Taking the Long Way To Pucón

Our South American adventure has begun! We arrived in Santiago to 36°C heat and took the Centropuerto bus from the airport to the Los Héroes metro stop for around US$3 each. From there we had a nice sweaty walk to our hostal opposite Cerro Santa Lucia, a hill and park with fountains and staircases provding views of the city. It was a great central location in walking distance to the nightlife barrios of Bellavista and Lastarria, which we explored on our first night.

While Chileans primarily drive cars, horses and buggies are still used here. We noticed a few transporting goods in both downtown Santiago and smaller towns. In Pichilemu people take rides in them as well for fun.

Travel without advance planning is bliss. Though the city has many charms with its Andean mountain backdrop and friendly residents, the hot temperatures called us to keep our time in Santiago to a minimum. It will still be there when we return at the end of June when we intend to spend a bit more time. But so many attractions lie at Santiago's doorstep that it was difficult to choose a place to move on to. We're due in Pucón on the 11th so it made sense to start heading south.

Before we left, however, we were treated to a visit with Rob and Angélica of SouthAmerica.me who hosted us for some afternoon beers and introduced us to Eileen from Matador Network. Rob went out of his way to take us on a tour of Chilean craft beers, which John was especially appreciative of. They have some enviable panoramic views of Santiago from their rooftop deck and it was wonderful to meet them all and enjoy some fun conversations about life in Chile and travel.

Rob brought out a selection of delicious Chilean beers for us to try. We've also been drinking the local beer, Escudo (US$2 per litre).

The next day we took Santiago's very clean and convenient metro to the Universidad de Santiago stop and the Terminal de Buses. Many bus companies operate out of Santiago and we didn't need a reservation to hop on one to our chosen destination: the coastal town of Pichilemu. If we could do it over, however, we would have arrived a bit earlier to the station because the bus taking the particular route we wanted had sold out already. While many long-distance buses operate out of Santiago, the service we took worked more like a local bus. It wasn't full when we left the terminal but we learned quickly that many people were waiting to be picked up along the way.

We stopped only a minute or two away from the station to pick up passengers from a nearby terminal and then at least two dozen times on the way to Pichilemu to pick up or drop off more. It became comical, as we stopped on the side of freeways and highways, in towns, at the end of dirt roads and alongside ditches to let passengers get on and off. At each terminal stop vendors would take turns getting onto the bus and selling everything from jugo (pronounced HOO-go, meaning juice) to hardware. There was even a little boy selling children's books.

These flat bread rolls, called pan hallulla, are common in Chile and served in restaurants. They are dense and have layers like biscuits.

It was a fun first bus experience but it took us five hours to reach our destination! On arrival at our accommodation we learned that we can't get a direct bus to Pucón or anywhere even close from here. We've been advised by the owner of the guesthouse to go back to Santiago and take an overnight bus to Pucón from there. Missing out on all that scenery along the way and having to backtrack is not on the cards for us, though. We plan to take the long way to Pucón by local and regional bus services, stopping in towns along the way.

When we first started to plan our time in Chile we wanted to take in a wine festival but had a lot of trouble finding out what our options were due to the major earthquake that hit this area last year. We found out about the Colchagua wine festival too late to get accommodation, though we did see it passing through Santa Cruz. But we don't need a festival to check out some Chilean wine along the way!

Do you prefer to take a slow leisurely pace or the direct route when reaching a long-distance destination?

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Brittany Libra

I have just discovered your blog and am really enjoying it- especially because I am leaving in July to live in Santiago for a year. As you noted, travel without advance planning is wonderful…and in South America it can be required. Expect to acquire a LOT of patience. I’ve spent considerable time in the Andes (but never Chile). You learn pretty quickly to expect bus trips to take a while and have unplanned detours or stop. You may make plans, but then the hostel no longer exists or the bus route isn’t running that particular day. Plans fall through a… Read more »

Thank you so much, Brittany – so glad to hear you’re enjoying our blog and finding it helpful! We’ve found most of the buses in Chile to run on time and be quite efficient, but you’re right, places do shut down. It’s nice that we have so much time here and aren’t too fussed by minor inconveniences =)

This might sound like a silly comment, but I was really taken by your beer photo. I am not a fan of actual beer, but the layout and the lighting were so crisp and lovely, I wanted to hang the picture on my wall! 🙂

On the contrary that’s quite a compliment! I’m always trying to improve my photography so I thank you very much for your encouragement =)


Can’t wait to meet everyone in Chile, I hope you two didn’t wear them out because I want to try pisco!

Had my first pisco sour on the plane coming over – pretty tasty! Don’t think it was the “real” concoction with the egg whites and all. Hopefully we can catch up and taste one of your mixes =)

Turkey's For Life

Hope you two enjoy your time in South America. I can see you’re already acquainting yourselves with the local brews! Didn’t think it would take long! 🙂

No, haha…these beers found us though! =)

LOL — love the beer photo 😉

They were all pretty damn good…of course, we’ve mostly been drinking the cheap one: Escudo. About US$1.75 a litre – can’t beat that price. And tasty!

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