Posted on August 17, 2010 by Admin of TBJ
We began our trip to Patagonia by flying into Punta Arenas, the southern most city in the world. It’s an incredible near-arctic climate to experience. It’s easy to find nice lodging there and to find your way around because the city isn’t gigantic, and the people are some of the friendliest in the country. It’s like they’re all in it together when it comes to living in the sometimes harsh conditions. We stayed in a hostel during our visit, and like many tourists here, we used Punta Arenas as a jumping pad for a hiking trip through Parque Torres del Paine. Before entering the park, though, we took a bus to Puerto Natales, a nearby smaller village that is a short ride from the park entrance. Natales was a great, small town experience, with super nice people who are excited to host hikers from around the world. It’s a charming area with mom&pop shops all over the place. We stayed the night there and then entered the park after another short bus ride. Torres del Paine is world famous for its trails and magnificent views. The park is a bus ride away from the town, and it drops you off in the ranger station checkpoint. There several hikes you can take, and they range in length (from a couple to several days). Before you go, though, recognize that these hikes are no simple day trips. They are very strenuous, demanding trails that can be dangerous for the underprepared. At the time of our visit me and two buddies were in our early 20s and were truly tested physically on our journey. Despite the difficulties, though, the views you earn are absolutely worth it.
Filed under: Latin America, South America | Tagged: Chile, friendly, friendly folk, hikes, hiking, juror #14, National Park, Parque Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Puerto Natales, Puntas Arenas, strenuous Latin America | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 4, 2010 by Admin of TBJ
Vina del Mar (aka. Vina) is a short bus ride away from Santiago and right next door to Valparaiso. It’s amazing in the warmer months when the beaches are rocking. the beaches can get really crowded, though, on good days, so beware. also, it’s good to know that not many Chileans go swimming in the oceans. The surf there is generally rougher, the break points usually a bit farther out, and the water temp a bit cooler. At 6’2″ 185lbs (back then, ahem), I was tossed around like a rag doll a couple of times. Fair warning. If you take in too much saltwater, there are plenty of bars up and down the beach that will set you straight.
In the spring, Vina plays host to the Festival de Vina del Mar. It’s an extended concert that’s televised nationally throughout Chile, and it gives you a chance to see popular Chilean music acts/bands perform live. Personally speaking, that wasn’t really my type of music, but being in a concert environment in South America was pretty crazy regardless.
Filed under: Latin America, South America | Tagged: beaches, Chile, concerts, Festival de Vina del Mar, juror #14, Latin America, music, Santiago, Valparaiso, Vina, Vina del Mar | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 3, 2010 by Admin of TBJ
Valparaiso (aka. Valpo) is the first place I think of when thinking of a Chilean port city. It’s a short bus ride away from Santiago and right next door to Vina del Mar. This part of the Chilean coast is pretty rocky, and Valpo is built with small houses virtually sitting on top of each other all the way up the hill. It’s a pretty site to see the different colored tin roofs speckling the long descent to the water. There is fantastic seafood here, and if you have the time, taking a tour of Pablo Neruda’s house is worth it. The guy collected all kinds of neat and weird stuff. You can also get guided boat rides around the harbor area, where there is an open market and lots of people walking around. Great for a day or two away from Santiago.
Filed under: Latin America, South America | Tagged: Chile, juror #14, Latin America, Pablo Neruda, seafood, Valparaiso, Valpo, Vina del Mar | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 2, 2010 by Admin of TBJ
Santiago is a great spot with a lot to offer. It’s the capital of Chile and basically a solid hub for getting around the rest of the country and into Argentina. It’s a big city, about the size of a large U.S. metropolis. The public market has incredible, fresh food and is a good way to check out the vibrancy of the city. Suecia is a popular street filled with elaborate bars where a lot of gringos and tourists hang out. Tejazo is another bar that we loved and that’s definitely more local in flavor. Plaza de Armas is the center square of the city–great for walking around, shopping, and seeing a ton of interesting people. Las Condes is the ritzy part of town with lots of businesses and money. Nunoa and Providencia are two other nice, safe areas. It’s a large city with a ton of variety, so just walk. Around a bit, and you’re bound to find something cool. (Oh yeah, and not too many people speak English…so it’s good to have at least SOME Spanish speaking abilities. And prepare yourself…chilenos hablan muy rapidamente.)
Filed under: Latin America, South America | Tagged: Chile, juror #14, Latin America, Nuoa, Plaza de Armas, Providencia, public market, Santiago, Spanish, Sueci, Tejazo | Leave a Comment »