Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Back home, in Manitowoc, Wisconsin

My last few days were spent in Santiago catching up with friends and celebrating various "going away" parties. Yesterday afternoon, Juan Pablo and Stephanie picked me up and we got to the airport with plenty of time to relax. We enjoyed a very typical Chilean dish of cheesecake at a restaurant, and then we went on our way.

(Amigos before I went through customs)

My flights were smooth with plenty of room, and my luggage arrived at the same time as me. Now it's back to life in the USA.

I uploaded my pictures onto a web album for your viewing pleasure. Pictures from September.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Mendoza, Argentina

After deciding that I really liked hiking around in the mountains, I went to Mendoza, Argentina for my final week of traveling. It´s about 7 hours east of Santiago and has a lot to offer. It´s the main wine region, and has a wonderful park to head up to. I got in Monday evening at Hostel Lao and talked with some folks to see what they have been up do. I gathered that a lot of people do some sort of wine tour so I decided to add some things I like to do and make it a day. I like to bike, enjoy beautiful scenery, meet new people, and sample fine wines.
The view of one of the vineyards.
The wine cellar at Altavista.

Tuesday was spent biking around to vineyards and sampling incredible wines. Then Wednesday I took off at 6:00am to get up to Parque Acongaua. It´s more or less a four hour bus ride.
Enjoying the scenary up in the mountains.

But once I got up there it was wonderful. I was walking around in the valley all by myself for half a day. I got some great views of Mt. Acongaua, the highest peak outside of the Himalayas. Mt. Acongaua´s peak rises 22841 feet into the Argentinian sky. Also, I got a chance to see Puente del Inca, which is a natural bridge which was used by the Incan indians to cross the river.
Puente del Inca

I´m glad I got to see it after hiking all day, because it´s really only a 10 minute trip.
The central plaza in Mendoza in the late afternoon.

I got back to Santiago Friday morning, and have been hanging out with friends since then. Today, Sunday, we had a going away lunch and tomorrow I´m going to take care of some things and get to the airport in the afternoon for my flight back to Milwaukee.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Festias Patrias (September 17th - 20th)

I timed by arrival to Santiago perfectly with the Fiestas Patrias, or the Chilean Independence Day celebrations. I got in Thursday (9-17) morning, and we went up to Cerro San Cristobal for an asado with some friends of Brooke and Chelsea. Then I went to my old apartment to celebrate. Then on the 18th, I went over to my old place to hang out with them and got a chance to hold Maria José´s 12 day old baby. That night, after "lunch" at 5:30, I went to a Fonda with Juan Pablo.

(Fonda Inés De Suárez on 18-Sept)
Fondas are a traditional part of Fiestas Patrias, where the cueca is danced, food is sold and people go to have a good time.

(Traditional music)
The next day was spent relaxing at Brooke´s house where we made a nice meal and invited some friends over. On Sunday, Juan Pablo, Stephanie, Brooke and I went to Pirque where I went last year with him, and had a huge asado(bbq). Jaun Pablo cooked enough meat that we had lunch, sat around, went for a walk and then had dinner with the same meat.

(Our asado on Sunday. This picture has everything but the steak, lamb and potatoes that went on later)

(The view from the asado place. It was a great place to spend Sunday)

It was a great weekend filled with wine, meat and laughs. It was great to spend a weekend with friends and "family." After that weekend, I was ready to head out and get some exercise and see some new areas again. Monday morning I took off for Mendoza, Argentina.

Friday, September 18, 2009

El Bolsón, Argentina

I got into El Bolsón around 2:30pm on September 15th and got picked up by the Casa del Viejero hostel owner, and he told me about a hike I could do right from his backyard up to a waterfall, then up around a ridge where you can see the mountains. The city, and surrounding area is gorgeous. It's situated between two steep mountain ranges, and I can see why it was a popular place for people to migrate to in the 70's.

The town is about 18,000 people and is situated right along the Quemquemtreu River.

The waterfalls I got to after climbing around some steep sides of the river.

Views from behind the ridge near the town.

The people in my little cabin were really great and we kind of formed a little family of travelers. There was a Australian teacher who was taking a year off to travel, and a french couple. We all would do are own things during the day and talk about our day's adventures at night.
The next day I woke up to temperatures below freezing, with all my clothing on and still feeling a chill, but happy about the clear skies and anticipation of a good hike. "There was ice on the bird bath" by grandpa would have noted. The Aussie lady who had been in El Bolón for about a week reccomended the hike I was about to do. It was a beautiful day and by far the most enjoyable outdoor expereince I had on my travels so far. I got a taxi out to the "trail head." It was more like a long driveway that went to a shady bridge that led to a trail head. I hiked up for about four hours and stopped by the River Azul for lunch. I waited a few minutes for the sun to come up over the trees to warm me up, and as I sat eating I realized the pool of water next to me still had ice on it from the night before. What a great hike.

Early morning river crossing.

Walking in the woods.

I couldn't complain about the scenery.

Lunch break in the valley, about 600 meters up.

The view on the way back home.

Now I'm back in Santiago, and have been enjoying the celebrations.

Bariloche, Argentina

I made it to Bariloche, Argentina on September 12th, smoothly after spending a night in Puerto Varas, Chile. The trip across the country was beautiful with snow capped mountains and clear, blue lakes dotting the country side. Then once I got into Bariloche, I found my hostel, 1004, which I later found out is in fact in Lonely Planet, but I still felt lucky to have been recommended to that hostel. The views were great, and the people all seemed to have a similar traveling mindset.

View from my hostel, 1004.

I got along with the other travelers and was relieved to find more people also doing what I was doing. The first afternoon I walked around the town and did the usual; atm, groceries, check out the sunset. Then the next day, I took off early in the morning to do a walk that usually has great vies of the mountains. It was a little foggy/rainy so I didn't get spectacular views, only great ones.

Views from my morning outing.

The forest I walked through.

Then I got back to the hostel a little after lunch time and hung out in the city and in the common room at the hostel.

View looking down at the city from 1004's patio.

Then the next day I couldn't decide whether or not to go to cerro campanario early and then go to El Bolsón because it was kind of cloudy. After talking with some people, I decided I might as well go there while I'm here, and even if it's cloudy, it will be fun to hike up a little mountain. I was told the views are amazing, and everyone was right.

From the cumbre(summit) of Cerro Campanario.

Being a small town boy from a Wisconsin, anytime I get a chance to do some hiking and check out snow capped mountains, I'm happy. I'm really glad I went up and got the advice from another traveler to just hike up instead of taking a chairlift up. I left Bariloche headed to El Bolsón on September 15th.

One last view from the hostel patio.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


This was the view out of my window getting into Chiloé.

Here´s where I stayed in Castro. My hostel was the one on the far right.

Hostel is the one with the orange/tan sidings.

Once in the park I had my buddy "Perrito" exploring with me.

View of Parque Nacional de Chiloé

Early morning fishing. It was quite misty that morning, so this is actually what it looked like.

Use a self timer, a tripod, and a bridge to take a picture. Done.

A nice lake looking out towards the south inside the park.

I got down to Chiloé just fine and found my hostel to be wonderful. The owner was nice and helped me get on my way to Parque Nacional de Chiloé. That´s where I after I spent a night in the hostel. Ends up the only other people using this hostel were on business, but it was still fun because we watched the Brasil-Chile soccer game in the hostel. It was quite the experience getting very excited at the possibility of beating number one Brasil, away, but they prevailed. The next morning, I took off to the park. The park was beautiful, and provided me with some great views, and peace. I was the only person out there, and at times thought I may have been trespassing, but I didn´t get in trouble, so it´s fine.

That night I went out to eat to get some salmon since that is where a large amount of the world´s salmon is harvested. My hostel owner suggested a new restaurant that his friend started up, so I treated myself to a nice meal of Salmon, Chiloé´s potatoes, and a glass of red wine. This started the most exciting time of my travels so far. I met a guy who lived in Santiago who was looking to start a hotel and hostel in Chiloé. We ended up eating together and he invited me to have a co sour.

My weekly nice meal.

Then he offered me a ride to Puerto Montt, which is a 4 hour ride, so I accepted thinking, "why not?" We talked the whole way up and we had some good conversations about everything. Then he dropped me off about 15 km from Puerto Montt because he had to go to the airport. Not two minutes later a guy drove up in a pick-up truck and offered me a ride to the city outskirts. He was an indigenous man who was full of energy and spirit. We laughed and had a good time during our 15 minute ride. From there I caught a local bus to Puerto Varas and was able to finally see the Volcano.
Volcano Orsono peaking out behind the clouds for little while in Puerto Varas.

That night, I finally met another traveler, kind of. His name is Gé (pronounced like a mix of Shay, and Jay). He runs a hostel called Ulaa Patagonia. We talked in the hostel, had some more good seafood and a couple drinks. Once again, this guy had a lot of great stories and experiences. He recommended me to a hostel in Bariloche called 1004. It´s as good as they make it sound on the website. It´s new and isn´t in guide books yet, so I feel lucky to have found in. He also talked up a city two hours south of Bariloche quite a bit, so I think I´m heading that way. I´ll fill you all in about Bariloche in a bit. I´ve been writing for too long. Chau.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A tour around Puerto Varas

View of Lago Llanquihue on our way up the Volcan. It looks like the weather might hold.

..but, it decided to get cloudy right as we arrived, so we decided against going up the volcan , and I´ve been in misty conditions before.

I found some snow though.

And Frosty, so it was fine. After taking the picture of a couple from Uruguay in front of this snowman that beckoned me to get my picture taken with it, I obliged.

After our volcan experience, we went back down to Laguna Verde (green lagoon). It has a green color to it because there are some hot springs underneath the water. This slightly warmer temperature allows the microscopic organisms to live and gives it this green color.

This wasn´t quite the showstopper like a vocan, or a flood staged waterfall, but it was very interesting to see, and walk around it. The lagoon wasn´t too big and it´s entrance to the bigger lake looked cool, like un-mixed Kool-aid.

Today started off great with sunny skies with only a few clouds to the west. As we drove over towards the Vocan Osorno, our guide/hostel owner satisfied my thirst for whatever question popped into my head. It was great having someone there because there were a lot of questions I had about everything, what is the main product of the area(cheese and meat), any fruit (apples and some berries, who lives in that house(some Americans have a huge house that is a mansion), what happened there(the road washed out, as it does every year when the snow melts on the volcan), why are there so many Germans here(they settled here when Germany´s economy wasn´t too hot in the 1800´s, and they stayed) and many more.

Even though the clouds didn´t lift, I felt like I had a true Lake District experience with the misty rain and clouds, intermixed with some sun.

After our tour, I spent some time planning out my next few days. I´ll be in Chiloé tomorrow, in the town of Castro for two nights, then I´ll head back through Puerto Varas on my way over to Bariloche, Argentina. I´ll spend four nights there, which I´ve heard people have been known to spend longer than they planned, and arrive back in Santiago before the 18-Sept festivities.
That´s all for now, see you later.