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Posts Tagged ‘Iberia’

My Chile travel blog is finally online

August 16th, 2016 No comments

Every time I travel it seems to take longer and longer for my travel blog to be posted online and this is definitely the case again now. Seven months to the day from the start of my memorable and highly enjoyable trip to Chile and I have finally managed to get it online.

Flower Clock, Viña del Mar

A photo of the flower clock in Viña del Mar, added to the top of this post for the purposes of my WordPress Facebook plugin.

Route to Chile

The route I took to Chile

As those who follow my travel blog, or those who just happen to have read my previous entries, will know I don’t blog live while I travel for several reasons. Usually there is the case that when I travel I tend to visit places that are off the beaten path, or in some cases off the grid completely, meaning no chance to post live but more importantly I feel that this takes your concentration away from what you are seeing and experiencing. It is my opinion that when you blog live, either daily or periodically, while things may be fresh in your memory you will experience each day in terms of what you can write about in your blog rather than in terms of new experiences.

As a result I write my blog in bullet point form and then, in collaboration with the photos that I took and the schedule for the trip, reconstruct my blog and type it up after returning. However a combination of the fact this was a trip to visit a friend, rather than an organised trip that had a schedule, and my current personal circumstances have resulted in extended delays which is a shame.

However here it is… my 2016 Chile travel blog! Just read on on this page, or navigate to the “2016 Chile” category using the site menus, to read all about this great country.

Chilean Flag

The National Flag outside La Moneda

I won’t post much about my trip in this announcement message but to cut a long story shore I loved Chile and want to return again soon. The people, the food, the culture, the way of life, the climate, the atmosphere, the prices and the experiences that I have made me fall in love with the country very quickly. Even though I only visited Santiago and two cities fairly close by I know that Chile is a county that I want to visit again soon, maybe combining Santiago with another region such as Patagonia, The Atacama or Easter Island.

The blog I have written, since there wasn’t a set itinerary and we didn’t spend the whole time rushing from place to place, is written in summary format as opposed to my usual point by point account of what happened each day but I think it gives a good overview of my experiences in Chile.

For the purposes of search engines who will pick up on this post once I publish it, key words for my blog and sights that I saw include…

  • Chile, South America, Latin America, Santiago, Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, La Granja, Las Condes, Parque Forestal, Parque Metropolitana, La Moneda, Plaza de Armas, Iglesia San Francisco, Museo Violeta Parra, Cerro Santa Lucía, Costanera Centre / Center, Metro de Santiago, Plaza Baquedano, Quinta Normal, Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos, 1973 Coup, Pinochet, Iberia, Empanadas

As usual there is no way I can finish with a boring list so here are a few of my favourite photos from the trip.

Pancracia

Pancracia the cat

Mote con Huesillo

Mote con Huesillo

Santiago de Chile

The steps up to Cerro Santa Lucía

Plaza de Armas, Santiago de Chile

Plaza de Armas

Iglesia San Francisco

Inside Iglesia San Francisco

La Moneda

La Moneda, the Presidential Palace

A great view of Santiago de Chile

The view from the very top of the hill at Parque Metropolitano.

I hope that you enjoy my blog from this trip. I didn’t see much of the country compared to most people who visit but as usual feel free to message me if you have any comments, corrections, random messages or want to ask anything.

Happy travels!

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The journey home from Chile

January 30th, 2016 No comments

Normally I consider paying extra for better seats a luxury or an unnecessary expense, with standard seating usually being adequate, but after my final flight home I think the ones I paid extra for were worth every penny. In total I paid in the region of 150 euros for an over-wing exit row from London to Madrid and front row exit row seats on the flights to/from Chile, electing to save my money and have a standard seat on the final flight from Madrid to London. Big mistake.

Never in my life have I had such uncomfortable seats and so little leg room, on any aircraft and with any airline all around the world including the North Korean state airline. The seat was uncomfortable and gave me a back ache, the head rest was too low for my height which hurt my neck and even spreading my legs as far as they could go without squashing the person next to me or tripping people over as they walked past my knees were still pressed into the seat in front of me so solidly that walking off of the plane upon arrival in London caused me a lot of pain. I am just thankful that the person in front of me didn’t even attempt to put their seat back or I could have sustained real injury. Apparently Iberia don’t think people above the size of small child travel on their aircraft.

Iberia have horrible leg room

Horrible leg room Madrid – London

Iberia ()lack of) leg room

Another photo of the painful conditions I found myself in on Iberia.

The flight itself was made worse by a large group of Uruguayan school children who, after hitting me in the face with their bags several times as they boarded, proceeded to be so loud that it gave me a headache. We also did not receive any drinks or food service for the entire flight due to severe turbulence which, although I am not affected by it usually, combined with the lack of food and drink made me feel quite sick. Neither of these problems were the fault of Iberia, but they made my uncomfortable conditions a lot worse due to the fact I couldn’t get up to stretch my legs, use the bathroom or drink any water to calm my stomach or head. Although I guess in some way at least the turbulence meant that the Uruguayan kids couldn’t run around and annoy everybody like they did during the first 30 minutes of the flight as they had to remain in their seats.

Maybe next time I will fly with a different operator, or via a different route, although if Iberia work out to be the best option again I will definitely book the extra leg room seats no matter what the cost especially for the transatlantic legs. No way could I have survived 13 hour flights in those conditions.

Luckily the rest of my journey home was much better. After breakfast we left the apartment for our journey to the airport, which went fairly smoothly. It was a short metro ride to Los Heroes, where the airport bus starts, and the next bus started boarding shortly after we arrived. It is a very efficient service, has a bus every 10 minutes during the day, and is cheap but I do wish they had more space for luggage. By the time everybody boarded the small luggage area on board looked more like a jenga tower. Hopefully they will extend the metro to the airport soon which will make the process even easier, but I had no real problems with the transfers.

Santiago de Chile

Our apartment was in the smaller building in the background

Santiago de Chile

The neighbourhood that our apartment was in

I was able to check straight in when I arrived at the airport which gave me a chance to have a quick lunch and final catch up with Steven. There aren’t that many food options at Santiago Airport, just a couple of cafes from what I saw, so while the airport seems to be very efficient don’t get here too early as you will end up frustrated.

I always like to write about issues that I encounter when I travel just so that anybody reading my blog has an idea of what to expect. I don’t generally moan or complain about anything I encounter when I travel as it is only fair to play by the rules of the countries you visit, and my return journey from Kyrgyzstan to London last year was far worse than anything I encountered returning from this trip. However, the more information you have the more you are prepared and the more you are prepared the more you will enjoy your trip as you won’t let little things get to you.

As I said though the extra leg room seats were worth every penny I paid. I had an extremely comfortable flight from Santiago to Madrid and, while I didn’t sleep for more than a few minutes, I arrived in Madrid refreshed and relaxed. I saw some interesting cloud formations and watched some good movies but other than that the flight was fairly uneventful.

Extra leg room on Iberia

Extra leg room Santiago – Madrid

Santiago Airport

Santiago Airport, waiting to depart

Cloud formations over Brasil

Cloud formations over Brasil

Arriving back in your home city from a great trip is always a low point, but having been in Latin America for 11 days I almost had a culture shock when I got back to The UK. After leaving the aircraft it was well over an hour before I saw anybody smile and in that time I heard 11 people either shouting at people or having arguments with random strangers, in most cases over the smallest of things, and there was a severe lack of eye contact compared to Chile. I guess when you live somewhere you get used to the way things work, and the attitude of the population, but this enforces what I have said several times about travel being essential to personal growth and to opening you up to new ideas / cultures. The more you travel, especially off of the beaten track or at least away from tourist hotspots, the less things tend to bother you and the less you tend to rely on things being exactly how you expect them. That is my experience anyway, I don’t know about in general.

But for now it is time for sleep. It has been an exhausting but absolutely amazing two weeks which I have enjoyed immensely, and one which has made me fall in love with another country all over again. This is only the second time I have been to Latin America but I always have such an amazing time so I know I will be back. I don’t know when, I don’t know the countries I will visit and I don’t know what format my trip will be but I will definitely be back. So many good experiences and so many good memories.

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Bienvenido a Chile

January 20th, 2016 No comments

Welcome to Chile! I have just checked into the apartment where I will be staying for the next 10 nights and it’s really close to everything. It looked a little far out on Google Maps but my friend assured me it was central and he was right – the nearest metro stop is less than 5 minutes walk away, and it’s only 10-15 minutes walk to what I would class as the centre of the city. The apartment is basic but we don’t need anything fancy just somewhere affordable, safe and central. The owner seemed nice, and she even bought us a selection of fruit as a welcome gift, but other than when she took payment we won’t see her again.

Charlie in Santiago de Chile

Charlie enjoying the view from the apartment

Santiago de Chile

Our apartment was in the smaller building in the background

This is my 3rd day in Chile and for the past few days I have been staying at my friend Steven’s house in La Granja, a residential area to the south of the city. The idea of me staying there was to see where Steven lives, meet his family, play with his cat and just relax after a long flight. Oh my what a long journey it was.

I decided to book a cheap Travelodge near Heathrow the night before my flight, even though I didn’t depart until mid-afternoon, as being a weekend I didn’t know about engineering works and also as I just wanted to relax. I’m definitely glad I chose to spend the night as there was so much engineering on that I had to take 2 trains, 3 tubes, a bus and do some walking to get there, compared to the usual 1 train and 1 tube plus a small walk, which would have been stressful on the day of the flight. I knew I would have 24 hours of travelling ahead of me the next day, including a 13.5 hour flight, so all I did at the hotel was relax in the restaurant and then watch TV.

Waking up to snow near London Heathrow

Waking up to snow on the morning of my flight to Chile via Madrid.

I woke up on the morning of my flight to be greeted with freezing temperatures and a covering of snow on the ground which, considering I had not taken any thick jackets due to travelling to South America during their summer, made me look forward to my trip even more than I already was. Transport that day was a lot smoother than the day before and I got to the airport, checked in and boarded my first flight to Madrid with ease. Upon arrival at Madrid I was transported by shuttle bus to the non-EU section of the airport ready for my flight to Chile which, luckily, was on time. There aren’t many options for food at Madrid airport from what I have seen, just a couple of cafes, fast food outlets and a Starbucks but I passed the time eating in a cafe and using the free WI-Fi in Starbucks.

Then it was time for my 13.5 hour transatlantic flight. For the whole outbound journey, and the transatlantic portion of the return leg, I have booked extra leg room seats at a cost of 150 euros total but it seems that it was worth every penny as Iberia, who I’m flying with, seem to have some of the worst leg room I have ever seen. On the way to Madrid most people had their legs pressed very firmly into the seat in front of them and there’s no way I could survive that especially not long-haul. Luckily I had this much leg room.

Exit row on Iberia

This is the leg room I received by paying for an exit row

The flight itself was very smooth, on time, the food was nice and the entertainment system was pretty good considering I had heard lots of bad reports in advance. Plus, being a night flight, having the exit row meant I was able to get up and stretch my legs whenever I wanted. Although a piece of advice – don’t pick the exit row at the front of economy on the left hand side as this is by the entrance people use to board the plane and I got knocked by bags and elbows a lot. The other side should be fine. The man next to me, I think a Chilean businessman, was kind enough to let me have the window seat for descent and landing as it was my first time in South America and I was treated to some amazing views.

Flying over The Andes

Flying over The Andes on my approach to Chile

Santiago Airport

Arriving in Santiago de Chile

Immigration, baggage claim and customs went very smoothly considering the long queues and I think I went from plane to arrivals in 30 minutes – so quick that Steven had not arrived yet. I took the opportunity to change some money and stretch my legs.

One thing you should know about Santiago airport is that there is no metro or train service to the city. They have plans to build it but it’s not there yet and so your options are taxi, private shuttle or airport bus. We took the airport bus as it’s reliable and fairly cheap, only a few thousand pesos per person. The ride into the city, to Los Heroes metro station, took around 30 minutes and from there we took the metro a few stops before taking a shared taxi to Steven’s house. The shared taxi system will be confusing for non-Chileans but it seems efficient – they travel on vaguely set routes, for a cheap fixed fee, and leave either when full of when the egg timer they have reaches the end. I think we were in the taxi for maybe 10 minutes before we arrived in La Granja.

La Granja is not an area of the city that you will ever visit as a tourist unless you have a reason as there isn’t much there. It’s a fairly residential area, I believe with houses mainly built in the past for the military, with a couple of malls but nothing for tourists. It’s also a commune which a number of guide books say to avoid but I never felt unsafe there, although granted I never went out at night. Except for a few Mormons, and the Chinese family that run a general store on the main road, there generally aren’t any non-Latinos in the area either so you will stick out like a sore thumb, unless you are Latino yourself, but this is never something that has bothered me. But as it’s an area with a certain amount of crime I didn’t take many photos.

Pancracia

Steven’s cat, called Pancracia

The two days in La Granja I spent mainly relaxing, adjusting to the time zone and heat, playing with Pancracia thr cat and eating some good home cooked food. Wow what food it was. We did a little bit of shopping and walking around seeing the area where Steven grew up but didn’t do too much as we knew that we would be doing a lot of walking around for the rest of my trip. We did travel a few stops on the metro one afternoon to visit the Mall Plaza Vespucio, where Steven used to work, to stretch our legs and have some coffee but that was about it. As I said this area isn’t really for tourist so you won’t really have a reason to visit here.

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Next stop Chile!

October 10th, 2015 No comments

For years people have been asking me why I haven’t visited South America yet, to which I have always replied “I’ll get there one day. There are so many places in the world I want to see” or something similar.

It seems that the time has finally come as I will be jetting off to Chile for 11 days in January 2016. I booked at the end of June, only a few weeks after coming back from Central Asia, but didn’t want to post anything here until my blog from that previous trip was online. It’s a shame I can’t stay longer, due to work commitments, otherwise I would have travelled extensively around Chile or seen other countries in the area, but I know I’ll have a good time regardless.

Route to Chile

The route I will be taking to Chile

I’m not sure what I’ll be seeing when I’m in Chile. Obviously I’ll be seeing Santiago, as that is where my flight goes, but beyond that nothing is definite. There have been suggestions of visiting Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, La Serena and the wineries in the valleys near Santiago but it’ll probably be a little while before anything is set in stone. I will also have to wait until nearer the time to see how the recovery from the recent magnitude 8.4 earthquake and Tsunami progresses before making any commitments to visit the coast.

There will be a lot of flexibility on this trip as I’m travelling on my own to visit a friend, rather than being part of an organised group, so I can see what I want and won’t have to deal with problematic group members. Maybe I’ll visit Punta Arenas or fly up to the Atacama for a few days but maybe I’ll stay close to Santiago, we will see when I get there.

South America is a region of the world that always comes highly recommended by people who like to travel so I’m glad I will finally be able to see part of it for myself. It’ll be very hot in January, but I’ll be fine. I prefer colder weather but after my nights shivering in sub-zero temperatures at Song-Kul Lake in Kyrgyzstan it’ll be nice to go somewhere hot!

I’m in the process of improving upon the Spanish which I learned in school in order to be able to communicate with the Chilean people without having to rely on my friend to translate. In Chile they speak a complicated variety of Spanish so it may not be too easy but I’ll do my best. I’m planning to visit Madrid for a few nights some time before Christmas in order to get some hands-on experience with the language before Chile.

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