MAR 12, 2016 – From Chiloé I took a bus towards Santiago and changed in San Fernando to get to the village of Nancagua. I had found a CouchSurfing host by the name of Felipe who lived there with his parents. The reason why I chose this general area was that I wanted to see one of the wine regions of Chile, and it turned out I had chosen the right host: Felipe’s father was about to harvest his grapes, and Felipe drove me around the valley to visit some of the wineries (ViuManent, Montes, Lapostolle). Besides learning a lot about the local wines and their production, I also found some that I really liked and later ordered at home. The valley’s central town, Santa Cruz, felt very sleepy – I barely managed to find an open restaurant – but then again, it was Sunday evening. On Monday, before leaving, I briefly visited an English class that Felipe was teaching. Unfortunately his students were very hard to motivate, and didn’t seem to be learning a lot.
MAR 9, 2016 – Back in Castro, we found a little bus to the entrance of Chiloé National Park. From there, we took a trail along the coast that would take us to Cole-Cole. We spent one night at a little campsite near a river, and another one at a somewhat run-down hut at Cole-Cole beach. The scenery was very beautiful, especially in the forest behind Cole-Cole, which felt a bit like a jungle.
MAR 9, 2016 – It turned out that Tantauco National Park was very hard to access since they only allowed through hikes when a flight from or to Inío was bought, which was very expensive. They seemed to be working on a better solution, but they didn’t seem very flexible or keen on finding a way for us to visit the park. Nevertheless, Jeff and me decided to give it a try and look for a fishing boat in Quellón that would take us to Inío. From there we could at least have visited the southern part of Tantauco park. Unfortunately we arrived during a “marea roja” (red tide), a kind of algal bloom that makes all marine animals unsafe to eat (see Wikipedia). Therefore no fisherman was going to that village, and a public boat link to it was only going to start operating in a few days. Nevertheless, it was a nice challenge to try and get information from the local fishermen, and we spent a night in a cute little hotel along the coast. Finally we gave up and decided to go for a three-day hike in Parque Nacional de Chiloé.
MAR 7, 2016 – From the harbor of Puerto Montt, I directly took a bus to Chiloé, via a ferry. Jeff from the Navimag ferry came with me, and we found a CouchSurfing host, Nato, for two nights in the town of Castro. Holiday season had just ended there, but it was nice to see the town deserted, and have the stilt houses (palafitos) and wooden churches to ourselves. We also got informed about the National Parks on Chiloé, of which there are two: Parque Nacional de Chiloe and Parque Tantauco.
APR 8, 2016 – I arrived in Budapest and was impressed how close it was to Vienna, yet how foreign it seemed to me because I couldn’t understand a word of the written language. Oystein, a Norwegian exchange student, had agreed to be my host here, and he even had time to show me around. I loved the city for its street art, but also for the “ruin bars” and other alternative nightlife outlets. Budapest has the beauty of an ancient capital, with the vibe of a modern student city. I will return for sure.
APR 5, 2016 – From Santiago de Chile I traveled back to Switzerland on my longest flight connection ever, which safely brought me to Zurich in 26 hours, with Stopovers in Panama, Punta Cana, and Frankfurt. I then spent a few days relaxing, organizing photos, and preparing the next stage of my trip. Over Easter I went skiing with a group of friends, to make sure I didn’t miss out on Winter entirely. It was in early April that I boarded a train to Vienna, with the goal of exploring the railway route to Bucharest and eventually reaching Bulgaria by land.
In Vienna I visited my friend Laura and went to see some nice places I hadn’t been to during my first stay in 2010. In particular, I was fascinated by the colorful art of Friedensreich Hundertwasser.