The bus as a mode of transportation has many advantages. Lest it seem we complain too much, we are going to tell you about the 8-hour journey from Mendoza to Santiago that took us straight through the mountain.
|Selfie in the Forbidden|
Santiago is one of the many capital cities that are huge metropolitans with considerable pollution. It is populated by 8 million people so there must be something that lures them there. Is it the promise of a better life or is it the bedlam that attracts them? What about the tourists, what draws them there?
Within three days we managed to pass through back alleys to the most historical of places, through rundown buses to the most acclaimed of wines. We saw Santiago through the eyes of the locals, the tourists and the enamoured.
Within a day we saw all the sights in the city center with our host. We walked for 25 kilometers, it was one hell of a promenade. Whilst passing through pedestrian streets, the churches, the Hills Santa Lucía we immersed ourselves in the sombre history of the place and sought after a much-needed shade in that hot day. A nice surprise turned out to be the traditional drink mote, a concoction of peaches and barley, as well as the lunch in a backwater market – a place where no tourist would set foot. A loss indeed, for there one can find the cheapest and tastiest foods from Chile and Colombia. To balance our calorie intake we descended by foot from the San Cristóbal Hill – a long walk through nature with a view towards Santiago leaning on the Andes.
|The reality behind the market|
|It is nicer inside|
|Huge and inexpensive meals|
We stumbled upon the monthly couchsurfing meeting in the park. It was a cult event with a grill, where everyone throws in something to cook, everyone eats and downs drink after drink.
When you put together grill, alcohol and couchsurfers you are sure to come up with something interesting. Over 60 people trading stories and experiences and to cap it all, most of them lived in Santiago for one reason or another. Between socializing and games the alcohol ran dry and we were in need of a rest before the evening visit at Daniel’s. There we had the pleasure to witness the freedom of the local neighborly relations, which are best summed up in the following example. When the neighbor visits, no matter how long or bad of a day you’ve had, you hand them a beer, no questions asked. The man next-door hasn’t even been formally invited but he is here anyway. It’s the freedom to barge in your neighbor’s house no matter the time of day without being judged.
We blend with the capital’s citizens.
At Puente Alto, which is somewhat bigger than a neighborhood but we haven’t figured the word for… as is Brooklyn to New York so is Puente Alto to Santiago, maybe it resembles the relation between Lulyn and Sofia in terms of population. So, when coming from the subway headed towards home you are faced with two options – you can either catch the bus that is free and meanders for a while or you can get a common taxi, which costs a fixed price and only moves after a number of passengers have gathered. A much more entertaining mode of transportation was the latter since the cabbies themselves had fun with the stories of our home country, our adventures with the Spanish language and so on.
If you aim to catch a taxi the way to go is to wave a number of fingers corresponding to the number of passengers that are waiting. In such an instance we waved three fingers and the cabbie waved back only two, meaning that he is sorry, but there are only two seats left. The curious question is: if there had been only one seat left which finger would’ve he used to signal us 🙂 However, all considered, things went smoothly, including the trip to the Sunday market were we got treated to honeydew melon and bought toilet paper at a good price.
And so we reached Concha y Toro – the well-known winery we wanted to visit.
Here, like in Mendoza, you have the options of hiring a bike, a van, etc. However, we wanted something without a schedule, cheaper and freer, something that works on Mondays. We booked a visit with more wines in Spanish and we relaxed in the huge mansion. While the alleys, the vineyard and the little houses were charming, the wine cellar was a bit creepy. Its contents cost an undisclosed amount of money and we watched a short video clip warning us of the consequences to befall us if we were ever to steal a bottle – the legend of the Casillero del diablo. After that initial shock we moved on to tasting the wines in the company of good cheese and we let ourselves be charmed by the sommelier and the Carmenère.
|Arriving with a small smile. Compare the before and after pictures.|
|The criminals who tried to steal the wine|
So far we like the Chileans. Helpful, assisting and having fun.
They talk a bit fast, but we’ve filed our complaint with several locals and now we are hoping that the Spanish will move to the next level… our Spanish at least, since we got asked several times if we are from Colombia (we just pray that the Bulgarian language doesn’t sound to them like the accent of some tribe). We have also set the ambitious goal to teach the locals to pass each other politely at the doors of the bus, even show them the trick of getting out, so the others behind you can exit the bus, and then climbing back in. So far we haven’t attracted many followers, it is unthinkable to step out in fear of the bus leaving you behind.