Sunday, July 13, 2014

Santiago Recap

I figured I would break down our trip into different posts as to separate the travel and exploring from the experience of the games. First up would be recap of our days in Santiago and our renewed hatred of being trapped because of snow. Something of which we went out of our way to see and probably wont do again in the near future. If you watch the any of my World Cup videos, turn your volume off. You have been warned. There is a high pitch frequency that will make your ears bleed. 

 We boarded our direct flight (13 hours) from Auckland to Santiago, Chile knowing that getting into Brazil might be an issue. We were alerted by the check-in counter that we needed a visa to enter the country. There will be no blame in this over site of entry requirements, but its a lesson that we need to double check each other. After arriving in Santiago, we grabbed one of the abundant airport cabs to take us to the apartment we rented for our time in Santiago. On the drive into town, we were able to catch glimpses of the Andes Mountain through the fog that gripped the city for most of the time we were there.

 We had 5 days to wander around the city. Beth also got to test our her leg post surgery with a lot of walking around the city and taking ample breaks. I got to sample lots of different foods, including what I can only assume is the national dish: hotdogs. The hotdog shops out numbered everything else and they had their own take on the toppings. Many of the places served from a simple bar where people bellied up and slammed down a couple dogs and a drink for next to nothing. We also found people selling one of our favorite treats, churros, out of vans and carts. These were dusted with cinnamon and sugar and filled with caramel. Very tasty.

 I used foursquare, which I don't use often enough, to locate some cool places to eat, including Galindo for Chilean dishes and Emporia La Rosa for wicked awesome gelato. Galindo was so good that we made an extra effort to get back during our 12 hour layover. The first night, I had razor claims with cheese as an appetizer and then ribs with spicy mashed potatoes. Beth had Pollo Asada both times. The 2nd time, I had a gigantic bowl of Cazuela de Pollo. The neighborhood that this place is in reminded us of Uptown, but it included a zoo. Which I guess could be like Uptown after the bars close. I highly recommend the dulce de leche gelato from Emporia La Rosa.

Beth found a cute place, from Bella Artes, in a high rise (not a hotel) that was within walking distance of the Central Market, Metro stations, parks, and the under construction Catedral de Santiago. I include this last one as they hung a giant picture of the cathedral in front of the construction. Beth and I found this cool little park that had an elevator to take you up about halfway. Even more surprising was that the elevator was manned for 9 hours a day. This strapping statue marked the staircase into the park. The park is on a hill that was heavily fortified including the remains of cannons and several towers. We were treated to some cool views of the area for the top of the hill.

The weather in Santiago felt like a fall day in MN, so I wore either my fleece or soft-shell and that was plenty. It was funny to see how bundled up the locals were. Then again when we took our Turistik tour to Farellones they donned even more warm clothes. We did opt for some cheap winter boots as mesh running shoes in about 8 inches of snow isn't too much fun. We were picked up from the apartment at 8 am for what was originally planned as a 4 hour trip up into the Andes. However, the night before we received an email in Spanish saying something along the lines that because of the bad weather, they were lengthening the excursion to 8 hours. We were ferried off to a central location where everyone disembarked the current bus and hopped on the one corresponding to the tour you were supposed to be on. Our bus for the day was below. It took us up the 40 switchbacks to Farellones. We stopped twice on the way up, once to put on chains and the other time was when we had difficulty going around a corner.
It was here that I was extremely nervous. All the guys were asked to take off their seat belts and move to the back of the bus. Once there, we were instructed to jump up an down while the driver tried to gun it around the corner. This resulted us slipping backwards. At least there were guard rails behind us. We did this for probably 20 minutes until we were able to successfully navigate around the corner.

The first stop, also was the first time several of the people on the tour had seen snow. They quickly
Gelato time
jumped in and made snow angels and probably the funniest thing I have ever seen. Several made snow balls and tossed them up in the air and watched them fall back and crash into their own face. They were shocked at how gravity worked. Beth and I looked around at the landscape not really paying attention to the snow. Once we got to the resort town of Farellones, which hadn't fully opened yet, we walked around for a spell before returning to the Hotel Farellones for a quick meal. The tour was ready to leave, but there was an accident on the road which resulted in a several hour delay while we had to stay on the bus. 13 hours after we left, we stumbled back into the apartment. We didn't stay long as we had to get something to eat. We wandered over to the Central Market for empanadas and other local treats.

Knowing we had to get a visa to get into Brazil, we looked online for where and how to do it. My search resulted in conflicting information from various blogs. Each listed that you needed to bring; a bunch of photocopies of travel documents, passport photos, means of payment (even though you have to go to the bank to pay), and 7-10 days while you wait for the visa to be approved. However, the where to go was up for debate. It also didn't help that my Spanish is what I can recall from Senora Blanco's class back in '97 and I don't know any Portuguese. Maybe I should have allowed my co-worker, who is from Portugal, to come with.

I could get a job delivering stuff by bike.
The first place we read to go was conveniently located a few blocks from where we were staying. We decided to check it out after hours to ensure that the next morning we would be going to the correct location. It was a good thing we did as upon entering the building and asking which floor for the consulate, we were handed a piece of paper saying to go the other location. This would be a 40 minute train ride and a 10 minute walk. From reading the various blogs and travel sites, we got there early as possible as only 10 visa applications were supposed to be able to be lodged a day. We met a really nice guy that helped us out greatly. Its a shame we didn't catch his name. He was born in Argentina, raised in Boston, and now living in Chile. He was looking to get a permit to drive into Brazil for the World Cup. He helped out with translation and even paid for our metro tickets. Thanks to the guy we lodged our application with as he was laying down speech that applications take 7-10 days to process, until we pulled out our tickets and said we had to get in in order to see our matches. I do understand the lack of planning on my side doesn't constitute an emergency on his. Once he saw our tickets, he wrote a note saying come back tomorrow at noon to retrieve our visas. We also did not have to pay for the visas as it was part of a deal FIFA made with Brazil or it would have been another couple hundred of dollars for each of us.
This store is very similar to my email address.
Beth and I really liked Santiago. City wise they have separated bike lanes including their own traffic lights. For food, they have delicious meats, empanadas, churros, and dulce de leche. The people were really friendly and may have thought I should have spoken Spanish better than I did. It is also one of the few towns we have seen more than once while traveling. Who knows, when we live in South America, we may be heading back. Either way, I think I need to practice my foreign language skills more. Nihongo to supeingo o benkyou shimasu.

1 comment:

  1. I would have been so scared on that bus! Crazy!