Wonderful Santiago – South America Part 5

 

Flying over Santiago.

Hola friends and welcome back to the final part of my South American adventure!

Our last part of this wonderful adventure was spent in Santiago, Chile. We decided to spend two nights in Santiago before flying back home. I have to admit I was a bit sad to be at this point, we had been having a fantastic time and I did not want it to end.

We flew from Cusco via a quick stopover in Lima and finally arrived in Santiago. The views flying into Santiago were amazing, the city is surrounded by beautiful snow capped Andes mountains. The scenery flying over the city was incredible.

We arrived at our hotel by early evening, it was a beautiful boutique hotel in the Lastarria suburb. After we checked in we went out and wandered the streets and explored the area. We found a great place to grab dinner, José Ramón. It had plenty of craft beers on tap, delicious food and pisco sour of course!

The streets in Santiago at night were electric, people were out and about, friendly, happy and doing salsa in the streets. It just seemed so alive, I love this city!

The next day was a pretty wet and cold day, but we only had that day before we flew home. We were determined to see what Santiago had to offer!

View from the top of Cerro San Cristóbal summit, Santiago.

We hit the streets and walked up to Cerro San Cristóbal summit. The hike up was around 300 m. The summit offers beautiful views of the city and has a huge statue of the Virgin Mary at the top. Unfortunately for us it was pretty foggy and there was a lot of low cloud over the city, so the view was limited but it was still worth the hike up.

After the hike up we caught the funicular down and found a lovely spot in the suburb of Bellavista to warm up with delicious coffees and hot chocolates, accompanied by outdoor gas heaters.

Next stop was to the Gran Torre Santiago tower aka Sky Costanera. We caught the train to the Mall where the Gran Torre Santiago tower is. On the train we were treated to local buskers playing on the train. One man was really going for it, beat boxing with a microphone and another pair where playing with a violin and guitar. This was all happening in the one carriage, thankfully it was quite long.

The Gran Torre Santiago tower is part of huge mall, we explored a little bit of it, grabbed a bite to eat and then headed up to the tower. Up the top of the tower we were the only people up there apart from a couple of staff members. The staff were welcoming and very informative. The views weren’t the best with the low cloud but we could still see a bit and it was actually really nice being the only tourists at a popular tourist attraction for once. We enjoyed a good hour up the top of the tower and found that while we were up there the cloud had lifted a bit.

Next stop was to have a look around a few popular attractions. We headed to the areas of Paris Y Londres and Bellas Atres and found these popular sights; La moneda palace, Museo Historico Nacional, Plaza de armas and the Mercado Tirso de Molina market.

La moneda palace, Santiago.

Even though the weather hadn’t been the best day for exploring Santiago, we had had a great time seeing the city.  From all that exploring we had worked up an appetite and headed off to get some dinner. We found an amazing seafood restaurant in Bellavista where they had some of the biggest mussels I’ve seen. Ceviche is a must and was super delicious.

Back at the hotel, we heard the bike brigade ridding through the streets, cheering and ringing their bells. I wish I knew what they were celebrating.

At around 3:15 am local time, we were hit by an 5.4 magnitude earthquake, depth 80 km. It was the first one we had ever properly experienced and thankfully all was ok. Being in bed was probably the safest place to be during that time. I could hear people yelling out from the apartments around us. The shaking didn’t last too long probably only 40 seconds. After all that excitement it was back to sleep.

The next morning was our departure day (tear). We had a few hours before we needed to head off to the airport, so we had enough time to do some last minute exploring.

We had a lovely walk around Baquedano Square and down through Parque Forestal, past the Museo de Arte Contemporaneoand to Castillo Hidalgo. After that it was time to leave beautiful Santiago.

Parque Forestal, Santiago.

I loved exploring the suburbs of Santiago, they have a bohemian vibe and have a European feel to them. They say Buenos Aires is the Europe of South America, but I felt that it truly is Santiago.

I have to admit, I was close to tears getting on that plane and leaving beautiful Santiago. During the flight home I perked up a bit when we started to see spectacular views flying over Chile and then over the edge of Antarctica! AMAZING!!!

Santiago you were a real treat, I didn’t expect you to be so vibrant and full of life. The restaurant scene was fantastic and the food did not disappoint. You were so friendly and welcoming, I loved the way we finished this trip off with you! Much love Santiago, I hope to be back!

That’s a wrap of my South American adventure friends, I hope you enjoyed and most of all, I hope this has inspired you to go check out some of these beautiful places! They truly are amazing!

Adiós my friends, it’s time to bring on the next adventure!

 

Lennae xxx

 

Hiking up the Cerro San Cristóbal summit, Santiago.
Virgin Mary up Cerro San Cristóbal summit, Santiago.
Gran Torre Santiago tower aka Sky Costanera in the clouds.
Up the Gran Torre Santiago tower aka Sky Costanera.
Gran Torre Santiago tower aka Sky Costanera out of the cloud.
Flying over Antarctica.

Beautiful Bolivia! – South America Part 3

Laguna Colorada, Bolivia.

Hola my friends and welcome back to part three of my South American adventure.

This part of the journey was spent in beautiful Bolivia and what a beauty it was! I have to admit I didn’t know what to expect of Bolivia, so this part of the trip turned out to be a huge highlight and an amazing experience.

Our journey to Bolivia started when we reached Hito Cajon (Chilean/Bolivian) border crossing up in the Andes by a small bus. Once we had gotten through the border crossing (which is literately a small shack at the altitude of 4480 m) we were greeted by our friendly local drivers and ventured out on a 3 day desert crossing in 4×4’s to Salar de Uyuni.

The 3 days we spent out in the desert heading to Salar de Uyuni were mind blowing. The scenery was so beautiful and the local people we met in the rural communities were so kind and welcoming. On day one of the desert crossing we came across the Green Lagoon, Dali Desert, White Lagoon and Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve. We spent the night in Quetena Chico, a rural town where the temperature dropped to minus 16 degrees.

Flamingos at Cañapa Lagoon, Bolivia.

The next day was spent seeing Laguna Colorada (Red lagoon), the Siloli desert, Arbol de Piedra (Stone tree), Laguna Hedionda (Stinky lake) and Cañapa Lagoon where we were treated to a picnic provided by our wonderful drivers. Flamingos made an appearance and we were treated to seeing Volcano Ollagüe, which was smoking!

That evening we stayed at the Jukil Community Lodge, which is a small village that G adventures and the non-profit Planterra support. We were lucky enough to arrive while the locals were at the beginning of a 3 day and night celebration. We were welcomed and invited to join in the celebrations with traditional dancing around the fire. Celebrations continued into the night down at the local hall, with fireworks and a band playing all night and well into the following day.

Just before sunrise the following morning we hiked up the hill behind the village to view the the sunrise over the Salar de Uyuni Salt Lake flats.  It was a beautiful sight to see, the Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt lake flats at 10,582 square kilometres.  Watching the sun rise over it was a beautiful experience.

After being farewelled with more traditional dancing around the fire and partying locals we headed into the salt flats. First stop was Incahuasi (Fish Island), then a stop in the middle of the salt lake flats to embrace the beauty of it all and of course take over a million photos!

Credit G Adventures.

After spending a good length of time in awe of the salt flats it was time make our way to Uyuni town. A couple of pit stops first at the first salt hotel, Cochani museum (salt museum) and the train cemetery before farewelling our wonderful drivers.

After spending 3 days out in the desert without hot water, it was nice to get to Uyuni town and have hot showers. We spent the night in Uyuni town and then headed off to Potosí for a couple of nights.

Potosí is the worlds highest town sitting at 4060 meters. After being at altitude over the last few days in the desert we were well adjusted.  However Potosí is  on a hill, so when walking around the town, checking out the market and enjoying too much delicious food, it made walking up the hills a challenging work out.

Potosí is a mining town and it was recommended to me to do a mining tour to get a proper experience of the town and to see the conditions that the locals work in. Before visiting the mine, we stopped off at the miners markets to provide the miner’s with gifts. Cocoa leaves, drinks or food staples were recommended. Silver is the main product that is mined in the town, the conditions that the miners work in are not the greatest and they only get paid for what they find. It was quite an eye opener, we were lucky enough to see a couple of miners in action with a drill and heard a few explosions with dynamite.

La Recoleta Hill, Sucre.

Next stop was to Sucre, Surce is a beautiful city set from the Spanish colonial. The buildings and streets are beautiful, it is enjoyable walking around the city admiring it all. It is also one of the capital cities in Bolivia, the other capital being La Paz. For the best views of Surce we went to La Recoleta. The walk up to La Recoleta is lovely, and there are museums and a look out at the top. As this was only part way up the mountain we decided to keep walking up to the top where we found an even more spectacular look out point. We were up there around sunset and the view was amazing!

Sucre has a lot of delicious food options so we headed down to the fresh food markets in Mercado Central.  The fresh juices down there are amazing, served up by the friendly local ladies. I certainly made the most of them! The range of fresh food was fantastic, exotic foods I hadn’t seen before. If you could imagine it, they had it.

We were also lucky enough to have a salsa lesson in one of the restaurants we ate out at. It was so much fun and I think we manged to master a few steps!

After a lovely and relaxing time in Sucre it was time to overnight bus it to La Paz. The bus was so comfortable with reclining chairs, blankets, pillows and a toilet that was usable. After a speedy overnight ride from Sucre to La Paz listening to old rap and dance music throughout the night, we arrived into La Paz earlier than expected.

Death Road, Bolivia.

Getting into La Paz early was quite good, after a huge breakfast we were able to spend the morning on a walking tour and learning about the city. A couple of highlights of the tour were visiting the witches markets and learning about the El penal de San Pedro prison. The following day was spent bike riding DEATH ROAD!!!!!

Death Road was a fun and amazing experience, an experience that I will never forget! First you start off riding on the actual road, with actual cars! This freaked me out a bit as, we had only been in La paz for just over a day and their driving was crazy! Thankfully I survived that part and the next part was on actual death road! 50 k’s of riding, the scenery was beautiful, you were in the rain forest, at altitude, riding on death road and I survived without any bails!!!

La Paz was our last destination with our tour group G adventures, after a lot of goodbyes and a final farewell dinner we jumped onto a Bolivia hop bus to take us to our next destination, Lake Titicaca, Copacabana.

Copacabana is a relaxing little tourist town right on Lake Titicaca. We spent a lovely 2 days there enjoying a few hikes, hanging out with the local dog squad, eating lots of trout (their speciality) and delicious food and spent a day out at Isla del Sol.  Isla del Sol, is a Bolivian island in Lake Titicaca with Inca ruins.

This lovely little destination was a great place to unwind and prepare us for your next destination!  Bolivia you were filled of beauty and I loved what you had in store for us! I have taken away some wonderful memories and some incredible experiences!

Peru, you’re up next!!!

 

Lennae xxx

 

Lake Titicaca, Copacabana, Bolivia.

 

llamas.

 

In the Salt Lake Flats with our driver Ronaldo.

 

Death Road, Bolivia.

 

Death Road, Bolivia.

South Coast Getaway

Culburra Beach
Culburra Beach

Over the Christmas holiday break, I was fortunate enough to spend some lovely time on the South Coast of NSW, in a small coastal town called Culburra beach. Culburra is located 18 km to the East of Nowra, in the Shoalhaven area or for all you Sydney-siders or those of you that aren’t very familiar with Australia it is 182 km’s south of Sydney.

Fortunately for us we travelled down a few days before Christmas and when we arrived we felt like we had the entire place to ourselves. The beaches were practically deserted, the streets were empty and all you could hear were birds  chirping and the ocean waves gently crashing. The supermarket and cafes were fairly empty, even come Christmas Eve. We left a few days after Christmas and that’s when Culburra started to experience the migration of Sydney-siders invading this secluded piece of paradise.

We shared this beautiful place with some of our family, including my in-laws from New Zealand. It was lovely to share this beautiful part of the world with them. We enjoyed many walks along the beach and in the national parks. We are very spoilt for choice with beaches and national parks to explore.  On one of our walks, the Abrahams Bosom track in Currarong we came across a snake just chilling in the middle of the walking track. Thankfully, a couple of people had just walked past Mr Snake and helped him peacefully make his own way back off the track.

We ventured down to the surrounding coastal towns including Currarong, Orient point and down to Jervis bay. We shopped in Huskisson and the other local shopping hubs including Berry and Nowra. Visited Hyam’s beach which has claimed to have the whitest sand in the world (according to the guinness book of records). It also has another claim to fame for all you Kim Kardashian fans, she did a photo shoot there when she visited Australia a few years ago.

During our stay down the coast we also got to witness the famous Sydney to Hobart yacht race. Binoculars were needed of course and I have to confess we were only able to see one boat, the rest were too far out to sea.

Overall it was a lovely getaway filled with new and happy memories.

Have you been on a getaway currently? I would love to hear about!

I’ll love and leave you with a few happy snaps!

Lennae xxx

Looking over Hyam's beach.
Looking over Hyam’s beach.
Merimbula wreck, Currarong.
Merimbula wreck, Currarong.
Honeysuckle beach, Currarong.
Honeysuckle beach, Currarong.

 

Fam Bam!
Fam Bam!
Snow enjoying Culburra Beach.
Snow enjoying Culburra Beach.

 

 

Catmosphere Sydney Cat Cafe

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

If you know me a little, then you will definitely know I’m a bit of a crazy cat lady! When I mentioned to my husband that I was keen to visit the Catmosphere Sydney cat cafe, he was less than excited about joining me. Fair enough I suppose, a cat cafe does seem a little excessive.

Lucky for me my Mother in law was over and keen to try out the experience. My pal living in Sydney is more crazy cat lady than me, which meant she was more than keen to come along as well. Sorted!

The only problem I would encounter would be Mr Barry my actual cat. He wouldn’t be on speaking terms with me afterwards.

Anyway I had been waiting a while for this experience to happen and cat day had approached. Decision of the day was do I or don’t I wear my cat t-shirt? I went with no cat t-shirt, I did’t want to scare the cats.

To visit the cat cafe it costs $20, this includes coffee and to be able to hang out for an hour with the cats. We got our coffee (in my case chai latte) as we walked in the door from the friendly staff. I might add that the chai latte was delicious. Once we all got our drinks it was upstairs into the cat room. A total of 19 adult cats were spread out and hidden within the room, some nice and some not so nice.

When you first get into the room it is completely decked out with a space cat theme. The sound of spending an hour sitting around with cats seems a little long, although once you get mingling with your coffee and the cats the hour goes very fast. I don’t think I saw all of them, as some were off sleeping in their little cubby holes.

I find cats to be relaxing creatures, there’s something soothing about patting a cat. Even the sleeping cats give a relaxed vibe.

My party members and I enjoyed our cat cafe experience. I came home with a war wound from one of the grumpy cats, I’m sure Mr Barry was laughing on the inside…..

Overall it was a fun and enjoyable experience. There are cat cafes all around the world now, have you visited any of them? Which one and how was your experience? I would love hear all about it!

Much love

Lennae xxx

Boss cat.
Boss cat.
More sleeping.....
More sleeping…..
Cat sanctuary.
Cat sanctuary.
More sleeping....
More sleeping….
Play time!
Play time!
End result.
End result.
Outside the Sydney cat cafe.
Outside the Sydney cat cafe.