Tag Archives: Chile

Eating your tea off the ground

25 Jul

It is alway good to go the driest place on earth…a place where it is claimed it is so dry (and virtually sterile) that you can eat your tea straight off the ground…cue the Atacama Desert…

Now while San Pedro de Atacama is a bit of a gringo hangout, and full of people trying to get you to take their tour and eat in their restaurant the scenery around San Pedro is truly stunning.

I hired a bike to cycle to the Valle de La Luna (Moon Valley). Now perhaps it was just the heat or maybe just a bad day on the bike but this felt like a pretty tough though very worthwhile cycle..the scenery and colours were truly amazing…

And sunset over the Atacama has to be one of the most stunning things I have ever seen…though the cycle back in the pitch dark without any lights and along a busy road was not my favourite part of the cycle it has to be said

And….though tempting I settled for a huge omelette in a local restaurant and did not eat my tea off the ground….

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My fav things in Santiago

10 Jul

What I liked most about Santiago

I arrived in Santiago planning to stay a few days and ended up staying a week. The place just seemed to suck me in. Or was it maybe just time for a little rest from buses and sights?

Santiago is a great city to walk around as it is small enough to see everything by foot.

These were my fav things in Santiago..

  1. The Museum of Pre-Colombian Art

Great museum about the Incas and the other many pre-Colombian cultures. Did not realise how many Inca settlements there were all over Chile. Totally fascinating and renewed my interest in child sacrifices which I have always found fascinating.

2. Mercado Central

Basically the central market. The building itself was constructed in Glasgow and then shipped to Santiago. Wonderful construction and filled with cool (and cheap) places to eat fish and other local dishes. I tried the choclo which was meat, olives, egg with a paste made of corn. Delicious. Together with bread and the obligatory salsa of tomatoes, garlic, onion. Ummmm

3. Cafe Haiti – a café with “legs”

The cafe with legs is a Santiago institution. Basically businessmen are served coffee (and no more) by ladies wearing seductive clothing. Pretty bizarre as they are situated right in the centre of town and the one I went to was, to all intents and purposes, just a café except for the server who was very attractive and wearing a low cut top. Nice cup of coffee and worth seeing!!!

4. La Patronata

This was the shopping area of Santiago. Now with my tiny rucksack I could not fit much else in but it was worth going to La Patronata for the “culture”. You could buy absolutely anything here. Whole shops dedicated to scarves, earrings, hair clips, super cheap…but my favourite was the jeans display…saves you asking the question “does my bum look big in this?”

Jeans, Santiago style

Jeans, Santiago style

5. Pablo Neruda

He had one of his homes in Santiago. This place was amazing. It was set on multi layers but not connected which seemed a rather strange design for a house. He was friends with lots of other artists and there is even an original Picasso which was gifted to him by the artist. He collected lots of strange things and liked to fill every space with these…some of his random obsessions…he loved anything to do with melons so the house is filled with pictures of these…big shoes…our guide told us that these big shoes had once been outside a shoe shop to show people what the shop sold..bizarre could they not just have displayed the shoes they sell?

Neruda's big shoes

Neruda's big shoes

Some words from Neruda

Some words from Neruda

6. Graffiti

I love graffiti and Santiago had some cool stuff. Just a few of my favs..does this not make you grin?

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrin

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrin

I love her face…

The Face

The Face

And while I am on graffiti my favourite day trip from Santiago was to Valparaiso. The only two words I can think of for Valparaiso are “dirty chic”. This place just breathed bohemia. It has the most spectacular setting with the port area and then houses dotted around all over the hills and accessed by acensores (near vertical lifts). No wonder it is a UNESCO world heritage site.

I loved loved loved just wandering around and looking at the cool, colourful houses and, yet again, the graffiti.

Valparaiso

Valparaiso

Even met some graffiti artists who had come over from Belgium to make a movie for youtube and fill a wall with their “tags”..and here they are….

Graffiti artists, Valparaiso

Graffiti artists, Valparaiso

The two best drinks of Santiago

1 Jul

Try combining strong wine in a pint glass with pineapple ice cream and a touch of liquor.

Then….give it a name that describes the effect it has on you….

“earthquake” or terremoto in Spanish and, before you ask, the answer is “yes” this stuff does make the earth move under your feet….

Me before the earth moved

Me before the earth moved

Do NOT under any circumstances drink more than one of these…they are super, super powerful….the world record, allegedly is 6 terremotos…more than that and I am pretty sure you would be dead, very dead..

If you do, against said advice, drink more than ONE, the following are common side effects:-

  • talking to random Chilean people in the pub when you only speak 2 words of Spanish
  • writing your random thoughts on the walls of the pub, La Piojera
  • declaring your love for random strangers
  • being put in a taxi home and then getting a Chilean couple to walk you to your hostel while having an unknown black substance on your face (I name no names!)
  • going to a family barbeque with a Chilean you have just met in the pub…
  • and lastly disappearing for more than one day and arriving back at the hostel having been only around the corner from it all along….but having felt oh so far away…

Now perhaps the person who invented the next drink was suffering from the after effects of one too many terremotos when he or she made up what is probably the most unusual drink I have experienced so far on my trip….

Try combining cooked barley (yes this is a drink and not some kind of porridge) with dehydrated peaches and then some syrup….put it all in a glass and call it “Mote con huesillos bebida tradicionel uuuummmmm”….this bizarre combination did, in fact, work..it was more like a meal than a drink but was totally delicious…and before you ask, the answer is “yes” you are safe to have as many of these as you like without feeling the earth move beneath your feet!

Me with a "mote con huesillos!"

Me with a "mote con huesillos!"

Three things I love about Chilean policemen

19 Jun

I usually try to avoid the police when I am travelling.  However, not the Chilean police who are probably the coolest police officers I have ever met.  So how did I manage to get a lift- twice (one things I love about Chilean policemen), a tour of some hotsprings (second thing I love about Chilean policemen) and a trip to an empanada palace from the Chilean police (third thing I love about Chilean policemen)?

Well it all started in Bariloche…

After Bariloche I decided to go hiking up Volcan Puyehue.  This seemed a straightforward task.  The bus from Bariloche to Villa La Angostura was very easy.

From Villa La Angostura though things started to get rather complicated.

We got a lift out of Villa La Angostura from a truck driver.  All seemed fine.  Got to the border with Chile.  Then, we were not allowed to go over the border with the driver as he had fallen out with the border staff.  So the driver said he would meet us round the corner…by this time, of course, it was raining really heavily…walked “round the corner” which turned out to be about 5km and the driver was not there.  So ate some empanadas under a tree and started the hike back to the border crossing…was almost back there when we got a lift from “Jaime”.  He agreed to take us over the border in his truck.  What an interesting guy he was…he was an international vet with a speciality in horses..had worked in the middle east and become a muslim…and believed that it was good for the body to survive without food and water for 7 days…am currently thinking should try this as cannot stop eating empanadas and dulce de leche.  He dropped us off at a bus shelter just a bit over the border.  Waited there for a bit and then got a lift from a family to Entre Lagos.  This was where the Chilean policemen came in….

The next day we had to get from Entre Lagos to El Caulle to start the trek.

Checked out the bus…and there was a bus which would take us to El Caulle. Armed with a supply of bread, pasta, some parmesan and some stock cubes we waited at the bus station…I decided to go a walk to see the town of Entre Lagos.  There is not much to it and the shops are like something out of a different age.  People round here seem to be totally obsessed with Lotto as the only shop with more than an owner and a cat in it was the one selling Lotto tickets.  I came back down to the bus stop to see my travel mate waving his arms and shouting “Angie”.  Now usually people only use my name when I am in trouble so was a bit worried about this….and then I saw the police in a truck…oh help I thought what has happened here..I hurried down with a conflict in my mind.  Pretend that I did not know my travel mate and rush into the supermarket in a pretend bid to buy “urgent bread”, while chatting on the phone saying it is “Susan here” thus making it clear I was not “Angie” or approach the group with a friendly demeanour and say in my poor Spanish “what’s going on here officer”.  The first option was never really a runner so approached the group to be told by my travel companion that the police wished to give us a lift to the start of the trek.  Brilliant.

We hoisted our rucksacks in the back of the truck..moved the police issue belt and hat from the seats and started on our way…I thought this would just be a quick lift and that would be it.  How wrong could I be? The police took on us a lovely tour of the area, via Agua Calientes to show us the hot springs! Bonus!

And they dropped us off right at the start of the trek….

Three cold days later the trek was over…

I found myself again at El Caulle with no sign of a bus and no idea of when a bus might approach…at this point a rainbow appeared over the church across the road from the police station…might some heavenly assistance be coming my way I wondered?

Then, the police passed!

I joked to my travel companion that we would never get a lift from the police…ha ha ha I thought…but again how wrong could I be…

Turned out to be one of the same police officers who had dropped us off a few days before…he stopped, moved his police issue hat from the seat, and gave us a lift….

Now this would all be great and would count as 2 things I love about Chilean police officers…but there are actually 3!!!

Not only did he drive us into the town of Osorno in Chile but en route he took us for the most amazing Chilean empanadas at a little roadside shed…these were the empanadas to beat all empanadas..huge, containing mamouth chunks of meat, olives, eggs and spices…wow….

And those are the three things I love about Chilean policemen…..

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