A school reunion on the other side of the world!

Trip Start Feb 03, 2013
Trip End Dec 13, 2013

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Where I stayed
Cat Allen's house

Flag of Chile  ,
Thursday, April 4, 2013

Hola all,

I must start by apologising for the delay in the next few blog posts, it's all my fault and Garry has been nagging me for a month now to write this blog post so we can get back up to date. I'm now tired of having so much fun and have made time to catch up!

So Garry and I's next stop was the capital of Chile, Santiago. For tourists there isn't a great deal to check off your bucket list but we went solely to meet up with my good school friend Cat(hy) who has been living there for over a year now and I hadn't seen her in 18 months so was very excited.

4th April - We woke up on the bus coming into Santiago. It was the best night bus we had had with the seats reclining about 160deg and a nice big blanket ensuring us a good nights sleep. For once our bus got in early and we waited at the terminal for Cat who was coming to greet us. She had made us a sign but unfortunately we had beaten her there so she couldn't use it, but it was a sweet idea and would of been cool to see but it was very nice to be greeted somewhere with such a friendly face. It was so good to see her.

Cat had ridden to the terminal on her bike so she put us in a taxi and explained to the driver where to drop us and she raced us back to hers. She lives in a first floor apartment in a converted large house with nice big rooms and high ceilings, it was a cool apartment. We later met her 3 housemates Casey, Gus and Leo who were all very lovely and made us feel very welcome in their home, and not forgetting Toby the awesome cat.

We spent the morning chilling out whilst Cat had some work to do and visited the market a couple of blocks away and picked up some fruit to help Cats sore throat. Cat then cooked us some blueberry and banana pancakes - they were sooo good, I had forgotten what a good cook and housewife she was!

We spent the afternoon with Cat exploring her neighbourhood which was really nice. We then decided to enjoy the sunshine in the park with some beers catching up on the last 18 months. We also went back to the market to get ingredients for the evening choripan feast.

We enjoyed our first taste of Chilean red wine in Chile whilst Cat and her housemates created a spectacular dinner of choripan and pebre. We bought the grill into the living room for it to be more social and Gus grilled the choripan sausages and vegetables whilst Cat made the pebre; a tomoto based condiment and it was all super delicious! A couple of their ex-pat friends, Joe and Tella, joined us and we ended up playing an awesome drinking game called the hat game, I won't go into the rules on here but I can guarantee I will be introducing it to some of you when we return as it is a very fun game.

5th April - Today we visited the borough of Bella Vista which was different to Cats neighbourhood but very nice and very cool with loads of awesome street art. Cat had a meeting with her intern, Carlos, so Garry and I went and walked around the nearby park before meeting back up with them and heading into Bella Vista. Cat has an awesome business in Santiagio called Foto-Ruta which is a city walking tour where you explore the area with a set of 7 clues to go out and photograph. Bella vista is the neighbourhood it was being hosted in at the weekend so we did some flyering around here before lunch. We had a curry for lunch which was so nice as it was spicy and we are missing a bit of spice as in the previous countries everything lacked spice and you can't even get pepper on the table. We then went for an ice cream where i had Dulce de Leche ice cream and it was incredible, we sat and enjoyed them on the very comfy bean bags. It's so nice to be shown around by a local who knows of all the great places!

Cat headed back home as she was feeling unwell with her cold so Garry and I went and climbed the 880m hill, San Cristobal with a 22m high statue of the virgin Mary on top. We followed the road up as we couldn't find the short cut footpath so it took us ages to summit but the views over the city from all around the hill were cool. It's such a shame though because they could be infinitely better if it wasn't for the big smog problem the city had. The city is huge and the imposing snow capped Andes are on the outskirts but unfortunately they can't be seen clearly due to the thick layer of smog covering the city. We got the funicular back down and headed back to Cats.

In the evening we went to a bar which specialises in a Chilean drink consisting of pineapple ice cream, fermented wine and grenadine. The bar was ram packed and we watched the bar man make about 30 of these drinks in one go and as soon as the last bit of grenadine hit the last glass people were throwing themselves and their money to get one. It was an interesting drink and i'm not sure if i like it or not. We stayed here for one and met more of Cats friends before heading to a house party around the corner.

6th April - Today we went on the Foto-Ruta event in Bella vista. We met Cat in a cool art cafe in Bella vista where she hosted a 40 minute presentation about foto-ruta, photography and the local area. There were 6 people in our group and we then all headed out separately with 7 clues including 'wrapped in wires', 'my wife wouldn't like that', 'feeling blue' and 'rusty and ridiculous'. The idea is that you have 2 hours to walk around the neighbourhood looking for photo opportunities to fit the clues. It is really great because it inspires you to actually look and take in the surroundings where you would usually just walk down a street looking straight ahead. We then all met back up in a nice bar where we all shared a picture from each clue. It was very interesting to see all the different perspectives for each clue and discussing the reasons behind it, we enjoyed this over a nice glass of white wine.

Garry, Cat, Carlos and I then went on on the main street for dinner. We were treated to a great street performer who was a man in drag with a boom box. He would go to the outdoor tables and basically harass the men. We spent the evening drinking wine and watching films.

7th April - We spent the morning sorting out our bus tickets to our next destination, Mendoza - back in Argentina. When we got back we went and walked around the nearby outdoor street market two blocks away. This one was much bigger than the one we had gone to on our first day, they literally sold everything from car-boot sale style stores to butchers, fishmongers, grocers etc. 

 We then went to Joe's house for a BBQ and an afternoon of drinking. The BBQ was great and we met yet more ex-pats and had great pebre and guacamole with Aussie cooked steak and choripan. We had planned to go watch a football game in the evening but we were having such a great time at the BBQ we weren't fussed about going and carried on drinking. We then headed back to Cats were the boys played a couple of games of FIFA before we played the hat game again!

8th April - Today Garry and I cooked lunch for Cat and her housemates as a thank you for letting us stay. We cooked a steak salad and the steak was so huge it took ages to cook properly but it was OK. Not long after lunch Cat had to go to her first photo-shoot on the otherside of the camera. She was being a 'model' for a pharmacy company and had no idea what she would be advertising which was very funny, a Joey from Friends kind of moment!

We stayed at the house and Garry and Gus watched the Manchester derby whilst I uploaded some photos. After a couple of games of FIFA, Garry finally beat Gus and called it a day. We then went for dinner with Gus and Casey to a nice Japanese style place off the main plaza. Cat was still at her shoot but we had to go without her as we had a night bus to catch and it was getting on. Garry had wanted sushi for ages which is the reason we came to this place for dinner but he ended up ordering something he thought was sushi but was actually cooked fish, I think he enjoyed it though. As we were finishing our meals Cat rode up looking all done up and very lovely. We had to say a quick goodbye though as we needed to get to the bus station, however it wasn't a final goodbye as she was looking after our big rucksacks and we would be back in a couple of days.

We got a taxi to the bus station and boarded our bus. After a couple of hours we started ascending the Andes to the border. It was a very easy border crossing and we were away in no time with yet another Argentina stamp in our passports. 

So that was our first stint in Santiago and it was so great to see, catch up and hang out with Cat.

K x x x

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