So it is with a heavy heart I leave Sydney again, bidding farewell to all my friends over there and not really knowing this time when my next trip will be, although in the back of my mind S2H 75th Anniversary in 2019 seems like an option!!
I leave my little airbnb in Manly loaded up with all my luggage, and despite having dropped a few KGs sending stuff back to the UK I have managed to fill that gap with camping gear, sleep bags, mats, walking sticks to name but a few.
I am flying with LATAM, no idea what that will be like to be honest but lets just say I am not expecting Emirates or Qantas quality. Its a quick check-in, and easy security and pretty much have plenty of time to kill. Unfortunately, I have a few drama’s getting some last minute money for the trip at the airport but eventually sort that partially just before I step on the plane and have enough USD to kick off with.
The flight goes from Sydney to Auckland and then onto Santiago. The flight is delayed getting out of Sydney, but eventually get to Auckland within a couple of hours and then only an hour before the flight to Santiago. I get into Santiago at 1.30pm which is basically 2 hrs after I left Sydney but having flown for 12hrs, so I get my Monday all over again… well sort of!
LATAM airlines were ok, the service wasn’t that great, pretty slow and the food/drinks took a while to come out, but the food was not that bad and I slept like a baby (part of the reason I nearly didn’t get breakfast!!). Entertainment was ok, reasonable film selection so can’t really complain as it was comfortable, clean and a smooth flight.
On arrival the queue for immigration is huge and takes a very long time to clear, probably about a good 45mins to 1hr before I am through. Then bags at least are waiting when I get through and I join another queue to then scan bags and leave the airport. Sadly the airport ATM which is just by the bag scanning fails to work. I get to the taxi place and luckily have enough USD change that i can use that for the taxi to get to the hostel.
Happy House Hostel are very welcoming and extremely helpful when I arrive, they even help me with all my luggage upstairs. I am in an 8 bed dorm and have been given bed no. 13!! top bunk on a slightly rocky bunk bed (are there any other kind I wonder!!). I check the sheet in reception about the group meeting at 6pm, and its now 3.30pm so I have a couple of hours. Well, on checking the sheet I realise there is a kitty fund I need to make sure I have, this is apparently $700USD so as I currently only have half that I think I need to get going and get some cash out. This time I take the precaution of emergency cash card options… just in case.
So after a little bit of re-orientation into South America banking, I finally work out getting some money in local currency and USD. So, the kitty fund is secured… at least I think so. So I can now enjoy the city. Santiago is actually quite a green city which surprises me, or at least the part I explore is which is not quite the city district. I have very little time to be honest and walk to a Santa Lucia metro station and just explore the park and up the hill and then back to the hostel with literally 10 minutes before the tour group meeting!! Not bad considering I had no watch on me to know the time.
So next we meet Ryan, Fabian, Mark who are the 3 Dragoman tour guides who will be taking care of us for the next 22 days. And then we meet the other 22 people who have signed up on the tour. 50% are retired, the rest are a mix of people some have been on the dragoman tours before this, some haven’t, some joined in Santiago, some have been on this bus for a while!! Its an extremely mixed bag of people so it will be interesting to see the dynamics of the group as we journey through Patagonia.
Intro’s done, there is the option for dinner although its already about 9pm by now and all I have in mind is the luggage setup. So my first priority rather than food is to sort my bags out so that life is simple, and my second priority is to finally have a shower….. !! The bags take a good hour, and well… I think I am going to have to start to find a way in future of being a lot more strict with myself on what I take traveling if I do this sort of thing again. The shower is interesting, option no. 1 the block with one shower with no shower curtain and no lock… hmmm! the second option the block with 4 showers, but one shower has no shower head at all…. finally I find one that has both a shower and shower curtain and get washed!!
Its a 5am start tomorrow….. so I try to get to sleep, its already late and I am not overly tired and am on a top bunk. Probably shouldn’t have been ploughing my way through 2lts of water for the last 3 hours…. hmmm!