Monday, January 30, 2012

Santiago de Chile, Chile 3-6 Jan 2012

The border crossing from Argentina to Chile took longer than expected due to the New Year holiday. We arrived at the custom office around 4am in the morning, surprisingly it was a combination of Argentinean and Chilean custom office. We check out from Argentina and check in to Chile at the next counter.  This is the first time I seen two country sharing one custom office. After we get our entry stamp to Chile, we have to bring our bags into a big room where they scan all the bags. No fresh food or fruits are allowed to enter Chile. The entire process took about 1 hour. We arrived in Santiago de Chile around 8am with 2 hours delay.

I found my host house which is 3 stations away from the terminal. The metro system makes it convenient and easy to travel in town. The weather was hot but not as hot as Mendoza. I finally left the house around 1pm. Central is 10 blocks away from my host house. I walked around town and found a Chinese Restaurant, :-) after all the meat, pizza and sandwiches in Argentina, I am up for a Chinese meal. Surprisingly I had the best Seafood Fried Rice since I left Asia. There were lots of vegetables and prawn mixed in the rice. It was delicious! As Chile has an enormous coastline, fish and seafood are almost everywhere. The Mercado Central in town served the best seafood. I had a BBQ Swordfish for lunch the next day and it only cost around $12.

The architecture in town was a mix of new and old. There were a lot of walking streets covered with trees and sheltered from the sun. It was very nice to visit the town on foot. Most of the museum and touristic place are located close by. There was a hill in the town called Cerro Santa Lucia, a park with fountains and stairs leading up to the fort and viewpoint at the top where we could view the city and the range of mountains around but the pollution from the cars has cut down the visibility.

I especially like the artisan market opposite Cerro Santa Lucia, they sells lots of card magnet, stones and copper jewellies and wooden handicraft. The Centro Cultural Palacio de La Moneda is also worth a visit because it has a big exhibition area and some craft and souvenir shop.

Empanada de pino
A street drink that is a must to try is the Mote con Huesillos, it is a sweet drink which contains wheat seeds, dried peach or apricot served cold. It is refreshing for a hot day. The Chilean empanada is slightly different from the Argentinean, it is filled with onion, raisin, olive and eggs on top of the potato and meat and here they called in Empanada de pino. 

Chilean produces some excellent wine, famous for its Merlot. I had to go for a wine tour to find out more. It was an expensive tour with only one visit to a vineyard and the winery. The Concha Y Toro is 45 minutes away from the city, we were explained the type of grapes planted in the vineyard and visited the underground wine cellar. We had a glass of white and red wine for tasting. End of the day we were given the wine glass as a souvenir  The visit was too commercialize, lots of people and we were rush by the guide the entire time and the wine in the winery was not much cheaper than outside. I would not recommend anyone to take this excursion.

With my host, I joined him for the weekly Couchsurfing Salsa meet up, we had lots of fun salsa the whole night. 


Bus from Santiago de Chile to Valparaiso – P4000

Wine tour  - P27,000

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