Upon arrival into to Santiago we wandered towards an area which we were told had the best hostels in town, and we weren't disappointed in any way. The hostel we found, courtesy of two americans we met in the street, was absolutely fantastic. La Dominica had only been open a few months and it was probably the nicest hostel I have ever stayed in; modern, good showers, free internet, great kitchen and a really good staff. All you can ask for really! Exhausted from the journey we just grabbed some food and crashed.
In the morning we decided to climb the hill by our hostel which has La Virgen(Santiago's answer to the Cristo Redentador in Rio) stood watching over the city at its summit. After a pretty hot and exhausting hike up, we took a wrong turn near the top which led us down a dead end. While we tried to figure out where we went wrong and retraced our steps I accidentally stood on an extremely rusty nail. Fortunately it didn't go in to far and was only a surface wound, not too much blood! Unfortunately I wasn't up to date on my tetanus shots so a trip to hospital looked fairly inevitable. The fastest way down was actually to go up and then get the cable car down, so at least I didn't miss out on seeing that. The view from the top was great, however it is easy to see why the locals call this city Santi-asco(Asco being spanish for disgusting), since the smog was unbelievable and as such the visibility severely limited. So after a quick call to mum; "What have you done to yourself this time??" to confirm the diagnosis I headed to the hospital. My hospital experience was very impressive, far more efficient and pleasant than my latest visit to UCH at any rate! Had a nice chat to the doctor who was visiting the UK in autumn to take his son to a Man Utd game for his birthday. I have to say I was very impressed by Santiago as a whole during my stay, you wouldn't expect anything more from a Western City, and although you do not hear much about Chile on the World Stage it seems to be very well developed and prosperous, certainly in comparison to Argentina. That evening we went for a few beers and ended up spending it with a slightly crazy, but fun chilean couple.
In the morning Richard and I headed out for a days skiing in Valle Nevado(Snowy Valley) a resort just over an hour away from from Santiago. We had a really great day, the scenery is absolutely phenomenal and although there hadn't been much new snow when we were there the off piste has to be out of this world when there is some! Skiing in jeans and a leather jacket was certainly an experience too. Moment of the day definitely came when Richard, who had never seen a drag lift got on behind me and didn't realise that you had to put it between your legs. Halfway up I turned around to see Richard clinging on for dear life with the button in his hands! So I told him to let go and we would ski down and get a new one, however the way down was through a slightly crusty powder field, from which he eventually emerged looking like a snow man! Other than that we had a great time cruising around the resort enjoying the sunshine and scenery.