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Santiago, Valparaiso and Mendoza

sunny 30 °C
View South America on ladiesofleisure's travel map.

See the itinerary of this trip, and details about each destination.

The trip to the Americas was lengthy but not without incident. En route to Panama we hear a call over the intercom for assistance from any doctors or nurses on board. I elbowed Hayley, as naturally, being audibly challenged she didn’t catch the announcement. Without a second to waste she up and ready to get all Grey’s Anatomy on it.

The patient presented with chest pain, but unfortunately it wasn’t Pam’s time to shine – he was a Spanish speaker and apparently communication is important in the nurse-patient relationship. Some med students assisted instead. Another announcement told of a pending early landing in light of the medical emergency. Meanwhile a second passenger suffers chest pain and is attended to by the over-worked med students. I ask Hayley if chest pain is contagious.

Relieved at the answer and the fact that the landing is aborted given the patient’s new-found well-being, I go back to catching zzzz’s.

Some hours later we are again awakened by an announcement by a very shaken airhostess asking for medical assistance once more. Thinking that our amigo had had a relapse and given we were now mid-Atlantic, it seemed quite the pickle. Alas, it was actually an airhostess having a seizure. HPL again whipped down the back to assist and did stuff with a stethoscope. Again language was an issue (German crew) so this patient was also left to the med students. With that her shift was over. The airhostess bounced back (we believe) and thankfully no more patients were admitted.

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Some sweet views along the way

After almost two days in transit, we were stoked to arrive in our hostel in Santiago, get horizontal and try and revert kankles back to ankles.

The following day and ½ was spent taking in the city. Perhaps that wasn’t long enough to give a good assessment, or we weren’t where we should be, but we felt a little underwhelmed. Aside from the spectacular backdrop of the Andes (which can be seen from some convenient mole-hills in the city) the city itself felt like it was in need of a good urban planner and a dash more soul.

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Santiago Skyline

The next stop was Valpariso – a port city on the hills overlooking the Pacific. Famous for its cerros (hills), heritage-protected ascensors (hill-side elevators/cable cars), seafood and pickpockets we were (mostly) excited to get amongst. At the bus station we were wooed by ‘Nelly’ who had a self-contained cabana out the back of her place. Sold.

Valpo, as the locals call it, has its charms; pastel-coloured houses on the hills, golden beaches and spectacular vistas. Equally it has its fair share of draw-backs, namely the common tang of stale urine in the air and a rather unappealing downtown area. We had three stunning days in Valpo and I even enjoyed a dip in the freezing pacific – think ice-cream headache-on-your-feet-cold.

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Gorgeous golden beaches

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Funny little piers

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Beach

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Playing up in the hills and admiring the colourfull houses!

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A fun ride in the Ascensor

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Colourful graffiti everywhere

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Seal hangout

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View from atop our cerro!

The trip to Valpo was a means to bide time until our week of Spanish lessons was due to kick off in Mendoza, Argentina. So, we retraced our steps a little and headed across the Andes to Argy overnight (with a 0230-off the bus, on the bus, walk-through of customs = less than conducive to a good nights’ sleep).

Mendoza is vino-mecca for Argentina – I’m told the region produces 70% of the nation’s drop. Situated on the flat next to the Andes in the middle of the desert – it really is a beautiful oasis. To keep the city green – there are mini irrigation canals running along every street next to the trees (which have all been planted one-by-one in this artificially lush town).

Quite fortuitously and unintentionally, our visit to Mendoza coincided with the annual harvest festival, which is a big deal here. Think – pink ‘wine’ fountains, fiestas every night for a fortnight, a tightly contested beauty pageant and parades where the ‘queens’ toss fruit to/at the crowd (including melons. Yes, melons – we were thankful not to sustain any head injuries).

8519943694_f761960984_b.jpgWine degustation on night one

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Hanging out at one of the events. Free wine and music on the rooftop - sure thing!

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Wine fountain anyone??

Whilst we did enjoy some of these extra-curricular activities - the focus was 4hours/day of lessons, a bit of homework and perfecting the art of the siesta. Now at the end of the week we have a few of the basic concepts on board to build on our survival Spanglish.

8519910378_5ea3a1d0a6_b.jpgHitting the books

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Believe it or not we are studying in the park here. Great way to meet people is to hang out at these intercambios where the locals can practice English and we can practice the ol Espanol

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The last day of school was spent in the kitchen learning how to cook empanadas (all in Español). Harder than it looks to fold these puppies up

Our last day in Mendoza was spent riding around the vineyards of Maipu sampling the local specialties like Malbec and Torontes and avoiding the crowds back in town who were itching to find out who Miss Mendoza 2013 will be… Results to follow.

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Malbec Grapes

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Beautiful Scenery of Maipu Valley
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Sweet Bikers - Pretty much sons of Anarchy right there

8522332553_8baae7bec4_b.jpgWine tasting bneath the Andes8522328007_499ab7d769_b.jpg
Wine museum
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Chillaxing after the really tough day out

Random fact: They put their rubbish out daily in Mendoza... Cray CRAY
Next stop – Pucon, Chile on the road south.

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Hopefully we can find a washing machine so we can stop with the handwashing

Posted by ladiesofleisure 02.03.2013 17:53 Archived in Argentina Tagged beach chile argentina santiago wine mendoza valparaiso

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Comments

I'll have to go there, sample their vino etc., and now the Argy's are in the rugby, will be a bit more of a reason to go. What's the connection with the rubbish/cray? Just had 2 doz. Bluff oysters and they were good, and should be plentiful this year too.
Who won and where are the pics?
Weather is still great here, and is supposed to carry on.
Till the next post, all the best.

02.03.2013 by Dayal.

Actually Santiago was really great when we were there - but we did stay in the embassy, and it was Easter when the city emptied. The mountains, condors and pebre were fantastic and check out the lapis - the only place where you get it with silver flecks. Gammer loves your blog altho has to read it in "hard". She'll get this one next weekend. Keep up the good medical and gastronomic work

03.03.2013 by Aunti

Great to see your pictures of your travels and the tales you tell. I will keep watching with much interest. All the best and take care.

03.03.2013 by Colin Landy

As always, love your enthusiasm nurse Hayley. Just wasn't your flight to shine I guess! Mendoza sounds like just your drop Soph! Love reading this blog. Keep it up Ladies of Leisure xxx

03.03.2013 by Alex

Love reading your blogs too, they are always full of excitement and never a dull moment. You go girls xxxx

04.03.2013 by mum

Awesome reading, love the photos, am missing out on our Viber chats as im now having trouble with my phone, argh, so don't have Viber. hope to be back soon though. until next time, be safe, love you both. xo

17.03.2013 by Jade

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