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City of Santiago de Chile and the long way to Vienna

Was up at 7 (also I was up long), had breakfast, packed my bags finally for the trip home and did check out at 8:30 (as checkout time in the hotel was noon but at that time I would be on city tour). Left my luggage in the hotel, at least the told me I could use their infrastructure (WiFi, toilet,…) till my pickup in the afternoon. And I found out in the morning that the flight was now as expected at 7:45pm, so I rebooked taxi for 4:45.
City tour was with a big bus, only 4 people attending (including me), guide did it in two languages, for three people in Spanish, for me in English.
Passed the main river,

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Then stopped and went up Santa Lucia hill, formerly used by the Spanish as an fortress. Some nice views from there over the city.

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Next stop was plaza Del armes (main square)which is currently under rebuilding with as always the cathedral (it was even allowed to take pictures inside)

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From there we went to the presential palace, on the square are also several institutional buildings (central bank, treasury, foreighn affairs,…)

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Trip ended with driving through neighborhoods were the wealthy live (also the district where my hotel was was one of them). Learned that Santiago has 39 districts and every one has his own mayor, so you 39 mayors in Santiago.
Was back at the hotel around 1, checked my emails and went out again. Had seen the biggest mall of Chile during our trip, close to my hotel, as I didn’t know what to do I went there. Nothing special, 5 floors with every brand store you can imagine, wandered around and were back at the hotel around 3:15. Took my book and waited for pickup.
Taxi was already there at 4:40, took us 25 minutes to the airport (I thought at rush hour you would need more time, the highway to the airport was nonetheless empty).
Did check in, learned that the flight will be full (first time with a dreamliner, Boeing 787, for me), asked for an aisle seat in the middle row, received a boarding pass with row 17c (what indicates the aisle seat on the left row, meaning you have to get up whenever one of the two beside you wants to get out). Was still hoping that the flight will work, learned the same day from one of the German guys that they could not start on Friday (technical issues), had to spend another night in a hotel in Santiago and could only fly the day after. Boarded the plane in time, first impression of the dreamliner was that it looked smaller than the older planes. As expected had the aisle seat on the left row, but unexpected was that only the window seat was occupied, place in the middle was empty (only 2 places in economy stayed empty). So was on the one hand lucky, on the other hand there was a baby in the middle row behind me that cried the whole night… So had a not so relaxing night (also I slept for 5 or 6 hours). Landed in time at 1:15 in Madrid (flight duration 12:20), had to wait to disembark as one of the passangers had a medical problem and the doctors had to take care about him first. Took another 15 minutes but finally I stepped on European ground again after a month in south america.
In Madrid I had to wait till 3:15 for boarding of my flight to vienna. Went out of the airport for a cigarette, at 2:45 back in. Had to pass security again, here they took my water bottle away (1,6 liter, had it the whole trip since Santiago), that’s a special pity as I already knew from my trip to madrid that Iberia is offering nothing for free during the flight (water is 2 euro). I am currently in the plane to vienna,  till now it looks like we are on schedule.
Continued:
Arrived in time in vienna (18:45), I am back 🙂
Waited a long time for my luggage (at least it arrived otherwise I would have had a problem as I lost my boarding card with the luggage ticket), tax authorities stopped me on my way out (I assume due to the fact that they saw I am coming from south america due to to sticker on my luggage), had nothing with me so he was convinced after talking to me for two minutes (he even didn’t screen the luggage with the machine) and let me pass.
Taxi driver was already waiting outside, was happily home around 7:45.
That’s it from my one month south america (Peru/Bolivia/Chile) trip 🙂

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The day after – going back to santiago

After the interesting night I woke up at 8. Everything was calm, went to the front desk to ask what had happened. They told me all what happened were 50centimeter waves that showed up on the shoreline. My hotel manager even told me he did not evacuate as hangs roa (the town) is on the westside of the island, as the earthquake occurred to the east what should happen.. So I spent my last morning reading at bright sunshine, weather was nicer than before, it really looked like a tropical paradise. Was picked up at 11:30 for the airport, was there 10 minutes later (because we stopped at 2 other hotels). We were the first transport arriving (flight was scheduled for 14:05, there is exactly one flight per day), were told that LAN airlines wants to have the passengers at least 2 hours prior to departure on the airport.. At least check in went quick, after us long queues pilled up (as the plane is quite big and only 2 check in counters available).

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Waited for departure, open space close to the plane, finally boarded the aircraft.

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This time plane was completely full, had an interesting seat right to the toilet, so it was difficult to get some rest. Flight lasted around 4:30 hours, landed in Santiago around 8:30 (again two hour time shift, closing in to Europe again). Took a taxi, this time it was 19.000 (last time with another company 20.000), was in the hotel around 9. Asked for a city tour, offered me one for 19.000 (around 35$) starting at 8:55, signed up for it and went to my room. Booked also my transport to the airport for the next day, was a little confused as the airport website was showing my flight at 8:45pm (normally it should be 7:45), booked the taxi for 5:45 and went to bed. And I do not why, but for the first time in the last month I had problems falling asleep, last time I looked at my alarm it was already 12:30am…

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A lazy day on an island with a dramatic ending

Was up again at 6 (I am unfortunately an early bird also sunrise is here after 8) and again it was raining. Had the whole day off (only the second time in the last month, the other day was the last day in Cusco). Had extensive breakfast as I planned to skip lunch due to the fact that I am not doing that much the whole day.
Did a little reading, was advised by the reception to walk past the cemetery to see a moai with his eyes still in (all others were without their coral eyes). Walked there around 11 after rain had ended. Didn’t find the cemetery but the moai (was only strange that he was sitting on a steel construction and looking sideways, thought it was rebuild for the tourists).

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Came back and told her that I found it, girl told me that was the wrong thing, would have had to go a little further. Planned it for my walk before dinner.
Had a nice sleep in the afternoon, lasted 3 hours, at least I get some rest during my holidays 🙂
Repacked my whole luggage afterwards (I am going home in 2 days) and went out again around 6. This time I found the moai and some others.

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Went back to town for dinner, this time choosing a restaurant at the sea they told me is high priced. But it was the last evening and I wanted to have good fish. Restaurant was even lower priced than the one I had on the first evening. Had tuna steak with a sauce out of cream, onions, zucchini and mushrooms. Was delicious, one of the best tunas I ever had.

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Came home shortly after 8, enjoyed sunset on my terrace around 8:30 and was at my last beer around 9:10 as suddenly I heard sirens starting. Even with my earphones in and listening to the music you couldn’t overhear the sounds. Put my earphones out and waited. Sirens went on, telephone in my room started to ring. Went in, it was my travel agency calling. They informed me that there was a strong earthquake some miles in front of the chilenian coast and there is a tsunami warning out. But I should stay calm as my hotel is somehow on higher ground but the coastline will be evacuated (to the church, on the right side of my hotel). Its a strange feeling, being on a small island in the middle of the sea, hearing the police shouting tsunami warnings, feeling safe but not so really safe, wanting to leave the island the next day (that was my schedule) but not knowing if this will be possible. As I couldn’t do anything I went to bed. Took me some time to fall to sleep (as it was loud around our hotel, people came with their cars, pets, valuables up the hill, police was giving instructions, …) but I managed to do so. Woke up again around 3, everything was calm this time so I went on sleeping, hoping nothing serious has happened.

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The bird man

Was up at 7, had the morning off as I only had a half days tour in the afternoon. It was raing heavily, had lazy breakfast and did some reading on the terrace (America by tc Boyle). Around 10 rain ended, went to the main street around 12, bought some necessary stuff (water and cigarettes) and had an empanada at a small street shop (tuna and cheese, quite good and reasonable price, 3000). Had pickup for my afternoon tour at 2:30, we went to see a ceremonial village. It was on the crater of an old vulcano, the rapa nui did there the annual bird man contest. Each of the twelve tribes on the island sent their best men to compete. They had to climb down to the water 300 meters, swim to the island, catch the first egg laid by the birds there (the birds were only coming once a year, so sometimes they had to wait on the island some time till the birds arrived and started to lay eggs) and bring it back to the ceremonial village. The winner would rule the island for the next year.

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Did a lot of photo stops on the volcano before driving further. Next stop was a female Moai (the only one on the island), only the torso remains, her two heads are missing. She was used to dry death bodies on her heads, interesting habit…. As you could see more or less a stone no picture
Last stop was for the man eater cave. The rapa nui committed to the first European that they were eating other humans, but only as a strong retention if somebody caused them deep pain…. The cave had also some bird drawings in it, guides told us it is dangerous to go in, I think they were only to lazy to climb down and up again.

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Came back around 6, took a shower and went for dinner around 6:45. As the burgers were that good the night before I decided to go there again and try another one. Again it was delicious, this time I also added French fries (without knowing that French fries nearly costed the same as the burger), was again delicious (and had a burger with a nice view as you see)

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Were home around 8, started to rain again around 8:30, had two (or three) beers on my terrace while listening to my mp3 songs and went to bed around 10.

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The secrets of the easter island

Had a long sleep, was nevertheless up at 6 due to the two hour time shift. And the thing here is that sunrise is somewhat after 8, so at 6 its like middle of the night (breakfast also starts from 8).
At 9:30 I was scheduled for a full day trip around the island. Bus came shortly after that, learned that I was still lucky as I was the second one to be picked up, afterwards we went to around 10 other hotels and all had pick up time 9:30.. (Truly speaking they say on the ticket pickup from 9:30 on….)
We went first to the shore to see some moais laying with their face in the sand. Here we learned that all moais were pulled down, nobody knows why but the first people visiting the island in 1720 have still seen them standing, at the next expedition in 1770 they were already laying in the sand. The moais were erected on graves (atu), always facing inland. They were brought there without eyes, once standing on their final place eyes out of corals were inserted. They should have that much power that if somebody would touch them he would die and they were looking at the village to protect it. Could be a reason why they were pulled down, as the first Europeans came they touched them and didn’t die, instead some of the locals died because they were shot by the Europeans (and therefore maybe the locals didn’t believe in the power of the moais anymore)

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Next stop was at a sight where the Japanese restored 15 moais, meaning you could see them standing upright.

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As you might notice I played a little bit with the brightness of the camera as it was overcast the whole day and it was not so easy to get good pictures with that light.
Drove further, now we saw the “workshop”, the hill where they craved out the moais. They did it like in Egypt, using harder stones to crave out the softer volcanic basalt stones.

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Had lunch afterwards before we went to see the “navel of the world”, a stone said to be brought by the first king and that irritates compas needles (“navel of the world” is a common term on this trip, I already learned that Cusco was the navel of the world according to the Mayas)

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Last stop of the trip was the only real sand beach on this island (on all other locations you have either sand beaches 3 by 2 meters or large rocks), again with reerected moais.

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Took the opportunity to go swimming (also it was cloudy and very windy we have 26 degree, water is 24 degree). Only 3 out of 19 people in the bus went into the water, I had to do so (who can say he was swimming on easter islands?)
Bus dropped me at my hotel (again first) at around 5:30.
Took a shower and went to town around 6:30, this time eating near the soccer field (excellent burger, reasonable price, will come back here). Found a better (cheaper) supermarket, bought a six pack beer for 4000 (around 6 euros for small cans, that’s already cheap here), went home and had two beers on my terrace before I went to bed (and was happy that I didn’t come home late as it started raining heavily around 8:15)

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Going to a remote island

Day started early again (this is really a trip for early birds), alarm went on at 6, had to take the taxi to the airport at 7. Transfer to the airport was “only” 18.000 pesos, learned at the hotel its cheaper because they do not have to pay parking fees. Arrived at 7:30, dropped my luggage off (did already check in the day before at calama airport) and had a cigarette in front of the airport. German couple showed up around 7:50. Told them which row to take for drop off, went through security. There they had big signs telling no liquids and no lighters, had a 2 liter bottle of water in hand, 1 liter in the rucksack, 1 lighter in the rucksack and one in the pocket of my hoodie. Passed security without a problem… Chatted a little bit inside with the Germans till boarding time. Plane took of at 9:15, was half empty, had two seats on the right side for myself, thanks a lot! Flight lasted for 5 hours and 30 minutes, arrived around 12:45 at easter island (again 2 hour timeshift, this time opposite direction, till now I was closing in to vienna time with each new country, starting with 6 hours in Peru, 5 in Bolivia, 4 in Chile and now back to 6). Easter island is really remote, 3600 kilometers from Chilean coast and 4000 from Palau.

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Were greeted with lots of flowers as you see 🙂 temperature here is around 26 degree, but humidity is rather high (what a contrast to the completely dry last weeks).
Arrived in my hotel after 10 minutes (also we dropped another couple off first, distances are not that big here), took a shower and had a first walk out to the town. Main street is about 5 minutes from my hotel, saw the first moai directly on the sea.

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Walked home, had a short nap and walked back to eat something around 6:30. Had terrible fish for astronomical prices (14.000 pesos, around 20 euros for grilled fish that came raw, had to send it back, on the second try it was OK), came back around 7:45, still no sunset. Sunset was at around 8:15, watched it from my terrace and went to bed quite early at around 9 (but considering the two hour time shift it was already 11 for me)

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Santiago de Chile

As we were flying to Santiago today we had to get up early again. Bus was scheduled for 6, alarm went on at 5:15, with the time shift it felt even for me like in the middle of the night. We were driven to calama, one hour from San pedro, the next airport. Arrived around 7, airport was a construction site, had to carry our luggage 5 minutes to the entrance, did check in, it was fu** cold. Thought that if we pass security it would be heated inside, wrong guess, it was as cold inside as it was outside … Had to wait till 8:45 for boarding, everybody was happy to get out of the cold and into the plane.
Flight lasted for 2 hours, arrived in hot Santiago around 11:15. As here the ways of the group splitted (only the German couple and I are going to easter island, the rest was scheduled for a city tour and flying back to Europe in the evening) we said goodbye to each other. I must admit that against my fears how it would be together with a group of people for such a long time (I travelled alone most of the time the last years) it was really nice with those people!
On the airport I followed the lonely planet advice and went to the desk for the flat rated taxis. Taxi was 20.000 (nearly 30 euro, hotel advised me not to pay more than 23.000 so it was OK).
So before I forget it: it is the first time since 3 weeks that I am on sea level. I notice it especially when I smoke, had very light cigarettes the last days (kent silver) and were still coughing a lot, here I bought Marlboro light, it is like breathing air. Let’s see how long the altitude training lasts….
Arrived at the hotel (that I did not book but was exchanged by the travel agency against my will) at 12:15, there they told me check in time is 3pm (travel agency told me 2pm) and no rooms are available sooner. Left at least my luggage there and wandered around the main street of the district (providencia). Not so much to tell, could be a city even in Europe, lots of shops, cafes, skyscrapers, new cars, fancy people.

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Had lunch at burger king, as always they do not understand a single word English (but talked to me in Spanish the whole time also they understood that I can not follow a single word). Went back to the hotel around 2:30, at least the concierge saw that I was now completely sweated (it was around 30 degrees, I was still wearing my hoodie from the morning) and gave me a room. Went up, took a shower and had a short nap till 5. Complained that the WiFi is not working, they told me they will reset it. Went out for a beer and a burger in a local restaurant, came back at 7:30, still no WiFi (also they told me they resented it). Took the concierge with me to the backyard (where the same WiFi connection as in my room was available and where it was allowed to smoke) and showed him that it is not working. Now he asked again and found out that the router is in my hotel room (so they didn’t reset it….) Went up with me, did the reset and it was working. Went to bed around 10, trying to get some sleep before the next days flight.