A Travellerspoint blog

Chile

Andes Mountains... and a date!


View World Tour 2016 on Glichez's travel map.

Yesterday was another amazing day in Chile. Today’s agenda included a day trip into the Andes Mountains to Cajon del Maipo.

I was picked up from my hotel around 8:15 and found that there was a couple from Brazil and a couple from Scotland on the tour as well. We made one last pickup and two people from Colorado joined us! Their names were Sarah and Ryan; Ryan is from Parker and the three of us were able to chat a lot about Colorado, our travels, etc. My first impression was that Ryan was VERY cute! :-)

We headed out of Santiago and made our first rest stop at a small restaurant where we were served tea and coffee. Our tour guide, Josefa, also picked up a couple bottles of wine for us to enjoy later on. The main reason for the stop was to collect the food for our snack once we reach our destination.

After leaving there we made two quick stops along the way to admire the beauty of the Andes Mountains. The views were stunning as we were surrounded by the snow-capped peaks; we even got to see a glacier on the top of one of the mountains.

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We drove on for a while more before reaching our destination: a dam and made-made lake nestled in the mountains. The area was packed with locals who had headed out of town for a short day trip and we had to walk much of the way to the best vantage point. The road was a small dirt road and all of the cars arriving created some chaos.

The walk took us along some snow and ice covered parts (and I even slipped and fell at one point coming back!). The lake was gigantic and was nestled right up with the snow on the mountains. It was very serene and peaceful as well. The weather wasn’t too bad, slightly chilly with a light breeze, but not nearly as cold as I had expected. We spent some time hanging around and enjoying the view before heading back to the bus.

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We drove part of the way down the mountains before pulling over near a small stream to have our wine and snack. The snack consisted of two types of cheese; chocolates; bread with avocado, dulce de leche, and a local Chilean green sauce. We also had the two bottles of local red wine.

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I tried everything: both wines were quite good, the avocado was amazing, and even the green sauce was tasty. I was also a fan of the dulce de leche, but the other Ryan didn’t care for it at all. During our break along the stream we saw three condors flying around the mountain tops and they eventually descended and got quite close to where we were sitting.

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Before leaving we took a group photo:

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Along the drive back we made one last stop at a local restaurant for some local beer and empanadas. I had one with beef, cheese, onions, and a boiled egg. It was delicious!

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Sarah and I teased Ryan about the beer because he wasn’t a fan of beer in general. He had one though and even finished it too! During most of the drive back from the dam I had spent time chatting with them both, getting to know them better. Finally, I asked them if they had plans for the evening and if they’d like to grab a drink. They said yes and invited me over to their hotel: they had bought some beer and Pisco the night before and we planned to drink that.

We reached the city and their hotel shortly after 18:00. Our first order of action was to find ice for our drinks; Ryan and I searched the entire floor and could not find the ice machine (this despite the fact that the hotel provided an ice bucket in the room). We decided to just have our Pisco with Coke (what the Chileans call “Piscola”). The Pisco smelled like Tequila, but when mixed with Coke it tasted just like a rum and Coke. Ryan and I had a couple of those to drink; the second (or third) that he made for me was quite strong as he was determined to finish off the huge bottle of Pisco before they headed back to the States the following evening.

I was strongly flirting with Ryan during the evening – I had been correct earlier when I thought that he was gay. He was somewhat shy and quiet, but would smile and blush a lot (plus he has a very cute, a VERY slight stutter that was adorable).

We also had some instant coffee to help us all wake up at this point; it was some help. Around 21:30 we decided to head out and grab a bite to eat. I was going to take them back to the restaurant that I ate lunch at the day before, but since it was so far away, we went to a local place near the hotel. I’ve no idea what food we ordered, but it was like a stew that was spicy and served with bread.

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Sarah and Ryan each had a Chilean Pisco Sour while I had a Chilean beer with the meal. Ryan and I sat next to one another and I asked Sarah to take a few pictures of us. Ryan reached over to put his hand on my leg, which he seemed nervous to do at first, but I told him it was ok. LOL

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After finishing our food, we headed back towards the hotel. There was a Wendy’s nearby and Ryan wanted some fries, but we arrived right as they were closing and thus couldn’t get anything. Back in the hotel we had one last drink. Sarah went to take a quick shower, leaving Ryan and me together alone – finally! We chatting for a couple minutes and then we just made out for a little while (and he's a great kisser!). It was fantastic and the perfect way to end the day!

By this point it was nearing 23:30 and I needed to head back to my hotel. After saying goodbye to Sarah, Ryan walked me to the elevator and we spent a minute making out some more before I had to leave. The walk back to the hotel was quick, only about 15 minutes. There were many people on the street and I felt quite safe (we were also staying in the safest part of the city, which helps). After getting back to my room, I sent Ryan a quick text and then called my friend Jake in Seattle (via Google Hangouts). We chatted for a while and I told him all about the amazing day I’d had, especially with Ryan. I finally went to bed around 2am (Chile started Daylight Savings Time at midnight, so the clocks had jumped ahead by an hour).

It was an amazing day, especially getting to meet and hang out with Ryan. It was an unexpected highlight of my time here in Santiago. I never expected to meet someone who I'd get to spend such a great time with, let alone someone with whom we'd develop a mutual attraction. It was also nice to make new friends. I really hope that I'm able to see Ryan again once I get back to the States!! :-)

This morning I’ve spent hanging around the hotel, packing and getting ready to fly out to Asuncion, Paraguay today!

Posted by Glichez 06:32 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

It's delightful, down in Chile


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11 AUGUST

Yesterday was another long travel day as I headed from Puerto Iguacu to Santiago. My flight was not until 13:45, so I spent the morning relaxing at the hotel and reading by the pool. I've been so busy over the past week and I needed the time for relaxation. I was somewhat worried about the airport transfer that I had arranged: they never reconfirmed the pickup time and I had tried contacting them several times. Thankfully they arrived on time and I arrived at the airport in plenty of time.

My flight plans for the day involved a layover in Buenos Aires, where I would have to transfer airports (from AEP to EZE), which I wasn't really looking forward to having to deal with. However, the gentleman at the check-in counter managed to change my flights so I no longer had to change airports - and the new flight arrived 15 minutes earlier than the one I was originally booked on! The airport at Puerto Iguacu was very small, with only a few gates.

The flight to Buenos Aires was quick and smooth; they served a light snack of sweets that was quite delicious. Upon landing I stopped to grab a bite to eat for lunch at the small food court located just outside of the international departures area. I am glad that I decided to eat there rather than going through the international security: there was no food service beyond that! I had a 5 hour layover and we finally left for Santiago around 20:20. Again, a rather uneventful flight, arriving in Santiago around 21:45.

I had arranged my transfer to the hotel before leaving the States, but I was unprepared for the chaos that was the Santiago airport. The shuttle company had a fleet of shuttles constantly going to different parts of the city, with a central dispatcher coordinating everything from curbside. I had to wait a few minutes for a driver to arrive that was going to the Provedencia area (where my hotel is located). I finally arrived at the hotel around 23:00 and was exhausted. I checked in and went right to sleep.

12 AUGUST

Today I had two walking tours of Santiago, both arranged through the local company Tours 4 Tips. I had to take the metro (subway) from my hotel to the tour meeting point. The metro itself was straightforward, as any metro is, but buying a ticket was slightly confusing. The is a fixed price for a ticket, no matter how far you are riding the metro; the price changes depending on the time of day. There is a lighted sign at most stations that notifies you what fare is currently in effect: high, medium, or low (the color on the tickets correspond to these sings).

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The first tour was the "Santiago Offbeat" tour, which focused on the local life of the city. Among those on the trip was a couple from San Diego and a young guy from Atlanta. We began by strolling through several local markets that are hot spots for locals. There were specific markets for different types of goods: fish, flowers, meat, vegetables, etc. Within each market were numerous little restaurants, often with only a handful of tables. The people were friendly, welcoming and it was very nice getting to walk around and enjoy the "real" Santiago.

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Along the way we stopped and had a quite bite to eat from one of the many street vendors. We had a sopapilla with sweet ketchup and a local sauce which was quite delicious. Our next stop had us take the metro up to the cemetery where we explored and were told about the burial practices here in Santiago. Everyone is buried in niches throughout the cemetery and the families either rent or buy them and often use them for several bodies (the most bodies in one is currently 12).

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We made a lengthy stop near the grave of former president Salvador Allende, who was overthrown in September 1973 by Pinochet. At this stop we were given a very objective retelling of the events that happened during the coup that brought Pinochet to power, along with the conditions of his 17-year dictatorship. The guide explained that opinions on Pinochet are still heavily divided between those people who only experienced the benefits of his rule and those who suffered.

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The final stop took us to a local bar where we were treated to the Terremoto Drink (Earthquake Drink): sweet wine, grenadine, and pineapple ice cream. It was rather good and I was one of the few people to have seconds on the drink. By this time it was 13:30 and the next tour started in 90 minutes. After saying goodbye to the guide and tipping him well (he was a fantastic guide!), I made my way back to the metro. The guy from Atlanta joined me and we chatted for quite a bit; he exited the metro to head back to the markets while I continued on to the area around the meeting point.

I decided to grab a bite to eat before the tour and stopped in a small restaurant. I ordered Chorrillana, which is a dish of sliced beef and onions, served over fries and topped with two fried eggs. Needless to say, the food was delicious!

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I had local beer with my lunch as well. I asked the waited to make a suggestion and he brought me a very good Kuntsmann beer, of which I had two with my meal.

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Speaking of the waiter, he was most definitely giving me flirty eyes during the entire time I was there. He even winked at me at one point - and it was a very flirty wink. He was very cute (the first cute guy from South American that I've seen so far) and I wish we'd been able to actually chat. Sadly, he spoke no English and my Spanish was too shitty for us to have any real conversation. Ok, let's be honest, my Spanish is just fucking awful. LOL

By this point it was time for the second tour, the Santiago Highlights tour.

This tour focused on the main sights of the city, of which there are but a few. Again the guide was outstanding and provided some awesome commentary throughout the tour. We first stopped by where the military once head its headquarters during the Pinochet years, which was also the location that Allende hosted a UN convention just prior to being overthrown.

One particular point of interest was a set of door handles of two fists. Originally, under Allende, they were pointed up in the sign of solidarity and defiance. Under Pinochet they were turned upside down and looked as though they were handcuffed. Now they have been restored to their original setting.

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Our next stop was La Moneda, the presidential palace. This was the location that Pinochet had bombed during the 1973 coup and where Allende made his last stand (and later committed suicide). The palace has been restored and continues to serve as the presidential palace. In the same square was a statue that had a bullet lodged in its cheek from the day of the coup. Another fun fact: the mobile game Pokemon Go had recently made the square a hot spot and thus it was filled with people on their phones playing the game!

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We headed to the Plaza de Armas, which is a massive square filled with people, many of them selling their goods along the sidewalk.

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Our final stop took us to the Belles Arts metro station where there were two amazing murals painted on the sides of the buildings around it.

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I headed back to my hotel after the tour and went to grab a drink in the bar downstairs. I had received a complimentary drink voucher when I checked in and decided to have a Pisco Sour, a local drink. The waiter seemed surprised that I would want the drink since I'd never had it before. However I found the drink very pleasant! It was indeed quite sour, but refreshing at the same time.

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Posted by Glichez 17:34 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

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