Monday, March 19, 2012

Mendoza to Santiago Stories

Being able to move on from my party hostel was a nice change of pace yesterday.  I didn't mind the fact that it was a party hostel,  but it did mean that my schedule was very different than everyone elses while there,  and while I was coming,  they were going,  and vice versa.  This led to interesting experiences like being woken up at 1:30am by my bunkmates to discover they were dressing in order to go out.  That worked for me,  I had several good hours of sleep until they showed up again at 5am.  Still,  it was not the most relaxing place to be,  so yesterday I hopped on a bus from Mendoza to Santiago.

And promptly encountered what a friend of mine says is the most beautiful road in the world.  See the photos I posted last night,  and judge for yourself.  (Personally,  I think highway 20 through the north Cascades can hold its own here,  but I don't have many photos of that....yet.)

The bus ride was supposed to be 6 hours,  but with an additional 2 hours spent at the border,  it was really about 8 hours.  Most of the time at the border was spent with the officials searching for food,  Chile is quite strict about agricultural imports.  I had actually written down "yes,  I'm carrying food" with me,  but I think they never noticed, and at any rate,  it was processed,  so I probably was fine anyway.

After arriving in Santiago,  I did a quick hop on the subway (their trains run on rubber tires,  nice!) and then was helped out by a friendly Chilean who walked me to my hostel.  On the bus I had also met two travelers from Sweden,  they did not have accommodations lined up,  so they joined me and have been staying at the hostel as well.

And I have to say,  this is the nicest hostel I've been in so far in my entire 2 months traveling.  It's very large,  airy,  old hardwood floors.  The shared room is really big,  with lots of space to move around,  places to hang clothes,  and a sink in the room.  They have a pool,  several large social areas,  and is the opposite of a party hostel.  It's quiet,  everyone is friendly and relaxed,  and the hostel is located a few blocks away from busy downtown,  far enough that there is very little traffic noise at night.  I love it. 

To finish up,  here are a few more photos of the "zona de curvas,"  the sequence of switchbacks just immediately after crossing over into Chile.

Looking down from the side of the bus at the steep mountainside cliff that the switchbacks are carved into.

Looking sideways at one of the curves as we round the corner.

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