23.05.2013 - 26.05.2013 18 °C
Dear friends and travellers,
I kind of felt like I should finish my blog, even though I’m back in Belgium for a while now. But a lot of you never really knew what I did and saw, maybe didn’t have a clue about the story behind the pictures. So for those who are interested I will write the exciting story of my trip in Chile!
First of all: Santiago is situated about 7-8 hours from Mendoza, where I was still staying. The best way to go is by coach. These busses are almost always semi-cama. This means you are a bit more comfortable than in a European-style bus. Also a lunch is included. The best way to book your ticket is in a bus terminal, I booked my ticket online but payed about €15 more. It is possible though, via websites of Andesmar or CATA Internacional. So prices will lie between €20 and €35 (anno 2013 that is).
The road itself is just beautiful, you go via the ruta 7 which I already saw on the high mountain excursion of our agency. So if you didn’t have the time to do this tour, look around you to get a glimpse of Puente del Inca, el cemeterio de los Andinistas, and of course the Aconcagua. After about 3 hours you arrive at the border with Chile where everybody and everything needs to get off the coach to get checked. This will take an hour if you are lucky.
Already on my first trip the coach broke down, but luckily they have good agreements with other companies, so we could immediately hop on a next coach ,where I got a spot in the front on top, which is the best seat possible to see the whole landscape If you are early to book your seat, book this one!!
After 8 hours I arrived in Santiago. First problem: money. I hadn’t really thought a lot about it so I just went looking for an ATM, not knowing how much money I was withdrawing (200 000 chilean pesos – this makes you feel pretty rich). I took a metro to my hostel area Bellavista, as I had been told the student area of Santiago. I felt reborn, because I had missed to be in a real modern city. It was vibrant, there were buildings higher than 10 meters and people everywhere. The Bellavista area was indeed full of students and above all full of bars and even more fast food. In every corner they were selling something. This is something I discovered more and more the next days, Chilenos are such business people! It rains, they sell umbrellas. It stops raining, they start selling paper towels and even medicine against cold. The sun shines, they sell sunglasses.
My hostel was very cosy, a bit retro. It’s called La Chimba. I slept in a 4-bed dorm with 2 other girls, one Australian girl on her way to a holiday in Cuba, and a South-African girl who was teaching English in Santiago.
The next day we decided to go see the city the three of us together. Not being prepared at all, I just followed them. We saw the palace, which we sadly couldn’t visit. An appointment via internet is needed. Then we discovered an underground cultural centre where they had some really nice expositions. I have never been a real museum type-of-person but it was really worth it and a lot of it was for free.
After a snack in Starbucks (so here was the real world hiding!) we continued our trip through the heart of the city. We got to the central square which was filled with painters, palm trees and old men playing chess. It is surrounded by beautiful buildings. Weather in Santiago was a-ma-zing by the way, end of may (fall) and still about 20 °C. Me and the Australian girl then decided to go to los Dominicos, a whole village of artisan products. A few metro stops away we arrived in a neighborhood with the Andes on the background. The village was absolutely awesome, me and my shopping issues were really in trouble. I bought one beautiful red handmade scarf, which unfortunately got ruined because our housekeeper put it in the washer. Probably karma because I should do my laundry myself haha. R.I.P.
On the way home we passed by the supermarket and guess what! Lactose-free everything!!! If you don’t have this problem you probably won’t understand, but I had been having soooo many problems in Mendoza eating decently! We ate all together in the hostel and had mote con huesillos for dessert. This is a peach-tea drink with a dried peach and wheat inside it. Yes, wheat. Still I would recommend it!
The second day I went out on my own. I started with a visit to one of the houses of Pablo Neruda, one of Chili’s best writers/poets, even won the Nobel Prize. Because of his obsession for the sea the house has the shape of a boat. He built the house for his last wife, Matilde and named it after her hair. Yes! It’s called ‘La Chascona’ and means a wild bunch of curls.
Next on my walk was the hill of San Christobal, which you can accede by foot, bike, but of course I took the train. At the top of the hill you get a magnificent view over the city. Sadly there is so much smog everything seems really gray.
I also climbed the second hill of the city, Santa Lucia. To me it seemed kind of artificial, the entrance is much more beautiful than the top or the view.
The last thing I wanted to see was the Mercado central, which is filled with fish. They were treating me too much like a tourist they could exploit though, so I bought something to eat and went home.
In the evening I was going to meet the German Viktoria, the ex-flatmate of my ex-flatmate Saioa in Spain. Yes, Erasmus makes you have friends everywhere! We and her Dutch friend went to a real Chilean club, where they played only heavy raggaeton and elektrolatino. I kind of missed the Argentinean cumbia already. Even though I think it’s super important to throw yourself in the culture and meet local people, I have to admit it was really nice to spend a night with a friend and people from the same culture. The typical drink from Chile is called PISCO (Sour) by the way!
The next day I went for some visits to other hostels, to provide some contacts for our Monkey Hostel. After that I took the bus to Valparaíso, my second stop in Chile… More about that in a next blog!
Something funny to close off with: café con piernas! I had heard about it but only believed it until I actually saw it. Some bars wanted to offer something different to their customers, so instead of just coffee they started offering “coffee with legs”: coffee served by girls in miniskirts and high heels, sometimes even in bikini. Funny!