Saturday, 23 June 2012

La Serena

After my few days in Santiago, I got the bus to La Serena, to place myself firmly in the Astrotourism area of Chile for a wee while.

The bus journey took about 7 hours and was fine really as South America is well-equipped with extremely comfortable buses. In fact, in Chile they have different classes of bus tickets you can buy. The Classico is the cheapest and is basically a seat like you would expect on a National Express coach, except a bit comfier.

The next class up is the Semi-Cama, which is what I went for, and involved a slightly larger seat, with much more ability to recline the seat and a comfortable foot rest. After this there is the Cama option, in which, from what I have understood, your seat is as close to a bed as you could imagine on a bus!

Anyway, the scenery along the way changed a lot. Most of the journey was along the coast, but to the east there were vast areas of desert at times, with very little vegetation, sometimes big mountains, and sometimes semi-desert like landscape. I saw lots of cacti.

I arrived in La Serena around 6:30pm and got a taxi to my hostel (just as well really as it was a reasonable distance and I didn't know where I was going). The hostel is ok, but not great. I don't think I'll be staying here when I come back to La Serena next week. It does have some good points, like a fab roof terrace, which has allowed me to take some nice photos of the city.

I've done a bit of exploration of the city whilst I've been here and a bit of research into the area, in terms of the variety of tourist observatories nearby - there are loads!

I visited the Archaeological museum where I saw an Atacameno mummy and a real Moai statue. I also had a wander around the Japanese Garden (which I had thought was a bit of a random addition to the city, but which I found out yesterday is a symbol of the good export relationship Chile has with Japan).

I booked myself onto a trip to the Observatorio Mamalluca for Thursday evening, but sadly the trip got cancelled. They told me it was because there were clouds in Valle de Elqui where the observatory is, but I spoke to people yesterday who had been at the observatory on Thursday and said it was really clear. I think it was probably a case of not enough people booked on the trip I booked on, or maybe the observatory was fully booked. Anyway, hopefully, I'm going this evening. I've been doing a bit of stargazing from the rooftop of the hostel, I even was able to see the Milky Way (faintly but still), but I really need some guidance on what I'm looking at!!! Hopefully by the end of my time in Chile, I'll be an expert on the constellations of the Southern skies.

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