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Published: June 13th 2017
Geo: -33.4691, -70.642
Day 2 ~ October 23
It's 86 degrees F as I write. And this is early spring? Wow.
Our flight landed on time, and our stroll through Customs and Immigration was relatively painless. We were met by a Tauck representative and the three of us were shuttled to the Ritz-Carlton Santiago in the business district. A beautiful hotel, to say the least. We were met by a Ritz manager who welcomed us to the hotel and wished us a happy anniversary. She said that they would like to invite us to have brunch on them in honor of our big day. How nice. I asked if Barcy could come along and they cordially agreed.
So off to the dining room we went where Patrick had his favorite – eggs Benedict – and Barcy and I sampled the local favorite – crab omelet. Yum. We had fresh, fresh fruit and delicious coffee. We figured it would tide us over until dinner. Until we found out what time dinner is! (More on that later.)
We checked in to our room – lovely room, lovely view, even fresh flowers. We did a little unpacking and I filed my Day 1 blog report.
Eventually we heard from the rest of our crew, who were all getting settled into their rooms. But they still needed to eat, so we relaxed.
At 2:15 we met in the lobby and headed out to explore the city. Very cosmopolitan with wide thoroughfares and broad sidewalks. You might even say "elegant". We all commented on the interesting architecture. Someone here must be in charge of encouraging creative approaches to skyscraping.
We wandered an hour, taking in the buildings and all the above-ground landscaping. We stopped for a chilled Starbucks and finished up on the 15th floor of the Ritz, checking out the pool area and the rooftop deck. Ritzy.
We decided on dinner plans: La Mar, which features seafood and Peruvian cuisine. I called the concierge to make a reservation – early, I was thinking, because not everyone had slept well on the plane. (BTW, we are one hour ahead of EDT.) The concierge reminded me that early was 8 pm; “normal” is 10 pm. So we took the early bird special at 8 and hoped we would last. I imagine if he had ever seen “Seinfeld”, he was thinking we were from Del Boca Vista, where
Jerry's parents dined at 3 pm.
We piled in a van taxi at 7:30 pm and took a 30- minute ride to La Mar, a famous Peruvian/seafood restaurant owned by Gaston Acurio Jaramillo, ambassador of Peruvian cuisine. He is the owner of 40+ restaurants in several countries and is the author of several books.
The food was incredible. We dined with Anne Leverone's cousin, Ed Beckman and his wife Kathy, who are in Santiago to start a different Tauck tour tomorrow. They have a Beckman family member who is part owner of a Gaston restaurant in Chicago, so it was a real treat to check out another restaurant in the family. A treat for the rest of us as well.
My, oh, my. It was incredible. My favorite was a tasting of “causas” which are flavored mashed potatoes topped with a variety of meats and seafood. One was better than the next. Everyone raved about the food.
The only problem was they didn't have our reservation for 8 of us at 8 pm, made by the Ritz concierge, and they almost turned us away. When we returned to the hotel, we checked with the concierge and he showed us the record.
Ed and Kathy Beckman, me, Anne Leverone, Barcy Fox, Patrick Arnall, Marti Lanese, Candace Martz
It all worked out in the end, though, because they finally accommodated us. It was a delightful evening.
We returned to the hotel by cab, this time just a 5-minute ride. Gives you some idea of the impact rush hour has on traffic here in Santiago.
We closed our evening at the concierge desk, trying to decide on an activity for tomorrow. We are leaning toward a hop-on-hop-off tour so we can see as much as we can in one day. We'll see what tomorrow brings.
We returned to our room to find a split of chilled champagne and a tray of cheese, presumably another Ritz recognition of our 40 years.
BTW, the exchange rate is 585 Chilean pesos for $1 US. Thank God for electronic conversion apps! We brought local currency with us for taxis, coffees, etc. because there is a 3% fee on ATM withdrawals. Otherwise we are using our new credit card that doesn't have an international transaction fee.
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