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We arrive in Guatemala City in the early evening by air, it’s a bit extravagant of us to fly – we were planning to take a bus but were less than enthusiastic to spend a whooping 60 hours on a journey by bus - our time is precious and we much prefer spending it relaxing rather than cooped up in a bus now that we’re seriously starting to feel the fatigue after countless long journeys, always on the move from place to place. We managed to book a room at Hostal La Coperacha and an airport pickup while waiting for our flight in San Jose – we had a few hours to kill as our VIP taxi-van arrived early from Montezuma. It feels very luxurious to have everything booked up and arranged for us for once – no stress is a very pleasant feeling. Our taxi driver is waiting for us as we come out but he need to go and pick his car up from the car park so we have to wait outside where we have some crazy woman (probably on crack and various other substances) shouting abuse at the world and some gibberish about government satellites and aliens. We try to just ignore her as she comes up to us but this just make her more determined to shout louder and even more abusing than before. We’re just hoping she won’t attack us with her used needles and probably deadly diseases. Our taxi driver arrives in the nick of time to rescue us from an attack by this crazed babbling woman – we’re out of here. As we get closer to the centre of town we hit crazy traffic – it’s all stand-still as many roads are closed off for the Easter holy week parades. Due to this chaos the journey that is supposed to take 10-15 minutes takes over an hour. It’s quite nice to watch the bustle of the people dressed in their funny purple church outfits as we slowly move through the traffic stand-still in our taxi. When we finally get to the hotel we get a very nice surprise - the room is huge and really nicely decorated and the hostel is in a really nice old building on a quiet road.

[caption id="attachment_2782" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Our budget room at Hostal La Coperacha, Guatemala City. Our budget room at Hostal La Coperacha, Guatemala City.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2783" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Our budget room at Hostal La Coperacha, Guatemala City. Our budget room at Hostal La Coperacha, Guatemala City.[/caption]

Upon arrival we’re absolutely starving and quickly pop out to get something to eat. Because it’s the start of holy week and Sunday not many restaurants will be open, but we head out in good hopes. We don’t get far down the road before we can’t get any further because of the crowd of people still hanging about in the streets after the parade we saw some of from the taxi earlier. The good thing with it still being very busy is that there are many food-stalls around, so our worries about not being able to get food are unfounded. We really like the look of a stall that makes some gorgeous smelling chorizo sandwiches. With my broken Spanish I manage to order one for me without the mayo sauce and one for Hannah with all the trimmings. I’m astonished I manage to do the order without stuttering and even more surprised that the stall-holder understands me on the first try, so I don’t need to repeat myself – I’m getting better at this, whohooo. I even get a compliment on my Spanish from a bystander after he learns I’m Norwegian. Happily fed we walk back towards our hostel (or more correctly – we’re happily stuffing our faces while walking back to the hostel). It’s quite late by now and we’re looking forward to relaxing in our plush room. Our hostel has a really tranquil setting with lots of plants dotted around the place. The manager Lucien, an ex-pat Frenchman, is really nice, and in the morning cooks up a very nice traditional Guatemalan breakfast for us. He also arranges for us the transport to the bus station for our bus to Panajachel on Lake Atilan where we can catch the boat to San Marcos La Laguna.

Before we get our taxi to the bus station we need to get some cash out and head in towards the main square to find an ATM. We’re quite surprised to find there are armed guards everywhere and for everything - how bad is the situation here when they need an armed guard for the truck delivering frozen chicken and the van delivering sausages to the various small shops. We’d seen armed guards by banks and ATMs in other countries but that is sort of expected – armed guards for some frozen chicken is a sign of desperate measures due to desperate people – how poor are people here to resort to robbing a chicken or sausage van?

It’s time for us to take the bus to Panajachel and the taxi takes us to the bus company. From the outside I would never have guessed the place was a bus-station – it’s an anonymous doorway and at first we’re unsure the taxi driver was properly briefed on where we were supposed to be dropped off. He keeps saying something about one o’clock and wait, and something more about a closed office. We get our backpacks out of the car and head into the anonymous doorway hoping this is actually where we’re supposed to be. When we get inside we can breathe a sigh of release as we can see our bus with a Panajachel sign getting a proper overhaul and a good wash. The old bus is positively gleaming as if it was brand new by the time it’s ready for boarding. It’s a so-called chicken bus and in the beginning we’re a bit worried it’s going to be a bit rough and ready. It quickly fills up and we’re happy to see the passengers are a mix of families and business people, and not the crooks our guide was warning us would frequent these busses – maybe we should show our Lonely Planet books the shredder... (under pressure they might start to improve themselves...). The journey is a really fun experience with vendors coming on during the trip selling chicken in tortillas and fruits – and a few things we couldn’t understand what it is of course. Everybody on the bus are wearing big smiles, even though it’s really crammed – we’re practically sitting on top of each other – and the atmosphere is really great.

[caption id="attachment_2788" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Our chicken bus getting a good wash and overhaul before the journey from Guatemala City to Panajachel. Our chicken bus getting a good wash and overhaul before the journey from Guatemala City to Panajachel.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2785" align="aligncenter" width="533"]The bus depot for the chicken bus to Panajachel in Guatemala city. The bus depot for the chicken bus to Panajachel in Guatemala city.[/caption]

We arrive in Panajachel around six and after a bit of walking about find the right pier for the boats towards San Marcos la Laguna. After about a 45 minutes wait for the boat to fill up we’re finally on our way across Lake Atilan.

[caption id="attachment_2787" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Our view from the pier in Panajachel while waiting for our boat to fill up and cross Lake Atilan to reach San Marcos la Laguna. Our view from the pier in Panajachel while waiting for our boat to fill up and cross Lake Atilan to reach San Marcos la Laguna.[/caption]

After a long tiring journey up from Puerto Iguazu we finally arrive in Rio de Janeiro and make our way by taxi to our hotel Poussada Girasol on Copacabana. It's a basic place but we're glad to see it's really clean and the staff is really nice and friendly, unlike what we'd read in many of the Tripadvisor reviews of other hotels in Rio. The guy who checks us in doesn't speak any English but he understands enough to fill in the gaps for when I run out of Spanish vocabulary and then answers back in what Brazilians call Portuñol, a mix of Portuguese and Spanish. We've heard a lot about guided tours of the favelas from other travellers and find a brochure for Favela Tour in the reception and book a tour right away. The guy in reception also recommends a restaurant just around the corner for a traditional Brazilian buffet. We are in two minds about whether to go out for dinner or not but do in the end decide to go out despite being completely bushed after our journey up from Puerto Iguazu. It’s a good thing we do because as soon as we’re sat down in the restaurant we start feeling more energised and less tired. We go for the full wallop buffet which entails unlimited various grilled meats and salads and desserts. There is a buffet table with all sorts of salads, rice, pasta, fruit and cakes and there are waiters that come around with the meats on skewers fresh from the grill and they cut off portions for you. We’re obviously lightweights at this buffet business and after eating more meat than I thought possible we hand in our towels to the big surprise of our servers – it looks like they almost take it as an insult that we don’t want more meat. If I could I would, as it’s really, really tasty stuff with so many varieties of different sausages, plain or salt or garlic infused beef, pork or lamb, also chicken hearts and the likes but we didn't go for that this time around... I don’t know how much time we spend in the restaurant but it is really late by the time we wobble out of there. Even though it’s really late and I'm really tired I'm still not able to sleep so decide to try to catch up a little bit with the blog with the result that I end up only getting a few hours’ worth of sleep before an early start the next day. We have a fully packed program in order to get to see as much of Rio as we can. We only have one full day here and want to make the best of it.

We manage to drag ourselves out of bed fairly early in the morning to start our day of sightseeing. After breakfast we go to have a look at the Sugarloaf Mountain. Initially we plan on taking the bus but as we have to be back again in time for our favela tour we decide on taking a taxi to avoid running out of time. To get to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain we have to take two cable carts which takes us up the about 400 meters to the top. The first cable cart goes swimmingly well – there is no queuing required so we’re on the halfway point in a jiffy. Once there we decide to have a little walk around here before continuing to the top but this turns out to be a bit of a mistake. When we get around to taking the last cable cart up to the top a few bus-loads of tourists have just arrived and the queue is unbelievably long. It takes us an hour and a bit from when we join the queue till we finally get onboard the cart. At the top we get the gorgeous panoramic view of Rio and the harbour – it’s a bit hazy but still a great view and well worth the waiting in line to get up here.  After soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the view with a couple of beers we decide it’s about time to get down. We hope to get some time to have a bite of food before our tour of the favelas but hit more queuing again as we try to get down from the mountain – it’s again a few large tourist groups hogging the cable carts. It looks like we won’t have a chance to get much food before our tour so when we finally get down to the middle level we quickly get some ice cream and pick&mix fruit salad – what a wonderful idea – before getting onto the last cart to take us down to ground level. Again we hail a taxi and go directly to our pick-up spot for our next adventure.

[caption id="attachment_2397" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View from half way up to the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. View from half way up to the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2398" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View from half way up to the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. View from half way up to the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2399" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View from half way up to the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. View from half way up to the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2400" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Half way up to the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. Half way up to the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2401" align="aligncenter" width="533"]View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2402" align="aligncenter" width="533"]On the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. On the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2403" align="aligncenter" width="533"]View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2404" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2405" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2406" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption]

We’re at the pickup spot for our favela tour about 20 minutes early and consider having a drink in the restaurant next door but then our tour-guide also turns up early, so into the van we go to pick up the rest of the people for the tour. Our first stop is a charity called Para Ti, a charity education centre for kids in the Vila Canoas favela, they have a small stall selling handicrafts and paintings and we decide to support this little charity and purchase a small painting and a bracelet. Next we take a quick walk within the narrow lanes within the favela, finishing off with a stop in a tiny “hole-in-the-wall” bar for a Caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail (sugar cane spirit with sugar and lime) it’s very strong and make our bellies all warm and fuzzy. Next stop is the Rocinha Favela – the largest favela in Brazil with a population of about 70000. First we have a walk through the commercial centre of the favela before we head up the hill for a nice panoramic view of Rocinha.  Last stop is along a little strip of street stalls where we can buy some souvenirs to support the local businesses. A few nick-nacks later, and a stop to look at the view, we go back into the van for our return to the pickup point at Copacabana beach.

[caption id="attachment_2407" align="aligncenter" width="533"]The art and craft shop at the Para Ti charity education centre, Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. The art and craft shop at the Para Ti charity education centre, Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2408" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2409" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2410" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2411" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2412" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2413" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2414" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2415" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2416" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2417" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2418" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2419" align="aligncenter" width="533"]The Caipirinha Master, Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. The Caipirinha Master, Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2420" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2421" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2422" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2423" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2424" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2425" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2426" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2427" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2428" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2445" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2429" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2430" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Overview of Rio de Janeiro from the Rocinha favela. Overview of Rio de Janeiro from the Rocinha favela.[/caption]

After the favelas we wanted to go up to the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer towering over Rio de Janeiro but because it’s starting to become a bit late we decide to skip it for this time and instead head to the Escadaria Selarón, a set of stairs covered by tiles from around the world in the neighbourhoods of Santa Teresa and Lapa. But first things first - after all this sightseeing we’re feeling very hungry and before we make our way there we need some food  - we find a small no frills restaurant around the corner and order an enormous plate of late lunch.

[caption id="attachment_2432" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Massive late lunch, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro. Massive late lunch, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2431" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art at Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro. Street art at Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption]

Feeling rather stuffed we then make our way over to the Escadaria Selarón, we again hop into a taxi as our guide doesn’t really explain very well whereabouts it is. Our taxi driver has little knowledge either but he goes to the general area and start asking around – after a few wrong turns we finally reach our destination. The steps are really quite a colourful and interesting mosaic of all kinds of tiles and were an ongoing project by the artist Jorge Selarón until his death on the 10th of January 2013. He called the project a “tribute to the Brazilian people”. After walking down the stairs to the bottom, snapping away as we go we find ourselves a restaurant and sit down for a few beers while watching life going past.  It’s starting to get late and it’s time we get back to the hotel to pack our bags for the silly early start in the morning. We've really enjoyed our time in Rio and are gutted that we already have to leave and decide to put it on our list of places to re-visit.

[caption id="attachment_2433" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro. Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2434" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro. Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2435" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro. Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2436" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro. Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2437" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro. Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2438" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro. Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2439" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro. Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2440" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro. Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2441" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro. Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2444" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro. Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2442" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro. Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2443" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro. Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro.[/caption]

In the Lonely Planet they've dedicated the best part of a whole page with warnings of all the bad things that can happen to you when visiting Rio - why are they continuously trying to scare us about the safety issues everywhere? For the whole of South America the guide has what seems like an endless list of dangers to scare you. It’s good to know of certain safety issues but is it necessary to write it in such a way as to scare people from going around exploring, and making it difficult to relax and enjoy the places. We've found on numerous occasions that when speaking to the local people they can tell us a very different story about the safety than what our guide tries to scare us with. Generally, to be sensible, a bit streetwise and careful and you'll be fine.

At 02:00 our alarm goes off and half awake, half asleep but not feeling much alive. At 3:15 our taxi arrives to take us to the airport. At this time of the night the roads are very empty and our taxi driver takes full advantage of this of course - It’s like he’s on a Formula 1 race track – this of course means we get to the airport in very good time. Our next destination is Lima in Peru – it’s a three hour flight so it's not too bad, but we’ll be bypassing Lima for now and head straight to Nazca by bus,  which is another six hour journey if all goes to plan.

From Mendoza we arrive at the huge Retiro bus station about lunchtime. We’re a couple of hours delayed due to the horrendous traffic we hit as we get into the centre of Buenos Aires. At some stage we pass only a couple of hundred meters from the Elefante Rosa Hostel who we've booked with, but there is of course no way we can get off the bus on a flyover highway even though the bus is stuck in traffic. At first we consider taking a taxi when we arrive at the bus depot but we then decide to see if we can find the closest Metro (Subte) station and figure out how it works. As there is no signage for the Retiro Metro station at the bus station we ask for directions at an information booth and find it without major problems. On the way there we pass through a very bustling and colourful market with many stalls selling various street-food – the cooking-smells are killing us. The metro system is really easy to understand and manoeuvre through, and it’s very cheap to use. Before we know it we’re at the station by our hostel and after a bit confusion of directions, as we surface from underground, we get to the right address. We’re at first a bit confused as we can’t see any signage anywhere, not even on the door, but then we discover a very discrete pink elephant painted on the window above the door – this must be the right place and we test the doorbell. We soon hear footsteps coming down the stair inside and the door is opened by one of the two brothers running the hostel. We get shown the room we've booked and are amazed at what we get for our money. It has a mezzanine where the bed is located and the bathroom is also up on the floor above. The downstairs has a table with chairs and a large sofa-chair. We also have a TV and a small balcony. It's the kind of room you don't particularly want to leave to go out and do sightseeing – we feel like just chilling and enjoying the luxury.

[caption id="attachment_2318" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires. Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2319" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires. Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2368" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires. Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2369" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires. Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2370" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires. Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires.[/caption]

After a little freshen up we decide to go and have a look at a few museums recommended by the hostel, but first it’s about time we got some food in the belly. Our guide recommends a Parrilla (grill) called Parrilla al Carbon so we head over to it not knowing what we had in store... we get served a mountain of various grilled meats – it’s way more than what we can hope to finish so it’s good we didn’t order any sides. Our lunch therefore consists of meat, more meat and even more meat and nothing else but a shared bottle of beer to wash it down with. Completely stuffed we continue our sightseeing adventure, and due to our very heavy lunch we decide to head over to the museums by foot to try and burn off some calories – should have run a marathon rather than a wobbling walk to compensate for our meat feast...  Unfortunately we have some problems finding the museums and as the evening is approaching fast we’re quickly running out of time. We find the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Museum of Fine Art) recommended in our guide and have a look around. It’s a nice gallery/museum and we have to settle with the fact that we won’t have the time to venture further to the Museo de Artes Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires Museum of Latin American Art) and we start heading back towards our hostel, with a few stops on the way to sample some bottles of beer of course.  We get back and get working on our blogs for a bit before an early night – we’re completely bushed.

We don’t have much time to explore Buenos Aires, and it doesn't help that we’re still affected by the jet-lag from our Singapore-Santiago flight – when are we supposed to be back to normal? The jet-lag of course makes it very difficult to get up in the mornings and we lose a lot of time because of this. Luckily the breakfast doesn't have a cut-off point in the hostel which means however late we get up we won’t miss out. On our second day it becomes after mid-day before we finally get out of the hostel and we head into the centre to book up a guided city-tour for the next morning and buy our bus tickets to Puerto Iguazu for the evening. All this takes quita a lot of time as we have difficulties finding the tourist office from where to book our tour, and we also have a bit of trouble finding the right office from where we book the bus tickets - then their card machine doesn't work, so we’re left to search for another company that we can book from which takes even longer... the joys of time-wasting... The rest of the day we use for wandering about the streets of Buenos Aires doing a little bit of essential shopping – my sunglasses are positively falling apart and are partly held together by a bit of sewing thread – very stylish I’ll have you know... We return to our hostel fairly early in the evening – we both feel really tired and blaming the jet-lag, so we have a fairly early night after a bit of packing and lounging in our private “living room” downstairs in our suite – we’re so impressed by this room and try to utilise it as much as we can.

[caption id="attachment_2320" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Torre de Los Ingleses, Buenos Aires. Torre de Los Ingleses, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2321" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Taking the flag down for the night at Plaza de la República, Buenos Aires. Taking the flag down for the night at Plaza de la República, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2322" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Evita (Eva Perón), Buenos Aires. Evita (Eva Perón), Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2323" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Obelisco de Buenos Aires at Plaza de la República, Buenos Aires. Obelisco de Buenos Aires at Plaza de la República, Buenos Aires.[/caption]

It’s our last day in Buenos Aires and we start the day with the half day city-tour we booked the day before. We manage to arrive at our pick-up spot a little late and we can see the van pulling out and disappearing only 20 seconds before we get there – we call the office but they’re not willing to tell the driver to come back for us but instead instruct us to take a taxi to another pick-up point not too far away... reluctantly we hail a cab to catch up with our impatient sightseeing van. The tour is not quite what we had hoped for anyway – the tour starts off with a lot of drive-by sightseeing, and needless to say we’re not impressed by this (especially after the stress with playing catch-up with the van). We decide if it continues like this we’ll jump off at the most interesting part of the tour, the La Boca neighbourhood, and make our own way back. We’re in luck though and the van does stop at some sights later on in the tour - including the La Boca neighbourhood where we actually get a fair amount of time to explore the area. The La Boca neighbourhood is a very poor but colourful part of the city (also the sketchy part of town), traditionally it was the neighbourhood inhabited by the dock workers and its colourfulness is due to the workers using the leftovers from the painting of the boats. The neighbourhood is now home to many artists, which is reflected in many murals and lots of street art, and there is also a handicraft market in the most touristic part, and with heavy police presence around this touristic centre it's now completely safe to walk around. Most of the other sights on the tour went by in a flash, so I don't have too vivid memory of them. Boca was one of the main reasons for taking the tour anyway, so although a little disappointed we at least got to see the main attraction.

[caption id="attachment_2324" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art, Buenos Aires. Street art, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2325" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires. Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2326" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires. Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2327" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Casa Rosada (The Pink House) by Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires. Casa Rosada (The Pink House) by Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2328" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Estadio Alberto j. Armando, the La Boca Football Stadium "La Bombonera" (The Chocolate Box) in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Estadio Alberto j. Armando, the La Boca Football Stadium "La Bombonera" (The Chocolate Box) in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2329" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2330" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Estadio Alberto j. Armando, the La Boca Football Stadium "La Bombonera" (The Chocolate Box) in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Estadio Alberto j. Armando, the La Boca Football Stadium "La Bombonera" (The Chocolate Box) in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2331" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2332" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2333" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2334" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2335" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2336" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2337" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2338" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2339" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2340" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2341" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2342" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2343" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2344" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2345" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2346" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2347" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2348" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street art in the La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. Street art in the La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2349" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2350" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2351" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2352" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2353" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2354" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2355" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2356" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2371" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2358" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2359" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2360" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2361" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2362" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2363" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Sculptures of Diego Maradona, Evita (Eva Perón) and Juan Perón on a terrace in the La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. Sculptures of Diego Maradona, Evita (Eva Perón) and Juan Perón on a terrace in the La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2364" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2365" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Buenos Aires. Street Art, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2366" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Buenos Aires. Street Art, Buenos Aires.[/caption]

In the evening we go to collect our bags at our hostel and head over to the Retiro bus station for our 19 hour bus journey to Puerto Iguazu. Everyone we've met during our travels who’s been to South America has been raving about it and so does our guide – we’re quite excited to go there on our way to Brazil and Rio de Janeiro.

While waiting in our hostel Luna Sonrisa in Valparaiso for our late evening bus to Mendoza we do a bit of research of places to stay once we get there. As per normal we end up enquiring with quite a few hostels and guest houses but only two hostels come back to us, and only one with a positive answer. As luck would have it it's our preferred choice Hostel Macando that has a room for us - result! It's nice to know where we were going once there so we can relax on the bus and not having to worry about going door-to-door when arriving early in the morning before opening hours.

The bus journey is supposed to take eight hours and they manage to only be delayed by about half an hour so that's not bad. It was probably because the border crossing took half an eternity. But apart from the long wait outside in the cold at the border for the slowest passport control known to man the journey was very comfortable. The bus is really spacious and you can almost stretch out as if in a bed if you don't mind squashing the person behind you. We're both trying to be a bit respectful and only take our seats back maximum half way but this is not the case for the people in front of us - we always seem to be seated behind some inconsiderable bast*%#s... At first a bit annoyed we are still able to relax and get some sleep after a bit of silent cursing.

Upon arrival we get approached by an old American ex-pat at the bus station who gives us tips about safety, and warns us that people would be clocking tourists who are looking at maps, in their guide or looking like they're lost and then targeting them for snatching their bags or pick pocketing them. He seems very convinced that it's very dangerous for tourists in Mendoza, but we find the streets feel very safe upon arrival and even though it's 06:30 and the streets are deserted we decide to walk to the hostel which takes about half an hour. The hostel is easy to locate and after waking up the poor tired night watch we're luckily enough to be able to dump ourselves and our bags in the room straight away - it's a four bunk dorm room which shares bathroom with another similar room, but we get the room as a private room and as nobody is occupying the other room we effectively have a private bathroom.

We doze off for a bit longer than planned and only get out of the hostel about 15:00 for a bit of exploring. First a late breakfast is needed and we find a rather posh looking cafe just down the road from the hostel called Tea & Company. It's a really relaxing place and we feel a little bit out of place as the rest of the customers look like business people and are smartly dressed as opposed to us in shorts and sandals. After a lovely scrambled egg and ham with toast and a lovely fruit salad accompanied by a huge pot of tea we head up to the central square called Plaza Independicia and find a bar there for a few beers and some simple but excellent food. Time flies fast and we find it's getting a bit late. As our hostel has a nice kitchen we decide to go shopping for some ingredients for the next day's dinner, after which we toddle back to our hostel for the night.

[caption id="attachment_2282" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art in Mendoza. Street art in Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2283" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street art in Mendoza. Street art in Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2284" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art in Mendoza. Street art in Mendoza.[/caption]

The next day we take it slow and vegetate in the morning before deciding to book a wine-tasting tour for the afternoon. It's one of the cheaper tours, but it's actually really good - it was recommended by our hostel and they book it up for us as well. We first visit an olive oil and dried fruit producer called PasRai where we get to learn about the process of the extraction of the oil from the olives. Afterwards we get to taste some of their products of course - my favourite is the sundried tomatoes in olive oil. After PasRai we hop back onto the bus and have a good laugh when we discover the name of the tour company to be Wanka Turismo... We then drive to the Cavas de Don Arturo vineyards for a guided tour of their production facilities and we learn how they produce their wine in a completely natural way, not adding any sugar or chemicals to speed up the processes. After the tour it’s of course time for a little bit of tasting of the goods and I have to say I really liked it very much and am gutted we don't have the opportunity to bring any wine with us home. Our guide on the tour is very good and full of witty remarks, mostly about the various effect of drinking too much wine of course – they're obviously used to deal with drunken people.

[caption id="attachment_2285" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hostel Macondo, Mendoza. Hostel Macondo, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2286" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hostel Macondo, Mendoza. Hostel Macondo, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2287" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hostel Macondo, Mendoza. Hostel Macondo, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2288" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hostel Macondo, Mendoza. Hostel Macondo, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2289" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hostel Macondo, Mendoza. Hostel Macondo, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2290" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Visit to PasRai, makers of olive oil and dried fruits, Mendoza. Visit to PasRai, makers of olive oil and dried fruits, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2291" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Visit to PasRai, makers of olive oil and dried fruits, Mendoza. Visit to PasRai, makers of olive oil and dried fruits, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2292" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Visit to PasRai, makers of olive oil and dried fruits, Mendoza. Visit to PasRai, makers of olive oil and dried fruits, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2293" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Visit to PasRai, makers of olive oil and dried fruits, Mendoza. Visit to PasRai, makers of olive oil and dried fruits, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2294" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Visit to PasRai, makers of olive oil and dried fruits, Mendoza. Visit to PasRai, makers of olive oil and dried fruits, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2295" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Visit to PasRai, makers of olive oil and dried fruits, Mendoza. Visit to PasRai, makers of olive oil and dried fruits, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2296" align="aligncenter" width="545"]We had a good laugh when we discovered the name of our travel company for our Mendoza wine tour. We had a good laugh when we discovered the name of our travel company for our Mendoza wine tour.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2297" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Cavas de Don Arturo, Mendoza. Cavas de Don Arturo, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2298" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Cavas de Don Arturo, Mendoza. Cavas de Don Arturo, Mendoza.[/caption]

After the wine-tasting at Cavas de Don Arturo we head over to another winery called Florio where they specialise in sweet and sparkling wines. Much of the process is the same as at Cavas de Don Arturo, but there are a few added steps – it’s still an all natural process and the tasting session is very much enjoyable. I normally don't like sweet wines so much but have to say I was impressed with the wines we were presented with.

[caption id="attachment_2299" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Florio, Mendoza. Florio, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2300" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Florio, Mendoza. Florio, Mendoza.[/caption]

It’s the end of the tour after our tasting at Florio and the bus heads back to Mendoza centre. We find it odd that the bus passes close to our hostel but does not go to drop us off – rather it starts to move further and further away from the area we’re staying in. I start to get a bit concerned and get my Google maps up on my phone and start tracking our movements. It confirms our fears, we’re moving further and further away from where our hostel is situated. Suddenly we get the signal from our driver and the guide that it’s our stop, but being about six-seven kilometres from our place we start protesting as they try to get us off the bus, convinced this is our street. After a lot of back and forth and repeatedly showing them on Google maps that we're at the wrong side of town they finally realise they've made a mistake. They let us stay on the bus and drive back all the way through the centre of town to drop us off. We arrive back at our Hostel a bit late due to this misunderstanding and are absolutely starving by this time – good thing we'd gone shopping for some ingredients for dinner the night before and we quickly dish up a lovely little meal.

[caption id="attachment_2301" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hostel Macondo, Mendoza. Hostel Macondo, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2302" align="aligncenter" width="545"]A nice self-cookrd dinner at Hostel Macondo, Mendoza. A nice self-cookrd dinner at Hostel Macondo, Mendoza.[/caption]

Last day and we have a wait till the evening before our bus to Buenos Aires. We take a walk into the centre again to buy our bus tickets and have a look around. We were hoping to do a little bit of shopping but are disappointed to find nothing but pharmacies and restaurants open because of the siesta. After a bit to eat we walk back to our hostel and start researching a place to stay in Buenos Aires while waiting for our departure.

[caption id="attachment_2303" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street art in Mendoza. Street art in Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2304" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art in Mendoza. Street art in Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2305" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art in Mendoza. Street art in Mendoza.[/caption]

We arrive in Valparaiso in the early evening by a very comfortable bus from Santiago - it's only a two and a half hour journey which for us feels like blink of an eye compared to some of our journeys so far. We take a taxi from the bus depot and head for our hostel Luna Sonrisa - we'd emailed them in the morning and were in luck that they had a room free for us. The lady that greeted us was very helpful and gave us lot's of information about the city and what there is to see, and also in what parts of the city it's not a good idea to wander.... There are many warnings in our guide about pickpockets and muggings in Valparaiso so we're on our guard anyway, but by the sound of the hostel lady it's not as bad as our guide wants us to think. One of the places suggested to us is the "Bar de Pisco" not far from our hostel so we start out with this one on our first outing. We try the "Berries & Menta" and one called "15 de Mayo" both very nice. After our quick pit-stop we continue on to try to find a restaurant. After a lot of walking about we finally decide on a little restaurant called Totobistro where we have some lovely tortellinis - it has an interesting concept to its menu where you choose your filling and sauce to make up your own dish.

[caption id="attachment_2168" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Bar de Pisco, Valparaiso. Bar de Pisco, Valparaiso.[/caption]

We again have a fairly early night - probably still jet-lagged from the Singapore - Santiago journey... This of course means that we wake early the next morning to an absolutely gorgeous breakfast spread at the hostel. On the table is fresh fruit, cheese and home-made breads and jams, I've got problems stopping and of course end up overeating, resulting in complete bloatedness... Teach me a lesson you would have thought, but the next morning I do the exact same... The breakfast spread is just too good.

After breakfast we head out to find the famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda's house - which is now a nice little museum - perched high up in the hills overlooking the city. One of the reasons Pablo picked this house was that he could see the whole of Valparaiso from this place. The house has a very quaint and interesting interior and collection of furniture and art, and much of it has a nice little story around it.

The walk up to the house is also quite nice and all along the route there is more street art than you can digest - I'm sure there was a lot of great work that we didn't notice because of it being overshadowed by other and bigger great works, or the fact we're going a bit blind after a while. After visiting Neruda's house we walk down towards the Open Air Gallery of street art. It's difficult to distinguish where the "normal" street art ends and the gallery begins but there are some placards next to the "official" works.

[caption id="attachment_2169" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2170" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2171" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2172" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2173" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2174" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2175" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2176" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2177" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2166" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2178" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2179" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2180" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2181" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2182" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2183" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2184" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2185" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2186" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2187" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2188" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2189" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2190" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View from Pablo Neruda's balcony in Valparaiso. View from Pablo Neruda's balcony in Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2191" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2192" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2193" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Cafe Sello Verde, Valparaiso. Cafe Sello Verde, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2194" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Lovely lunch at Cafe Sello Verde, Valparaiso. Lovely lunch at Cafe Sello Verde, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2195" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2196" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2197" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2198" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Valparaiso. Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2199" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2200" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2201" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2202" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2203" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Valparaiso. Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2204" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Valparaiso. Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2205" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso. Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2206" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso. Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2207" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso. Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2208" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso. Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso.[/caption]

Valparaiso.

[caption id="attachment_2209" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso. Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2210" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso. Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2211" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso. Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2212" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso. Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2213" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso. Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2214" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso. Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2215" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso. Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2216" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso. Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2217" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso. Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2218" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2219" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2220" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption]

The architecture in Valparaiso is very interesting with buildings almost stacked on top of each other clinging to the steep hills - some look like they're only temporary shacks but you can see they've been there for a long, long time already. The houses and shacks are painted in all sorts of bright colours and all together it looks a bit like it could all have been designed by Pablo Picasso. Everywhere there are small handicraft shops lining the streets - some just consisting of a couple of objects displayed in someone's hallway and some more established galleries and whole houses shared between a collaboration of artists. It's a very colourful place which makes it difficult to put the camera down, something that attracts the attention of the locals who keep warning me to be careful with the camera as there apparently are a lot of "snatchers" about. Although we didn't have any problems at all, Valparaiso has a problem with petty crime - mostly pickpockets, so we're always a little bit on our guard and look around before getting the camera out of the bag - the problem is that as soon as you put the camera back into the bag you have to take it out almost immediately as you spot something else to photograph.

After visiting Pablo Neruda’s house and the Open Air Gallery we head down to the harbour and jump on one of the many boats offering a harbour sightseeing tour. It’s fairly cheap and quite interesting, although we can’t understand much of what the guide says as it’s all in Spanish and he talks quite fast as well as the sound of the motor makes it hard to hear... Still it’s nice to get a different view of the city and see the busy dock in action.

[caption id="attachment_2221" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Harbour sightseeing in the busy Valparaiso docks. Harbour sightseeing in the busy Valparaiso docks.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2222" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Harbour sightseeing in the busy Valparaiso docks. Harbour sightseeing in the busy Valparaiso docks.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2223" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Harbour sightseeing in the busy Valparaiso docks. Harbour sightseeing in the busy Valparaiso docks.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2224" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Harbour sightseeing in the busy Valparaiso docks. Harbour sightseeing in the busy Valparaiso docks.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2225" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Harbour sightseeing in the busy Valparaiso docks. Harbour sightseeing in the busy Valparaiso docks.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2226" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Harbour sightseeing in the busy Valparaiso docks. Harbour sightseeing in the busy Valparaiso docks.[/caption]

As it's getting towards the evening we're starting to feel the hunger creeping up on us, even me who ate a mountain of bread and fruit for breakfast. We decide on a local restaurant down on the more modern part of town - this place specialises on one of the national specialities called Chorrillana. We almost have an heart attack as they bring in a mountain of chips topped with another mountain of fried strips of beef, and to top it off a cholesterol laden thick blanket of melted cheese... if you ever plan on going to Chile, make sure you bring a massive appetite.

On our last day we have a bus booked for Mendoza, Argentina late in the evening. Our hostel is kind enough to let us come and go as we want during the day after we’d checked out. We’re even allowed to use the showers to freshen up before we head out. We go out for a wander and to get some food – on our arrival we’d been recommended by the lady at the hostel a restaurant called Allegretto and after walking about for some time looking for a place to have lunch we decide to head there to test it out. It’s a really nice place with an Italian menu and we order some pizza, which turned out to be very good indeed. All content we go back to our hostel for a bit of research of a place to stay in Mendoza and to get a little bit of blogging done. Before we know it it’s time to leave for the bus, and luckily just before we head off we get a reply from one of the hostels we’d emailed saying they’ve got a room reserved for us. The bus to Mendoza is an eight hour journey and again we get a very comfortable bus so it feels much shorter a journey – the only hassle is the border-crossing into Argentina which is very slow and we’re left out in the cold for what seems like ages.

[caption id="attachment_2227" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2228" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2229" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2230" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2231" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2232" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2233" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2234" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2235" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2236" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2237" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2238" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2239" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Valparaiso. Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2240" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2241" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2242" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Valparaiso. Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2243" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View of the Valparaiso Harbour. View of the Valparaiso Harbour.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2244" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2245" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2246" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2247" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2248" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Valparaiso. Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2249" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2250" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2251" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2252" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2253" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2254" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2255" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2256" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2257" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2258" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2259" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2260" align="aligncenter" width="533"]"Hearts for sale" Valparaiso. "Hearts for sale" Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2261" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Valparaiso. Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2262" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2263" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Pizza at Allegretto, Valparaiso. Pizza at Allegretto, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2264" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Piece of cake at Allegretto, Valparaiso. Piece of cake at Allegretto, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2265" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2266" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2267" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2268" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in the making, Valparaiso. Street Art in the making, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2269" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption]

The journey to Santiago, Chile started in the evening at Changi Airport in Singapore and took in all about 30 hours with a few hours break in Sydney, Australia. On our flight into Sydney we got a brilliant view of Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House. Would have been nice to spend some time here but it'll have to be saved for a future trip. At Sydney airport we have to do some research on Tripadvisor for a place to stay - we'd emailed some guest houses before departing from Singapore but all came back to us saying they were unfortunately fully booked. One guest house suggested we should contact Hostal Casa Condell so together with a few more places we sent a few enquiries. We didn't get any replies by the time we boarded the 12 1/2 hour flight from Sydney, and with no free Wi-Fi in the airport in Santiago we couldn't check whether or not we had any replies - we decide to head for Casa Condell and see what happens. They had good reviews on Tripadvisor and had the most reasonable prices of the places we'd researched. As it turned out we had a few replies, also from our chosen guest house, and we were in luck that they had a room free. Casa Condell is a really really lovely family house that's recently been opened as a Bed & Breakfast. A lovely family runs the place, and although there were difficulties with the language - as my Spanish is so rusty it's almost completely disintegrated - we managed to somehow be understood and Adriana and Tatiana looked well after us. After a bit of freshening up we thought we'd have a nap and go out to find some food in the evening. Our plans went to pots as we slightly overslept... We went for a nap at about 14:00 and woke up 07:00 the morning after... I only managed to get one or two hours sleep during our journey from Singapore - it had been about 48 hours since we got up in the morning before our evening flight - so I needed a bit of a kip I suppose. It's a shame though losing a day of our stay in Santiago, but what can you do?

Still groggy from our "short nap" we venture out to explore a little bit of Santiago. First stop is the statue of the Immaculate Conception on the top of San Cristobal Hill overlooking the whole of the city. The old lift is unfortunately broken but there is a free shuttle-bus that takes us up the hill - it's a steep climb so we're happy we don't have to walk. It seems a lot of people have this route as part of their fitness routine, and all along the way we se people running, cycling and walking up towards the top. Finally on the top we find many sweaty people catching their breath, and we feel slightly bad for being lazy and out of shape...

[caption id="attachment_2120" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Santiago Street Art. Santiago Street Art.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2122" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Santiago Street Art. Santiago Street Art.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2123" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Santiago Street Art. Santiago Street Art.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2124" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Santiago Street Art. Santiago Street Art.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2125" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Santiago Street Art. Santiago Street Art.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2126" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Santiago Street Art. Santiago Street Art.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2127" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Santiago Street Art. Santiago Street Art.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2128" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Santiago Street Art. Santiago Street Art.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2129" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View of Santiago City from the top of Cerro San Cristóbal (San Cristóbal Hill). View of Santiago City from the top of Cerro San Cristóbal (San Cristóbal Hill).[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2130" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View of Santiago City from the top of Cerro San Cristóbal (San Cristóbal Hill). View of Santiago City from the top of Cerro San Cristóbal (San Cristóbal Hill).[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2131" align="aligncenter" width="533"]A statue of Pope John Paul II at the sanctuary dedicated to the Immaculate Conception on the top of Cerro San Cristóbal (San Cristóbal Hill). A statue of Pope John Paul II at the sanctuary dedicated to the Immaculate Conception on the top of Cerro San Cristóbal (San Cristóbal Hill).[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2132" align="aligncenter" width="508"]Statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the sanctuary dedicated to the Immaculate Conception on the top of Cerro San Cristóbal (San Cristóbal Hill). Statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the sanctuary dedicated to the Immaculate Conception on the top of Cerro San Cristóbal (San Cristóbal Hill).[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2133" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Prayer Candles at the sanctuary dedicated to the Immaculate Conception on the top of Cerro San Cristóbal (San Cristóbal Hill). Prayer Candles at the sanctuary dedicated to the Immaculate Conception on the top of Cerro San Cristóbal (San Cristóbal Hill).[/caption]

There are a couple of nice handcraft shops at the top, and Hannah spots a couple of things she'd like to purchase. She asks me to enquire how many Pestos it costs... I try to explain it's Chilean Pesos and not Chilli and Pesto which is the accepted currency in this country.

After a quick look at the statue and the view of Santiago we head back down to town to find a place for lunch and to visit some museums. We find a little local restaurant where they seem to have reasonably cheap food and order from the menu of the day - we can't believe our eyes when they bring the food out - the portions are absolutely gigantic and we have big problems finishing it off. It's really tasty, so we definitely picked the right place to eat.

To our surprise and disappointment all the galleries we'd planned to have a look at, save one, are all closed for refurbishment. It ends up with a lot of walking in the heat of the sun and not much but busy streets to be seen. The sun here seems much stronger than what we're used to and it makes us tired really quickly. When we finally find the Museo Historico Nacional open we're so glad to get inside sheltered from the burning sun. It's a small Museum so it's fairly quick and easy to look around and it's got a nice courtyard where you can sit down and relax afterwards.

[caption id="attachment_2134" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Santiago Street Art. Santiago Street Art.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2135" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Santiago Street Art. Santiago Street Art.[/caption]

After the museum we start to move towards our lovely guest house but do a detour to look for the Artisan market. It's not very big, and it looks quite expensive so it's a quick browse. The setting is in an old Romanesque mansion next to the Santa Lucía Hill, so I decide to have a climb up to the top of the hill to look at the view, whilst Hannah takes the sensible option of relaxing on a bench in the shade of the trees. The climb takes the breath out of me quite quickly but I'm rewarded with a nice view at the top.

[caption id="attachment_2136" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Santa Lucía Hill, Santiago. Santa Lucía Hill, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2137" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Santa Lucía Hill, Santiago. Santa Lucía Hill, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2138" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Santa Lucía Hill, Santiago. Santa Lucía Hill, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2139" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Santa Lucía Hill, Santiago. Santa Lucía Hill, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2140" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View from the top of Santa Lucía Hill, Santiago. View from the top of Santa Lucía Hill, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2141" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View from the top of Santa Lucía Hill, Santiago. View from the top of Santa Lucía Hill, Santiago.[/caption]

After my decent we head for the closest Metro station but get distracted by a market on the other side of the road from the Artisan one. We find this market much more interesting and actually do a little bit of shopping, but not as much as we would have liked to - it again boils down to the fact we have no space in our backpacks... Afterwards we abandon the idea of taking the Metro and do the healthy option of walking back to the guest house.

[caption id="attachment_2142" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Santiago. Santiago.[/caption]

Finally back we decide to have a rest before going out for dinner and again end up never going out but taking an very early night and sleeping till the morning - must be the jet-lag from our journey from Singapore...

Next morning we gather our stuff together for checking out, and after breakfast have a look at places to stay at our next destination Valparaiso. We find a few alternatives and send off some messages to inquire about rooms. We leave our bags at the guest house and head over to the bus station to buy tickets for the late afternoon. From there we have a wander over to Barrio Brazil, apparently an up-and-coming area of Santiago. It's quite a colourful neighbourhood with lots of street art and many cafes and bars scattered around its main square. Not much time to explore the neighbourhood properly we have a coffee and a few beers before it's time to go over to the guest house to pick up our luggage. At the guest house we have the pleasure of meeting the son of the house Max. He speaks very good English so we have a nice long chat with him before we depart for the bus station. The journey to Valparaiso is just over two hours and the bus is quite comfortable and leaves dead on time - something we're not used to after the relaxed air of Southeast Asia where they make sure no one is left behind before taking off.

[caption id="attachment_2143" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2144" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2145" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2146" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2147" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2148" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2149" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2150" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2151" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2152" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2153" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2154" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2155" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2156" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2158" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2157" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption]

Our time in Vietnam was sadly over all too soon and we catch a flight from Hanoi to Singapore for our connecting flights via Sydney, Australia to Chile. We fly with a budget airline called Tiger Airways and find the flight quite pleasant. On arrival we catch the metro from the Singapore's Changi Airport down towards the centre. It's pure luxury with very clear instructions everywhere, the metro is very simply laid out so it's a breeze to get around.

We didn't have much time to research where to stay in Singapore, but had a couple of hostels in mind. At our first choice they are full, and it wouldn't suit us anyway as they only have dorms. The guy in the reception is very good and calls up another hostel called The Hive for us where they have private rooms, and they’re not too expensive (relatively speaking that is - compared to the guest houses and hostels we've stayed in so far on our trip it’s ridiculously expensive). We're in luck and they have one spare private twin available for us, but only for one night. We reserve it and head over there straight away. It's an OK room for being a hostel - we even have a balcony - but they could have had more showers and toilets, the queuing is ridiculous in the morning. Also, although the staff is friendly enough they're lazy and work-shy and more interested in surfing the internet than doing their job. For the next two nights we move down the road to another hostel called Green Kiwi Backpackers. It's a bit more expensive but the staff is very attentive and helpful, and they do everything with a smile on their faces.

We don't do too much sightseeing in Singapore but we do a little self guided walking tour of downtown and Chinatown, and afterwards visit the Haw Par Villa gardens by the family that invented Tiger Balm. It's an old theme park with lots of mythical creatures and dioramas of mythical and religious stories. It's a great quaint attraction and there is a lot to see. By the dioramas there is an explanation of the story which is great for us who don't necessarily know of this folklore and religion. Some are unfortunately unreadable due to the erosion by the weather over the years.

[caption id="attachment_2069" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Singapore. Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2067" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View of the Marina Bay Sands from Merlion Park in Singapore. View of the Marina Bay Sands from Merlion Park in Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2070" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Singapore. Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2071" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Burning of incense in Chinatown, Singapore. Burning of incense in Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2072" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Chinatown, Singapore. Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2073" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Thian Hock Keng Temple (Temple of Heavenly Happiness; also: Tianfu Gong Temple) in Chinatown, Singapore. Thian Hock Keng Temple (Temple of Heavenly Happiness; also: Tianfu Gong Temple) in Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2074" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Thian Hock Keng Temple (Temple of Heavenly Happiness; also: Tianfu Gong Temple) in Chinatown, Singapore. Thian Hock Keng Temple (Temple of Heavenly Happiness; also: Tianfu Gong Temple) in Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2075" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Thian Hock Keng Temple (Temple of Heavenly Happiness; also: Tianfu Gong Temple) in Chinatown, Singapore. Thian Hock Keng Temple (Temple of Heavenly Happiness; also: Tianfu Gong Temple) in Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2076" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Thian Hock Keng Temple (Temple of Heavenly Happiness; also: Tianfu Gong Temple) in Chinatown, Singapore. Thian Hock Keng Temple (Temple of Heavenly Happiness; also: Tianfu Gong Temple) in Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2077" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2078" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2113" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2079" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2080" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2081" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2082" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2083" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2084" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Salvador Dali was here, Singapore. Salvador Dali was here, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2085" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2086" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2087" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2088" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2089" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2090" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2091" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2092" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2093" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2094" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2095" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2096" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2097" align="aligncenter" width="533"]It's been a while since last time I used any Konica film... Haw Par Villa, Singapore. It's been a while since last time I used any Konica film... Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2098" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2099" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2100" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2101" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2102" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2103" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2104" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2105" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2106" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2107" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption]

While in Hue in Vietnam I had the unpleasant surprise of one of my fillings falling out and Singapore was the first place where it was feasible for me to visit a dentist, so soon after arrival I managed to book an appointment with the clinic DentalWorkz. It was fairly close to where we were staying and it was highly recommended on the website www.whatclinic.com. Doctor Abdul Rashid was very good and the staff at the clinic was excellent. It turns out he has his degree from London and used to live not far from where I used to live when I first moved to London - small world.

On the last day we have a few hours to kill before we head to the airport. We decide to go to Little India to do a little bit of shopping and have some food before taking a taxi to the airport. From Singapore we fly to Santiago, Chile via Sydney, so ahead of us awaits a 30 hour journey which we’re not particularly looking forward to.

[caption id="attachment_2108" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Fish market in Little India, Singapore. Fish market in Little India, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2109" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Singapore. Singapore.[/caption]