The blog is not finished! But after the Theft (yes, capital letters), the want/need to update the blog took second fiddle to dealing with the Theft and just finishing the trip sans computer. Since being home, it's been hard to get that motivation to complete it. But I will. Ever so slowly. Please be patient!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Day 87-88, Time to Scream

The following takes place between Tuesday, February 22 and Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The bus ride from Iquique to Santiago is a long, 23/24 hour journey. I splurged though and got a full cama bus with TurBus, one of the best bus companies I’ve done business with. They are the largest bus company in Chile, with destinations completely throughout the narrow country. I still swear that Greyhound can stand to do a little trip to Peru(Cruz del Sur) and Chile(TurBus) to see how bus companies should be run. Comfortable, friendly, ON TIME. There’s even food included in the price.

We arrived in Santiago in the mid afternoon. Before I had left Iquique I had booked a hostel and had memorized the directions to get there. This involved taking the subway. Luckily there was a metro station right at the bus terminal. I bought my BIP card, which is a reloadable card to get you on both the subway and the city buses, and got onto the subway.

I got off at the correct stop but turned down the wrong street. Santiago isn’t really the place you want to get lost in with a 20kg bag on your back. It is hot here. Stiffling hot. And with a bag on my back, I could feel the sweat beginning to form. Eventually I had to give in and stop in a convenience store to ask to use their computer. Go figure though. I was a block away from the hostel.

I arrived, settled in, and decided to go for a little walk around the neighborhood. My IMG_2118first impressions of Santiago is that it is one of the most modern cities I’ve visited since I’ve come to South America. The streets are immaculate, the subway system is extremely clean and easy to navigate – even for a small town prairie boy like myself, and the infrastructure is crazy good. And the South American mentality of healthy living is especially try here. Bikes are everywhere. People are running or jogging at all times of the day.

The walk was really nice to get a glimpse of the city. I toured the park near where I was staying then wandered across the river to check out part of the Bellavista area, the so called Bohemian District of Santiago. I didn’t go all the way into the area as it is a long walk from the hostel and I was still a bit exhausted from sitting on the bus. I did, however, stop at a little shop for a completo. A hot dog with mayo, guacamole, and salsa on it. It is amazing!!! It’s a shock that most of the Chileans I’ve met are all still so skinny considering how fattening a lot of the food is. I think it’s that belief in exercise that keeps them so skinny.

I got back to the hostel in time to shower and get ready for supper. See, the hostel I picked includes FREE supper on weeknights. This particular night was pork cutlets with salad and rice, and a free glass of sangria. I met a girl from Germany and us two, pluIMG_2136s the two owners of the hostel and four others went out to a club nearby.

It was a great night, but not a drunken one. We danced, had some beer, and had an overall good time. I left earlier than the others as I was just too wiped out from the trip still. I made my way back to the hostel and feel promptly asleep.

The next morning, after enjoying some of the free breakfast that is offered(REAL coffee, cereal with milk, fresh squeezed OJ, and toast) I got myself ready to head to Fantasilandia, the local theme park. I am a rollercoaster junkie and when I heard that Santiago had a small theme park that had rollercoasters, it was a given that I would go.

To get there, I took the subway down to the Los Heroes station and changed to the Yellow Line heading south, getting off at the Parque O’Higgins station which is just across the street from the park the theme park is located in. A little bit of a walk and I had my ticket in hand and was standing in line to enter the moment the park opened at IMG_2142noon. And it’s relatively cheap, costing only CP$7.200 or C$14 to enter.

Fantasilandia itself is a bit small, and only has a few rides that are really up to my standard(I blame Disney for making my standards so high when it comes to rides). I first went on the inverted rollercoaster “Raptor.” I attempted to video tape the ride while on it but it failed miserably. I did most of the other rides after, skipping the little kid rides.

I went on the Tsunami which is a large water ride that you can get IMG_2146really soaked on. Though, as we found out, you get more soaked going over the bridge after the ride than when you’re on the ride. It was quite amusing to watch kids purposely standing on the bridge in the right spots in order to get drenched. Admittedly, I did the same thing a couple times.

The other looping rollercoaster I went on was the Boomerang, a rollercoaster that goes both forwards through the track and then backwards. By far my favorite ride, mainly because the line for this one moved really really fast. And I like rollercoasters.

IMG_2162Eating in the theme park, as in any theme park, is stupidly expensive, but when you’re hungry, you’re hungry. I had a late lunch, early dinner at a little restaurant beside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Total rip off of the Disney ride, with the same basic idea and even the music from the movies. Ride itself: kinda lame. Nothing beats the Disney version with their moving animatronics.

Overall it was an amazing day. This isn’t the first time I took in a theme park alone, and probably won’t be the last. I mean, sometimes it pays to be a single rider. Lots oIMG_2174f times, you get to skip the line because there is only room for “1 more person!”. I would definitely recommend the theme park for anyone that loves rollercoasters or theme parks in general. Even though there is only two rollercoasters and a few other thrill rides, they’re definitely worth the CP$7.200 to enter. And the best thing of all, not many tourists know about it!

Back at the hostel, I had dinner(spinach and parmesan fettuccini with a glass of red wine) and called it a night.

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