12.09.2013 - 12.09.2013 4 °C
Now that was a long flight. Sitting in the lounge at Santiago Intercontinental reflecting on the trip 22 hours and having a gin and tonic. Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. The sun is still up here and it's 8pm, our time clocks are really out of whack....
We stayed Wednesday night at the new Rydges hotel at the international terminal. Handy for sure, up at 6am for the 9am flight. It beats getting up at 3am in Nowra to fight the traffic.
We had dinner at the Black Wattle Grill Restaurant and it was really good. Early to bed for an early start.
Walked across the road and checked in. We had separate seats allocated about 4 rows apart. Anybody that knows Mandy and I will know that's not satisfactory. The LAN Business employee sorted that out and mercifully we got to sit together all the way through to Chile.
The flight was full and our seats were at the rear of the centre toilets. Can't believe the frequency that many people have the need for the toilet. All night long that sound of airline flushing systems and aroma. I may have nightmares for years to come. What is with these people, one lady went 3 times before we left Sydney. I hate flying too but that was awful.
Arrived into Auckland on time for a 2 hour layover. Off to the Qantas lounge for a shower and Counselling. I still couldn't get the sound or smell washed out. A stiff scotch and I was back on track.
And it was off again for South America. LAN were very good but... in comparison to others it lacked ongoing information about progress and destination. Limited announcements and slow on service. Still the pilots got us there safely so it was money well spent. Not much sleep to talk of and the movies were ordinary. All in all glad we arrived and we are very tired.
We arrived at 1230 in the afternoon and headed to the usual line up for/to;
- pay the reciprocity fee ($100 US); they don't miss you but stress that its valid for re-entry for 3 months,
- immigration (got to watch a Jacko Labrador do its thing on my bag)
- agricultural check (really Sir I ate the banana. It's only the skin and I had nowhere else to put it because the toilets were in constant use)
Cleared everything including last nights meal and it was off to the taxi tango. Santiago is about 25 km out of the city area and so buses were not an option. They sell taxi space here like we sell prawns, lots and quickly. We'd zipped up our bags and paid the equivalent of $40Us for a cab. Glad we did, the drivers here are worse than Rome. The big difference is the speed. I am truly amazed. When I drive 5 km over the limit. Mandy's into me. When I drive one handed. Mandy's into me. When I pay a cab driver and he cruises on 130km with one hand on the wheel. Nil. She says nothing. Go figure.
Anyway, the trip in from the airport was quick. The roads are pretty good but little in the way of rules. Seems to be quite a lot of development and poverty. The slums alongside the freeway were certainly noticeable and numerous.
Arrived at the Santiago Intercontinental and it was like coming home. We needed a shower and sleep but felt that a shower and a walk was a better option given it was only 2pm.
Santiago is not very big. I would compare it to Wollongong but with some bigger buildings. Not sure exactly what goes on here other than first impressions of a lot of restaurants and banks. In reality, Chile is the cultural, financial and political centre of Chile. We are only here for a few days and again my research paid off as I felt that a few days was probably 1 day too many in terms of sights. The streets are clean and it feels safe but alas, not much to do or see.
We aren't quite sure what is happening with the weather here. The Andes are visible from anywhere around the town and it feels like an early winter in Oz. At 4pm the temp is around 7 degrees and it is getting colder as the sun is setting. Like us this is the spring with summer due to commence in November. Regardless of what the weather forecasts say, it's just after 6pm and freezing. Not snow New York cold but cold. The sun rises here at 0745 and sets after 7pm at night so it's a long day in more ways than one..................
Tomorrow a visit to Valparaiso which is one of the 2003 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.