So I hear it’s been 27 degrees in the UK? Good. For. You.
I’ve been sleeping in my beanie…!
I knew Patagonia would be cold and I accepted it with grace. It wasn’t dreadful, layers were even removed during hikes. However, on departure from Bariloche and on return to Chile it seemed to get colder. Which was fine from the bus, very pretty in some parts…
We stopped for a few days in a town called Puerto Varas which was overlooked by the Osorno volcano.
We stayed in our second hostel of the trip but this time went the whole hog with the SHARED BATHROOM. When I travelled through Australia at 22 I embraced this whole sharing dorms, bathrooms etc as the dorms were the place to meet people and I was travelling on my own. The bathrooms were another thing with some girls having no qualms about having a good old shave, leg up clothes far from reach. I appreciate this is high up on the list of first world problems but I had hoped that as a 36 year old traveller we could avoid this kind of personal intimacy with strangers. However, wine consumption/additional destinations = budget reduction = adjusting expectations and the hostel at Puerto Varas was not too awful as it was pretty empty due to the ICE COLD temperatures.
From Puerto Varas we took a bus/ferry ride to the island of Chiloe, and the town of Ancud where Jamie chose to eat his way through half of sea and land. Not sure he was as confident in his decision at the culmination of this feat.
Ancud is the home to a number of churches that have been made UNESCO heritage sites, some colourful buildings and an attractive seafront.
It chucked it down with rain just before we were to leave (obvs) but as a reward threw out some pretty special rainbows.
Puerto Varas and Chiloe were pretty nippy, definitely a 4 layer job from my perspective. However, I fear I peaked too soon. We moved slightly further north to a city called Valdivia and dear God it was cold. There was a fog that hung over the town like a blanket of ice that numbed the bones. The 4 layers did not cut it. The city itself was a non-touristy bustling place but even though Jamie refuses to complain about temperature even if his toes are dropping off I did hear him talking to Jesus Christ about the cold…
The highlight of Valdivia is the market, not for the colour, the noise, the copious piles of fish, fruit and veg but the visitors that sit behind the fishmongers waiting in hope that they will chuck them a spare piece of fish or forget the odd trout head. The sea lions of Valdivia are a site to behold and super cute – although I don’t doubt they would happily swap my head for the trout’s if I got close enough.
The fog in Valdivia refused to lift and the second day there we took a bus 20 minutes up a hill to a local island and place called Niebla which had a an old fortress looking out over the estuary and then a long beach called Los Milenos. It was a shock for us to see that such a short distance away the sky was actually blue when we thought we’d never see such a sight again! The fog stopped at a certain height and the hills above were green and plush with the fog only beginning to creep over.
The lowlight of Valdivia was the accommodation. The only way I can describe it was a pretty rough student house, our room being a bed that happened to have walls and a ceiling attached to it. Other than not being able to swing a mouse, the biggest problem with the room was how shockingly cold it was. The one source of heat in the house was a log burner in the hall but once the door was closed the icicles started forming on the eyes. (OK I might be slightly over exaggerating this). The owner was friendly enough, although when we came back on our last evening we saw him sitting rocking in one of the other rooms. Perhaps he was just trying to keep warm…
We left Valdividia after two days without knowing where we were going but just that we had to get out of the fog. We got on the first bus going North to a City called Temuco, however on arriving after a 3 hour journey we walked around the town to find the fog had followed us and it was equally cold. Abort. We got on another bus to Talca, another city a further 6 hours north and arrived to find that our hands didn’t fall off as soon as we took them out of our pockets. We stayed there for a night but really wanted to get to the coast and so the next day headed out to a town called Pichilemu, a true surf town on the coast of Chile.
Pichilemu has proved to be a great spot and we have stayed for four days. We knew on the first night as we enjoyed a glass of wine watching the sun set and the surfers returning from their afternoon surf that it was going to be the kind of place we liked. As we are still off season we have had the beach largely to ourselves except for the friendly stray dogs. The locals, clearly never having been to Valdivia think it’s winter and walk around in big coats and hats. There were definitely some looks of confusion when I walked down the street in my shorts. Although they may have been struggling with the blinding white emanating from my un-suntouched legs!
On our first day in Pichilemu we heard a loud siren which turned out to be the Tsunami alarm. As it was only brief and no one else was moving and the sea seemed quite comfortable where it was, we figured it was just a test. However, a few days later when it happened again for longer and in the evening I had my trainers on and was ready to run, convinced the sea had been sucked out and was ready to rain all holy hell down on us. However, it hadn’t, it didn’t and I settled down with a full escape route firmly in my mind.