On Saturday morning we left Ventana Sur Hostel - our home away from home, and owners now friends Ivan and Ivan, for the bus station. The first time in a long while with the packs on we negotiated through the crowded metro to catch our bus. The buses in Chile are fantastic; relatively cheap, efficient and always on time. Unfortunately our bus broke down half way through our 7 hour journey, but within an hour we were picked up by another and somehow arrived at our destination on time.
La Serena has a lovely feel to it, quite different to the other cities in Chile we have visited, we noticed more than ever that the locals took their time walking down the street. We very much enjoyed the peaceful small-town vibe after the chaos of Santiago. With its colonial architecture, large leafy streets, 29 churches and expansive beach it was a great place to spend a few days unwinding and getting our health back on track.
We had intended to stay in La Serena for two nights but due to a full bus on to our next destination, we were forced to stay a third. Although there are a few popular activities that you can do from La Serena, such as star gazing and pisco-making tours we decided to sit back and enjoy the seaside town at our own pace.
We enjoyed an afternoon at the windy but still rather pleasant nearby beach. Sadly a few new and out of place high-rises stand along its’ shores. Apparently La Serena turns into quite the seaside resort during the Summer break, but quickly quietens when the vacationers leave.
We also spent many hours on the roof top terrace of our hostel reading our books to the background cacophony of life on the streets below. The sounds of trucks unloading, buskers playing and Chilean tunes drifting from the neighbours below, combined with smells from the nearby fish market mingled with freshly baked bread ensured a constant reminder that we were somewhere very far from home.
With all the relaxing we took a much needed morning jog through the city streets as business was beginning for the day. A stray dog greeted us upon leaving the hostel and proceeded to follow us for our entire 45 minute jog returning us back to our door. Two gringos running attracts enough attention let alone with the escort of a street dog, we made a lot of people laugh.
Feeling relaxed and very ready for adventure we board our 26 hour bus journey continuing north (but still not even near the most northern point- how long is this country?) to San Pedro de Atacama.