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Out’n about in the desert…

May 29th, 2009 | Posted by Davey in 13-Chile - (2 Comments)

They say that San Pedro is an oasis surrounded by geysers, sand dunes, salt flats and lost Andean villages.  What better way to find out than rent some bikes and set off and explore for the day..

Looking back, we had a pretty hectic day and covered a respectable 65k on the desert roads.  The pictures below are pretty random but encompass Quebrada del Diablo (Devil’s George), Pukara De Quitor (a crumbling 12th century fortress ruins) and Valle De La Luna or Valley of the moon (a maze of sandunes where you can see the sunset over the Andes).

We left our hostel at 8:30am and didn’t return until 8pm so it was pretty full on.  After sunset we had a 12–14k bike ride home in the dark.  We had hoped to fit in the desert star-gazing tour upon our return but it was fully booked – damn – no tour agencies were open when we set off. 

Star-gazing in the Atacama desert is supposed to be best in the world and we were absolutely gutted to have missed out.  Our neighbours came back with pictures of Saturn, falling stars and various other astronomy marvels – adding salt to an already gaping wound.  Nevertheless, it was still pretty amazing having the opportunity stare up at the sky to see the sheer number of stars and the milky way in such a remote part of the world.

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San Pedro de Atacama

May 23rd, 2009 | Posted by Davey in 13-Chile - (1 Comments)

Across the border once again from Salta in Argentina to the tiny town of San Pedro de Atacama in northern Chile.  We have only been here a few hours and are chomping at the bit to get out and about.  It looks incredibly beautiful and what we had expected most of South America to look like.

As we haven’t done a lot here so far, and have a busy scheduled for tomorrow, we are writing this post as a means of letting you know that we have very very limited access to internet and probably won’t get a minute to sit down and write for the next several days.  Tomorrow we are off on a bike tour and the following day we take a 3–day 4wd tour across the desert and salt flats from San Pedro to Uyuni in Bolivia.  

When we get to our destination we’ll provide an update.  All the best for now.

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Wi-Fi in abundance

April 27th, 2009 | Posted by Davey in 13-Chile - (1 Comments)
We really have been so impressed with wireless access (Wi-Fi) in SA that it warranted a post.  Since the day we arrived in Chili we have been connected.  Shops restaurants, cafes and of course hostels and hotels all have free Wi-Fi and provide the access key without question.  Most connections are at least 2mbps. Here’s the best one – they even have Wi-Fi on the buses!  I couldn’t believe it, I was stunned when I seen the man next to us surfing the web, checked on my iPhone and sure enough there it was.  I had a conversation with my brother Clive on Skype or Facebook (can’t remember) for most of one journey.  I think the UK, Ireland and the wider world could learn a thing or two. Most tourists give out about the state of the technology here as internet cafe’s have computers running Windows 95 or 98 at best.  If, like us, you have your own devices you are laughing. Australia and New Zealand had Wi-Fi but charged between $6–9 in the campsites, cheaper in the internet cafes of course.  A damn ripoff and a disgrace in my book. Ironically, I listened to a great RTE podcast yesterday (Today with Pat Kenny), interviewing Martin Murphy, the Managing Director of Hewlett Packard Ireland.  The focus was the state of the Irish economy but also touched on the subject of intellectual property.  He, and the government, believes that Ireland’s future is in intellectual property but they need to invest in technology in order to do so.  He believes that every school, home and business should have free access to a 21st century communications infrastructure, thus creating a smart workforce and intern a smart economy.  Couldn’t agree more. It was simply inspirational. That impressed, I sent my CV into HP.

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Our second and last day in Valparaiso so we though we would upload some more photos with an emphasis on buildings and the city as opposed to the heritage area.  Sam dragged me around the old quarter again in search of weird and wonderful doors (above all things) so she could collate a collage/montage at some point.  There were no shortage and we (well, she) did manage to get some crackers – I’m sure she will give you a peek once finished.  We should have taken a few pictures of our hostel as it was a very cosy and friendly establishment and the German and Chilean proprietors were top class.  They encourage guests to eat and social together – we never have a problem there – but we did anyway and ended up drinking wine until the early hours.  There is a lot to be said for travelling but it’s the people and places you stay at that really make the experience. I’ve just noticed, having just selected these photos, that I’m in the majority of them (ah well) – that’s because Sam was on her door mission and I didn’t get a look in all day – sorry about that. Valparaiso 111 Valparaiso 110 Valparaiso 075 Valparaiso 073 Valparaiso 101 Valparaiso 076 Valparaiso 043 Valparaiso 064 Valparaiso 050 Valparaiso 051 Valparaiso 067 Valparaiso 082 Valparaiso 086 Valparaiso 090 Valparaiso 092 Valparaiso 093 Valparaiso 123 Valparaiso 127 Valparaiso 166 Valparaiso 210
Although we enjoyed the city of Santiago we were glad to leave and head for for the World Heritage City of Valparaiso. Also home to the famous poet and nobel prize winner Pablo Neruda. An arty-farty place with charming quirky coloured buildings perched on the hilltops.  Even the grafitti is colourful and wild and a sight to behold.  We spend a full day walking with the odd restbite in it’s many cafes.  We have tried to capture and display as many pictures as possible. The city itself is huge and one with irregular street patterns (no map will help you here), and steeply hilly - a good calf workout! Predominately a port city and once a leading merchant town before the opening of the panama canal in 1914.  Only parts of the city are listed under World Heritage and we managed to booked into a lovely quaint hostel right in the heart of it. Estamos disfrutando de nuestra estancia aqui (we are enjoying our stay here).  Valparaiso 044 Valparaiso 037 Valparaiso 001 Valparaiso 006 Valparaiso 008 Valparaiso 010 Valparaiso 014 Valparaiso 016 Valparaiso 022 Valparaiso 026 Valparaiso 061 Valparaiso 024 Valparaiso 084 Valparaiso 149 Valparaiso 085 Valparaiso 053 Valparaiso 054 Valparaiso 055