Category Archives: sometimes adventure

Life In Chile Part Two: Visiting Pucón

It was my last two weeks in Chile and while I was excited to get home. I was also keen to make the most of it. With a little money left and some energy, I booked my bus trip to Pucón- a city I had learned loads about from friends and was curious to visit.

In preparation for the trip, I headed to the local shopping centre to find the best deal on buses. As it was over 35 degrees outside (in December), I was keen to take an overnight bus trip. And so, I booked it to head off that night! The bus was due to leave at 23.00 and so, I set off (in usual style) an hour early to the bus station. With a few random turns and wanderings down dodgy streets, I found my way to the station and set up shop right next to where my bus was due to depart. Cue ten past eleven and it turned out, my bus had left without me.

Sad and with a huge backpack at my feet, I approached the information desk and pleaded for another bus. Only to find out that well, many other people wanted a seat to Pucón too. Sadly, there were none available.

As it turns out, being a lost Irish girl in a big city had its positives. A man approached me with a big smile and said he’d give me his seat. He not only carried my bag and helped me settle in, he gave me a blanket and snacks to relax me. Never underestimate the kindness of strangers.

Santiago central to Pucón is a 9.5 hour journey. This is another reason I recommend the overnight bus journey. No surprisingly, upon arriving there, it is necessary to stretch your legs which is a perfect chance to explore the town. As it’s further South, the temperature is lower and so, wrapping up warmer is recommended.

The town of Pucón is right next to the mountains which makes it super picturesque. There are snow-capped mountains and so, the amount of outdoor excursions is plentiful. Some activities I did were cycling (you can rent a bike for as little as 3euro per day), hiking in the forest and sledding down a volcano. These are all accessible and can easily be signed up for at hostels or by searching online.

For me, I couch-surfed for the first night so the hike I went on happened by chance. The guy I stayed with ran hikes each morning and so, he said I could come along. These were based in El Cañi and the hike we did lasted for over 7 hours! This area is easily accessible with a bus from the town to the countryside which costs no more than two euro.

As I moved into the town on the second night, I signed up for activities at my hostel. The hostel I stayed in was La Bicicleta and it comprised of a private room for 35euro per night. This was a bit pricey for hostel however it is more expensive in Pucón and I wanted to pay for quality as it was my last trip.

 

Finally, the trip up the volcano was the highlight for me and something I highly recommend! The journey comprises of a car trip to Villarica, one of three (active) volcanos in the region. The beauty is that you can get a lift some way up the mountain or you can hike the whole way up. It’s not an adventure for the faint-hearted as it is super steep and covered in snow. Cramp-ons are needed with a full training beforehand. The intense journey up-mountain is followed by sledding down the mountain to the bottom (highly recommend!).

This region in Chile has a high percentage of German influence as so many Germans settled there over hundreds of years. This is reflected in the beers (with Germanic names) and the blonder looking appearance of the locals.

Traveling alone has its perks (as featured here) and this trip was no exception. Doing this adventure with a friend or group would be equally exciting.

For further info or post requests about Chile, comment below or PM me. 

Traveling Junebug: Life in Chile- Part One

Life’s about following what makes you happy. I certainly try to apply this and plan trips abroad as regularly as possible. Next year, I’ve got two trips planned already and my list won’t stop there. Watch this space or my Instagram (@junemvc) for further adventures.

In the meantime though, did you know I lived in Santiago, Chile for 11 months in 2013 and did quite a bit of traveling within the country? The beautiful capital city is also super cool and there’s so much to do at night or during the day. These include visiting the sights of the city, soaking in the sun, enjoying the shops and lounging in coffee shops.

Firstly, here’s a few things to note about Santiago.

*It’s rather expensive! For a South American city, you’re going to pay quite a bit more than others for everything so be prepared. This includes basics like cups of coffee that would be say, 2 euro compared to Argentina where they’re about half that. Having said that, it’s relatively easy to figure out cheaper places and it’s definitely worth it for the city you get to live (or travel) in.

*Public transport is excellent and reliable. The metro is super safe and runs throughout the city. If based in the likes of Bella Vista (super central), you’ll end up walking a bit as it’s central and you can get to where you need to. The travel card to buy (like an Oyster card or Leap card) is Tarjeta Bip. It’s about 5,000 pesos and you top it up when required. It can be used on the buses too which is useful.

* They use Chilean pesos. Instead of saying 5,000, they might say 5 luca. This is common slang there so keep this in mind for your interactions.

*The city is very safe however you need to have your wits about you in the centre. Like any city, wandering around late at night isn’t advised! Be sure of where you’re going, what the best transport methods are for each area and of course, be aware of typical costs especially as a tourist.

* There are dogs everywhere in Santiago. They’re cute and lovely but be warned as I didn’t expect this before I went there. Sadly, due to the massive number of apartment blocks and lack of space, puppies often become too large as they grow and end up being chucked on the street. They often travel in packs and can be heard at night protecting their territories.

Things to do in the city:

 *Bella Vista is the main place people go out (particularly for tourists). You’ll find loads of cool restaurants, bars, clubs and take-aways there.

*If you want to meet more people, there are loads of couch-surfing meet-ups that take place weekly. I met friends from all over the world and it’s an opportunity to speak Spanish to a range of Hispanics. Moreover, if you’re feeling lonely of a Sunday afternoon (or any other time), you can reach out via the app and meet a bunch of people who simply want to hang out or to show you around their city!

*There are theatres all over the city. I made the mistake of leaving my discovery of them until the end when I went to a salsa show. I definitely recommend trying to go to a show as it’s an opportunity to experience the local culture through Theatre. The one I went to was the theatre GAM.

*I’d highly recommend the city walking tour. It’s free and it’s tours for tips. There are some options of routes you can do including one to the big markets which you NEED to visit and have a delicious meal there. Mercado Centrale (mainly fish markets and restaurants) and La Vega (where you can buy fruit and veggies super cheap).

*Sights I recommend are Cerro San Cristobal, Santa Lucia and Bellas Artes to see the street art and culture.

Trips to take:

*Valparaiso, Vina and Concón need to be top of the list (anywhere along the coast, really). They’re amazing, you can get delicious food (mainly empanadas with seafood) and you can take stunning pictures. You can also do water sports but you need to check if they’re happening in the winter versus the Summer. We did Kayaking and surfing which was easy and accessible.

*Skiing is popular in the winter however I didn’t end up going. Again, if traveling alone, with couch-surfers you can easily arrange a trip.

*To the South. I went to Pucon where I hiked a volcano, sled down it and got a serious work-out. It’s so beautiful and like visiting another country. You can get overnight buses from Santiago which is what I did. It was comfortable and the journey was super smooth.

*To the North. San Pedro de Atacama is AMAZING and worth a look. I went there after I travelled from Bolivia so got a bus. You can fly from Santiago to a couple of airports in the North.

Want to learn more? Keep posted for a range of further travel posts! Requests are always welcome. I’m here to help and advise via this blog. Hit me up with your thoughts.

Cat Lounge Galore: Playing With Kittens On Sundays

I grew up on a farm in County Kerry where pets were plentiful. If I didn’t have a cat running to my lap, I’d open the cupboard and one would pop out. We’d rescue them and take them from neighbours in dire need as we couldn’t stand the thought of them being alone.

Fast forward to 2017 and I still love cats but don’t have any in Dublin due to my rental agreement. At times, I steal my neighbours cats for a cuddle (they love it, I swear) however aside from being weird, that has its own legal limitations. You can therefore imagine my excitement when the Cat Lounge opened in Dublin in October 2017. Facebook was inundated with tags in articles regarding the brand new establishment and it was all anyone was talking about. Two weeks later, I got the credit card out to book a visit with a friend.

Booking the day before seemed to work for the Cat Lounge. It was a bank holiday Sunday and I was concerned that it’d be booked up. Getting a 6pm appointment meant that it was one of the final slots which ran the risk of tired kittens from a busy day. Thankfully, we got lots of playtime. Earlier booking is advised though.

It costs 15 euro in total which I consider fair value. This allows for 1.5 hours altogether and you can help yourself to hot drinks. We shared our time slot with 8 other people along with the hostess and needless to say – they were cat lovers too. Being in the room with serious animal fans had its pros and cons. Of course, there was lovely energy in the room and pure enjoyment. On the other hand, we were all excited to cuddle each kitten and not everyone can do that at the same time. This is perhaps why an hour and a half is given – to give everyone a chance.

As we floated around the one room facility petting kittens and absorbing the atmosphere on a cold October evening, we were told of the stories regarding the kittens. They were all rescued from a local vet and were going to be put to sleep before they were rescued by Georgina – Cat Lounge owner. With two separate litters, they can be easily differentiated by their collar or lack thereof. Each has a fitting name and it’s obvious they receive so much care and love from visitors and minders. When they reach six months, they are re-homed thus making room for more rescue kittens and helping with the overflow of cats in Ireland. It’s like a foster care, you see. Everyone wins – especially the kittens.

When I researched the Cat Lounge, I wanted to ensure I was supporting something positive and ethical and found nothing but positive reviews and explanations. Each kitten has been cared for by a vet, been vaccinated and before being re-homed, will be neutered or spayed. They’re kept warm, fed well and the rules in the Cat Lounge ensures they are left to their own devices. Rules include not forcing a kitten onto your lap and no flash photography.

If I were to narrow my experience down to a couple of tips, it would be these:

*Book for earlier in the day so the kittens are less sleepy. Cats do indeed love to sleep however this might mean that they’re a bit more energetic.

*When entering the lounge, I noticed that lots of cats tend to gather near the radiator and the couches in the back corners. That’s where there is a huge radiator and food.

*The kittens tend to love the lasers above all other toys so responded more to these. There are loads of other toys too to play with by the way.

*Be aware that payment is made on the website with a credit/debit card and not on the day. This means that you don’t need to bring cash with you. It does mean that your place is secured.

*Visit Token for food before or after. You can get an array of snacks, burgers and drinks plus play some games.

Cat Lounge is in Smithfield, Dublin City. It’s super easy to get to (On the red Luas line) and within ten minutes walk from O’connell Street!

If you go along, be sure to share your thoughts.