Easter Island, 1 March 2015: Ahu-Ature with Wings
Easter Island, 28 February 2015: Cycling on a “Road in bad condition”
Easter Island, 27 February 2015: Sunken Moai at Ranu Raraku
Easter Island, 26 February 2015: Ahu a Kivi
Easter Island, 24 February 2015: Table at the Sea
Chilean Food and Drinks
I really enjoyed travelling through Chile – also because of the Chilean food and drinks.
Here are some of my favourite dishes:
1) Ceviche (raw fish, occasianally mixed with other seafood): definitely one of my favourites, although some people (including Chileans) say that Peruvian Ceviche is better – I have yet to try and compare that.
2) Ice Cream: it really surprised me to find such amazing ice cream in Chile. My favourite stores are Mikafé in Hanga Roa, Easter Island, and Emporio la Rosa in Santiago. Favourite flavours: chocolate with toffee, dulce de leche, frambuesa menta, lúcuma and mango. Oh and not to forget that fantastic avocado (yes, avocado) ice cream at Vinilo in Valparaiso.
3) Empanadas: particularly those filled with fresh tuna and seafood (Easter Island).
4) Lomo a lo pobre: loin cut of beef on a mountain of french fries and fried onions topped with a fried egg.
5) Alfajores: two round cookies with a sweet filling, usually dulce de leche, covered in glaced sugar, chocolate or coco.
6) Completo Italiano: a hot dog with tomatoes, mashed avocado and mayonnaise.
7) Lomito Completo: Sandwich/ Burger with sliced cooked sirloin steak, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, tomato and loads of sauerkraut. Try this at Fuente Alemana in Santiago!
1) Jugos Naturales: freshly made fruit juices, e.g. pineapple!
2) Beer and Wine (try the Carmenere as you will hardly find it anywhere else in the world)!
3) Pisco Sour: Pisco is a clear brandy that is destilled from white muscat grapes. A Pisco Sour is a Cocktail with Pisco, sugar, lime, one eggwhite and crushed ice.
4) Terremoto (earthquake): young white wine, Pisco, sugar, pineapple ice cream…
Torres del Paine – Trekking with THE TEAM
We’ve had it all on the so-called W-Trek: snow, rain, sun, wind! We’ve hiked up and down, crossed rivers and streams and huge mud pools and I was very glad that for the first time in my life I had rented trekking poles! No trekking in the famous Torres del Paine Natinal Park in chilean Patagonia would be complete without experiencing all of this. That said, I wasn’t able to see the Torres up close, as it was first raining and later snowing on that first day in the park. I still went up to Laguna Torres and saw, well, the laguna and… clouds. It happens to the best of us.
However, that day I also met THE TEAM (in reference to the German MANNSCHAFT during the last world cup)! In fact, I had already shared a dorm with 4 of the guys (Emiliano from Argentina, Christóbal from Chile, and Daniel and Átila from Brazil) in Refugio Torres. And now, in the cozy Refugio el Chileno, we sat together, with Tiziano from Italy, and THE TEAM for the next days evolved. We’ve had loads of fun (at some point when the sun came out I started off an “O sole mio” which Tiziano then sang to us in full, making it our anthem for the trek – music really helps marching on) and pushed each other to our limits (special thanks to Emiliano and Tiziano for pushing me up to Mirador Brittanico) and I am very grateful for this time with all of you guys, you rock!! (Question: why do I always end up in a group of guys? Not that I don’t like it, just wondering…)
It was amazing, yet strenous (hell, some parts took a lot of will-power), but I’d do it again any time! Not going to go into more details… check out the photos instead:
Day 1: Refugio Torres – Laguna Torres – Refugio El Chileno:
Day 2: El Chileno – Los Cuernos
Day 3: Los Cuernos – Mirador Brittanico – Paine Grande
Day 4: Paine Grande – somewhere on the way to Glaciar Grey -Paine Grande
And check out Daniels and Átilas professional travel blogger photos and videos, if you like:
For those of you who’d like to do the W: I’d suggest to book refugios incl. full board, if you can afford it. That way you’ll have to carry less and won’t get wet or cold at night! If coming from the east (start from Laguna Amada) get there in the late afternoon and spend the night at Refugio Las Torres. Start walking the next morning up to Laguna Torres (see Las Torres close if you’re lucky) and either spend the night at the small Refugio El Chileno or make your way down again to the larger and more comfortable Refugio Las Torres (I liked El Chileno for its cozy athmosphere and the fact that I did not have to walk all the way down again. Also, you can shortcut the way on the next day into the direction of Los Cuernos). Spend the third night at Refugio Los Cuernos and get an upgrade to a Cabin with beautiful views of the mountains and the lake and relax in the HOT tub! Alternatively spend that night at Campo Frances in a dome. That way you’ll have to do less walking on the next day! It is a long day, so start early! But the view from Brittanico is worth the effort! Spend the fourth night at Refugio Paine Grande. Consider spending a fifth night at Refugio Grey, as otherwise you’d have to walk a strenous 22 km return and hurry to get the 6pm boat from Paine Grande. Refugio Grey is said to be nice and you could even consider to do a tour onto the glacier – I’d certainly do this next time!
Bookings (incl. bus and boat) can either be done directly through fantastico sur or vertice patagonia (who manage the refugios) or even better through an agent. I recommend to contact Carla Alcayaga (www.australglacier.com, she has a small office in Puerto Natales on Baquedano 695) and discuss your options with her! She’ll then book for you whatever you like! You can also book any bus and any tour in Patagonia (even in Argentina ) through her.
“Mana” and the wonders of Easter Island
You can feel the “MANA” just about everywhere on this beautiful island, situated in the middle of nowhere in the Pacific Ocean (it is in fact the worlds most remote inhabited island). Mana is what they call the spirits that can evolve from anything, a person, object or nature. The Island’s nature is, despite its small size of only 163 square km, very diverse. The breathtaking view from the edges of the extinct volcanoes onto the freshwater crater lakes certainly makes you feel the mana of those places!
And then there is the “Moai”, massive statues carved at the Rana Raraku Volcano, which were then schlepped and put up in various places on the island. Many of them still lay face down, but a lot have been reerected in the past 60 years and they, too, exude a lot of mana, which is why you’re not allowed to come close to them.
Now, I can alraedy hear some of you, screaming “now she’s trying to lecture and bore us with Rapa Nui culture and history”! You might just want to stop reading here. I’m far from lecturing anyone with the little I learned, but it’s just too impressive to not mention it.
In short: Some 100 Polynesians arrived with their canoes ages ago and the 12 or so sons of the arriving polynesian chief formed different clans that all lived happily for some hundreds of years in which they created a strong culture based on polynesian beliefs. What is special, though, is that they carved and put up hundreds of Moais, most of them looking inland towards their villages to protect them with mana. These Moais represent respected elders and were created to resemble them. As time went by the Moais created appeared less human and more god-like and they got bigger and bigger. Somewhere along that line the birdman competition evolved, meaning that every chief sent off one warrior to a motu (small island 1km from the western cliffs) in order to bring back the first sooty tern egg laid by the migrating birds. The winner’s chief was declared Birdman (thus having loadsof mana) and his clan took command of the whole island for one year. This cult was probably a result of the failing ecosystem, as the growing population outpaced natures capacity to renew itself. This also resulted in fights among the tribes, who toppled many of the almost 300 Moai statues. All other statues fell as a result of tsunamis and other natural disasters. The missionaries ended the Birdman cult in the 1860s. Slavery, diseases and other catastrophes led to a decimation of the population to only around 100. Although Easter Island officially belongs to Chile, the Rapa Nui culture is still strongly influenced by its polynesian ancestors, especially the language, music and dances.
I had plenty of time to explore the island’s volcanoes, quarries, Moais, caves, beaches and the (only) village by foot, bike (really needed to be active again after that lazy week in French Polynesia and luckily the climate is much more pleasant with a high of only 27°C) and with a small group tour (photos to follow). It is amazingly “empty” and you can walk for at least two hours without meeting anyone! They only have 90.000 visitors a year, but tourism is increasing, so you’d better visit this amazing island sooner than later…
When it comes to food, there is a great Chilean influence: tasty tuna empanadas, Ceviche (raw fish), all kinds of seafood, most definitely accompanied by Pisco Sour – love it! What’s best though, and this came as a surprise, is Mikafe’s ice cream parlour at the small pier! The ice cream is by far the creamiest and tastiest I have had in ages and they have a great variety, e.g. “Piña” made from the small and sweet local pineapple. To die for!
We’re gonna indulge in seafood and icecream again tonight before we’ll watch the sunset!
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