From La Serena in Chile, I travelled to the capital, Santiago. I had been told by Rodrigo, one of my Portuguese travelling companions in Bolivia, not to expect much and that it was not really worth a visit. Well, as I was travelling south and it was on the way, I decided to spend a couple of nights there anyway. Rodrigo was right, however, and I was quite disappointed.
Santiago is a big, modern city. Wide, tree lined streets. Nice modern architecture was in abundance. A modern metro transport system. It just did not fire me up. Nothing to get excited about. I did the city, hop on – hop off tour and the only place I thought would be worth a visit, the funicular railway, was shut due to a strike by local workers. I went to a big shopping mall instead, which turned out to be the highlight of my visit.
Arriving back in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, after visiting the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, I only had a short time to feed myself and repack my hunchback before catching an overnight bus to La Serena. I did make time to have an argument with the tour operator about the driver who accidentally took us off road on the way back to the border but I was wasting my time.
I arrived early the next day at my hostel in La Serena and was pleasantly surprised by both the city and the accommodation, BleuBlanc Hostal. Very pleasant after roughing it for the previous week. My main objective was to relax for a couple of days but it did not quite work out. On my second evening there, I went on a trip to the observatory at Mamalluca, which was fascinating. Unfortunately, this meant not returning to the hotel until after midnight.
I had to check out by midday the following day but my bus, for Santiago, was not leaving until midnight. I decided to visit the neighbouring town of Coquimbo, which has a large cross celebrating the third millenium. I walked there and back which was a total of more than 25kms. I did manage to sleep well on the bus journey to Santiago, though.