August 16th was our 6-month ‘anniversary’ of moving to Santiago, Chile. I figured it was about time to get back to this blog thing.
First, we unintentionally ‘celebrated’ our 6-month anniversary by going to Valparaíso for the first time. Valpo, as the locals call it, is a coastal port town less than 2 hours from Santiago. It’s very bohemian and people love it for the quirky, colorful buildings and graffiti art all over town. We just took a day trip so we didn’t have time to hit all of the ‘must-see’ spots. Our #1 tourist destination there was Pablo Neruda’s house called La Sebastiana. We had already seen his home in Santiago and the one in Isla Negra, so we wanted to check house #3 off our list. The house sits on the top of a hill (Valpo is known for its large hills) and it was about 80º that day, so Cadu and I opted for hiking up instead of taking the easy furnicular route. The house certainly had a nice view and typical Neruda décor, collections, and hidden rooms. After our tour, we went to a small restaurant owned by a German woman for a typical Chilean lunch. It was okay. That about sums it up. 😉 With not much more time to spare, we walked back down the hill but this time through the ‘Open Air Art Musem’ which is basically a fancy name for some street art and graffiti. It wasn’t as amazing as I expected. That took much less time than we expected, so we wandered toward the main plaza and got a quick view of the port before heading back to the bus station.
This weekend we finally went on our long-awaited (but free) tour of the Andes! As has been the theme of Chile, it was a bit of a disappointment. The mountains are beautiful and we were lucky it had snowed a lot yesterday so we had fresh powder and it even snowed today. However, they really suck the money out of you. First though, the highlights. Obviously the scenery on the way up/down the mountain. And second, watching all of the Brazilians who were on the tour with us play in the snow and act like kids. haha. They were rolling in it, throwing snowballs, throwing it up in the air in their pictures, everything. They were also dressed for the apocalypse. The only things showing were their eyes. Okay back to the money vacuum… Normally the tour costs 26,000 clp per person which is the equivalent of about $50 USD. The price covers transport up to Valle Nevado ski resort and back down. That’s it. This is the part we got for free. On the way, they stop at a clothing rental shop so everyone can rent boots, snow pants, coats, gloves, hats, etc. Those are also expensive because they know you kind of need them. Cadu and I opted just for snow pants and boots after asking how deep the snow was (about 2-3 feet). Cadu only had tennis shoes and I had leather boots that weren’t very waterproof. For the 2 pairs of boots and 2 pants we paid 32,000 clp (a little more than $60 USD). Just before getting to the resort the tour guide informs you of your lunch options: 1) the best deal. The combo offered by Turistik to take the gondola further up the mountain and lunch for 42,000 clp ($80 USD) per person. Option 1 gives you some more time to play in the snow too. Or Option #2) take the free transport from the ski resort up to the French and Italian a la carte restaurants (the clincher being you need to wait at least a half hour for the free ride and we only had 2 hours on the mountain, and there wasn’t anything to see up at the restaurants). After waiting 30 minutes for the free ride and freezing our feet, Cadu and I decided to look around for a restaurant because we saw someone with fries. Sure enough, there is a small concession stand right there and we opted to eat there. It probably took a total of at least an hour to wait in line to order and pay for our food and then wait in another line to get our 2 burgers. 2 burgers (without fries or drinks) cost us 14,000 clp ($28 USD). Thankfully they were big and very filling! Relatively tasty too. After lunch we had about a half hour until the bus was going to head back down the mountain, so we looked at the gift shop, used the bathroom, and collected some free brochures. Finally, we made the ~2 hour drive back to Santiago and we were sooo lucky they offered to drop us off at home right on Alameda near Santa Lucia!
Those are the two main ‘touristy’ things we’ve done recently. Up next, a little list of things I miss about home. It’s only fair 6 months after living in Chile and almost 8 months now of being in South America.
PS. I hope to update this with pictures.