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Published: January 21st 2014
We arrived to Santiago, the capital of Chile, the first time on New Year’s Eve and quickly settled in in Rodrigo’s and Christian’s lovely apartment. Our attempts to book a table at a restaurant were clearly too late, in addition to that most of the places we tried to book were closed, so we ended up with our plan B, making our own luxury dinner at “home”. The apartment had a big balcony overlooking the western parts of Santiago, so we reckoned we would have a spectacular view of all the fireworks while dining. The fireworks were however only fired at midnight, not like in Finland where it starts at 6 PM and reaches its peak at midnight, so that part of the plan didn’t work out.
We did get our share of fireworks, at Torre Entel in the city center together with most of the people of Santiago. It was so crowded the closest subway station was closed, and even at the next station where we got out there were so many people that it was hard to get out of the station. Even if it was crowded, or maybe because of it, the atmosphere was superb and also
the fireworks were really nice, due to the much greater and friendlier atmosphere in Santiago I would even go as far as to say it was a greater experience than the more spectacular Disney World fireworks we saw in Florida last year, and miles ahead of freezing outside in the Finnish New Year night with a few roman candles. We joined in in the “Chi-chi-chi-le-le-le-Viva-Chile!” chanting, enjoyed our Chilean sparkling wine and hugged the bystanders at midnight, and went back home feeling like the new year had started in the best possible way!
Also in Santiago we went for a free walking tour. We got a brief history and the role of Pinochet explained, and saw some of the highlights of the city center. We also got some recommendations for restaurants, and decided to try out an excellent Paila Marina (=Seafood soup) in one of them. Later on we got deeper insights into the rule of Pinochet later at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights. At the museum we didn’t really get any background, so the walking tour was invaluable also to give some context to the exhibitions on that museum.
We had plan to go to
one of the wine districts for a night or two, but as we were a little short on time we decided to just take a wine tour from Santiago. On the time agreed we went to the address given, a hotel nearby our apartment, but no one showed up. After a while we got bored of waiting, and asked the hotel reception to call the company. It turned out there were two hotels with the same name, and our ride had gone to the other one. The bus had already left, so we rebooked to a similar tour that went the same afternoon, this time the rendezvous worked out better.
The tour went to Concha y Toro in the Maipo valley, one of the largest wine producers in the world. We were shown the area which consisted of the mansion of the original owner family, a vineyard with all different grapes the company produces and the most important wine cellars of the wine maker. The company has wine production all over Chile and also imports grapes from other countries, so only a small portion of the facilities were in the Maipo valley, and mostly used for receiving visitors. After
the tour we also got to taste three of the wines from Concha y Toro.
Most of our time in Santiago we spent walking around the city. We walked up the hills north of the Bellavista neighborhood and from there continued along the hills all the way back to Rodrigo’s apartment. We went shopping in the city center, with the stores mixed with stops at coffee places, one of which turned out to be a “coffee with legs” place where women with very short skirts serve coffee, a specialty in Santiago. We walked to the Santa Lucia hill were we had a picnic in the sun. And when not walking we were sitting on Rodrigo’s balcony enjoying the view, we liked it so much we came back to the same apartment when returning to Santiago after our three days visit to Valparaiso.
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