We left early that morning to get on another bus. We weren’t really looking forward to that, but this one was going to cross the alps and include a whole lot more beautiful scenery. I slept through the first leg of the journey and awoke near the border checkpoint to this glorious view. Actually, this photo wasn’t quite as nice as the others I forgot to take.
Immigration took a while, as did customs, since Chile’s environment is protected from Argentina by the Andes and they want to keep it that way. I hid my Cliff Bars all throughout my bag, so thay they weren’t able to find them. I also had the chance to speak with some Israelis, which are a dime a dozen in South America. Not sure why so many of them come here, but they flock like its the land of milk and honey, so much so that signs for tourists are often in Spanish, English, and Hebrew.
We made it through just fine, and after some navigation of the Santiago subway we had arrived in a lovely area of town called Bella Vista. We checked into a hostel that was nothing more than a house with no signage, but it was new and really well set up for use as a hostel. This was what the main drag looked like.
We hung around that first day before eventually going out that evening for food and beers. The street around where we were staying had all sorts of bars and restaurants, so we just picked one at random. Most importantly, they had liters of beer, and the rest of the food was pretty alright. I got some fries with steak and egg. My Escudo beer’s skunky flavor was not so appreciated.
The next morning we decided to do a city tour, which I hadn’t done since Europe. It was just a foursome going along with the guide, but he was good and got us to all the monuments necessary to have a feel for the city. We started things off at a central square that had a lot of the government buildings around it. Have you ever noticed how similar the flag of Texas is to Chile?
We saw the mint, and some palace, and at last a church! It had been the better part of a month since I had last visited one. While much of South America considers themselves Catholic, it is a relatively new religion here and doesn’t have nearly the amount of churches as Europe.
After stopping for a break at a café, we continued onward and then up a hill in the middle of the city. This had been the site of a fort that overlooked everything. I was surprised at how the steps kept going and going, but the top offered a fantastic view.
We kept walking and stopped at a couple more little sites, but at the end of the tour Neil and I had a hunger for some local cuisine. We asked our guide about what we should try, and he suggested pastel de choclo, which is basically a sweet corn mush with beef and chicken. Despite trying to avoid them, Neil wound up with more papas fritas. I really liked this my dish though.
We didn’t get up to much that afternoon but when it was time to eat again we sought out some pizza. We went into another of those street side restaurants that very clearly advertised pizza. We sat down and ordered one, only to have the waiter pause and then suggest that they have papas fritas. No, anything but that! We found somewhere else to eat, and then returned to the hostel where they were having some sort of event. With all the people gathered there, we decided to make a night of it. We ended up going on a day trip with one of the people we meet there, but I’ll get to that later. Austral was much better than the Escudo.
For Neil’s last day before flying back we started with some completos. These are basically hot dogs that are loaded up with all sorts of sauces and toppings. I went with two different varieties, and in each case the veggie to meat ratio was pretty off. I’d show you a picture of mine, but this sign selling them was better in every way.
We also tasked ourselves with walking up to the top of the nearby hill. We had wanted to the other days, but all the public employees were striking. This meant that the park was closed for most of our stay. The sun was fiercely hot, but I did manage to haul myself to the top with a few breaks along the way. There was some white Virgin Mary statue to visit, but the highlight was the incredible view of the city and mountains off in the distance.
When it was time at last for Neil to depart, we stopped at a Taco Bell to celebrate the success of the trip. This was the first time that I had seen one if these for a couple years, so I was more than eager to get myself there. It was a little bit more expensive than the America equivalent, but it tasted just as fantastically as I remembered. I had to go with the crunchwrap supreme, obviously.
Following that feast, with a firm handshake we bid each other adieu and I was once again on my own. It had been a good two weeks together, and of course I really appreciated that he made the trip down to make so that it could happen.