15.03.2011 - 18.03.2011 31 °C
After a long flight landing before I set off on the same day (timezones, grrr!) I arrived in Santiago, the capital of Chile. I got a taxi shuttle to my hostel, in providencia, a red painted building slightly faded, crumbled n run down looking. My heart sank n I recalled what it was to 'really' travel again. Oz n NZ had made me wet behind the ears as I worried they would. However, upon entering The hostel I was met by the nicest chillian guy behind the desk who showed me to my room. Trying not to instantly get in bed to sleep, I scoped out the hostel. Kitchen-small but functional, something I didn't care about since the main reason I booked the hostel was for the included breakfast and dinners - om! This lead onto a lounge area that was again functional but not overwhelmingly inviting- needed more lighting -so off I popped to the local supermarket to get supplies for a nice cup of tea! And I'm telling you, I needed it! Feeling slightly resorted I chatted to a few people in the lounge who then left to go on the next part of their travels - was it somethig I said?! So I had a nap until dinner time 9pm.
I had been wondering what food would be stereotypical of chile, particularly whether or not it would be spicy following it's namesake but reading my guidebook it is quite plain fair. I had chicken burger (no bun) with salad rice n tomatoes, lovely n refreshing. Then it was off to bed as I had to get up to town in the morning for half ten to meet laura, a Sheffield girl (yey) I'd sat next to on the plane.
I got the tube the next day (Weds) with Mano, a Dutch guy staying at our hostel, to lisas hostel - so much more western than mine (nice new clean feel) where we sorted out an action plan for the day. We went to the top of st marys hill via the fornicular (tram pulley system) which gave good views of the city and the famous Santiago smog. But I did get to see some if not all of the mountain range that surrounds the city. From the ground you tend to forget this! Then we headed through bellavisa (trendy sport for dinner and going out) towards the main city square that houses lots of beautiful government buildings. A bit parasian, there were artists selling their work and doing sketches next to tarrot readers and chess players. The fountain attracts crowds for some reason I can't comprehend yet and sprinkled within the busting crowds were students covered with eggs, flour and sardines since they were first years and head to 'earn' back their shoes by begging for money until they got 10,000pesos (£12) to bring back to the older students for a big night out!
Since empanadas are the fare of chile snacks we headed to a restaurantthat served them. They are like mini Cornish pasties, the pastry not as thick and very different fillings- mainly cheese and "insert meat/veg here". Three filled me up and I'm looking forward to trying more of them.
Back to my hostel in the hope of a shower only to find I'd be denied due to fumigation of my room- a common practice to keep out bugs. It would have been rather nice had they mentioned this when I set off that morning as I had a newly opened pack of crackers that I had to
throw out I got over it. Honest. Dinner was pesto pasta- big helping which was nicely washed down with some red wine. Their red wine is quite sweet so I'm looking forward to going to a vine yard (or two!) to do some real chilean wine tasting.
Thurs- I managed a lie in, scoffed brekky n had a quick shower n hopped onto the metro to meet Leandro at the Turbus ticket office since we had both decided to go to Mendoza to meet laura there, who had left this morning headed there. Mendoza is a 7 hr bus journey away across
the Andes mountain range, on the Argentinian boarder. Why so soon out of Chile I hear you ask, well why not?! The guide book inferred boarder crossings between the two countires are friendly n commonly used, it cost £15 one way and sounded fun plus I had no actual route ready in my head for south America: just 2 months to get from Santiago to Buenos Aeries, a direct 22 hr bus journey away from one another!
After we got our tickets to leave the following day we headed to the art museum, free, to look at the statues, photos and other displays. Luckily for me Leandro is Brazillian so can speak Portuguese and therefore understand some Spanish, he can certainly hold a conversation here, so he did some translating otherwise I think it would have been a fairly short museum trip for me! After we climbed the smaller hill in the city, steps to the top via levels with trees and plants hiding views until you reached the summit to see (it was a gorgeous hot day) stunning city panoramas wih the mountains in the background as far as the eye could see. Santiago definatley made an impression on me that day.
Walking back to the hostel via a sunny leafty park I packed, chatted to other guests and got ready for dinner- quiche, rice n tomatoes - yum! Since it was St Paddys day we thought we should celebrate by going to the 'local' Irish pub in bellavista. Filled to the brim with ppl wearing green garmonts we ordered jugs of beer. I tried a pisco sours - lime egg and pisco (still not sure what that is) shaken n served in a wine glass. V alcoholic. But nice, it had a tarte aftertaste so I didn't have a whole glass but appreciated it nonetheless. Once we'd done rounds we decided hotdog time, something else chile has a big love for. Especially with advacado and tomatoes- yum! Off to sleep for my early start the next day, looking at my clock unrealised it's half 3 in the morning! Where did the evening go?!