Finally, the aspiration to go to Chile got fulfilled, thanks to my international school trip for being the catalyst!
The first day of exploring the city revealed that Santiago was fast paced, walking city with a bohemian spirit. Even though it is filled with high-rises, the backdrop of Andes is a constant reminder that the nature is right around the corner. Chile is 200 km wide which means within couple of hours one can be on the mountains – hiking or snowboarding or the beach, soaking the sun if one wanted…not that makes any sense whatsoever to do on the same day.
The city can be best explored on bicycles and gives a glimpse of how the locals spend their day Graffiti Art on the streets of Santiago is very prevalent through out the city- reflective of the spirit of the city or offering some sort of social commentary, one of the aptly demonstrates a prevalent trend of smoking, drinking and folks distracted by technology and the other resembles Lord Shiva, the three-eyed destroyer in Indian mythology. The farmer markets are lively and street musicians plenty to amuse the passerby. Taking a funicular to the San Cristobal hill or walking to the beautiful Cerro Santa Lucia affords beautiful views of the city.
The city’s latest campaign against smoking was very creative as the giant 15 feet twisted cigarette butt at the center of Plaza de Armas. Spotting Street Artists performing is a common scene as we walk through the city.
Making some new friends from School and witnessing the entrepreneurial spirit in Chile was certainly a highlight of Santiago. It also led to some education in the urban slang that I was complete oblivious to meeting some of the new friends and can be appropriately applied if someone happens to throw shades 😎
Winery tour at the De’ Martino Winery in Maipo valley was amazing! This innovative winery was the first to develop and commercialize Carmenere varietal and the only winery to be organic and Carbon Neutral in Latin America! Needless to say, we drank the wine and enjoyed the barbecue sans guilt 🙂 De’ Martino also produces a small batch of wine using terra-cotta amphorae (old clay pots) called Vieja Tinajas utilizing the old way of making and fermenting wine in old clay pots for 6 months. The wine is only available at the winery- it is certainly a very different wine with strange earthy notes on opening it but developing into some fantastic when aerated.
Food in Santiago: Chilean food heavily relies on meats, quest, potatoes and bread and spoiled by plethora of options in San Francisco ~ we have to find world cuisine and we don’t give up until we find it. Santiago has great Peruvian restaurants including Tanta and Ica Peruvian, that fulfilled our need for spicy seafood. The seafood especially the grilled octopus at both the places was fantastic! Etniko is places to visit for unique cocktails and amazing fusion food with Influences ranging from Malaysia, Thai, Japanese, Indonesian- well, you get the point!
Indian Food in Chile? Our urge for some bold flavors and spices takes us to Jewel of India (http://www.jewelofindia.cl/) The food was authentic North Indian and as we are seated, the server comes with a pack of indian bindi’s and asks if I would like to put it on my forehead and this demystifies the mystery of seeing a diverse crowd of women adorned with Bindi’s in the restaurant. The cocktail names that made us grin as all were from the cheesy Bollywood movies.