South America, Day Five: Santiago, Chile

I really, really love Santiago. It’s my kind of place! We have to be up in five hours (another plane) and we’ve had multiple terramotos (more on this later), so I’ll bid you buenas noches and I shall fill in the blanks tomorrow while we wait for our flight. #AnotherSuitcaseAnotherHall

Here’s a pic I forgot to post yesterday:

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Ok, so I’m sober now. I’m also shattered so bear with me. (Are you spotting a theme to these blog posts??)

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We went on the free walking tour of Santiago city yesterday. Our guide, Felipe, gave us a thorough overview of Chile’s history as we meandered around the streets. Despite an awful lot of building work, Santiago is such a beautiful capital. The streets hum with creativity – street performers entertain the lines of traffic when they meet a red light. Juggling acts, poi spinning and acrobatics surround cars and pedestrians (and the dogs) – you’ll never be so happy to be stuck in traffic.

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(Can you spot us??)

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It’s such a giving city too. In London, anyone on the side of the road, making any kind of fuss, would be waved away. Here, regardless of the recurrence, drivers hand over money with a smile. Same goes for attitudes towards the homeless. We spotted a kind someone sharing their bread with a homeless woman. Saying that, we also saw another homeless person nick the beer out of his fellow friend’s hand as he slept. You snooze, you lose. Literally.

Homelessness is definitely a problem. As are the stray dogs. They’re everywhere, but they’re very friendly (which is good for me because I haven’t got a great track record with pooches). Apparently, families buy puppies, get bored of them when they grow up, so abandon them in the parks. Sad, eh? Well, they seem happy enough and they’re well fed so at least that’s something. Most of the dogs take to falling asleep in the middle of the street – they’re not embarrassed to make you walk over them.

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We also watched Santiago’s version of the changing of the guards – it was much more impressive than London’s. There were loads of them, at least a hundred, and there were about a dozen horses too. Silly music though – including Hope and Glory. I mean, what a way to dumb it down!

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We grabbed a Pisco Sour at Amuleto Cocina de Mercado (only £2!!) and went on our merry way. We picked up a few dogs en route to Nerada’s house, and gave Felipe a decent tip (the others gave the poor guy sod all – arseholes). He gave us a four hour tour of the city and he was informative, knowledgeable, charming and funny. He also spoke excellent English. (His pronunciation of the word ‘conquered’ was quite funny – ‘conk-er-red’, bless him).

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And here’s me with an interesting salt and pepper pot (but not!):

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When we were done walking miles, we had lunch at Galindo (a traditional Chilean restaurant). We ordered the dishes recommended by Ivan – namely steak, chips, onions, egg. It was just what we need to re-fuel. And sober up! Then we moseyed around the markets (all a bit crap to be honest and the fish market nearly made me wretch). Before our legs completely gave in, we sought shelter back in the Lastarria neighbourhood and had a couple more Pisco Sours. At £2 a pop it would be rude not to! There was a Chilean God working on the door so I perved at him for the best part of an hour, until Vicki finally dared me to speak to him. I did. The passion deepened.

Talking of passion, there is a park in Chile that was well known as a spot for some afternoon delight, sky rockets in flight – but couples got a bit too frisky and it was shut down.

And – this morning – before the tour began, we had a coffee and a friendly cokehead (we’re presuming he was on cocaine; his nostrils were bloody and he sniffed a lot) waved frantically at us, came over and asked us to join him and his friend. It was 9.45am. We declined.

Anyway, for dinner we went to La Piojera – a cool hangout that attracts every walk of life, old and young alike. We had more of the beef / chips / egg dish (there was only one option on the menu… actually, there was no menu) and had our first try of Terramoto (“earthquake”, known to be particularly potent). We met a lovely family, who asked us to join their table. We drank, sang (me and Vicki pretended to know the words) and took photos together. It was such an amazing experience. So much fun! And very Chilean.

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The people here are all so friendly. And yet everyone we meet tells us to be careful. It’s not just the blonde hair that attracts attention – it’s also our figures apparently (so we were told). We’re treated like aliens-cum-celebrities. People asked for photos! Not to take them… to be in them. So if you’re blonde or fair then be warned or be excited because you’ll never again receive as much attention.

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(This is us pretending to be models).

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