The best ones first:
- The Altiplano region in the North: We had a guide with a 4W car for our own for four days who drove us through the brilliant landscape, prepared picnics for us while we were taking thousands of photos, took us to more or less confident and hygienic looking thermal baths, showed us alpacas, lamas, salt lakes, wonderful mountains, flamingos, volcanos, old adobe villages with wonderful churches and lots of more things. We spent a night in one of these villages and there they only have electricity from until . As they told us that it would be -10 degrees during the night and the floor in our room was exactly the same as the one outside (simple stones), Markus became so nervous about freezing to death that he forced me to put on long underwear and a jeans, two pullovers, a scarf and gloves only to wake me up in the middle of the night by jumping out of bed and screaming that it was far to warm for him to sleep like that (as I told him before! and I was glad that I was finally ‘allowed’ to get rid of the scarf and the gloves).
- Food and drinks: Chocolate cakes, bread, tons of sweets and chocolate, freshly made natural juices, quinoa … And I discovered a new favourite breakfast food: Fresh fruit with oat flakes and yogurt! Yes, I had to travel to the other end of the world to make this ‘innovative’ discovery. I vaguely knew that there was a breakfast thing like that before
but I was 100% sure that I don’t like oat flakes – even without ever tasting them! Chile walks Long beach
- getting to know
and the poet Pavlo Neruda and his fantastic Valparaiso
- Chocolate capital Bariloche in
with wonderful Patagonian wooden houses and a really nice national park around it Argentina
- The astonishing old national library in
- passing my time travelling and having a really good time with Markus
- That Chileans use energy saving bulbs everywhere and that they have power sockets everywhere. At first I wondered about a woman crawling on the floor next to me while we were making a telephone call at the airport but then I saw it: Naturally: she had just removed a tile on the floor to find a power socket underneath and charge her mobile phone!
- Brilliant flowers and trees! And giant shells!
- friendly people, very good hostels, well-protected national parks (well-protected includes ‘not to put up to many signs for bloody tourists to find the trails’)
- that it was so easy to rent a car: we didn’t need the international driver’s licence (as all guide books told us) and they didn’t even want to have a look at my German one, NOR at the car when we brought it back!
And now the worst ones:
- When they stole Markus’ bag with ALLl his personal belongings and I (who see a potential murderer/thief in everybody I meet) didn’t even realize that the senile looking old grandpa wasn’t just a senile looking old grandpa but a bad man who was trying (and succeeded) to distract us by coming close to my and talking stupid things while his accomplice was taking Markus’ bag – just like they always tell you in the guide books: Be aware at bus stations and when people try to distract you! But at least I was prepared for everything afterwards as I had all the necessary photo copies and phone numbers handy, charged my mobile phone (which was of course empty) at a conveniently located power socket just next to us, gave report of all the things in his bag at the police station. And this was the first time Markus had ALL valuable things in one bag because he felt a bit sick in the bus before and that’s why he took off his money belt … But everything worked out fine more or less and we managed to get the most important documents (passport, flight tickets, Chilean entrance card) within one full morning in Santiago.
- stray dogs: everywhere and as I feared and hated them more than anybody else on the street I was able to catch the attention of every bloody dog we met as nobody else was making panic movements like me or looking nervously over their shoulders. The dogs though thought that I was an extremely interesting person and that I had probably lots of food for them and would surely take them home. Once a dog even waited for us in front of a restaurant into which we literally escaped as I was totally freaked out and almost couldn’t restrain myself from a) starting to run and scream; b) suffering from a heart attack Markus tried to make autogenic training with me “You are very calm. You don’t look back. You walk calmly and you always look in front of you. You always look in front of you and you never look back.” – it worked out – just until the dog reappeared next to me …
- The fact that many many Chileans think that leaving your garbage on the beach, next to the highway, behind bushes IS an option to get rid of, let’s say 20x 1l bottles of beer or the left-overs of a big family dinner.
- the lack of signs in national parks
- flying via Paris Charles de Gaulles (I never felt so ‘lost’ and ‘from a far-off village’ before! And I have been to quite a few airport! When going there we couldn’t find our flight on the info screen because the French didn’t let you know through big signs that they have another terminal to which a small train deep in the cellar may take you. When going back we had to go upstairs first to be able to go downstairs (as we wanted) afterwards (does that make sense???) and then we missed (!) the call for our flight and there was a special call for the “missing passengers” and we were sitting almost next to the gate!!!
- That Chileans don’t read much and the windows of small town book stores show everything but books
- That so many men completely ignored me during small talk and only talked to Markus (machismo!)
- That Volcano Osorno kept hiding from us although we spent three days next to him.
- That I didn’t like the national cocktail Pisco Sour
- That I read in a guide book that Chileans are so fond of clean shoes that I took some better black leather shoes with me and never wore them.