New Year, Valparaiso and Santiago

You do never travel alone – besides the people, who follow my travel from the distance, there are more cyclists travelling on the road than you think. The first I met in Costa Rica, two brothers from Argentina and along my path towards all the countries to the the south I’ve got to know over 100 more. Some are cycling north, others south, some are cycling for two weeks, others already for years, some people you meet over and over again, others you  will see just for a few minutes or even seconds if you don’t stop to chat. You add them on Facebook, like their travel blogs, follow them on Instagram. With some you decide to pedal together for a day or weeks, unforced, still independent, but happy to share experiences along the way.

So the idea came up to meet in Valparaiso for New Years. 6 cyclists out of around 20 were able to make it in time on their way south. After Christmas and crossing the Paso Aqua Negra, I was late to arrive in time at the agreed place and I wanted to skip the rather unattractive part in between La Serena and Santiago. So I took the bus and this time I first talked to the driver before getting a ticket. And due to the last minute purchase I got a good discount on my ticket and everything went good. I went out in La Calera, where I was invited for lunch and a drive around the area. The guy was the owner of a restaurant, a olive plantation and a transport company, a big fan of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis, collects old cars and motorbikes and seemed to belong to the upper social class of Chile.
The next day I met Vincent again, a canadian cyclist who started from his home town. Together we cycled the last few kilometers to Valparaiso, taking the road over Con Con along the ocean.

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Suddenly I spied one cyclist at the boardwalk, then a second and finally 5 in total. By accident our new years bicycle group run up to 11.

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The night we spent on Cerro Concepción in Valparaiso, where we had a good view to the firework. Nearby a DJ was playing music, good music, outdoor und a tree, so we danced through the night until the early morning. The next two days we discovered Viña del Mar and Valparaiso, went for a swim in the sea, tasted some local food and walked trough streets full of colourful graffitis.

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Big city life with a bike
After one night in the mountains and one night in the Casa de ciclistas in Los Andes, I arrived in the capital of Chile, Santiago. From all big cities during my travel my favourite referring to the friendliness for bicycles. The first evening a critical mass of about 4000 people rode their bikes trough the center and some suburbs, a great start to get to see some parts of Santiago. A bicycle network of 40 kilometers provide a better infrastructure for cyclists than in a lot of German towns. Bike rental stations and guarded bike parking spaces can be found in the city. Mario, a chilenian bicycle activist gave me a map, designed for cyclists with all the important information – great! Besides that the city is close to the ocean and the mountains, has a lot of parks and offers various cultural and culinary sides to discover. But after 5 days I was replete of the hurly-burly and longed for calmness and more cycling trough nature. I went to the bus terminal and went over night to Temuco.

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