Too good not to share – I had not had fish & chips like this in almost two years, they even serve it to you in paper. As a Kiwi this makes my heart happy.

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Now i’m not saying you cant get good fish & chips here in Santiago cause you can but the only places I’ve seen are fancy restaurants and nothing quite like this place – where you have the option of takeaway and at a non ‘fancy restaurant’ price.

The one I went to is in Ñuñoa but they are opening one in Providencia too – which was scheduled to open over the weekend but word is that that hasn’t happened yet we are running on Chilean time here people.
You chose your fish then get a choice of 2 sauces and NO you don’t have an option of tomato sauce 😦  I like it for the chips okay. 

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So if you’ve been hanging out for a good fish & chip takeaway this just may be your solution

Chao for now x

 

Free popcorn | Dia del cine Chileno

Isn’t it wonderful when you just stumble across something great? I feel like that happens a lot here in Santiago.

We were out riding our bikes after enjoying some ice-cream and noticed an outdoor cinema set up, we wanted to check out what it was all about so as anyone would do, we sneaked in the back so no one would notice kidding we walked through the open gate.  To our surprise the 5th of December is ‘Dia del cine Chileno’ and they were showcasing the most watched Chilean film of 2015 Aren’t we lucky. Turns out it was actually a documentary called Tea Time – Its about a group of Chilean school friends who have been getting together to have tea once a month for over 6 decades, a true celebration of friendship. I loved it and it was all in English subtitles YAY.  

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They should definitely make this a weekly or monthly event in the summer, showing only Chilean movies I LOVE a good Chilean movie. Who doesn’t love a bit of culture, a free outdoor movie and popcorn?!

As we headed off we noticed that the Christmas lights on Pedro de Valdivia had been turned on and what a beautiful street it is! Here in Chile Christmas lights don’t seem to be a thing so seeing this street all lit up just makes it feel more ‘Christmassy’.

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Driving down the street at night is magical, as if you are in a tunnel of fairy lights. I recommend it 100%.
If you happen to drive down Pedro de Valdivia you may also come across this gem it’s hard to miss. 

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It’s the Municipalidad de Providencia Building, I love this place, its so pretty and it has such nice gardens and a beautiful area out the back to sit down a relax. I just kept saying WOOOWWWW – The colours on the building  constantly change so it looks different from every angle, in every picture ❤

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The balls on the tree are huge – Much bigger than my head.

Cant wait to see what I stumble across next

Chao for now x

Cycling in Santiago | CicloRecreoVia

I haven’t owned a bike since I was about 12 years old but I’d like to think that back then I was pretty good at it- no hard falls, no broken bones, no bad memories scarred into my brain. So what better time than now to be a bike owner once again?! And I happen to live in a great city for cyclists I think so anyway. 

I LOVE cycling in Santiago, I think it’s a great city for bikes and it’s only going to get better. With the development of more and more Ciclovias (cycle lanes) it’s encouraging people to get on their bikes!

Its not just riding to work that’s great for cyclists here but if you don’t have the confidence to ride to work or want to teach your children how to ride without needing to share the road then you’ll love this – Every Sunday,  yes EVERY Sunday there is an organisation called CicloRecreoVía which has organised with the government or council whatever to close down 30kms of the main streets to vehicles from 9am-2pm . The idea is to have the streets free from cars, trucks, buses, taxis you name it so that its open to the use of cyclists, roller bladers, runners, skate boarders and so on. The first time Javier and I cycled it we did about 25kms. If you are game enough which I am not you can even cycle up Cerro San Cristobal and check out the views of the city.

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Not only is it a great idea but its executed so well, its impressive. If you dont have a bike you can always rent a bike on the day and there are water stops, fresh juice, free sunblock, bike fixing stations, face painting for children, photographers- It all makes for a really fun day out. Its great seeing families together and little kids learning how to ride – it gives off such a great sense of community. You can check out their facebook page if you want to see what its all about.

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A photo snapped of Javier and I riding down Andres Bello – Most of the streets if not all that are included in the 30kms are streets with permanent ciclovias on them! so even when they aren’t closed you can safely ride on the same streets any day you like! I’m not sure how long this has been going for but isn’t it fantastic?!

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The map below is scheduled to start on the 22nd of November in Antofagasta which is in the North. Hopefully this organisation just keeps doing what their doing and in turn be able to reach more and more communities and people.

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And just to make things even better, its not just this organisation – there are others that organize events for cyclists too- I’ll get to those 😉

So get on your bikes!

Chao for now
x

My first Fonda

Its been some time since my last post but I have lived in two different places since then and I am finally settled and now we have internet YAY.

Its been quieter lately as Chile is gearing up to celebrate their independence day on the 18th of September, I am told its going to be crazy. There are flags going up outside every house and Chilean decorations are literally everywhere.

To celebrate the start of the holidays Javier took me to a Fonda in La Reina- A fonda is basically a huge fair that has everything to do with Chile (and some other things) for example ..Chilean traditional dancing, rodeo, carnival rides, Chilean food & drinks, animals, kites…etc..etc I thought I would share with you some of my pictures from the day.

ChinchillaSo when we arrived there was a bit of a line and as always the service was slow but it doesn’t matter as once I was inside it was fabulous. I think it cost 4,000 peso for the entry fee per person which is the equivalent to $8nzd or around $6.20USD

As soon as we stepped foot inside we noticed a white tent with a lot of exotic animal pictures (the actual animals were inside) so of course I wanted to enter. The cost to enter was 3,000 peso per person (well worth it if you ask me). Inside the tent there were a lot of Australian animals/reptiles as they prefer the heat that the Chilean summer brings.

<< That’s me with a Chinchilla, It was so soft and cute. I held a snake, which surprisingly, was a cuddly little bugger he likes the heat from your neck and likes to be close to feel your body heat. I also held a bird for the first time- It started off on my hand but quickly made its way to my shoulder and then using my hair as a rope, climbed his way to the top of my head to lick my sunglasses and eat my hair. I didn’t mind him being on my head but I was a little nervous about him using the bathroom while up there. :/ Bird After visiting the exotic animal tent we decided to grab a bite to eat. The food at fondas is largly BBQ based and if you knowTerremoto me you know I don’t eat red meat so for me there are not many options. I do however eat empanadas -basically cause the meat is so tiny inside I cant even taste it. Im not a veggo or anything and am not against people eating meat- I just dont like it for myself.

Anyway Javier and I got a Terremoto which is a traditional Chilean alcoholic drink TERREMOTO – Pipeño (a type of sweet fermented wine) with pineapple ice-cream. Terremoto literally translates as ‘Earthquake’ since you are left with the ground (and legs) feeling very shaky. The next round usually contains the same drink though only in a glass that holds half the amount. This is called a Replica or ‘aftershock’. Javier and I were feeling pretty good after just one glass 😉

Javier ate a traditional kebab which is called Anticucho he loved it…I did end up stealing a few onions off his stick   Javier and kebab   After we ate we headed off to explore the rest of the fonda…except now, we were both feeling slightly dizzy. Do not underestimate how strong a terremoto is. Its the sort of drink that you would say 1, 2, 3, floor. Check out the meat that was being cooked throughout the Fonda… No idea how but some people say this looks ‘delicious’ Chilean BBQ The one below is a full cow! (I think.. I mean I really wouldn’t have a clue but that’s what I would guess) fona la reina bbq   We watched some dancing in the rodeo area and sat back and relaxed on a little hill under some shade. It was a hot day!. After the dancing finished all the horses were in the arena and then they brought out the little cow or little bull whatever it is and at that point we stood up and left – I really don’t like watching it. The goal is to like push the cow up against the wall or something its a very old ‘sport’ and im not a fan. Dancing Rodeo Throughout the fonda there are many different stalls selling all things Chilean, Jewlery, ponchos, hats I didnt take as many photos as I thought but maybe Ill take more at the next fonda. If you are in Chile definitely go check one out near you! All in all it was a beautiful day and I look forward to going to another one (we got given free tickets to one in the nunoa area). I pretty much have the next 6 days off work – YAY for Chilean public holidays, they have so much more than NZ does and I appreciate it. Chao for now x

My Second Job – Job Facts

When you go overseas the idea is to do things you wouldn’t usually do, so when presented with the opportunity of becoming a bar tender (the female version) I obviously said yes. This is something I never imagined myself doing but i’m glad I took the opportunity and its yet another thing to add to the CV.

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 It helps that my boyfriend is the supervisor/the one who organizes all the staff members. When I do work as a bar tender I get told about the event (from the bf) and he asks do you want to work? …. yes or no? – mostly Friday nights, I usually always say yes. I work for events- Usually big dance parties so I have worked in different locations, not at a fixed venue. Since the bf is basically the boss I get to scope out the venue and choose which bar I want to work at, With big events sometimes there’s nine separate bars to choose from (that equals a lot of bar staff). I like working at the quieter bars, usually VIP, away from the blaring speakers. 

I really do enjoy the job, I get to meet a lot of new people, practice my Spanish, experience Chilean nightlife all while getting paid. Here in Chile you get paid monthly, at the end of the month, whereas when I work at an event I get paid cash in hand at the end of the night which is super handy.

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I’ve worked at big dance parties and charity events like Give Valpo where they raised money to buy beds for people who had been effected by the Valparaiso fires. Recently I wore promotional clothing for mistral and worked in the VIP section of an event which was fun except I got my photo taken while pouring drinks and stuff which I was not prepared for and am dreading finding them online. I concentrate really hard when making drinks, I’m such a newb at it still.

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Some people ask me if I find it difficult because my Spanish is nothing fantastic but the good thing is there is a separate line where people order and pay for their drinks, then what they want is printed on a receipt and then they present that to me and I make the drink so its super easy. The receipt 90% of the time will say Piscola (Pisco + Cola) the only thing I have to ask is Normal o Light (normal or light coke) and that’s it…who couldnt do that? Generally as soon as I open my mouth to say normal o light people ask…ohhhh where are you from?! then I proceed with NZ.. oh why are you in Chile?…I came to be with my bf…
Some people are really nice but as the night progresses people tend to get creepier. Sometimes I point out my bf (ahh that’s him there!)..they see a heavily tattooed man and they generally leave me alone after that..I call that a successful deterrent.

This weekend is a long weekend and im hopefully going to be working at an event in the Andes mountains, I’ll try get some good picks and let you know how that goes. 

Chao for now x