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Monday 17th May - Santiago to Punta Arenas
By Claire
Thursday, 20th May 2004 19:18

We had a very nice pizza delivered to the hostel last night. We also packed our bags and decided to leave some of our stuff at the hostel to make our rucksacks lighter (all my shorts and summer dresses, for example) so that we could leave early in the morning. Which we did, but not really early. It was at least light. The bus was only a few yards down he road and we were at the airport by 8.30. We checked our bags in and I found a doughnut shop for breakfast, then we sat and read for a bit. The plane left on time and we stopped at Puerto Montt after an hour.

The second part of the flight was from Puerto Monnt to Punta Arenas and it was mostly above thick clouds, but every now and then I could see huge snow-capped mountains, frozen lakes and glaciers.

It was about 3.30 when we landed at Punta Arenas, and about 4 degrees. I asked at the airport information desk for a list of hotels and then we decided to get a taxi to the main square to track them down. It was foggy and cold and we passed some very desolate landscape on the way to the town. The taxi dropped us off just as it was getting dark. Two doors from where we were was a hotel, they had rooms, I haggled, we got a much better price. The hotel was quite funny, very new in the main lobby, and lovely and warm, getting progressively shabbier as we ascended. We were on the second floor in a room with two varieties of seventies wallpaper, but it was warm and in the centre of town so we didn't mind. There was also a thick blue blackout curtain which reminded me that in the summer months the days are very long down here.

We went to the tourist office next door to see if we could organise tours of the area. The girl was very nice but she didn't speak English and only gave us maps of the town, which we already had. We tried another tour operator and she told us that there were tours but they didn't work with those people. There is also no central bus station, the different companies are dotted round the town. We left the tour-finding for the day, had a brief walk round the town, which included a quick search for hats and gloves (we didn't find any, although the shops were all open until 8 or 9, which was helpful) and then we had a small supper in a cafe.

We had to get the hotel guy to light the gas heater in our room when we got back, and it was like a furnace ten minutes later. We went to sleep and I slept for 13 hours!

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