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7 January - BordeBaker Lodge to Santiago
We'll need some petrol. We have enough to get to Balmaceda where we drop the hire car, but it would be pretty much empty by then and there's nowhere local to fill up. Fortunately, we were only given half a tank to start with so that's all we need to provide, and that means that we can top up at Puerto Río Tranquilo and then use about half a tank for the final stage. Suits us, suits everyone, I think.
It's worth noting that this is the only petrol station for maybe 100km in either direction, so it seems remarkably small and uncrowded to us.
There's a bigger queue for the ladies toilet here than for fuel!
Another delay due to roadworks and single lane operation. Not a big deal. The single-lane section is maybe ten minutes long, so certainly longer than we'd accept in the UK, but this is not a part of the world where things are generally measured in ten minuteses.
From this viewpoint, we can see how the road swirls around to gain altitude.
Interestingly, when we arrive, it's absolutely full of tourist coaches and their passengers all milling about. We sit for five minutes having a spot of lunch and by then it's deserted!
So finally we're back at Balmaceda, and there's again a long queue for the Europcar desk. However, the sign indicates we can just drop our keys without any formality so that's what we do. I suppose technically if somebody damaged the car in the car park we could have some aggro over liability, but that doesn't seem likely and we'll take the risk.
We've now got a bit of time to kill before our internal flight back to Santiago, so we walk into the town.
This is a church, sadly not open to the public at the moment. We have no idea if its interior matches its exterior for style, but we'd love to know. Alas, it is not God's Will.
And a somewhat stylised jet fighter sculpture. I admit defeat.
Looking back across the town square to the airport and its control tower.
Time to catch our plane to Santiago now, where we will have an overnight stay at the airport hotel before our flight back to Britain.
The thrilling Holiday Inn, Santiago. It's convenient, that's about all you can really say for it.
Ok, to be fair, it has this mildly interesting stairwell/atrium/something space. I'm sure there's a better architectural term for what is basically a hole in each floor, but I'm not sure what.
A final beer in the restaurant. Sadly our last night is easily the weakest for quality and service. Ok, not walking-out-complaining-to-the-management awful, but disappointing by comparison with elsewhere. The room itself is fine, so with hindsight, perhaps we'd've done better foraging for supplies ourselves, but we thought a last supper would be nice. No biggie: "Airport hotel does not exceed expectations" is hardly a line that will have people shaking their heads in disbelief, and it's served its fundamental purpose.
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