27 Enero… about 11pm
Enroute from Santiago to Mendoza
So… Santiago. So much to say after only 24 hours. I am discovering that I am actually more effective at feeling out and exploring a destination when I have little time as I use my time wisely. Perhaps, having only about 10 days left and so much to see – even though I vowed not to – I should make some LOOSE itineraries. In Iquique there was so much I wish I had done and didnt (I cant figure out how to type an apostrophe on this computer, sorry) do because I didnt organize it and was a lazy. And these things would have been lasting memories and a lot of fun… not just things like cruising the monuments and museums that the guide book says to do. Just as fun as getting obliterated until 7am each morning and sunning on the beach all day. I came here to experience more than that. Although I do value the social aspect of meeting people – usually over beers on a patio. So need to – at this point – find a way to balance the two.
Mendoza will mean afternoons spent biking the surrounding countryside – traveling from winery to winery, tasting the countrys best. 70% of Argentian wine is produced exactly where well be. Must not be too hungover to partake in this activity daily, note to self.
Okay but thats all in the future. I have to tell you all about Santiago. The ups and the downs….
We arrived in the evening yesterday (26 Enero) and popped directly onto the metro, backpacks and all, which was conveniently located right at the bus terminal. It was the Estassion Central – Santiagos own version of Grand Central Station! Oh thats a lie… First, we were tired and whiney from the 25 hour bus ride from Iquique – and I thought – WWJTD? (What Would John Thompson Do?), haha! I decided we needed some cheering up and I stopped at a street vendor and bought 2 pairs of matching aviators – for which I negotiated a mean deal of 2000 pesos for (originally 1500 EACH but the vendor said I was “veddy beautiful” — sure, after 25 hours on a bus!). Note: 2000 pesos = about 4 bucks. What cheers you up like a new pair of Santiago aviators! Anyhow, so it did the trick. We were down in metro (which is an AWESOME system by the way – so effective I could take it all day, even in 34 degree heat… thats right, you heard me right!). 3 stops later (aka 5 min) we were up on ground level again, asked some quick directions to clarify my map and walked the 2 blocks to our hostel. A nice bilingual girl with a mild case of ADD checked us in and we took no time throwing off our stinky sweaty bus clothes and hopping into the shower – which was nice and hot.
All cleaned up and pretty – ready to take on the city, we head back to the front desk to ask directions to the supermercado. “To buy food?” you ask. NO! To buy beer. ONLY THE ESSENTIALS! We also take this opportunity to ask about hte hot spots on this… Monday night. We dash to grab the beer and end up stopping at a local restaurant for a completo for the road. Back at the hostel, we team up with a nice “chap” from London for some drinks in the courtyard.
At around 1am, we are finally ready to go out. We decide to check out Barrio Bellavista for a quick patio beer and then a club. Its now too late to take the budget friendly metro as originally planned, so we opt for a taxi flagged on the street.
On the main street in Bellavista, we settle at a patio table and order up some oversized and underpriced beers and some “chips” as Rhodri (thats the name of our English drinking buddy) would call them. Not more than 30 minutes into our evening, we are sitting and chatting when a young local guy snatches Savannahs camera right from the table and takes off running. Nearly before we even realize what has happened, Rhodri, along with about 8 other local Chilean randoms who seemed to appear out of nowhere, bolted off after him. We followed behind until loosing them – astonished!
The guys end pu catching 2 of them (I guess there were 4 but its hard to get the details straight through rough translation and broken speaking) and found no camera on them. They think they may have tossed it on the run to collect later or their friends had it. We searched the street, under cars and in garbages… but no luck. I should mention that the other locals that chased him were fabulous! They helped out – angry that this is our impression of their people. Although – thinking of it now – it could be possible some were in on it… I dont know. No point in thinking about it now. We can be thankful that no one was hurt though. No threat of harm. They called the policia and the 2 guys were taken in. Apparently they had also stolen another girls bag. Defeated and upset, we took a taxi back to the hostel. We lost all Savannahs photos from the trip. She had no USB to upload and so EVERYTHING was on the memory card in the camera. Just sickening. And nothing to be done about it….
The next morning was a bit brighter. I cam down in the morning to seek out breakfast. In the kitchen, was the most amazing hostel breakfast I had ever encountered! Fresh peaches, muffins – wrapped up so perfect for a mid-morning snack, fresh bread, ham and cheese and butter to make sandwiches and juice, cafe y tea. I ate mine in the courtyard and brought a try up for Savannah who was still in bed.
The plan (there was a plan as we only had ONE day in Santiago and had to make the best of it) was to follow the CITY WALK that Lonely Planet offered – stopping at all the recommended attractions and eats in the city centre. It was a fairly cheap plan and a great way to aquain myself with the city.
I took off at about 1130… the 2 English guys in toe (Rhodri, from the night earlier and his travel companion, Pete). It takes you to some really great places. Starts off with a hot espresso at a really amazing library. A museum. The most amazing lookout (after a bunch of stairs but after Machu Picchu, it´s easy as pie) and was so worth doing. You get a view of the whole city. We went to this Palace but we missed out because we didn´t have our passports. What else… we pretty much followed it to a tee, but we skipped the 2nd museum because it was 3000 pesos and we figured, who cares and we added in an “ice-lolly” as the English guys called them (or popsicle) because the day was particularly hot. At the end, you end up at another coffee shop which is an absolute MUST SEE. The Lonely Planet indicates that it a coffee shop where all the men go after work at the stock exchange where the waitresses bare “a little bit more”. Expecting to see some shorter aprons… we walk inside this place only to find a pitch black room lit with black lights and women, clad in the tiniest white jewelled bikinis (if you can call them that) greeting us. It was a coffee strip joint!!! Overwhelmed, we giggled for about 30 seconds and head back out the door. Perfect happy ending to your walk hey? THANKS LONELY PLANET!
We stopped at the fresh fish market. The boys bought some mussels that they later cooked up for us at the hostel. They were delicious!! We spent the evening in the backyard, enjoying a beer and our dinner and then said goodbye to the English boys and Santiago and head from the bus station.