Leaving dusty San Pedro behind us, the bus journey took us through miles and miles of endless desert! Everytime we looked out of the window it was the same... more desert sand dunes! Nothing to see here!
This being our first experience of Chilean long distance buses, the bus & service was fantastic and we arrived in Antofagasta bang on time! Take note national express! Antofagasta sat on the coastal plains nestled in front of a similarly named mountain range. It was hot, dry and could hardly be accused of being dusty compared with San Pedro! The streets and houses were colourful but the main streets could have been Derby city centre, department stores galore... they even sold clinique! Chileans do seem to have somewhat of a shoe fettish too!
Pete waited at the bus station while Jan scourered the local streets for a hostal. We only intended staying here overnight so found some lodgings nearby, bit noisy on a main street but cheap & cheerful!
Dumped the bags with the intention of catching a local bus to Monumento Natural De Portada... a natural arch formed just off the coast, rather corwallesque but hotter and without the pasties! However, Jan's knee was playing up still after the El Choro Trek and we didn't fancy the 6k round trip walk from the bus stop to the coast & back. Bandaged the knee up (trying to remember the hot tips from Nurses Devereux back home!). Decided to wander around the harbours and town instead: Down to the old port; the rather lush Yachting club; on past the new port & the extremely battered promenade; through some parks lined with mature palms and back into the city for coffee and cake! Don Pollo cheap and cheerful chicken & chips, then more coffee & cake!
After a mad dash to the local market for bus trip goodies, made it to the bus station in time to book our onward tickets to Copiapo & La Serena. Only 7 hours on a bus today! We had a semi-cama (get us!) basically a seat with the usual recliner and a leg rest... not bad! Hadn't expected such luxurys!