That’s right, I’ve become a tour guide in my spare time :)
A couple of weeks ago Tom’s family came to visit us in Santiago. This was exciting for a couple of different reasons. First, it was only my second time meeting them and since Tom had to focus on the business and work during the day it was my responsibility to show them Santiago. I was both excited and nervous about this prospect. Secondly, they brought me an early Christmas present from my parents…a new camera!!!! And it’s a big girl camera! No more point and shoot for me. It’s all about the SLR baby!
I love, love, love my new camera! It takes the most beautiful pictures. All the picture in this post are SOOC (straight out of camera), no Photoshop. at present I’m just using the auto setting on the camera because it seems to pretty much be able to figure things out on it’s own, but soon I will start studying how to use it and control the settings myself :) Yay!
Since I spent the weekend touring Santiago with the future in-laws I got to revisit many of the places I’ve already been and retake some pictures with my brand new camera! We also visited a few places that I haven’t been to and have been meaning to visit like Viña Del Mar and Pablo Neruda’s house in Santiago.
I’ll admit that I was pretty nervous about showing Tom’s parents and sister around Santiago. First of all I’ve only been here for a few months myself so I’m certainly no expert. Secondly, I tend to rely on Tom for most of my Spanish communication. Thirdly, I have an absolutely shameful sense of direction. Oh and lastly I’m pretty shy. But remarkably, it all turned out beautifully! Tom’s family is very easy to get along with. They are all very kind and laid back. No, I’m not sucking up here, they already love me so there’s really no need ;o) But seriously, we had a great week getting to know each other better and I have to say I think that we may just have put together a model week long trip to Santiago. so here it is:
Day 1. We spent the first day walking around Bella Vista, exploring the local street art and quiet neighborhoods, and eating lunch at Patio Bella Vista.
My camera has a function that lets you know if someone blinked in the picture. After I took the above picture it said “blink detected” :) Ha
We ate at “Backstage” at Patio Bella Vista. I don’t love how touristy Patio Bella Vista is (you know it’s touristy when pretty much every waiter speaks some English), but I have to say that it’s a great place to go for a nice variety of food options. They have sushi restaurants, hamburger joints, pizza, peruvian, steak houses, gelato, and a whole lot more. The restaurant that we ate at, Backstage, has a nice variety of most of the types of food listed above all on one menu.
After lunch we took a trip up to Cerro San Cristobal on the funicular. I really wanted to make sure that we did this on their first day here because you get a panoramic view of the entire city, which I think is a nice way to start! Unfortunately, during the spring and summer months the smog in Santiago is palpable. So we got a very smoggy view. If at all possible it’s best to visit Cerro San Cristobal in the fall or winter after a rain when the smog is at a minimum.
We ate dinner in charming Lastaria. Lastaria is a very old part of town with small sidewalk cafes, walk streets, starving artists, and great food. With a little imagination you could be in Paris.
Tom joined us for dinner at Vitorino Lastaria. It’s a cute and eclectic little Italian restaurant with outdoor seating and a decorating style which, while a little bizarre, feels right at home in this artistic neighborhood.
After dinner we made a required stop at nearby Emporio La Rosa. Emporio La Rosa has been named the best ice cream in Santiago, and in a city where you can find homemade gelato and ice cream on just about every corner that is really saying something. The flavors are as interesting as they are delicious!
Day 2. Mercado Central! I had been to the famous fish market once before without Tom but I had yet to actually eat there.
Mercado Central was built in 1872 and has become famous both for its interesting architecture and it’s preservation of ancient Chilean recipes. In 1984 it was named a National Historical Monument. This is definitely a must see and a must eat!
There are several small stalls selling produce and dried goods in the middle of the market, but most people come here for one thing…
Fish! Glorious fresh fish! We had a wonderful fish meal here at one of the many restaurants that prepare the freshly caught fish with traditional Chilean methods. Don’t let the pestering of the restaurant owners and the hard sell fool you, this place sees a lot of tourists sure, but it’s also some of the most authentic Chilean food you can find in Chile.
As much as I loved the food, it is the architecture of the building that made my heart skip a beat.
After a lovely lunch at Mercado Central we headed over to nearby Plaza De Armas. Tom and I had both been there before during Dieciocho, but we had never been inside the ages old Metropolitan Cathedral.
It is just about the gaudiest and most gorgeous church I’ve ever seen. The Europeans ain’t got nothin’ on these Catholics!
This alter was breathtaking and blinding.
We also made a quick stop by the President’s house.
Normally the courtyard within the outer wall is open for people to explore the many statues created by various artists. Unfortunately the day that we went they weren’t letting anyone into the courtyard. This is probably due to the student protests that have taken hold of the city over the last several months.
Day 3. We spent the third day of the trip in Tom’s and my neighborhood, Las Condes! We started the day at Pueblito Los Dominicos which is home to a quaint and surprisingly untouristy craft market. It is appended to Los Dominicos Church and has a decidedly Spanish influence in its architecture.
It is a bit on the pricey side and definitely not the place to pick up those plastic key chains and shot glasses. But the stuff here is hecho a mano, like for real…
If you want a keepsake that is handmade by a Chileno in Chile, then this is the place to go.
We also saw this guy at the market
I’ve never seen a peacock with his feathers all spread out in real life…neato!
After the craft market we stopped by Parque Arauco for a completely opposite experience. Parque Arauco is a shockingly expensive and absolutely gorgeous indoor/outdoor mall in Las Condes. This is most certainly the nicest mall I have ever been to (and that includes many nice malls in the States). I have never seen so many designers stores in one place. It’s heaven for the rich and torture for me :)
Next stop was the Las Condes Cultural Center.
This is a nice stop to make if you are in the neighborhood but probably not something to go out of your way to see. Don’t get me wrong I have really enjoyed my visits here so far, but it’s a very small museum and our limited time may have been better spent at a larger, more famous museum like The Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts near Lastaria.
I did really enjoy this display of giant hearts painted by various local artists and contributors to the museum.
That night I made dinner for the first time for my future family in law. It was exciting and nerve racking. I am a big believer in the old adage “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”, and I firmly believe that this is how I won Tom. So cooking for Tom’s family was a big moment in my life (yeah this may sound ridiculous, but truth be told, I’m just a 60s housewife at heart). Anyway, it went wonderfully! They loved what I made: parmesan crusted pork chops, baked pasta with homemade pasta sauce, garlic bread, and homemade apple pie with caramel sauce. To be honest it’s really my apple pie that forced Tom to tie the knot, it’s impossible to resist :)
Day 4. Concha Y Torro! Tom and I visited this famous Chilean winery a few weeks after I arrived in August. It was an interesting wine tour, but it was in the middle of winter and the winery itself was not beautiful. No grapes, no green, drizzly, grey sky, blah. Not at all the way a winery ought to be viewed. Fortunately I had the opportunity to go again in Spring with Tom’s family!
It was beautiful and there were sheep!
Lots of teeny tiny baby grapes. I’ll catch you guys later! Yum!
We also had a really great lunch at the winery restaurant. It was reasonably priced and the food was fresh and delicious. I would definitely recommend a meal here!
Day 5. This was the last full day of the trip and Tom took the day off so that we could all take a trip out to Valparaiso and Viña Del Mar. We had both been to Valparaiso before, but Viña Del Mar was a new experience for us both.
Like much of Chile, Viña Del Mar is a fascinating mix of new and old architecture set on a beautiful beach. I will be spending the next several months begging Tom to let us move there once our lease in Las Condes is up. Sometimes I miss the ocean so much it hurts :)
We took the bus (Turbus! My favorite!) to get out there. It was easy, quick (about 2 hours), and relatively cheap when you consider the cost of renting a car and paying the many toll fees along the way.
We ate at a restaurant next to this famous seaside casino.
The restaurant, “Enjoy”, had both an amazing seaside view complete with outdoor seating and absolutely wonderful seafood. Tom lives by the mantra that a restaurant with a view will never bother to have good food too, but boy was he wrong about this one.
Here are a few of our dishes
The food was even more delicious than it looks. Totally worth the price and the view included not only the sparkling ocean but also this castle perched on the shore.
We will definitely be visiting Viña Del Mar again this summer to explore further and enjoy the very popular beaches.
After lunch in Viña Del Mar and a nice walk along the beach we headed to neighboring Valparaiso.
We decided to stick with showing Tom’s family the neighborhood that we explored the last time we visited rather that trying to explore a new neighborhood that we weren’t sure about. We did walk down a street we hadn’t visited before that had some really nice street art.
Including these piano stairs!
This last picture is one of my favorites that I have ever taken and will surely find a place in our home once we settle down. It says “turn off the T.V., live your life”.
Day 6. I had read that going to Pablo Neruda’s house in the Bella Vista neighborhood of Santiago was an interesting and important thing to do while visiting the city.
We hadn’t gotten a chance to go ourselves, so we decided that the last day Tom’s family was in Chile would be reserved for viewing this famous casa and the Nobel Peace Prize housed within. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I did not know much about Pablo Neruda, but I mostly just expected a regular old house that had been turned into a rather dull and boring museum for tourists. I could not have been more wrong. His house is indescribably fascinating.
Visitors are not allowed to take pictures inside the house so these three interior pictures are courtesy of the internet. Pablo Neruda was a world traveler and his house reflects that. He became a successful poet as a young man and so, while many famous poets die poor and only become famous posthumously, Pablo Neruda lived a very wealthy life. He has three houses throughout Chile that are all open to visitors, but the house in Santiago is the one that holds his Nobel Peace Prize.
He built the house in 1953 for a woman named Matilde Urrutia, who he was having an affair with. Their relationship continued for many years and he eventually made her his wife. She was the love of his life and stayed with him until the end. Many of his poems were written for her and his devotion to her is plain to see throughout their home.
Neruda was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971, but despite his fame and fortune he was forced to spend much time in exile due to his Communist beliefs. A few short years after he received the Nobel Prize and in the wake of the Pinochet military coup, Neruda died of heart failure at a hospital near his home. Although he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer shortly before his death, his rapid decline and the correlation between his death and Pinochet’s rise, has caused many Chileans to believe that foul play was at hand. His body was recently exhumed and autopsied to determine whether or not he was poisoned by Pinochet’s order.
The house is made of three different and unconnected sections and built on different levels. Pablo Neruda was obsessed with the ocean and all thing nautical and it is said that many of the rooms in his house resemble the inside of a ship. He even had an above ground pool of sorts built that covered the windows of his dinning room giving you the effect that you were in a ship below deck.
The house was the perfect reflection of a fascinating man.
Our last stop before leaving the Bella Vista neighborhood was lunch at Ciudad Vieja. I taked about visiting this place before in my post on Dieceocho. I had the most delicious fish sandwich
This place is a MUST visit! MUST! Delicious!
All in all we had a wonderful and adventure packed week with Tom’s family. I think that we were able to include a lot of the important sights and tastes of Santiago. If I could do it again there are a few other things I would include like the Fine Arts Museum, Sculpture Park, Cementario General where all but two of Chile’s president’s (O’Higgins and Pinochet) are buried, and Cerro Santa Lucia.
Of course it’s always better to have too much to do in a city than not enough!
[…] it follows that I am, because you are:
it follows from ‘you are’, that I am, and we:
and, because of love, you will, I will,
We will, come to be.