Santiago, Week One

We’ve been here for over a week now, and it already feels relatively familiar and normal (in a good way), and we’re getting our feet under us. We’ve been lucky enough to spend some time with a string of different folks who we somehow managed to get connected up with (all connections from before we got here), and we’ve done some more tourist things, plus started getting some real work done.

These updates are as much for my memory as for any interest they may (or may not) be to other folks, so I don’t doubt that they will bore a lot of you to tears. This is a big one…

Here’s a quick break down of what we’ve done each day since my last post about what we’ve been up to:

  • Monday/lunes: Worked from home all day, then met up with Juan in the afternoon. Juan is one of the organizers of WordCamp Chile (along with Jorge), who I was connected up with via Automattic. We met in the center of Santiago and went on quite a walking tour, with Juan as our fearless tour-guide! After heading home to get a bit more work done, Robin and I went out to get Thai food on Manuel Montt, which was OK, but a bit strange (ordering Thai food, in Spanish). I had a “Thai Pisco Sour” which had coconut milk and coconut flakes. Weird 🙂

    Under Arrest?

  • Tuesday/martes: We both ventured out and ended up at a place called Cafe Museo (because it was right next to the Museo de Artes Visuales). It was a really nice spot to work; outdoors, but in a semi-covered courtyard area so it was cooler, but still breezy. At the end of the day I ended up buying some clothes (2 shirts and a jacket) in a small boutique-ish place, where the girl said she wanted to go to California one day. After that we went to Patio Bellavista with Jorge, Paloma and Phillipo (sp?) for drinks, food and fun conversation. Patio Bellavista is a pretty awesome (albeit quite gringo) place where there are a series of restaurants, pubs and shops all connected in an open-air mall type arrangement, but it’s all very casual and fun. Jorge is off in Brazil for a few weeks, but we should be able to catch up with them all again before we leave.

    Jorge et al

  • Wednesday/miercoles: Robin was off to sort out some Spanish classes on this day, so I walked around and ended up at Ramblas to try to get some work done. I eventually figured out that their kitchen (la cocina) wasn’t open until 1pm (uno pm). I managed to get a very strange coffee, and then sat around and did some work on an empty stomach because I didn’t want to go somewhere else to find wifi. Robin eventually got there, and then the kitchen opened so we could get some food. We worked the rest of the day/afternoon there together, then headed home and off to get some dinner at the Phone Box Pub, on the way to a bit of a function/party. Through friends of friends of friends, we’d managed to get connected up with Ann, who works for VE Global, and happened to be having a party at a bar near where we’re staying here. She was super nice, and we’re hoping to spend some more time with her before she (and we) leaves in January (enero).


  • Thursday/jueves: This was a relatively quiet work-day. We both stayed home and got a bunch of work done again. I worked from the Internet Sala (room), we did some laundry (had to buy tokens to use the machines, approx $2 USD per load) and generally just took it a bit easier. We eventually went out for some dinner at around 10pm and went to a Chinese restaurant which was a little disappointing.
  • Friday/viernes: Today we managed to find a cute little place called Cafe Magdalena which was happy to have us there all day (as most places seem to be). It had comfy couches, good wifi and OK food, so we were set. We ventured out a bit that evening and had dinner at a place over near Universidad de Catolica (near Cafe Museo), underneath a place called “Observatory”. It was something de Angel I think. This delicious ceviche was there:

    Delicious Ceviche

  • Saturday/sabado: We had originally intended to be in Valparaiso on this day, but realized the night before that we’d actually booked the ticket for the next weekend (when we’d be in Buenos Aires!). First thing in the morning we went and changed our ticket so that we could go to Valpo the next day, then went and (verbally) wrestled with some arrangements for New Year’s Eve (víspera de año nuevo). After that we jumped on a Turistik bus tour (meh) and went around the city. We got off at Parque Arauco (massive mall here, one of the biggest in South America) to take a look around. After that the tour went along Av. Alonso de Cordova, one of the “richest” streets in the city, where you find Hermes, Louis Vitton etc.

    Mmmm, Cake

  • Sunday/domingo: We got up early this day and got a taxi off to the Alameda Tur-Bus station, where we hopped on board our 90 minute ride to the coast. The bus was really nice, and very comfortable making the trip itself quite pleasant (although Robin, as usual, slept the entire way). Once we got there, we didn’t really have a plan, so when a (legitimate looking) tour company approached us while we were looking for a map, we decided to take them up on their offer of a tour of both Valpo and Viña. It turned out to be an excellent buy, and I’d really recommend it. I think the name of the company was “Rod Tur” or “Rod Tour”, it operated from a stall right in the bus station, and the staff all wore blue t-shirts or jackets with yellow writing on them. They took us for a drive around Viña del Mar for a few hours, then we stopped for lunch, then went around Valparaiso. We actually spent most of our time walking around, as the tour would go from place to place, then stop and let you out to have a look around, buy stuff, etc. When we got back to the bus station we had a bit of an adventure trying to find some food (who knew it’d be so hard to find some fries (papas frites), when it was on everyone’s menu?!), then got back on our Tur-Bus and headed home.

    Valparaiso View

  • Monday/lunes: I decided that it’s easier to do some work from home in the morning, since a lot of places don’t seem to open too early here. Robin headed off to her Spanish class and I did some work, then at around 10:30 I headed out to find an office for the day. I found a good little spot called Dialogos and set up shop. After a full day of work, we met up with Emily and her fiance Rodolfo for drinks and some food at Bar Central (right near our place). Rodolfo is on the national handball team, while I met Emily, completely randomly over a year ago at a Mashable-sponsored party (when I was working for Mashable). Amongst other things, Rodolfo also does bicycle tours of Santiago, so we’re hopefully going to join him on one to see the city from the street level, and from a more authentic perspective (than most of the other more commercialized tours). His company is La Biciclete Verde (The Green Bicycle!):

And now, for anyone interested, some random observations of life in Santiago!

  • Heaps of venues, even bars, don’t play music. It’s quite strange, you actually have to talk to each other!
  • We (very) often go places and are told that things which are clearly on the menu are unavailable, or that they’ve run out.
  • Most places won’t bring you a check/bill (la cuenta) until you specifically ask for it, and are happy for you to sit around drinking/chatting for as long as you like.
  • There are street vendors all over the place, selling everything from newspapers to snacks to meals to fruits & vegetables. They’ll overcharge you if they can get away with it.
  • If you try to use a credit card (tarjeta de credito) in a lot of places, they’ll come to your table with a portable credit card machine and swipe the card there, rather than take your card and walk away. I assume this is because of a trust barrier (RE: letting someone disappear somewhere with your card).
  • A colorful, flowing dress and black tights has to be about the most popular single outfit for girls here.
  • A lot of places only have a single point/person where money handling takes place. So you do anything else you need to do, then you have to explicitly go to the “caja” to pay before you leave.
  • They say “ciao” here, instead of hasta luego, adios, or anything else. Apparently it’s spelled “chao” or something similar here though.

So that brings us up to today. We’ve been busy, and there’s still lots more to do! This week Robin is doing more classes, I’m working, and then on Thursday afternoon (tardes) we’re heading to Buenos Aires for a few days over Christmas. Having a great time, even if there have been some trying experiences and times thus far with communication etc. As always, there are more photos in my Chile set on Flickr.

  1. Kyle said:

    "We (very) often go places and are told that things which are clearly on the menu are unavailable, or that they’ve run out."

    Haha, was that at the Thai restaurant on Manuel Montt? I used to live right by there and I also work from home, so I'd pick up food for lunch…it got to the point where I wouldn't even bother looking at the menu and picking something out, I'd just ask them what they had they day.

    Welcome to Chile!

    PS. I'm a friend of Emily, she told me she was going to meet up with you guys the other night. So who knows, maybe we'll see you and Robin around one of these days!

    • Beau Lebens said:

      Hah! Glad to hear it's not just us! Your approach sounds like the best way to go to avoid disappointment 🙂

      Thanks for the welcome, and hopefully we'll meet up while we're here, perhaps after the Christmas madness!

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