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South America » Chile » Santiago Region » Santiago
December 26th 2008
Published: September 30th 2017
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Lunch at the central market - I went with the fried conger eel - juicy, flavourful, incredible! The greasy fries were kind of nasty, and there were no accompaniments other than fried onions and fried eggs. The eel was served "a lo pobre", a bit of a sarcastic commentary because it means "poor style", which obviously isn´t the case with such a massive serving of food.
Geo: -33.4691, -70.642

I had my usual crap sleep last night - it was difficult to sleep at first because it was hot, but things rapidly cooled off and I ended up waking up because I was cold. Not expecting anybody to be up for a while, I went out for a run - I´ve never run for the sake of running, ever in my life before. I almost had a heart attack after about 15 minutes, so I decided to stop there. Downtown Santiago wasn´t a great place to run anyway, as things were a lot busier today, so dodging pedestrians was a problem, and there wasn´t much to see, either.

Back to the hotel for a shower - no signs of life from Ben, Ha, & Monica´s room (hereafter referred to as BH&M), so I had breakfast on my own. It´s a good thing I wasn´t eating anything like eggs and bacon that required use of a knife and fork - otherwise I would´ve stabbed myself in the eye when one of the female employees walked into the dining room! I wasn´t very impressed with the girl-watching yesterday in Santiago, but today definitely made up for it!

This hotel seriously
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I can't remember for sure, but this might've been the former Congress building.
lacks business sense - they´ve got this girl working in the back office, where nobody can see her! Don´t they realize how much more business they´d generate if she was working the front desk? Especially with the backpacking crowd - most of them simply show up at a place, and ask to take a look before deciding if they will stay. I don´t think a single guy would turn down the hotel once they saw her! She could even quote some outrageous price for this slightly run-down place, and they would still stay! And come to think of it ... after seeing this employee, I no longer think this place is slightly run-down. In fact, I think it´s worthy of being classified as 5-star. I wonder why I´ve suddenly changed my mind ...

But in all seriousness, it makes sense, doesn´t it? Personally speaking, I´ve returned a number of times to Toledo´s Hotel Sol, and it´s NEVER had anything to do with the hotel, except for one little thing - and that little thing happened to be Spanish, cute, sweet, petite, and sitting at their reception desk!

Anyway, the breakfast definitely was not as impressive as the picture presented on their website
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The justice building, I think.
- it looked like quite the spread in the photo, but turned out to be only toast, yogurt, some pre-packaged nut bread that wasn´t too bad, and some really bad coffee. Of course, I could´ve been eating cardboard and would´ve never known it, because I was a little distracted by the female employee ...

Finally caught up with BH&M - Ben and I decided to head off to the bus station to buy our tickets for New Year´s Eve in Valparaiso, since the girls were still getting ready. Buying tickets ahead of time is a necessity, since 2 million people will be converging on the city for the big fireworks celebration. Supposedly, tickets book up well in advance during Xmas week for numerous destinations, especially Valparaiso.

We had some troubles finding the ticket office and ended up on the wrong floor. On the elevator ride down, some old lady brushed up against me and left a big wet spot on my shorts - I hoped that she was carrying a water bottle which had leaked on me, because I had just showered earlier that morning, and was in no mood for for somebody peeing on me!

I had a dumb Spanish moment
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Plaza de la Constitucion.
buying our tix - I kept asking for tix for the 31st of December, but the cashier kept giving me a strange look. I had been accidentally asking for the 23rd, over and over again ... We successfully purchased our tickets and went back to the hotel to find the girls. The girls had disappeared, so we hung around a while, waiting for their return. We sat on a couple of sofas and started chatting with Brent, the first Aussie we encountered on this trip.

The beautiful hotel employee kept walking by and every time, Brent and I would stop mid sentence, watch her walk by until she was out of sight, and immediately resume our conversation as soon as she was gone. Ben just kept laughing at us, and recounted how at breakfast, all the men immediately stopped whatever they were doing as soon as she stepped into the breakfast room. What can I say? The girl is qualified to work at any Spanish hotel reception desk - you really need to see this girl to know what I am talking about! Or just go to the Hotel Sol in Toledo and see if Isabel still works there!

We hung
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Interesting sculpture just outside of the cultural centre that lies beneath the Palacio de la Moneda.
around the hotel for over an hour waiting for the girls, and finally decided they must have gone shopping to get Monica some clothes, since her luggage had been delayed. Starving, we made out for the central market for some seafood. We dodged many aggressive restaurant workers trying to convince us to eat at their place, until we settled on one a little farther away from the ones located in the middle of the market, which are apparently just a little more touristy and pricier.

As we were being seated, some old lady was telling us that the food was terrible and service disappointing, and that we should leave. Ok ... I asked another man how his food was and he said good ... the place was packed, which is usually a great sign, so we continued upstairs to our table. Turned out to be a good choice because everybody was pleased with their meals, which we washed down with some Escudo, a Chilean beer.

Brent´s got the typical Aussie backpacker story - it´s not the first time he´s done an extended trip, but this should be the longest because he has quit his job and is planning on traveling until
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Inside of the cultural centre.
the money runs out. He also gave us a bit of a rundown on the lovely hotel employee, Macarena. Guess Brent had done a bit of a double date with her, the hotel manager Mily, and an American expat living in Santiago. Brent suggested that if I liked Macarena, I should meet Mily - but unfortunately, she won´t be back at the hotel before I leave 😞

The lunches were devoured in short order and we headed back to the hotel, and went our separate ways at Plaza de Armas - Ben was off to find the girls, Brent to do his own thing, and me to the Museum of Precolumbian Art. There was a somewhat interesting exhibit on the Changos, a fishing people that were considered to be primitive and savage by early explorers. The museum was ok, but nothing special. I think some of the historical facts that were presented were more interesting than any of the art. Such as ... shamans used to force themselves to vomit to cleanse themselves internally, before receiving the sacred hallucinogenic powder. You can´t make this stuff up - there's something so Kate Moss about that!

After, I did some strolling -
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Little figurines that look like something out of "The Nightmare Before Christmas"
over to the justice building, Palacio de la Moneda, Plaza Constitucion ... not much was going on around town. The Cultural Centre beneath the Palacio de la Moneda was quite interesting. There was a special exhibit on the art of Diego and Frida, a pair of Mexican artists. I didn´t find Frida´s art all that interesting, except for a few pieces that displayed some Surrealist elements, and found Diego´s works much more enjoyable. There was also an exhibit on a furniture designer named Starck - the whole thing seemed like one big Ikea display!

I did some more walking and shopped for a cell phone - I figured that a cheap, essentially disposable cell phone, would be good to have in South America, for booking accommodations, keeping in touch, etc. Hopefully I can simply swap the SIM card when I get to Argentina and use it there, as well. I also realized that I could probably use this phone in Spain, and hatched a new plan to marry a beautiful Spanish senorita - I´m going to scrawl my cell phone number in female bathrooms all over Spain, and just above it I will write "For a good time call ...".
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Even the dogs take a siesta here to avoid the afternoon heat!
Oh wait ... this plan won´t work! This is Spain, where many don´t speak English! My note will have to say "Para un buen rato, llame ..."

Back to the hotel, where I met up with B H&M for dinner. The hotel called us a taxi, and we were off to Nuñoa for dinner at Guris Los Leones, a Brazilian BBQ restaurant. I knew we´d be eating a lot of BBQ´d meats soon enough in Argentina, but figured it´d still be nice to kick off the trip with some unlimited bloody beef! Plus, the website mentioned that the head chef was named Isabel, so I was hoping to catch a glimpse and see if a chef named Isabel could be as cute as a hotel receptionist named Isabel ...

On the ride over, I chatted with the driver Renee, and I casually mentioned the beautiful Macarena, to which he responded "Macarena? ESPECTACULAR!!!" You don´t need to speak Spanish to understand that, do you? He´s a pretty chatty and nice guy - he gave us his card to call him later when we were finished dinner, and ready to go back to the hotel.

I had earlier made a reservation, but the
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Giant Xmas tree.
hostess couldn´t find it. Luckily the place was huge, so there was no problem getting us a table. We started with some cognac chicken, which looked to be a rather simple dish, but turned out to be best of the night, flavourful and tender. The hot and cold buffets had a great selection, but the food was only so-so. Vegetables, pastas, and ... sushi??? Unexpected at a Brazilian joint! The BBQ´d meats were flavourful, but seemed a bit dry - perhaps they are less fatty than Canadian meats? The smoked ham was also very good, but everything else was pretty average. Ben and I were feeling a little tipsy after having a couple of VERY strong Caiprinhas with dinner.

We wandered over to Plaza Nuñoa and listened to a blues guitarist for a bit, before calling Renee to come pick us up. We figured we were getting a little ripped off with the taxi like all tourists here, but didn't realize how bad it was until much later. Renee dropped us off just down the block from the hotel to avoid paying the hotel a commission. I can´t remember exactly how much we paid, but later found out that it was
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Dinner at Guris Los Leones - some little nibbles to start. Pretty average.
triple what a local would have paid. In the end, it´s only the difference of a few CAD dollars so it really doesn´t matter, but it still sucks to be scammed!


Additional photos below
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Finally! I've been to a few different Brazilian joints, but have never managed to try chicken hearts, considered a Brazilian delicacy. Not too bad!
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One of the strong caipirinhas, and torta de tres leches, a traditional, very sweet, and rich Brazilian cake.
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We were amused that the place was a bit of a family restaurant, complete with a playground for the kids, and yet they had a girl dancing around in a thong as entertainment! All the kids were gawking at the woman, seemingly mesmerized. Much like the grown men!
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Plaza Nunoa, with a blues guitarist doing his thing under this little shelter.
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Church near Plaza Nunoa.


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