Cajón de Maipo and Concha y Toro et al.

Next morning I cracked on with the brekky a cool 20 minutes later than promised and ran to my walking tour of Valparaiso. I had of course already seen bits from the bus, but it had felt a bit rushed and wanted to cover it a bit more intimately by foot and was glad I did. One part I had seen people working on paintings on the side of houses the day before and was amazed to see this had now been completed. The group was good too. I saw some Of the same spots but could actually appreciate them better closer and on foot. It was also cool that some of the Paintings from day before that were in progress had now been completed so they must have worked pretty fast. The tour finished with a typical Chilean students drink which is wine and Coca Cola then I went for lunch with one of the girls who was free, Stefany, before we split as I headed off to val paraíso to enjoy the beach.

The next one was a pretty chilled day save some drama involving a padlock and a hacksaw…but I met an Irish guy, Patrick who had a lot of good stories from his travels. We went out that night with Stefany and a friend of hers to a place called La piajera and tried a Terremoto (earthquake) cocktail which comprises of cheap sweet wine, grenadine and pineapple ice cream. Lots of sugar and lots of booze as it’s effectively a pints worth. Bar nacional again for some chorillana which is junk food!! Fried meat, eggs and chips with some local beer.

Up early and fortunately snuck in a breakfast early doors before getting picked up by the Tour bus to do the Cajón de Maipo trip. Some breathtaking scenery, Which someone… somewhere… once… apparently… decided was the next most beautiful place after Machu Picchu in the continent. That’s a very big call in my opinion but it was awesome nonetheless. The huge reservoir is amazing and provides 60% of Santiago’s potable water.

Then it was off to the thermal springs to relax and take in the scenery.

Finally with a delicious picnic with Cabernet Sauvignon accompaniment, before heading home. It wasn’t cheap at 60k pesos (68 pounds) but worth it. The wine served was also a winner, really cheap at about £3.50 for a magnum sized bottle but delicious. Chilean wine has been the winner for sure so far. By a stroke of luck Patrick had a bottle of the very same back at the hostel which we polished off before heading out to a club called mito urbano. I didn’t really dance much but had a chat with lots of locals!

The next day we dragged ourselves to the vineyard for casillero del diablo, a famous name back home. It was good, 14,000 pesos (£17) so not cheap but a nice place to walk around. We also bought some good food for a picnic in the grounds.

That night I met Nicole, who I’d been practising some Spanish with and lived in Chile as well as her friend Fran. I tried the Chilean pisco sour and got into a fair amount of trouble for preferring the Peruvian version, then we got through a fair amount of sangria after Fran left as she had to work the next day. Somehow the staff forgot about us and closed up shop, and we didn’t notice… this resulted in us being locked in the beer garden for a quite a while with our sangria and Spanish songs, until it eventually got too cold and we decided to escape by climbing over the fence…It was pretty surreal.

I went to the Sky costanera the next day which is a high point about 300m up that has a frat panoramic view of Santiago, and incidentally much better WiFi than the hostel. I spent a couple of hours there chilling and taking in the view before having a fairly awkward moment with the guard when I collected the pen knife I’d dropped off on the way up for security reasons. He eventually gave back the correct one, the red one, “like communist!”. I laughed nervously and made a swift exit. I hung around the mall for a bit browsing and bought a couple of things, somehow resisting the draw of an ice cream but got a nice chicken curry. Then slept lots.

Patrick left to Patagonia the next day, and Nicole picked me up by car from the hostel and we headed to a new Baha’i temple. It was her suggestion and caught my interest because I’d heard of the faith not that long ago and thought it sounded really nice in principle as it effectively seeks to unite a load of the main religions.

Lunch was more cazuela at a super touristy but nice place with an English name in Bella vista. We went for a big sort of final night out with Stefany and her friend, who got picked up early by a local guy who turned out to be pretty cool in the end… before we even got to the club and he joined the crew. It was good fun and we hit the dance floor properly this time and larked about a bit/ I larked about… the locals can dance disturbingly well. It was an amusing night in all, but ended very late again.

The next day I got some Maccy Ds to soothe the head and we met up for some ice cream in the sun. The Chileans arriving at different degrees of punctuality… with one having fallen asleep…! we tried a bit of street food type stuff the name of which I forget but it’s a sweet liquid with peaches and some seed/ grain type solids in the bottom. We said goodbye to Stefany and her friend then wandered around the city a bit more before going our separate ways. I felt a bit lonely after all that as I knew I was leaving the next day, and a lot of goodbyes recently! The hostel cat, clearly sensing this, opted to stroll into my room and keep me company as I watched some TV and prepared for the flight to my next stop.

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