Since we “only” spent 16 days in southern Chile, we do not want to do this country any injustice, but except the spectacular scenery in Torres del Paine and the fjords on the way to Puerto Natales, we have not many unforgettable memories.
There are many things that surprised us and at times even disturbed us. Firstly, the country is really expensive, especially accommodation and shopping for food. Secondly, the weather is rather unpleasant: it rains a lot and it is windy, even when the sun is out. Moreover, it tends to be chilly, far more than Argentina on the same latitude. That is of course the influence of the cold Pacific Ocean…Thirdly, the smaller cities we saw (Castro, Puerto Montt, Puerto Varas, Puerto Natales, Punta Arenas) all had rather strange vibes: houses made of wood with thin sheets of metals nailed onto them, then painted in the wildest colour, many times looking abandoned or delipitated, groups of stray dogs, the way people dress, graffiti almost everywhere, all in all quite unrefined.
What we enjoyed was the seafood and the wide assortment of reasonably priced good wine. We had our fair share of sampling wines. The cruise from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales was as well a memorable trip, at least the third day, the first two being far less interesting. Also when being on a boat for three days, you meet lots of people. When we met these people again and again at other traveller destinations in Chile, this bonding is a real nice effect of that cruise. But for much less money, the Inside Passage in British Columbia, Canada, is at least as spectacular, if not more. The number one place in southern Chile is definitely Torres del Paine. This was one of the most amazing landscapes we have seen so far and the best trek we ever did.
Again, two weeks does not seem enough time to make a general judgment on a country. People were friendly and helpful when we asked for assistance, but they did not go out of their way like in Argentina. To close with an example: after leaving Chile we asked a policeman at the border if there was a public phone booth in order to book a room in Ushuaia. He handed Heidi his personal mobile and when she could not get a signal he walked with her far into the steppe where we had a bit of a reception to make that call. We cannot think of any country where this could be repeated.
As a conclusion, we do not regret we were in Chile, but we do not plan to go back there. The advice of the many fellow travellers, who told us: “Do Chile as fast as you can!”, was a really good one.