We spent late morning and early afternoon touring Buenos Aries and I must say it is probably the most beautiful and cosmopolitan city we have visited in South America to date. We decided to opt for the subway today rather than Uber and it worked out great. Still feeling pretty crappy but hopefully the new med's will start to kick in! It's been a long 4 weeks!!
This morning we bused it from Valparaiso to Santiago. Tomorrow we fly to Buenos Aries at 7:30 am. So far underwhelmed with this trip! Chile grossly overvalued, VERY EXPENSIVE!!
Santiago, just another large city with big city issues. Not a whole lot to see but it was a stopping point on the way to Valparaiso, another huge disappointment. We had to take a 2 hour bus ride to get there and you have to return to Santiago to go anywhere. I will say no more but ad some pictures which will probably look a lot more interesting than the experience itself!
Okay, its been 3 weeks and I have been feeling pretty crappy. My altitude sickness has turned into pneumonia. I think this would have to be my 10th bout of pneumonia and every time gets worse.
I think the main difference with our South American Adventure is that we are restricted to bus routes which take you to the main centres. All our other trips we rented a vehicle which gave us a lot more flexibility to discover some amazing hidden gems as opposed to the large centres with the big city issues they bring. Having said that, the smaller villages we have driven through look pretty shabby and I doubt we would want to spend any time there. All in all, it is not what we expected and although we try to remain positive, my health and the physical drain of getting up at the wee hours to take a taxi to the main bus terminal is taking its toll. In my opinion, there are a lot of tourist traps that to me are lot about nothing, expensive, crowded, poorly organized and just not my thing. Tomorrow we are off to Santiago and then on to Valparaiso to end our Chilean leg of the trip.
Chile is expensive. Compared to Peru, you are paying double to triple for virtually everything and it is definitely not worth it in my opinion. Once again, the people are amazing, friendly, obliging and extremely welcoming but the country aint my Shtick!
So I am going to let Leslie write this blog as my state of health is likely tainting my view of South America. Here you go Leslie...
I enjoyed San Pedro de Atacama for what it was...small, dusty, adobe village in the middle of the desert...so when the wind blew you closed your eyes for all the sand. We arranged a tour to visit the Valley of the Moon, which is made primarily of salt covered in sand. The salt formations change all the time due to wind, rain and general erosion. It truly looks like you have landed on the moon. There are large sand dunes interspersed among the salt formations making for a very unique landscape. It was hot, dry & dusty, but a place you won't see anywhere else. Don't worry about booking a tour before you arrive in San Pedro as the streets are full of tour offices and restaurants...you won't have any problem getting to any of the places in the desert you want to visit.
You notice a difference immediately after crossing the border from Peru to Chile. Chile appears to be a much more prosperous country but they manage to disguise there ghettos a little better. The beach areas are quite nice with a whole different clientele but off the beaten track, you see the extreme poverty, similar to Peru.
I have not been feeling great the last 2 weeks and not sure whether it is altitude related or something I ate. I was convinced to go to the hospital yesterrday and for those of us that like to complain about the Canadian Medical System, me included, try coming to Chile. This is when you realize you are still in a 3rd world country. The one and only hospital looks more like a Wal-Mart Auto Centre, not very clean. We arrived at 8 am, nobody spoke English and the place was so chaotic you never knew what was happening. Finally after 3 hours waiting, I went to speak with one of the staff and she said we had hours to wait. Fed up and frustrated, I told Leslie we were leaving when I heard my name called. We entered this little room where a nurse and I assume a doctor were sitting awaiting our arrival. The nurse looked at us with a puzzled look on her face asking why we were here. She indicated the medical system was terrible and the hospital was the worst place to come. She informed us there were two private clinics that we should consider and we would be looked after within minutes. We took her advice and jumped into a cab. Night & day! We arrived at the clinic and were immediately greeted by professional looking staff who hustled us into a waiting room, took our credit card of course and started the process. Long story short, the process was quick and efficient and I am now waiting for some test results.
Now on to better things...not sure what to make of Chile yet but we have decided we will not have time to do Patagonia. Therefore, we will head south to Santiago and then east toward Buenos Aires.
It's becoming a pattern in South America, saving the best for last.. We have covered Ecuador, Peru and have recently entered Chile. Arequipa, Peru was a memorable stay for us and fitting it was our last destination in Peru. The city has so much to offer, especially in the way of history. We spent an entire day tourring the historic centre and were thoroughly impressed.
Thank you the people of Peru for being so good to us!
Puno is just another typical Peruvian city, kept alive by the existence of this beautiful lake. Our day started at 6 am with a great breakie at the hotel and a cab ride to the port to catch our boat for the 8 hour day. I must tell you that the vendors selling tours at the docks appear to be a littly shadey and that was confirmed this morning when we arrived at the request time and meeting point. The 3 amigos that were drilling us to purchase yesterday didnt even know us. They escorted us to some TUB which I immediately stated...NO WAY! I think they sensed by disapproval and anger and within a few minutes, one of the amigos reappeared and escorted us to a very nice boat, by local standards. All the being said, we ended up having a spectacular day, meeting people from Colombia, France & a few locals. This tour would rank among the top so far.
Another gruelling overnight bus trip. I am beginning to think we may be getting a little too old for this type of travel. I will confirm on December 20 when we're on our way home. Riding the bus is not really my shtick!
Cusco is a wonderful city and we have enjoyed our time there in both occasions.
It was a very early start this morning when the alarm clock sounded at 4:30 am. We dragged our buts out of bed, cleaned up and made our way to the train station, approximately a 15 minute walk. It was light and quite warm that time of day.
First of all, I want to start by letting anyone interested in visiting Machu Picchu what the cost is or at least what we paid for two. There are any number of options you can take but we chose the route of least resistance which was a little more expensive and all in Canadian Funds $CDN. For months we tried searching the net for going to Machu Picchu on our own without a tour but that appeared very difficult. You can save some money by hiking the 5-6 hour trek from Ollantaytambo to Aquas Calientes saving the train ticket and then hiking the grueling trail from Aquas to Machu Picchu. Thanks but no thanks!
1. Cab from Cusco to Ollantaytambo (return) approximate 2 hours.............. $90.00
2. Bus tickets on Peru Rail from Ollantaytambo to Aquas Calientes........... $320.00
3. Machu Picchu Tickets........................................................................ $126.00
4. Bus from Aquas Calientes to Machu Picchu......................................... $68.00
Grand Total............................................................................................ $604.00
Now I want to warn you that nothing about this adventure is cheap or simple. First of all, you have to purchase your tickets for everything except the cab/bus ride in advance. Peru Rail can be purchased on line but you have to visit their ticket office where ever to pickup printed tickets, so factor in another cab fare which I did not include just in case you like walking, like us. If you don't like standing in line like me, this may not be your gig! Is the price of admission worth the experience?? For me, NO! I should have just posted pictures from Lorne & Mildred's & Scotty's recent visit and saved myself $604 bucks! CAN YOU SAY RIP OFF!!
When we got there, there were thousands milling around being tacky tourists and taking ridiculous selfie photos, many being rude of course thinking they own the mountain. This is typical of most tourist traps! Not to mention it started raining the moment we arrived and continued through most of the day. This I have to blame Mother Nature!
Okay so having "slightly" trashed this sacred location that is visited by 1000's on a daily basis, it is truly spectacular. I am convinced that if you take this venue out of the Peruvian economy, it would be devastating. What is the first thing people think of when you mention Peru....Machu Picchu. So my opinion will mean diddly squat in the big picture and Machu Picchu will continue to draw millions of tourists!
I have always been a straight shooter and a go getter. Many have said Leslie must be a saint to have put up with me for over 40 years. We have been business partners since the day we got married and each played an intrigal roll in our business success. There is nothing more important to us than our Family & Friends. Our love of people and travel has allowed us to develop amazing friendships around the world.
"The New Gineration"
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