OK, here we go with another long update covering about a week of our adventures in Santiago (and surrounds).
- Tue 22: started out the day working from Elkika which looked like it was going to be perfect, but was asked to not be there with a laptop when every table in the place was full. Fair enough. Packed up and worked from the Sala Internet (Internet room) for the rest of the day back in our apartment building.
- Wed 23: Ended up over at Patio Bellavista and found myself at a place called El Cachafaz, where I was served by a young Chileno who finished high school in, of all places, Idaho! While I was minding my own business, they set up just behind me to film a segment of a wine documentary, which was apparently matching up the local wines of all of the countries involved in the Futbol World Cup. I got talking to the Director/Cameraman, and he ended up inviting me on for a “non-professional, off the street” opinion on 3 of the wines they were tasting! Later that night we went in search of food and came across a sushi place called Sushigreen which turned out to be really good. We sat at the bar/counter and talked to the chef who spoke quite good English, and he told us all about how he was taught by a Japanese sushi chef and he’s trying to keep his food authentic.
- Thu 24: Did some work in the morning, then packed up and headed to Buenos Aires for the Christmas weekend!
- Mon 28: Worked from home to catch up on the last few days.
- Tue 29: Had plans to meet up with Juan again, so I worked from home in the morning. We then caught a train to meet up with him, then a bus to Doña Tina where we sat on a beautiful patio and had authentic Chileno food. That included delicious Mango Sours (mango juice + pisco) and a huge beef cazuela.
- Wed 30: As I mentioned previously, it turns out that Rodolfo is, amongst other things, a tour guide with La Bicicleta Verde. As soon as we heard that, we both wanted to try it out, so we booked a tour for this morning and ended up having an almost private one, as there was only one other person; an Englishwoman named Fay. We rode all around the North side of the Mapocho river, then over to the Bellas Artes area, Mercado Central and more. Once we were done and “off the clock”, Rodolfo joined us and we went back to Mercado Central where we had a really good seafood lunch at Tio Willy’s.
- Thu 31: This promised to be a big day, and it didn’t disappoint; in a variety of ways! We had arranged to (hopefully) catch a pre-arranged “tour bus” over to Valparaiso which was supposed to be an everything-included trip: drinks, food, transport, the works. We were to meet at the office where we booked the tickets at 11:30 and get on the bus so the day could begin. After getting off at the wrong Metro station, we hustled to get there, but made it at exactly 11:30. Apparently that time was “flexible” though, because the bus had already left on its rounds to pick people up from hotels/other places. We made some desperate calls with the help of the concierge at the building and managed to rendezvous with the bus on a corner heading towards Valpo. Things improved from there: decent enough food on the trip over, then a pretty good spot to set up our supplies (table, snacks, drinks etc) and hang out, waiting for midnight. We went and ate a meal overlooking the beach, then joined back up with our other revelers for the midnight fireworks show. The show was, quite simply, amazing. From our vantage point, we could see a series of different, but coordinated fireworks shows being put on along the coast by neighboring cities. Valparaiso, Viña del Mar and the next 2 cities/beaches each had a celebration-worthy show going on, and we could see all of it at once. We barely knew where to look! After the fun died down, we eventually packed everything up and made the bus trip back. By 5:30am we were in bed and passed out.
- Fri 1: Ahhhh recovery day. We slept in, although I only managed to sleep in until about 11:30 or 12 from memory. I got up and made some breakfast, then attempted to make some Chilean Salsa (which turned out… OK). I also put together a melon con vino (which Rodolfo educated me about 😉 ) and we made our way up to the pool in the building to lounge around a bit. The rest of the day we just took it easy and tinkered around the apartment since everything was shut.
- Sat 2: Before we came to Santiago, I had been told that if I preferred red wines, I should go to Colchagua valley (South of Santiago), instead of the more tourist-frequented Casablanca (between Santiago and Valparaiso). We did some looking around and found that there’s a fun train ride that goes through the valley, and can be combined with visits to a few wineries. Today was the day. We were shuttled from a hotel here in the city down to San Fernando valley, where we jumped on the train and headed towards our destination. On the train they served us a few different wines, plus some cheese and fruit. The ride itself was fun and gave a great view of the countryside along the way. When we arrived at the station, we were greeted by a performance of the traditional Chilean dance, the Cueca. From there we jumped in buses again and headed to the first winery (Viu Manent), which was awesome. They split the tours into English and Spanish, and we ended up in a small group of 5; me, Robin, our tour guide and a couple from Sweden. We had our tour + tasting, then there was lunch at the winery which was quite delicious. We continued to spend time with our new Swedish friends, and trundled on to the next winery (Anakena). This one was all in Spanish, and we didn’t enjoy the wine as much, but it was still good. Their grounds were very impressive. Eventually we hopped on our buses and headed home, then crashed after a long long day.
- Sun 3: After a sleep-in, we went to explore the other (East) end of Cerro San Cristobal. We walked from the apartment up to the park, then checked out the Japanese garden (amazing view, quite tranquil), some of the hidden paths, the strange, round look-out building at the top, which contains a small gallery, and then the public pool. Wow. That thing is amazing. It’s huge! And it looks like something out of an LA country club or resort or something. We didn’t actually go swimming, but it was fun just to check it out.
So ends another week/update in Santiago. We’re having a great time (in case you hadn’t guessed), but the end is approaching. We realized that we have less than 3 weeks left at this point, and in fact as of this writing, we have exactly 2 weeks left. There’s so much more we’d like to do! More to come.
PS: This entire post was drafted on my iPhone, using the WordPress app and a bluetooth keyboard; geektastic!