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Valdivia, Chile

Saturday 22nd- Tuesday 25th Jan

We arrived in Valdivia early afternoon and started our way into its central business district, which was of course to be near the ‘Plaza De Arms‘. Before we could leave the bus terminal we were approached by a lady who promised a room that was ‘comfortably affordable‘; well affordable until the point when she wrote down that the room was to be $60 Aus dollars, about $40 dollars above our budget. So we high-tailed it out of there.

We started walking down the street toward the centre again in slight desperation when from the ether a fashionably-bearded man in a vehicle pulled over. Okay, so he only poked at a brochure and slightly informed us that he had budget apartments available, but we had ‘tango nada’. He told us his apartments were even more affordable than the last hostal we presumed to be affordable, this time we believed the hype and the spanglish. We went along for the ride and were again sold on his proposition after seeing that own kitchen, bathroom and lounge was on offer. Even our pockets agreed.


Being Sunday and South America, everything was closed. Yet we decided to go for a small walk and have a look around the city. While we were walking towards the city’s centre we passed a small roadside market next to an old Spanish tower. The market was about old trinkets, pictures, coins and books. Pete picked up a couple of books. Exciting, intriguing non-fiction on the topics of: How To Develop Your: ESP, and a highly sexually-charged poetry book by John Updike. Oh, and a really cool Spanish comic book too.

The town centre was pretty boring, with the only attractions being a shopping centre and buildings that lined the streets which were covered in graffiti. We made it to the city’s waterfront where the Feria Fluvial (a big fish and veg market), takes place right on the edge of the river. It was quite smelly and full of life with people jostling and yelling out in order to selling their product. We spotted the resident sea-lions too! Valdivia is home to about four of them that get a feed from the off cuts of fish from the markets. These creatures are huge and very cool to watch swim or sun themselves behind the fish stalls. While in the vicinity we were approached numerous times to go on one of the many boats that took tours up the river, but we had decided earlier to go the next day.

We then walked over the bridge to take us to Isla Teja, an island nestled next to Valdivia, which features a wonderful national park, botanical garden, museums and historic buildings. We started riverside and visited Museo Historico y Arqueologico: two museums that is. The first exhibited the history of a German settler who documented a lot of ecological information, animal habits, plants matter and such. All the information about the guy was again written in Spanish so we didn’t really learn too much. The second museum was a beautiful heritage house that was once a home for the early German pioneers of the area. It fashioned its rooms with furnishing of community’s early history. The old furniture was gorgeous, with the antic wooden pieces to die for- a Saint Sebastian painting was also pinned to the wall. We then walked to the botanical gardens and had an afternoon nap under a canopy of trees lying on its soft, moss covered ground. It was peaceful and cool and ever so relaxing. Isla Teja was defiantly worth the look and it was after all, a wonderful day out.

We had booked a four hour boat tour that afternoon. We sat on the deck of a very full boat and sweated under Chile’s hot sun, with the extra discomfort of a heat enticing life-jacket. After half an hour of waiting we finally left the port with the tour guide explaining the surroundings, drum-roll in Spainish, therefore three quarters of an hour rocking in the boat, we had absolutely no idea what the fuck was going on.

We do know however that we did stop at an old building a way up river to have afternoon tea. The guide came over to see us and coughed up some English, just a little less than the tour-guide had promised the day previous. Therefore we were finally aware that we were on a tour to visit an old house that was erected during the time of Germany’s first tryst with Chile’s coastline. Our new found awareness of what we landed ourselves in made Chile’s historical background even more intriguing.
The settlement was on the edge of a national park which we only got to see for a moment as by the time we had our afternoon tea there was only a half an hour before we had to go back to the boat. Exploring our surroundings was limited to keep it brief, making broken agreements the flavour of the day. What got us on the boat was the understanding that we could enjoy a leisurely walk in the scrub.

On the ride back to port we stopped at the very small village of Punucapa, to see the oldest church in Valdivia. It was beautifully painted, quaint and wooden on a great big paddock with the grandest tree we have seen. This thing was huge and so majestic. We walked around the church then went to do some tree hugging. With a tree like this hugging needed to be done.

We made it back to Valdivia and despite our overall disappointment that we had with sights and lack of action at this late stage, we were impressed with Valdivia and what it had to offer. Isla Teja and Valdiva’s waterfront was quiet pretty, and to be honest we understand that all complaints must fall- on- deaf- ears when the sun shines on holiday makers who moan too much; especially those who have had the comfort of spending lazy afternoons sleeping their lives away on soft beds of moss! Really, despite all our set-backs, who has a comeback for that?

permalink written by  Pete+Rochelle on January 31, 2011 from Valdivia, Chile
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