So, apparently, Sarah is allergic to Santiago. As our bus made the hour and half long trip from Valpariso, Sarah rapidly grew more and more congested. The last couple of days she´d been flirting with a cough, but as our bus raced pass the vineyards surrounding Santiago, she found herself increasingly sneezing, and her nose grew congested.
The last day in full Valpariso had been a pleasant one. We had awoken early, and taken the commuter train to Vin Del Mar, just a couple hours north. Vin Del Mar had proven to be a bit underwelming though. It´s a tourist beach town, and unfortunately it proved long on the cheapo gift stands and the beaches didn´t seem to be calling our name. So, after a pleasant walk around a large park, we caught the train back.
Back in Valpariso, we made the hike up a nearby hill to look at an old cememtary. Then, after some debate, we caught a funicular back up onto our hill. We´d be avoiding riding it, because we thought the people who lived on the hill were boycotting it because the fares had been increased. But, on the other hand, we were tourists in Valpariso... we were there to ride funiculars. And, I mean, just look at it, it wants us to ride it! Its begging us to ride it.
In the end, it turned out there wasn´t even a boycott... so we happily rode it up the hill. Joy!
That night, we spent the evening in the Vinilo Cafe (at least I think that was the name), raeding, drawing and sipping wine. Followed by a late night dinner in a tapas restaurant down the hill.
The following morning, we rose early, ate breakfast, caught a public bus to the bus station (which we were quite proud of ourselves for), and then hopped on a bus to Santiago.
Arriving in Santiago, with a very stuffy Sarah, we caught several very congested subway cars to Barrio Brazil, a neighborhood I´d stayed in the last time I was in Santiago, and the neighborhood that Lonely Planet referred blissfully to as a "bohemian enclave." Frankly, the last time I was there, I wasn´t blown away, but figured I´d give it another chance.
After checking into our hotel, we set out on what I would eventually dub a "death march," to cehck out Barrio Brazil. Eventually, tired and a little disillusioned (thus the term "death march"), we ended up in a corner bar, where we had some beer and swore we´d more to another neighborhood tomorrow.
After probably drinking too much beer, we needed food and tooled down the street to another restraunt. At the restaurant, we split a dinner who´s name escapes me now, but which could safely be called the Chilean Gut Bomb™. Let me describe it: First take a plate and put a heaping pile of fries on it. Not, cut up a steak, and put that on it. Then cut up a hot dog, and a chorizo sausage, and put that on top of the steak. Finally, fry a couple eggs, and stick those on top of the whole thing.
It makes late night Denny´s food look positively healthy.
Then we went and got ice cream. We´re decedant like that.
The next morning, we made good on our pledge and relocated to a hostel in Barrio Bellavista. Greener and hipper at the same time, we agreed imediately that it was a beter neighborhood. Unfortuantely, Sarah´s allergies were still wrecking havok on her, and she spent the afternoon in bed while I took care of some odd chores.
That evening though, we took the funicular to the top of the hill in Parque Metropolitano, where we could properly watch the sun set on the sprawl of Santiago. Tres romantic... even with the occasional sneeze. We then ended the day at El Caramaño, a traditional Chilean restaurant that served food which was a little better perpared than the previous nights grease-fest.
Today, Sarah was able to wrangle some control over her sinuses with the help of her allergy medication, so we set out on a full day. First, we took a very long subway (metro) drive our to one of the Concha Y Toro Winery. There we got to tour the ground, see the cellars and taste some wines. At first, I almost through a mild temp-tantrum because we though we´d missed the English language tour. But, when our tour guide found out we didn´t speak Spanish,he gave us an English tour on the side. Yay for awesome tour guides. Boo for Tyler´s pouting.
Heading back into Santiago after the tour and tastings, we stopped at a super market and bought sandwiches, bananas and raspberry juice for a picnic at Cerro San Lucia in the center of Santiago. Cerro San Lucia is a small hill with an old monestary and fort on it, that has been turned into the park.
Last time I came to Santiago, I explored the park on my own, where I was amazed at the number of teenagers making out on every bench and green patch of lawn. In South America, most people live with their parents until they get married. So, its much more common to see young couples making-out in parks, bars, restaurants, etc, since that´s the easiest way for them to get some "privacy."
Anyhow, last time I was in Santiago, I remember thinking to myself while I was at Cerro San Lucia: "If that girl I just started dating, Sarah, was here, I´d totally make out with her here!" And now, three years later (and thanks to the wonders of allergy medicine) I was able to make that dream a reality.
Now its early evening in Santiago, and its also St. Patrick´s Day, so in a little bit, I think we´ll go out and get some food, and then maybe see if Santiago has any Irish Bars. Then, tomorrow, we say goodbye to South America and head off for the next leg of our trip!!
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