Helen and Paul World Tour 2005/06 travel blog

We arrived in Santiago unscathed but only just! The devil had sent his child on the flight with us again oh joy of joys, so no sleep during the 11-hour flight.

As we arrived into Santiago we could see the mighty Andes because Santiago is actually only a few kilometres away from the highest mountain range in the world and clearly visible from the city.

During the decent into Santiago the pilot accidentally flicked the 'speak to all passengers' switch whilst shouting "PULL UP, PULL UP"! We were close to crashing into one of the Andes Mountains because he was flying too low. Other than that the landing went smoothly.

Negotiated our way through customs and decided to shun a taxi driver who offered to take us to a hotel because we thought it was a scam and hopped on the Turbus instead. We hadn't booked anywhere to stay so asked to go to a hostel in an area called Barrio Brazil, which is very bohemian because of all the universities that surround the area. However the hostel was fully booked so we went a block down to the hotel Acros - the same hotel that the taxi driver was going to take us to, so maybe it wasn't a scam.

None of the staff at the hostel spoke English so throughout the stay we pulled together Spanish phrases. They understood our Spanish when we asked for things but we could never understand their replies as they spoke far too fast for us so they mimed most of their answers. We got by with our little Spanish even in the local bars and restaurants. Sometimes what we thought we ordered was different from what it actually turned out to be, like the mixed grill Paul ordered was actually a kebab. A meal with wine was costing us £15 and a litre bottle of beer in a bar for £2 so a lot cheaper than OZ and NZ.

Had a walk around the city, which has a strong European and US feel to it with fast food joints, cafes and skyscrapers that dwarf all the colonial buildings. Also has a very obvious state of orderliness apparently due to the hardworking attitude of the Chileans - but we think it's due to the police carrying guns and large rounds of ammo! Lots of businessmen walk the streets with very shiny shoes because of all the shoeshine boys. There are also loads of dogs roaming about Santiago, they sprawl out in whatever shady spot they come to first even if it is in the middle of the street.

Managed to book ourselves onto a coach to Mendoza in Argentina for £11 each could have cost a lot more because we left our passports behind with the booking agent while we went to the cash machine, muppets! Thankfully they didn't sell them on whilst we were away.

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