My trip to Pucón, Chile this last weekend was -- in many ways -- like a dream. True, I was able to go there with my girlfriend, and that was (in itself) very nice. However, it was the first time in a long time that I was able to visit some natural hotsprings. (I believe that the last time I had gone to some thermal hotsprings was in 2000, when I was an uchideshi at Nippon-Kan, and we would take occasional trips out to Golden, Colorado, to visit the hotsprings there.)
Getting ready to go was a bit of a stressful task, combined with some serendipity. RR had wanted to go to one of the various locales that were jumping-off points for thermal springs (Termas de Chillan, Pucón, etc.) and was wanting me to make a decision on which one to go to. Needless to say, I was not really paying attention to time, and suddenly it was Friday, and no decision was made. I spent the whole day doing some research, and found that I preferred going to Pucón, mainly because it seemed more potentially picturesque than what I remembered Termas de Chillan to be (I went up there during my visit to Chile in 2008).
However, nothing seemed to be adding up: none of the hotsprings were actually in Pucón, but some tens of kilometers away. This would necessitate renting a car. Furthermore, there were no buses that went directly from Concepción to Pucón that I could find online. The cost of a car rental from Concepción for three days (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday) would have run roughly 200 USD, and I was sure that there had to be a more reasonable option. With nothing much to show for my day, I waited for RR to return home.
She got on the phone with her brother, whose wife lives in Pucón, and found that there was, indeed, a direct bus that went from Conce to Pucón, using Linea Azul. (However Linea Azul's website didn't show any sort of schedule.) Her brother also volunteered to call one of his friends in Pucón who worked at a car rental agency there, and he was able to get us a killer deal (60 USD for 1.5 days + the price of gas). Therefore, at 6AM, we were ready to head to Pucón. ... and found out that the Linea Azul direct bus only ran on weekdays, so we got on another bus to Temuco, and then transferred to another bus line that took us from Temuco, through the town of Villarica, and into the quite wealthy town of Pucón (situated some distance away from the foot of the Villarica Volcano, and on the shores of Lake Villarica).