Nichol and Matt go to Chile!

Archive for dogs

To finish a tour.

And we’re back.

Our apologies for keeping anyone hanging, but yesterday we had our first Santiago brunch since leaving Victoria at Cafe Melba, in the well-to-do district of Las Condes. Breakfast isn’t big here, so a proper Western breakfast was much appreciated. This excellent brunch (for the record: a Benny on French bread? It rocks.) was followed by a pleasant stroll through yet another park and some time watching an aviary with about 30 of the seemingly happiest budgies, parrots, lovebirds and cockatiels that we’ve ever seen. We then returned home on the Metro to ‘suffer’ a long-awaited brunch coma. While our apology is heartfelt, we don’t feel too bad. 😉

Before moving on to today’s adventure in Chilean bureaucracy, we feel it necessary to briefly finish the end of last week’s tour.

We left off during the tour’s break at a quaint little cafe at the foot of Cerro Santa Lucia (which we incorrectly called ‘San Lucia’ in the previous post). After some water and an underwhelming croissant, the tour moved on towards (what?! Another park?) Parque Forestal. Winding through some very Europeanesque side-streets, we were taken to a funky ice cream shop called ‘Emporio La Rosa’. As indicated by the line flowing out the wide-open double doors, and the smiling faces crowding the patio, this place is among the better known of Santiago’s ice-cream shops, of which there are many! Unfortunately the line prevented the tour from including some sampling, but apparently the trademark of this ice cream emporium is some of the most exotic flavours that one can imagine. While stopping short of suggesting some of the more bizarre flavours such as cheesburger or fish, the guide was fairly adamant that ordering something as banal as ‘vanilla’ is a wasted visit.

Crossing one more street brought us to Emporio La Rosa’s adopted overflow patio, Parque Forestal. Strangely enough, our first stop was in front of a large bust of Honest Abe Lincoln himself, placed so because the building nearby used to be the American embassy. Corralled by two main avenues, the park is long and narrow, culminating with ‘La Fuente Alamana’, a large bronze statue of a ship representing early German immigration to the country and gifted by Germany in honour of Chile’s centennial. Chile recently celebrated their 200th anniversary and speculation regarding what Germany would give this time was reportedly rampant throughout the city; sadly, they didn’t get anything.

Meandering across the ‘mighty’ (and muddy) Rio Mapocho, we next entered the last neighbourhood of the day, Bellavista. This district is known to be a very student-centric area, evidenced by the many eating and drinking (if we had a peso for every Heineken sign hanging…) establishments that line the sidewalks. This will definitely be a location for us to return to as the choice of international cuisine seems endless. One place in particular sounds fantastic, as we are assured that it serves some of the most authentic Patagonian cuisine in the city. Also, we’ve been promised a free Pisco Sour if we drop the tour guide’s name. Winding our way up a quiet, cobblestone street we finished the tour outside the former house of famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. His house has been converted into a small museum, which features many of the nautically themed objects that he obsessively collected. It is said that he loved the sea, but was afraid of sailing, and so as any neurotic artist would do, lived vicariously through his collectibles. We’ll return to the museum at some point during our stay and will be sure to add some further details afterwards. At the end of the tour, the time came to pay for the tour in the form of whatever tip we feel was warranted, we gave a well deserved 15,000 CLP (~$30 CAD). If anyone reading is interested in doing this tour, more info can be found at; we highly recommend it!

Switching gears a little, we spent today in a blisteringly hot and confusing haze of Chilean bureaucracy (registering our visas with the police and attempting to obtain RUTs). Unfortunately, and despite our best efforts we were unable to obtain our RUTs (necessary to register for school, get a bank account, etc.), but we’ll be making another attempt first thing tomorrow morning. We can’t express how grateful we are to Matt’s supervisor for burning his entire day helping us with this venture; without his help it would have been near impossible. After all is said and done we’ll wrap the whole experience up in another post, and may even start a whole new page with helpful tips for those looking to come to Chile for an extended stay. You’ll need it.

On a lighter note, we finally snapped a picture of one of our neighbourhood pooches, which we are coming to love. You’ll find Blacky being fed a treat by a local Santaguina in the Pictures section. Chuck and Willie haven’t presented their photogenic sides yet, although we did pass by a napping Chuck on the way to the Metro this morning.

Until next time!


In search of bagels.

We ventured out to the edge of Providencia today, where it meets with the more residential Nunoa district. Unfortunately our trip up Cerro San Cristobal had to be postponed due to an unexpected stomach ailment that struck Nichol yesterday. Nothing serious, but it meant that we took yesterday pretty easy, with a stroll through a really lovely ‘sculpture park’ across the bridge a few blocks away replacing our planned hike up the hill.

The park, ‘Parque de Esculturas’, is beautiful. Heck, Providencia itself is beautiful! As much as we love BC, we can honestly say that Providencia’s wide sidewalks, lined with vibrant green trees, ever-present benches (perfect for people-watching) and sun-drenched plazas easily matches the nicest of BC’s neighbourhoods. Every corner turned brings into view at least one open greenspace dotted with happy (and remarkably affectionate) couples enjoying the incredible weather. One thing is for sure, Chilenos in love are not shy! The park itself runs between a major avenue and the disappointingly brown Rio Mapocho and contains about 30 abstract sculptures created by a number of different Chilean and European artists; some are a little too abstract (for Matt’s tastes anyway), and some quite striking. We’re sure that it won’t be our last stroll through the sculptures.

Our trip this afternoon was inspired by Nichol’s discovery of a business at the edge of Nunoa called, of all things, ‘Montreal Bagels’, apparently one of the only places in town where you can find bagels. So off we went down Ave. Pedro de Valdivia with the sun at our backs (as Nichol’s currently red shoulders can attest) in search of tasty bagels. We were stunned by how nice this street is, especially considering that it is a major artery between Nunoa and Providencia! We passed several schools (including at least one English speaking), local bistros and many Chilenos walking at their (sometimes frustrating!) ‘relaxed’ pace. After about 2 km we finally found ourselves at our target…only to find that it was closed. C’est la vie. They will tell you that they don’t take siesta; we’re beginning to wonder if this is really true. So back up Pedro de Valdivia we went with the sun at our fronts (as Matt’s red nose can attest).

Having been here for a week, we’ve observed some ‘different’ aspects of Chilean culture. For starters, the 80’s called and they want their mullets and fanny packs back. Not that we’re really the ones to be judging here, but some things are just not meant to be revived. They’re everywhere. On a slightly more disturbing note, the addiction to plastic bags and the unawareness of recycling here is downright depressing. We’ve already garnered more plastic bags in one week than we typically would in about about 3 months in Victoria! Bottles have ‘not returnable’ (in Spanish) written on the as often as not, and even then there seems to be very few options for returning them anyway. But it is what it is, and we’ll just have to do the best we can with what services there are. With all that said, their sidewalks are immaculately clean!

Tomorrow we’re going to go on a 4 hour walking tour of Santiago Central with a local troupe that operates based on tips. Online reviews of the tour are fantastic, and the trip conveniently goes up Cerro San Cristobal in addition to some of the more historic and culturally significant sights. We probably won’t lug our DSLR around the whole time, but we’ll try to snap a few photos with our iPods and return to some of the more photographic spots another time.

Next up: Chile’s urban mutts, including our block’s 3 perros whom we’ve dubbed ‘Blacky’, ‘Willie’ and ‘Chuck’. Until then!


PS We found bacon. And it was good.