22:13 - First day on the new tour! And a very hot one! 35 Celsius!!! But unlike Lima where it was hot and sticky, here it doesn't feel unpleasant as it is fairly dry heat. I got up late and had breakfast in the hotel. As I was due to meet the group at 3pm there was no rush to do anything and as Santiago looks like a standard clean European city, I had no particular curiosity or desire to walk about too much. I did however venture out to try and change money with some difficulty as it was a sunday and everything was closed. I managed to find the coffee place suggested by Sally but had to come back after solving the cash situation as they would not take dollars. Coffee was indeed pretty decent! And wifi was free and available. Thanks Sal!
Bought some bits for lunch as i just wanted to take it easy for the day and rest (like old people do) in the room. Eventually my new room mate turned up: Sunitta, originally from Bangalore in India. At 3 we all met up in the lobby and Toby took us for a tour around Santiago. We used the underground and in fairness it was as clean and as organised as in London. One thing stood out straight away: Toby is no Sally! He seemed to be asking where he was going a lot of the time. And the anthropologic museum he had been suggesting we visited had been closed for some time!!! Santiago is generally pretty quiet this time of year as it is their summer holiday time...it's a bit like walking around Milan in the middle of august! In March things apparently go back to normal.
We got back to the hotel and had time to get changed before the briefing in the lobby. We have had to pick some of the optional parts of the trip straight away. I followed Sally's tips but found myself being the only one putting my hand up for the Vulcano walk! We then went for dinner to a lovely place called after the movie 'water for chocolate'. Food was great and got a chance to get to know the threesome on our trip: Tina, Peter and Karen. Tina and Peter are siblings and Karen is a coworker of Tina's. We had a giggle getting to know each other at dinner and I was actually referred to as a member of a PIIGS country! I am pretty sure that's racist! :-))).
I'm off to bed as tomorrow we are all going to Valparaiso.