Santiago- and the discovery of Pisco Sour

Trip Start Aug 23, 2008
Trip End Sep 28, 2008

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Yep Rob and I are now fluent in spanish! Ola along with moochas gracious, pavfavour and not forgetting the all important banos (toilet!!) and youŽd almost think we were locals in Santiago.. .yeah right, but I say that cos this place (Chile) is so comfortable. Weve come across few english speakers but everyone is friendly and open and just sort of talk to us anyway - so yep, 3 days in and were loving Chile more than we expected.

We arrived at Santiago after the 11plus hours flight from Auckland I had at the last minute emailed our hotel and asked for an airport pickup $30 instead of the normal $20 if we took an airport taxi, but I decided even if it is midday and "easy time" that after 19 hours of travel I didnt want to face the anticipated airport scamming which usually takes place... So all confirmed - look for my name on the drivers board coming thru arrivals and no probs.. you would think... all is well..... mmmmh

So all is going to plan, picked up the bags, paid the $61USD arrival tax (yep $61 each!!!... oh well.) and on exiting customs theres the first guy at the entrance with the big sign with my name on it. Hello, Ola and all is happy as we follow him to the exit...... where a 2nd guy cuts us off at the pass with OLA! - he also has a sign with my name on it! - snooked - which one is the good guy in the white and which is the bady in black!... and I paid and extra $10 for this.. sigh
But then the cut in guy says "Gloria?" BINGO.... Ive been emailing Gloria at the hotel when making the booking... the badie in black fads off into the distance to rub off his whiteboard and give it another shot with the next landing (or should I say sucker..) We make it easily now to the hotel and Gloria is horrified. She said this is a new scam she hadnt heard of yet. There is an airport mafia but she would complain anyway. The guy just checks out a drivers sign and then copies it and then grabs the arrivals first.... Gloria was not impressed (but Rob and I were..hee)

The hotel Villafranca Petit Hotel is wonderful. It is a villa in Provedencia one of the nicest parts of Santiago. Lovely houses and tree lined streets with the cherry blossums just coming out like at home... (will be good to see the city again in a month to see everything in full spring bloom and greener). Our small boutique hotel has only 6 rooms, a beautiful lounge room for relaxing and french doors out to a pretty private courtyard with deck chairs for relaxing. $80 Breakfast included and were in heaven... love these soft landings... heee.

The place has really added to our enjoyment of Santiago as its only 2 minutes from the metro which is a breeze to take us anywhere we need to go in the city at 380cps a ticket (about 80cents). All the underground stations here have fantastic murals and art work on all their walls and not much graffetti around the city.. some but not as bad as Melbourne.

Thanks to mums sleeping tablets (dont know who will be my "supplier" when these run out ..hee.) I had about 6 hours sleep in the plane with Rob a bit less but even with the minus 14hour time difference we were feeling pretty good. So day one we checked in and by 3pm (1am Melb time) we caught the metro into Centro to walk around the historial centre.
Santiago city and centre is not special or hugely memorable compared to other places but it was a good chance for us to get a small feel for the place and its rythme.

It was Saturday (yep, same day as we left home.. hoping the time adjustment doesnt kick in hard..ha) and it was typical of anywhere in most cities on a Saturday arvo. All the teenagers and lots of families with kids were just hanging out in food courts, and shopping and drinking coffee.

So we had a nice walk around some lovely old buildings and then took the easy option for a bite to eat as were out of wack on meal times and ordered a coffee and some papas frittas (large fries). Dont be too disgusted as I ordered them at a Chile takeaway and not from the KFC next to it..hee.

Back to the hotel for a quick siesta and at 8.30pm time to hit the streets for dinner... sigh.. everyone knows that thats the time Rob and I normally go to bed.. sigh. But when in Rome in this case SA do as the Chileans do. Id spoted a Chilean bistro (Bar Liguria) really close to our metro stop that Id put in my notes at home... supposedly great atmosphere, food and cheap! sounds like us....

What a first night. The place is fantastic and everybody knows it. The inside has 2 side bars leading through to a large room at the back. The walls are smothered in art/murals/posters/street signs, but the no theme is the theme. The posters were of sketches of Tarzan and jane with cheater hung 6 inches away from a collage of Jesus next to an old street sign from the street outside next to framed ancestral photos probably of the restaurant owners..and up one end a huge orignal mural in fantastic colours filling the end wall.

Put with this the music played all night was eg. the full album of Sgt Peppers followed by a bit of Jet... and what can I say... thanks once again to the net for letting us find it..heee.. love the net.. almost as much as the dogs.... sorry,... where was I...?

The menu was of course a complete mystery but of the 10 (male) waiters there is one who gets the fun of sorting out the tourists. We let him choose for us as we had know idea what he was trying to describe.. but I went with the beef option and rob the pork. The meals arrived and my authentic chillean dish was definitely a piece of corned beef!!!! Robs was a huge pork roll sitting in some broth... good but rich as a complete meal ... it did come with potatoe mashed... lots of options for potatoes here.

So an interesting first meal but the highlight had to be the discovery of the Pisco sour the SA drink of choice.. Rob started with beer but after a sip of mine switched to them also. Im hooked - hope Im not addicted (or alcoholic by the end of the 5 weeks -Im typing this 4 nights after the original discovery of Pisco Sour and I found on the menu last night that its 35percent!.... so that explains alll! - couldnt understand why after 2 drinks definitly a bit tipsy and 3 was approaching definite danger zone for walking back very relaxed to the hotel in a strange city... oh well....heee...anyway By 10.30pm the place was pumping and there was que for dinner... yep wed sure hit SA timeframes- so a great first day and night and Chile is a very pleasant easy modern city.

Day 2.
Woke to wonderful clear blue skies - just what I had on my schedule (heee) and just what all the books and internet said you dont get in Santiago at this time of year (this is the hazy time of year). So once again looks like Rob and I had lucked in with the weather which we seem to so often do on our holdiays... touch wood...

I planned on a clear sunny day because Santiago is a flat sprawling city that is sitting right at the base of the amazing Andes.. there is the sea then the city and straight up to the mountains - mountains that are snow capped at the moment.

We took the cable car up to the San Cristobel hill to see the fantatic views of the city with the Andes backdrop.. which when hazy are hiding behind the cloud/mist. Give Rob the sea but Ill have the mountains anyday - magic... stripped down to a tshirt at the top and with a couple of photo shoots of the madona at the top and an icecream on the beautifully sunny terrace overlooking the andes.... (sighhh.. heaven).

It was then down the other side of the hill by funicular - a box carriage on pullies that is over 100 years old.
A quick walk from the bottom of the funicular and we were at Pablo Nerudas house which was close to the base of the funicular. He was a Chillean winner of a a Noble Prize for Liturature and a true artist..a complete individual to hard to explain here but soooo interesting - his autobiography will be a must read when we get home (youll love it Sandy - Ill get it for you) This house was where he's lover lived and he would go there for secret visits. (he was married at the time)

He's best friend was pabluo Picasso and Picasso won his Noble prize at the same time as Neruda.. for PicassaoŽs picture of the dove. We had a young guy who did an english tour of the house for us with 2 young New Yorkers. Being told his life story really make the house fantastic and we will definitly go and check out his second home in a few days when we visit Valparosia.

Then a stroll around the bohemium area of Bellavista with all the families out enjoying their sunny Sunday outing -

Siesta time back at the hotel and then 8.45pm - time to hit "Our Bar" again for dinner (why mess with a good thing...heee) and who is at the next table to us but the 2 New Yorkers from NerudaŽs house... quite a few pisco sours later (Michelle the girl had discovered the bar also the night before and was Pisco sour hooked also.. she said they tasted similar to Margaretas) Rob took a stab at another "authentic chillean" dish off the menu and when it arrived - lamb shanks! - Robs fav so very happy boy.

Back to the hotel by midnight at we are now officially operating on Chile time.

Breakfast at 8am, packed our bags up and stored them for the night and caught the metro to the bus terminal to catch the bus to Valparosia - wonderful
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