I left Mendoza on Thursday morning with Martin to board the bus on an unbelievably scenic bus ride to Santiago in Chile….Four movies later (thankfully in English) and a two hour non moving traffic jam at the border and we finally arrived in the city! We made our way to our hostel aptly named “Chile pepper” which had the biggest beds ever! My transition back to bunk beds was a good one! Having only been given a thin sandwich on the bus, we were starving and headed out to a brilliant restaurant where I had amazing Wagyu beef with lentils washed down with Chilean red wine. On our way back to the hostel we happened upon a jazz bar where the evenings entertainment was just beginning. The music was brilliant – there were five musicians – and the jazz guitarist and trumpeter were particularly talented. We sat there until the early hours drinking wine and pisco-cola and enjoying our first night in the city.
The following morning we got up and went to the Costanera centre – the tallest building in Santiago with a European style shopping centre at the bottom. It could have been a shopping centre in London, having Topshop, Zara etc, although prices were definitely cheaper. As it tempting as it would be to go on a spending spree, without Phil to lighten my load my backpack was already near bursting point, so sadly it was only window shopping for me…Maybe I will splurge when I hit the even cheaper destinations of Peru and Bolivia.
Next stop was the “tours for tip” walking tour. It was a fantastic tour of the city involving street art, historical buildings, the cultural centre and a discussion of Chile’s past as well as the more recent dictatorship. Santiago is full of friendly fat street dogs, and the people of the city do all feed and take care of them. They can even be seen getting onto buses! However, along with lots of street dogs also sadly comes lots of dog faeces so you have to keep your eyes on the pavement to prevent yourself from smelling like a toilet all day! We grouped up with three other guys who were on the walking tour and went to a food festival which consisted of stalls selling olive oil, cheese, salamis, beers, wines and food trucks with lots of different Chilean foods. I had a delicious Wagyu beef and green bean roll with salsa. Set up on a hill in town, the festival had a great feel to it, and once the sun set, the lights strung between the trees turned on and there was even more of a buzz.
Martin and I went back to the hostel at about 10.30, had a shower and change and then went out to a house party. Andrés (who I met in Rio) had really nicely invited us to his friends party. It was really great fun, and lots of his friends spoke great English which helped! Myself and Martin ended up going with the birthday girl and five of her friends to what they described as an “alternative” club – I was imagining punk music, rock etc….so it was a bit of a shock when the first room was playing Mr. Bombastic and in the second room songs were from the 60s! We had a fun night though and crawled into bed just before six – needless to say it was not an early start the following day!
On Saturday, feeling a little worse for wear, we got up and headed to a district called Bellavista for lunch and a wander around a few market stalls. Fuelled, we then climbed a large hill on the edge of a huge park, where there was a large statue of Mary (not quite Christ the Redeemer in RIo but pretty impressive), and a church where christenings were taking place and babies were being held up like Simba from the lion king left right and centre. There were great views over the city and onto the Andes behind, although unfortunately smog prevents them being seen really clearly. At the top we met a couple of the guys from the walking tour the day before and maxed friends with the sunbathing dogs. The view made the walk up on sandy dust paths in flip flops worth the effort, but we did get the funicular down and didn’t take the walk! Having earnt them, we had a couple of mojitos each at the bottom before getting the metro back to the hostel where I promptly fell fast asleep – I had a bus to catch the next morning…….