Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Chilean Adventure - Day 6

Slowly but surely, I will get through this vacation. :)

Wednesday. Wednesday was fun. In the morning, we went to a couple art museums, Bellas Artes and The Museum of Modern Art Chilean equivalent (in it's Spanish name. I'm too lazy to look it up.) (No I'm not. Museo de Arte Contemporaneo)

The museums weren't big by any means (compared to the Walker or the Minneapolis Institute of Art), but they were pretty cheap to get into - ~$1.50.

This was in the entrance to Bellas Artes. There was an identical "sculpture" on the opposite end of the great hall.
Zach and I spent the outing going through each room and picking our favorite paintings/artwork. Most of the time, we picked the same one. :)

The two museums are joined, but you have to leave the one to get to the other (separate entrance fees). The contemporary museum had an exhibit in the basement that I was pleasantly surprised by. There was a group of artists that traveled the Pacific, and all of this artwork was based on that trip. There were videos, still images, sculptures, and paintings. I took pictures of a couple:

I have no idea how canvases this big are made.

This piece of art was upstairs in one of the galleries. I liked it. :)
After the museums, we hopped on the subway to head over to the winery. Earlier that morning, we booked an English-speaking tour at the winery, Concho y Toro. We took the subway to the edge of the city (end of the purple line) and caught a taxi over to the winery. The taxi driver either wasn't sure how much it would cost to drive us there, or wasn't sure how much he could charge us. I'm sure if he told us 10 luca (10,000 pesos ~$20), we would have said yes. We weren't sure how far it was either! He charged us 4 luca. Concho y Toro is the second largest winery in the world, both in production and land ownership. It was a BEAUTIFUL afternoon to walk around the winery. We got a little history lesson, got to walk among the grapes and taste them, see a cellar (although I think that one is just for show), and drink some wine! I think my favorite part of the tour was tasting the different types of grapes. We were able to see what the grapes looked like that went into each type of wine they made. When I have wine, the only thing I can tell about it is that it is either red or white, but in tasting the grapes, I was able to tell which would be a drier wine and which would become a sweeter one (sweeter>drier). I took a lot of pictures, so I'll just post them here.

This was the house in which Mister Concho y Toro lived. 

Look dad, they look just like ours! Except no bird problem. 
Our first wine "taste" (it was really a full glass) was a Trio. It wasn't three different grapes mixed in to a wine, it was one kind of grape from three different valleys. It was a pretty tart and light wine. That's the extent of my wine describing abilities. 
Next up was the cellar. It was pretty cold in here. Each of these barrels cost between $500 and $1000 apiece. EMPTY. Then you add 300 bottles of wine to it and BOY does it get expensive.

He really does love me, I swear. At least, he says he does.
Then we went to the more "touristy" part of the winery, Casillero del Diablo, or The Devil's Cellar. The name comes from the local rumor that the devil himself lurked in the depths of the winery. But it turns out that this was actually put about by the owner of the cellars, Don Melchor de Concha y Toro, to deter would-be theives. The word is that he even had a tunnel built from his mansion, so he could walk the cellars, clad in a long black cloak, keeping an eye on things and giving credence to the rumor.
I had to take a picture for my work buddies! (McLagan is owned by Aon, which sponsor(ed) the soccer team Manchester United. We lost the sponsorship to Chevrolet beginning in 2014 because we were outbid)
After the tour, we had to QUICK get back to the city to meet Noah for supper. We were able to catch one of the guards at the winery and have him call us a taxi (he didn't speak English, good thing "taxi" is the same!). This taxi back to the subway only charged us 2.5 luca. He was very nice and willing to try and converse with us as best he could. We were able to tell him that we were visiting, it was our first time in Chile, and our friend taught English at a school! We were about an hour late to Noah's place, but he didn't mind. He started to get a little worried (we had no way to contact him), but we arrived safely.

Supper that night was STEAK. Zach had a steakhouse recommended to him, Bariloche, so we headed over there. The following three pictures were Zach's and my meals. We're good at sharing, especially because we usually get things the other would like to eat as well. My (our) steak was ONE POUND and STILL MOOING. Like seriously people. On the inside, it looked like raw liver. It was a little too rare for me, so I cut it up into strips and cooked it a little more on the skillet. :) But it was DELICIOUS.  Definitely would eat that again.

Om nom nom
Smoked salmon and shrimp on this salad. Yummy!
Of course, we had to get Chilean Sea Bass (see this post for reference). It wasn't as good, but still delicious. 
And thus ended a very full Wednesday. Tomorrow was much more relaxing. Until then.

Moving pictures!

This dawg doesn't care.
"Look human, I can fly!"

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Chilean Adventure - Day 5

And thus began the longest. day. ever.

But no, seriously, it was fun.

Day 5 was Tuesday. We started the day just like every other. Get up, walk a block to a breakfast of runny, salty eggs, corn flakes, and bread, walk the block back to our room, shower and get ready for the day.

Tuesday we were going to hike up Cerro San Cristobal, the big hill in the middle of the city. Sure, we could have taken the funicular up (that's a big lift), but where's the fun in that?

First things first, though. The zoo!

The Chilean National Zoo is at the foot of the hill. It's a 12 acre zoo located in the Santiago Metropolitan Park (or as they call it, Parque Metropolitano de Santiago, shortened to PMS, which made me giggle each time I saw a park sign). It was very fun! They had lots of animals that you normally see in zoos, as well as Chilean native animals and birds. The zoo was only $3, and well worth it! Zach saw his first hippo, although it was quite boring.

We were able to get so close to the birds! I know  I've seen birds before, but there were so many different and beautiful birds here, and a few albino ones!
I took quite a few pictures at the zoo, but we've all seen animals before, so I won't bore you with the details.

But look! A baby penguinnnnnnnnnit'ssocuteeeeeee
After the zoo, we picked up a map of the hill and headed up to the top. It was a BEAUTIFUL day for a hike. It was a pretty steep grade on the way up, so we had to keep stopping to rest!

Okay, Elizabeth and I had to stop and rest. The boys were fine.

The views were great on the way up, but once we got to the top....

The above picture was at the very top, by the statue of Mary. It was a very peaceful area, with small speakers hidden among the plants playing some very quiet choral music. It was quite amazing to see how vast the city actually was. 6 MILLION people live in Santiago. I felt very small at this moment.

This picture is on the other side, on the way down. That really tall building on the left half is the Gran Torre Santiago, which is the tallest building in South America (300 m).
At this point, we were a little unsure as to where we were headed. My map was only for the main part of the hill, and we didn't have one of the rest of the park. So we just kept walking, following the road. We figured we would get to the bottom at some point. Stuart really wanted to go to the Japanese Gardens. We had seen an initial map of the park at the bottom, so we knew we were heading in the right direction. What seemed like HOURS LATER (it was probably an hour and a half walking), we finally made it to the gardens. Stuart (and the rest of us) would probably say it was a letdown. But it was still an adventure. We had seen everything we wanted to for the day, now it was just a matter of finding our way back! We couldn't exactly go the way we came, that would just be insane.

So there was nowhere to go but down.

I'll skip the boring stuff, so long story short, we walked for a really long time and got directions from a nice guy (okay, not directions, but gestures in the right direction). We were also getting a little hungry.

We finally made it back to our room and decided that rather than go out to eat again, we would just get some food from the grocery store on our block and make our own supper in our kitchen!

We ended up making choripan (I thought I explained earlier that choripan was chorizo (sausage) and pan (bread). Basically a glorified hot dog) and chips and salsa. Muy delicioso! Noah was very proud of us. Grocery shopping wasn't too different, it was easy enough to see what the foods were in the packaging, but their bread and produce you had to pick out, and then get weighed by a worker, who then put a price sticker on it. All in all, it was a wonderfully full day!

We stopped at a fountain on the way back. It was beautiful.
I found another funny picture for you. :)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Chilean Adventure - Day 4

Sorry it's taking me so long to write these posts. Refer to the title of this blog if you don't understand.

Now. Day 4. Monday.

Monday was our first day in Chile without the help of Noah! It was scary, but yet exciting, to be on our own. We had an itinerary all set up for Monday. We were going to spend most of the day looking at the museums and the Plaza de Armas.

We got up in the morning and headed over to the hostel kitchen/dining room for breakfast. Breakfast always consisted of watered down juice, some milk-tasting substance, bread with peach jam or dulce de leche, corn flakes, and EXTREMELY salty and EXTREMELY runny eggs. But I can't complain. It was food. Then we headed back to our room to get ready for our day and gather our things.

Our first step of the day was to find a place where Zach and I could exchange our money! We had gotten through the weekend on the charity loans of others, and were anxious to have our own money. We walked down the road and past the Plaza (a little more on that later) until we found a money exchange. The best one we found was 471 pesos per dollar.

I walked in, stood in line, gave the lady my stack of twenties, and she proceeded to inspect each one for rips, tears, or marks. Turns out they only accept PRISTINE bills. I was only able to exchange about $100, so we returned to a different exchange later in the week when I needed more money.

Time to find the museum! We wanted to spend a lot of time in the Museo de Arte Precolombino that day, so we got out our maps of the city and set out for it.

And couldn't. find. it.

We must have walked around the block 2 or 3 times until we noticed a boarded up entrance (seriously, it couldn't have been more invisible to us). Turns out, the museum was under construction. There was some sign about "subterranio" being open from blah blah hour to blah blah hour, but hey - we couldn't decipher it enough to be sure. We asked a few policemen, but they didn't speak English. We decided to just keep walking and observe the city.

After a while, we started to get hungry. There was a restaurant, Marco Polo, right off the plaza, so we stopped in there. The menu was easy enough to decipher, but for the LIFE OF US WE COULDN'T REMEMBER HOW TO ORDER TAP WATER (note to self, ask Noah) so we all got water in bottles. Z and I decided to split a "pizza".

I put pizza in quotes because it was really an open faced sandwich. See for yourself:

Om nom nom. Crust, cheese, tomato, ham, olives, avocado, and oregano.  Z was not a fan (it was lukewarm and wasn't really pizza), but I enjoyed it! Must have been the delicious avocado. 
After lunch, we decided to see where we had planned to go the next day (Cerro San Cristobal and the Chilean National Zoo), just to make sure we knew where we were going. On the way, we stopped at the museum Bellas Artes, as that looked like an interesting place to go see. Turns out, it was closed. Drat. So we continued on our way over to the zoo/hill.

Saw this little guy just sittin' in a box! How cute!
We walked by the zoo, and got pretty excited to see it the next day. Here are some 'wild' cats in their 'natural' habitat:
Srsly. Put boxes out, cats will sit in them.
After a brief lunch (at which we also didn't know how to say 'tap water'), we headed up the street to check out another one of Pablo Neruda's homes - it was also a museum. When we passed it, we caught the tail end of an English tour. The guy was pretty interesting (for the two minutes we caught of it), and was very friendly to the dog that we brought over with us (he was following us). The last thing he said was that we should visit the museum, but we should come back on a different day because all museums in Chile are closed on Mondays.

...Thanks for that knowledge, Noah.

Just kidding, we wouldn't have had these adventures if we knew!
The dog was sitting just below his hand, following his every movement and listening to him speak. Very cute.
After our busy day, we took the metro over to Noah's place as he would be done with school soon and we would head out for supper.


We ordered a big platter plus a few other rolls - and demolished it.

Seriously so good. The rolls wrapped in avocado were the best. How do they make these so delicious???
Then we took the metro back to our hostel and plopped our tired legs into bed. Another busy day tomorrow - and we wouldn't see Noah until Wednesday night as he would be visiting his host family Tuesday night.

Day 5 coming soon!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Chilean Adventure - Day 3

Okay, where did I leave off? Saturday night.

I almost forgot! Saturday night when we arrived back at the hostel, there was a young man reading in his bunk. His name was Oliver, and he was in Chile working with the telescopes. Oliver is from Britain, so it was fun hearing his accent and discussing all of the cultural differences between there and the States. There was even a lot that got lost in translation between the English-speaking peoples!

Anyways, we invited Oliver to go with us to Easter Mass the next day, and he accepted. The service was interesting, but it was hard for me to get anything out of it as it was in Spanish. :) It was still a very cultural experience.

After that, we started trekking over to the big street market in Valparaiso. And boy, was that interesting.


From clothes to food to kitchen sinks to medical supplies to sunglasses - you name it, they sell it! Okay, they don't sell everything. But it's pretty close.  

This was a statue in the middle of the street market. I don't know what it was of or what it meant...but it was cool looking.

Again, I got over-zealous with my food and started eating it before I took a picture of it. You're not missing anything, though. It was just a hamburger. :) I did, however, get a picture of the mil hojas, or "thousand layers" pastry I got. We had walked by a bakery and decided we definitely needed to get something sweet. Many stores operate that you go to the register and pay for what you want first, get your receipt, then go over to the counter and grab your food/pastry. 

It was a delicious mixture of pastry and dulce de leche. So basically... sugar.
We walked back through the market, this time looking for anything to buy (I didn't). 

Then we said our goodbyes to Oli (not for the last time), and headed over to the fish market. It's too bad that it was Easter Sunday, otherwise the market would have been a lot busier. It was pretty dead - but very cool to see! We just don't have anything like that here. A farmer's market doesn't really come close to describing it. At least I found out where all the stray dogs were getting their food.

We made the long trek back to the hostel (or maybe we caught a bus...no, I'm pretty sure we walked), and changed out of our Sunday clothes. Our bus back to Santiago didn't leave until 10 pm, so we had quite a few hours to kill. So we headed to the restaurant below the hostel (Color Cafe) and hung out for three or four hours. We played cards, drank coffee (hot chocolate for me), listened to some authentic music (Noah, I forgot what it was called), and had some supper. It was a very delightful and relaxing afternoon.
Color Cafe puts anything and everything their patrons give them on the walls. Every so often they take everything down, categorize it, and start again. There are pictures, postcards, decorated napkins, currency, and everything else you could think people would bring to a restaurant.
This was Stuart the majority of the trip. He got some wonderful shots, though!
Here was our little band. They were great!
I have no idea what this was. It was called something like "el gigante" and was a tortilla, beef, cheese, tomatoes, corn, mayo, and guacamole. And lettuce.
At that point, it was about 8:30, but we wanted to see if we could catch an earlier bus back to Santiago. We were able to grab one that left an hour earlier than we had anticipated, which was good for Noah as he had to get up early the next day. The ride was only about an hour and a half, and during that time, I got to see a good chunk of Inception dubbed in Spanish. Leonardo DiCaprio doesn't sound as good in Espanol. I feel that watching movies you've already seen dubbed in Spanish would be a pretty good way to learn the language.

We arrived in Santiago, took the metro to Noah's, got our bags, caught a cab to our hostel, checked in, walked the block over to the apartment, and FELL INTO BED. It was a long day.

Until day 4!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Chilean Adventure - Day 2

Okay. You guys go to Chile and try to write a blog post each night. Impossible.

So I'm writing this after the fact.

Sorry if I get my facts wrong.

Where did I leave off? Friday? No, I did Friday. Saturday.

Saturday we were still in Valparaiso. And we walked. Everywhere.

We walked around and looked at houses. We met a LOT of dogs (stray dogs everywhere), and two of them followed us around for most of the day. We named them Tuft and Buddy.
We met a hetero-chromial dog. He was cute, but NO PETTING!

Typical Valparaisian street. Very colorful houses.

More pretty houses.
In Valpo, there is graffiti everywhere. Some of is it actually graffiti - gang signs and the like, but much of it is actually artwork, and some darn good art at that.
Zach slid down this. Multiple times. 

 Then we walked to the port. This is the naval office. I think.

Noah said it's cheaper to register boats in Canada.
For lunch, we ate at a little cafe. I don't remember what this sandwich was, but it was deeeeeelicious. Mom, I ate all my tomatoes on this trip!

This was the site of a prison museum that was supposed to open in a couple months. Very cool.
The museum was really just on the way to our actual destination, Pablo Neruda's house. Pablo Neruda was a Chilean poet/diplomat/politician. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. He was elected a senator in 1945. He held a diplomatic post in Mexico, as well as in Buenos Aires and Spain during the Spanish Civil War. Basically a Chilean legend. Later in his life, he was diagnosed and hospitalized with cancer. Three days later, he died of heart failure. 

Or did he?

Just yesterday (or maybe it was today, I can't remember), his body was exhumed so they could test it for poison because there was speculation that he was murdered by the junta. We shall see what they find!

ANYWAYS. We visited just one of his houses, the one in Valparaiso (he also had houses in Santiago and Isla Negra). I didn't get any pictures while there, but all of his houses are now museums. 

Our first empanadas! Empanadas are basically meat, onions, hard boiled egg, and an olive all inside yummy bread. It was just okay. I think the reason it was mediocre was 1) it was way too hot to even eat, and  2) too many onions, not enough meat. But still not bad. 
Somewhere in between the empanada and this next picture was a lot of walking.

We ate supper at El Brighton, a house/restaurant on a hill. This beer was one that was brewed  there in Valparaiso, hence the name "Cerveza del Puerto". I think this one was a blonde. "Rubia"
It was okay. Nothing to write home about.
Zach and I shared a "chacarero". Basically, it's beef, tomatoes, mayo, lettuce, and green beans. YUMMY. I am pretty sure I ordered at least two more of these on this trip.
Then we went and saw some live music! I thought this guy was actually pretty good! It finally felt like we were experiencing the culture. Maybe music is my actual primary language. :)


So we had to call it a night.

And that was the end of my Saturday in Chile!

More soon!

(before I forget, here's a funny picture or two!)

When I make a pun but nobody catches it, I think to myself....