As soon as we got out of the airport in Santiago (yes, we cheated, we took a plane) we were greeted by its infamous smog, which triggered Matt’s asthma straight away. Going from the clean Patagonian air to breathing in the city’s dirt was a bit of a shock to the system I guess. Because of that, Santiago might not have made the best first impression on us, but hey, everyone deserves a second chance so we took the bus into the city with an open mind.
The main reason for our visit to Chile’s capital was visiting my friend Belinda who is living there with her Chilean boyfriend Felipe (I’ve written about her experiences living abroad before). After having the best shower we had in weeks (hot AND good water pressure!) in her appartment Felipe prepared us a local ‘delicacy’: the completo. Which is basically a hotdog, but with loads of guacamole and mayonaise on top. Winning combination, if you ask me.
Because we’d just had a few weeks of fairly intense bus journeys, hiking and sightseeing we decided to take it easy in Santiago. So we slept. And we ate. We had our first experience with a three course set menu lunch (almuerzo) by accident, when we sat down in ‘El Patio de Simón’, and unknowingly agreed to have the menu of the day (improving our Spanish is still high on the to do list…). Soup, fresh juice, salad, a nice main and desert. We were quite worried about what it was going to cost us but were very pleasantly suprised when the 6,000 pesos (about 6 pounds) bill arrived.
We walked our midday feast off by strolling through the ‘El Brasil’ neighbourhood looking at the colourful wall paintings and distressed colonial buildings.
We also had our first Chilean pisco sour experience at ‘Ají Amarillo’, where you can have them with about 20 different flavours. They are oh so sweet, but also oh so dangerous. And they give you the stickiest mouth imagineable. Just so you’re warned.
After a few days of not doing much at all we decided to do a little day trip to Valparaíso, a coastal city north of Santiago. The city is beautiful and made up of colourful houses spread over its countless ‘cerros’ or hills.Not having had fish in more than a month we decided to try some of the seafood on offer. Matt was a little bit dissapointed with his choice of conger eel fried in egg (and I can’t blame him), while my ‘Paila Marina’ seafood soup was nice although it would probably have been nicer with a little bit less sand in it. We also visited poet Pablo Neruda’s casa in Valparaiso, which was amazing. Very Alice in Wonderland-esque.
– A few days after we left Valparaíso for the north of Chile we saw the images of the horrible fire on the news, which is really sad.-
Our last relaxing day in Santiago ended in a fun concert by one of Felipe’s friends accompanied by some cervecas and the greasiest (but pretty damn tasty) dish of chips, onions, fried eggs and sausages. It’s fair to say that we could continue our journey up road well fed and well rested. Gracias Belinda y Felipe!