What a wonderful start to the holiday. We were lining up with everyone else at the boarding gate, and when we got to the point of scanning our boarding passes, the lights went red, not green. We were told to wait near the desk as our passports had not been scanned properly at check in. After waiting nervously for a while, we were asked to step up to the desk and were told we had been upgraded! Score! It meant more food, better food, and a flat bed for a good 6-7 hours sleep. Fantastico!
Our arrival in Santiago was without incident. Walter (owner of our B&B, Casa Moro) met us at arrivals and we had a lovely chat on the way into town about the gallery he used to own in Baltimore and the differences and similarities of Australia and the U.S. He runs the B&B with his partner, Marcelo, both of who are excellent chefs (we got to experience their skills our second night in Santiago and were very impressed).
Our first afternoon was spent walking and getting a feel for the place. As it was Saturday afternoon, most things were closed for siesta, so we found an atrocious fast food place for something to tide us over until our late dinner (we weren’t actually looking for something atrocious, that’s what we happened to find when we were desperately hungry!). It was a place called ‘Schopdog’ and it was blah all round. No surprises really, but we were desperate, and it seemed to be the only food place in the vicinity that offered something other than dead cow. Luckily Walter had recommended a close by and wonderful place for dinner called ‘Confiteria Torres’. We were glad that he had told us that while it looked very flash, with it’s white table clothes and immaculately presented waiters, t-shirts and jeans were not only accepted, but expected! Our lovely waiter (who had a sense of humour and excellent English), made perfect suggestions for our liquid component of the meal – we began with a kir royale and finished with a lovely 2009 Chilean Chardonnay (whose name escapes me). Our meal was 2 entrées and a salad, which we shared – king crab on avocado mousse and a bed of lettuce, prawns pil pil (simply sautéd in garlic and oil), and a green salad of beans, avocado, lettuce, capsicum, asparagus with olive oil and lemon. Perfect!
But once again, I jump ahead to the food! Before we had dinner, we walked to the top of the hill in the middle of town called ‘Santa Lucia Hill.’ It had the most beautiful entrance to a public park I have ever seen. It looked more like we were entering the private grounds of some wealthy arisocrat from the turn of the century (the previous century, not this one!). It had lovely expansive views over the sprawling city, but the view of the Andes was obscured by the semi-permanent haze of pollution (which apparently clears after rain). We strolled back to our digs, had a nap and opened a bottle of chilled Chilean Sauvignon Blanc on our shared terrace and chatted to our travelling neighbours before going to dinner.
Our second day (Sunday) began tardily – we went to bed at 11:30pm the previous night and didn’t rise until 9:20am!! I certainly kicked those 5:30am wake-ups in the teeth, and adjusted my body clock beautifully, all at the same time! Had a lovely breakfast of fruit (with yoghurt and poppy seeds), freshly squeezed juice, cereal and freshly baked muffins before heading out to tackle San Christóbal – the huge mountain in the middle of the city….and when I say ‘tackle,’ I mean, we caught the funicular to the top, wandered around the base of the gigantic statue of the Virgin, and caught the funicular to the bottom again. Lazy as! Walked around the corner to one of the three houses in Chile owned by Pablo Neruda. Had an excellent guide and explored for 50 minutes. Fascinating place. Highly recommended. Intend to see the other 2 houses when we return to Chile at the end of the trip.
Had lunch at ‘El Huerto’ – the best vegetarian restaurant in Santiago (according to Rough Guide). It certainly exceeded our expectations. They had such an amazing and inventive array of salads that we couldn’t make up our minds and settled for a mixed salad tasting platter for two. Now, I know that all this vego talk is putting off all you carnis out there, but suck it up!
We then checked out the very popular Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino with its wonderful selection of items chosen for their beauty rather than their historical or scientific importance.
You will hear more anon…For those wanting to check out our accommodation, here it is: Casa Moro