Anyone ever heard amazing stories of Santiago de Chile? No? Neither did we, so we only planned a few days here, but the city and it’s people offered a pleasant surprise.
Apart from the “standard” Plaza de Armas there are quite a few things to see: the lookout of Santa Lucia, Cerro San Cristobal, the fish market, Barrio Bellavista, just to name the most prominent ones. Unfortunately some things are damaged by the recent earthquake, but reconstructions are going smoothly.
The people are relaxed and friendly, surprisingly heavy metal has more fans here than anywhere else in South America. We were surprised to see people wearing black t-shirts of Vader, a relatively unknown Polish death metal band:) Tattoos and piercings are also popular and a good beard is almost obligatory for guys. There is a slight amount of nationalism going on, and after reading the “proudly made in Chile” and seeing the national flag on almost all products, it is really not surprising to see the following advertisement of a bank and the rather unimaginative slogan they managed to come up with. Questions aside, the Bank of Chile is really the bank of Chile!
Chilean people love to eat. While there is a lot of seafood on the menu, the cheapest food is the hot-dog-like completo, stuffed with avocado cream, or other fast-food like items, like the chorillana, which is basically a heap of fries topped with meat, sausage, onions and cheese, and is normally too much for two people:) The Santiago fish market is a good place to go if you like seafood. It’s quite touristic so shop around to get the right value for your money. The Chilean ceviche is quite poor compared to the Peruvian one and the fish is often coming in minced form. Some exotic fruits, like lucuma can also be found in the form of a good ice-cream.
The national drink is pisco and wine. Wine is usually good, but a really good bottle might cost you some money. Pisco is a sensitive topic: it is the national pride of both Peru and Chile, both of them claiming it as their own, and prohibiting the import of it from any other countries. Nevertheless, later on we managed to smuggle a bottle of Chilean pisco to Peru and made a little test to decide the debate once and for all:) Result: the maracuya sour made with the Peruvian pisco had a smoother and more enjoyable taste.
Cruising around on the streets you can also find the popular drink of mote. It is basically peach juice with an entire peach inside and soaked flakes of wheat. On a hot day it is quite enjoyable …once you got rid of the flakes of wheat:)
Last, but not least, we have met the Chef from South Park and the French Crocodile Dundee, who runs a little crêperie (French pancake shop) and happily admits: “Well, crêpe is crap …but its good!”:)