So we left the wonders of the desert and travelled to Chile’s capital, Santiago for the next part of our adventure. It was a relief as this time I had a car waiting at the airport, two car seats installed and ready to go (I’ve slowly learnt to be prepared). Chilean’s seem to value car seats a little more than the Argentinians We were heading straight for the coast for the first few nights to chill out at a sleepy little fishing town called Quintay, just south of Valparaiso. We really needed to kick back and unwind for a couple days as this travelling caper can be a little hectic (tongue firmly placed inside cheek). We often debate what day of the week it is, alarmingly we don’t have an alarm clock to wake us up and our big decisions of the day revolve around what we are going to eat!
Sans GPS (the car didn’t have the adapter we needed) we found our accommodation without a hitch, Ez’s navigation skills have greatly improved. Piper loved this place as it had grass, a hammock AND a table soccer table. It had all we needed except for Wi-Fi (we really need it as we are quite behind booking a large part of our trip). Possibly more importantly I am also a couple episodes behind “Here Comes The Habibs”. Here in Quintay we ate awesome fresh seafood straight off the boat and sampled the local Chilean wine grown on the side of the mountains. We also played soccer on our huge lawn, Frisbee on the beach, and drove 30km one day in search of wifi to book some accommodation in Santiago for the coming days.
We were hoping for a bit of a beach holiday, but the clouds and fog didn’t leave us for days. We managed an afternoon at the beach and waved across the Pacific to everyone in Sydney on the other side – we were literally straight across. The water is a lot colder on the side (Ez tells me it’s because the oceans currents come up from Antartica over here, I think surely not it’s the same ocean!)). My budgie smugglers will have to wait until Rio to make an appearance.
The most interesting day in this part of the world was the day spent exploring the eclectic town of Valparaiso. It is a UNSECO world heritage site full of colourful buildings that grow up the side of a mountain. The town has more street art than a Penrith train, and the best thing to do it walk to the streets, taking it all in. Piper joined mum in taking photos as we stumbled about. Evie took the stumbled about quite literally and fell down a couple of stairs, taking all the skin off her nose. Being Evie, she didn’t cry and just kept walking. Piper would have cried for hours then claimed she couldn’t smell for days due to a sore nose.
From the coast we headed into Santiago which we were pretty pumped about. We had a little fist pump moment on the way when we stopped at a supermarket. After experiencing Argentinian supermarkets (with nothing imported) we had been finding it hard to get recognisable staples, half guessing at the contents of many items. We were extremely pleasantly surprised at the array of fresh produce and familiar looking items (they even sold Bega cheese – not that we paid the $9 for some).
We arrived in Santiago and Ez miraculously located our apartment using only a map with a hand full of street names listed. She is now claiming to be better than our friends Suri and Tom Tom. We checked into our apartment, a nice little 2 bedder in Bellavista, a fantastic area of the city. Full of restaurants, beer gardens, late night bars and hard core party venues. Not that we would experience the latter, it’s just good to remiss about the “before kids” lifestyle and what I “would have done back in the day, if I ever had a day!”. We did still manage to throw down a few pisco sours and stumble across an outdoor gig with a Chilean band playing awesome Latin American beats. We walked home past a drum circle and groups of people dancing in the street. All on a quiet Thursday night. This city definitely has a cool vibe.
We spent the next few days exploring what Santiago has to offer. Restaurants, kids playgrounds, markets, funiculars, shopping centres, football games (see my post on my Chilean football experience Game Dos Universidad de Chile vs Colo Colo). On a sidenote one day we walked through a university and the students were in small groups practising singing and dancing. A group was singing La Bamba. Just have to say, sung by Spanish speakers it sounds so much better than what I had been used to in Aussie pubs!
There is also a great mix of cuisine in Santiago and we ate local food, sushi, burgers, fajitas etc. The girls loved it all. Our favourite restaurant was a little local place serving Chilean home cooking that was always full of people at any time of day. The American couple next to us thought we were locals because we looked like we knew what we were ordering. It’s nice to know we can fool some people. We were also in berry heaven in Santiago with raspberries, blueberries and strawberries all selling by for around $3 per kilo, yes per kilo.
Santiago was also where we would celebrate the first family birthday on our trip as Mummy turned 30 something (or still much younger than me as she likes to point out). Being the old romantic I had organised a surprise massage and mani/pedi on the morning of her birthday (possibly the real present here was a break from us 3 kids for a couple hours!). When booking the massage, I hadn’t really thought about how the massage might go down. Ez rocked up and was lead into a room. She was told (no English) to take off her clothes. She asked about her undies and was directed to leave on nada! She stripped down to her birthday suit and was ready for the massage. No big deal however with a male masseuse it was a little awkward. She thought it was weird when he took all his clothes off as well (yes, joking, the last part) or at least I hope I just made that up.
Pipes struck up a friendship with the little girl across the hallway. Emilia (although for some reason Piper just called her Liana). Neither could speak each other’s language so they just held hands and played, as you do.
I think Evie has been the most popular person in the whole of South America, even with her scratched up nose and a grubby face. Everywhere we go she just gets patted on the head, the locals love her. It’s quite funny actually. Old ladies squeeze her cheeks, old men tickle her and teenage girls point her out in the street. Piper doesn’t get quite the same attention. It’s either she’s told old or too ugly. I’ll go for too old. Piper if you are reading this blog in a few years I was really only joking about the too ugly line. Just trying to get a few cheap laughs. Really I was. If you still don’t believe me, mum wrote that part.
We packed plenty into Santiago and really enjoyed the city, it has an awesome atmosphere and is very liveable. However, it wasn’t too sad leaving as I’m now writing this post from our next destination, Rio De Janeiro!
For more pictures of our time in Santiago, check out Erica’s gallery