13.1.12 - 15.1.12 30 °C
And so it begins .... We arrived safe and sound after watching 3 movies , 3 TV programmes and less than 1 hours sleep. First shock of the trip was realising that we had to pay USD95 each before we could enter Chile!! Never read that before we left! Arrived at the hostel around 2ish and knowing we had to keep ourselves awake until nightfall, we went out and walked the streets of Santiago until about 9.30pm (7.30am going by our body clocks so very impressed with that). And it worked! Terry is still a tad tired today but I´m fine...huh, who´s the seasoned traveller now eh!!!
So...Santiago..what a city! We did a 4 hour walking tour today with a guide (for free, can´t get that in Sydney!) and it was unreal. The guide told us some quirky stories as well as lots of interesting info. My favourite was about the coffee here. Apparently Santiago was known as having the worst coffee anywhere in the world so sometime in the 60´s this guy decided to open up a chain of coffee shops called Coffee With Legs. You are able to get coffee from all over the world in these establishments and the waitresses all wear very short skirts, hence the name. But then, about 15 years ago someone decided they needed some spicing up so he opened another version. These ones have totally black windows so you can´t see in. They still have the same great coffee with the same waitresses with great legs but in these ones, they have what they call the Happy Minute. During the Happy Minute the door gets locked and the waitresses jump up on the tables and undress. Just for one minute, then they jump down, unlock the doors and everything goes back to normal. Problem is, noone knows when this minute will happen, its up to the manager. Guess that´s one way of getting customers! Our tour guide told us not to waste too much time in there though because he´s lived here all his life, freqents the coffee shops regularly and has only seen it 3 times. As for the women, there´s no such thing for them, however they apparently get very good service in there, freebies etc. Must be to make up for the inequality ... In case youré wondering, no, we haven´t been in one yet, they aren´t open on weekends. Funny thing is, I´m more interested in going into one than Terry is!!!
This city is huge..and not particularly attractive I have to say. Apart from the cathedral, opera house and one or two other buildings, it´s quite ugly. Apparently one of the ministers who had been to Paris in the 1800s came back to Santiago and decided he wanted to make it like Paris so he set about trying to beautify the city. He decided to build a hill in the middle of the city so he got the prisoners to build it, everything is man made there and it IS pretty. But the people didn´t want him to keep spending money when there were more important things to do so he stopped...hence Santiago is still ugly. The river is the worst river you´ve ever seen (they were the tour guides words, not mine!). Imagine the Yarra x 1000 and you´d be close. It looks more than a sewer than a river.
There´s an amazing square in the centre here where everything happens from comedians on one corner, chess competitions in another, lots of painters, artists, preachers, people doing crazy things - the tour guide said one time this guy decided to climb to the top of the cathedral (one of the surrounding buildings to the Square) and threatened to commit suicide. There he was on the top ready to jump and then he releases this banner which said that he would jump if the captain of the soccer team (or maybe it was the coach) didn´t come back to the team. Not sure if he did or not but luckily he didn´t jump. Everyone was out there for hours watching him, tour guide said it was just an excuse to leave work because noone works here. Apparently after the chilean mine disaster they brought the capsule to Santiago and had it on display in this Square. People were queued up for weeks to see it and take photo. Another good reason not to work. He also told us all the miners were all superstars now and that one guy who didn´t go to work the day of the disaster got depressed. First he was happy he didn´t get stuck down there but now he´s depressed because he still has to go to work while the others get to go on TV chat shows and are rich now!
We´ve sampled some great food here..and heard about some not so great food. Apparently a very popular dish here, which I can´t remember the name of, starts off with a layer of chips, then there is a layer of mince , then comes a layer of cheese, then sausage meat and then on top of it all is scrambled egg! Oh and fried onion is thrown in aswell. We actually saw people eating it and the portion is absolutely huge. We think the chileans must be giving the yanks a run for their money! Another good food story the tour guide told us was about this guy who set up as a street vendor selling nuts. He wasn´t doing well in Santiago, noone liked them, then he had no money so sold his house, car, everything he had and bought a tkt to New York where he put one of his vending carts in Central Park. It was a huge hit, one became two became three and he was all over the city. So then they called him and wanted him to come back to Santiago...decided they liked the nuts after all! Grass is always greener! Now he is a millionaire. I love this story. Food for thought....or should I say nuts.
They love their liquor here too. They have this one drink called an Earthquake. You can only get it here. Its this massive glass, half filled with white wine, then pesco sour which is another highly alcoholic drink they have here, then some more alcohol of some other sort which name escapes me, and then they put a big scoop of pineapple icecream on the top. You mix that in so it become sweeter and go for it. We have not tried this yet. Needless to say if we had, I would not be sitting here writing this!!!!!!! We will definitely have to tomorrow though. Maybe the night time would be a good idea for this! You can also buy a big jug of beer for the equivalent of $2. That is only in the student area though. Food and drink is really cheap here, almost as good as Thailand and Vietnam was. Gotta love that.
Anyway I think that is enough for now. Until next time...