We set foot back on dry land in Puerto Montt after 3 days at sea. Just as you've got your sea legs we now needed to get land legs again. Walking was a bit wobbly for a few hours. We had quite a long wait at the ferry terminal waiting for our luggage. Word from the taxi drivers was there was only one person unloading it. Glad I wasn't him/her.
Anyway it arrived eventually and we jumped into the very patient cab. It was a short ride to the hostel which we had booked for one night. As I've said before hostels vary greatly. We should have been a little wary when we rang the door bell and the receptionist opened it wearing an overcoat !!
There was a paraffin heater in the hall. Well either they were on an economy drive or the heating had gone west. The room was basic and wasn't too cold but there was no heating and no hot water. Oh well it's all part of the travel experience we said with our best Pollyanna optimism. We headed out as it was warmer.
Puerto Montt is the salmon capital of Chile. A growing town with lots of lego buildings. We walked down to the bus station to book our tickets out for the next day. Then it was a stroll along the main road to the harbour area. The road is lined with lots of local artisan stalls selling all sorts of woolen things. It was bit like a Tom and Jerry cartoon. Every 20 yards the background repeated itself. When we reached the harbour it had a small fish market and numerous restaurants. We picked an elevated one with only three tables and a small kitchen. The food was really rather good.
After dinner it was back to ice station zebra for bed. Fortunately they know how to make a warm bed. Two blankets, sheets and a duvet. It weighs a ton but is very cozy. Next morning we had a very basic breakfast huddled round the heater and left.
It was a short bus journey to a local ferry port before crossing to Chiloe island. Jill had wanted to come here as there is a penguin colony. We generally get our hostels from two international web sites but this time we had booked direct from a Lonely Planet top tip.
We got off the bus at the terminal and had very short walk to the hostel. It was owned by a swiss family (no they weren't called Robinson!). I expect you can picture it though. Very clean, very orderly and lots of wood. It was right on the sea front and the room was fab. The bed was shaped like a boat and we looked straight out to sea. In fact it was so fab we booked another night.
Ancud is the first main town off the ferry. It has everything you need. Having said that it has weird licensing laws. A bit like England 30 years ago. No bars just restaurants. If you want a beer you have to eat. This was overcome by giving you some bread rolls with your beer. Unfortunately the penguins had left town but we had fabulous unseasonal weather and went for some walks. It was good opportunity to see how Chileans live. Most of the houses were on shanty style estates and they were made of wood or corrugated steel.
On one day we went for a day trip to Castro, the island's capital. It is quite a pretty place. Many of the houses here are by the sea and built on stilts.
To be honest we didn't want to leave Chiloe. But it was back on a bus for a return to the mainland. We passed back through Puerto Montt to Puerto Varas. This is about as un-Chilean as you can get. It is like being in Bavaria. It was once colonised by the Germans so it has lots of wooden buildings and restuarants called Alamein etc.
It's set on the shore of the 2nd largest lake in Chile. Before you ask I haven't looked up the largest.
At one end is the magnificent Osorno volcanoe. There are 4 volcanoes in the area but Osorno is the highest. Chile is a high risk earthquake area. They have about 10 a year. You may recall a big one a couple of years ago. Add 4 volcanoes to the equation and as you may imagine you dont see many adverts for Direct Line home insurance !!
Today we took a local bus out to Petrohue which sits on another lake. We took a short walk on a trail to the base of the Osorno volcanoe. We had planned to get up early and do a long hike but poor Jill has another grotty head cold. It's the second one in a few weeks. Personally I would have stayed in bed but she was a trooper and wanted to go and see the volcanoe. To add to things she had some bad news a few days before as her Aunty Tess died. She had been ill but suddenly took a turn for the worse. A sad day.
Tomorrow we are headed for Bariloche in the Argentinian lakes.