An Exciting Weekend

Well, it’s the end of my free weekend in Santiago.  Tomorrow morning (at 5:45), I shall be leaving for the mine for the next 11 days.  I’ve had a great time this weekend.

Friday night with JD was a lot of fun.  We went to Barrio Bellavista, and had a quick and cheap meal, with a couple of terremotos [link in Spanish] on the side (we decided not to go to the crazy bar as we’d been warned by lots of people that going at night was definitely not a clever move).  Terremoto is an interesting drink, and a very potent one at that.  It’s very good though, and I’ll try to get the recipe, so I can introduce it to the UK!

After that, we went to another bar, and had a chat with some Chileans, who were very charming indeed.  JD can’t speak Spanish, so I was interpreter.  Not the easiest task after two terremotos, and a litre of beer, but hey, I like a challenge!  They left, but then the people at the next table chatted with us for a while.  Then they took JD and I to another bar down the road (called En Secreto – Google Maps, you can see it on Street View), which was tiny, but absolutely packed.  There was karaoke galore there, and we had a fun time talking with all the people we’d met.  At about 4:30 we decided it was time to go home, and walked for ages.  Turns out it was completely the wrong direction.  We asked some people for directions, and they said it was 40 blocks away.  Nice!  We cut our losses and just jumped in a cab.

Saturday morning was a complete write off, but in the afternoon JD and I visited Pueblito los Dominicos, which is in the outskirts of Santiago.  It’s a group of artisan craft shops, and it was lovely.  I bought an alpacan wool scarf, and a bombilla (although I’m not quite sure how to use this yet – I’ll ask my colleagues later).

After dumping our stuff, we essentially repeated what we did on Friday night, and ended up at En Secreto again (after the compulsory terremotos and litres of beer), and had a chat with some new friendly Chileans.  JD and I decided to do a little karaoke ourselves, so I ended up doing a rendition of Sultans of Swing (admittedly a pretty poor one).  The advantage of Dire Straits though is that most of their songs only involve Mark Knopfler saying the words rather than actually singing (thereby mitigating any issues with being out of tune on the karaoke front)!  We went home at about 3 ish, this time getting a cab all the way.

Today was pretty quiet, and consisted solely of my buying of some tea from the Whittard’s down the road (in the large shopping centre by the massive new tower).  No more Té Club for me anymore!

A sleepy street on a Sunday in Santiago.

A sleepy street on a Sunday in Santiago.

I then met JD, had some tea in a café (the same café where I wrote the postcards on Friday, at a shopping centre near my hotel), grabbed a burger for supper, and went home.

The biggest burger I've had in my entire life.  Beef, 3 cheeses (blue, mozzarella, and cheddar), mushrooms, red onion, and lettuce. (Click to enlarge)

The biggest burger I’ve had in my entire life. Beef, 3 cheeses (blue cheese, mozzarella, and cheddar), mushrooms, red onion, and lettuce. (Click to enlarge)

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Back to Santiago

First off, my form has been found, so I’m not going to be an illegal immigrant. Wooo!

Anyway, enough of that nonsense.  Last night I returned to Santiago for my free weekend, and it’s going really well so far.  After I arrived, I met up with JD, who’s the other intern based in Chile (although he’s at a different mine), and we went over to an Irish bar for supper near his flat.  We had fajitas and cheesy chips (good combination, you should try it some time), and had a good chat before heading home.

Today has been very busy.  I got up, and left my hotel at about 9:45. First I bought some postcards, and then went to a nearby shopping centre, to get a nice cup of tea.

Ahhh, lovely!

Ahhh, lovely!

I wrote the cards (to my family, TKC, PC, and LB), and got them all posted off at the nearby Correos.  After that, I topped up my phone with more internet, and then decided to go and see what Barrio Bellavista was like, having been recommended to go there.  I decided to get the Santiago version of an Oyster Card (called a tarjeta bip! – presumably because of the beep noise the machine makes when you scan it), and took the metro to Baquedano station.

El Metro

El Metro

I found the Patio Bellavista quite easily, which is a small area, with lots of shops and bars/restaurants.  I had some lunch, grabbed some cash from the ATM, and bought a large Chilean flag as a souvenir.  Then I went halfway up San Cristobal hill to Santiago Zoo to see what they had.

At the bottom of the hill.  Because llama.

At the bottom of the hill, in Bellavista. Because llama.

It was quite interesting.  In addition to the usual elephants/lions/giraffes/penguins/etc., they had some native Chilean animals (such as flamingos).  However, what I thought was great, was the fact that they had bog standard mute swans, and guinea fowl (for the latter, luckily I wasn’t hungry, as I’d just had lunch).

Yes, those are just normal swans.

Yes, those are just normal swans.

There was quite a good view from the zoo too.

Santiago from halfway up San Cristobal hill.

Santiago from halfway up San Cristobal hill.

Afterwards, I took the metro to Tobalaba station, which is past my hotel, as I wanted to walk back through all the various small shopping centres that pepper the area.

On the way back to the hotel from Tobalaba station.

On the way back to the hotel from Tobalaba station.

There was a huge amount of variety, and several were themed.  A couple consisted mainly of normal shops, that people use for everyday chores (e.g. cobblers, greengrocers, etc.).

Normal, small, local shopping  centre.

Normal, small, local shopping centre.

I came across a couple that were several floors high, but the floor was a helix, so it wound up and up.  Theme wise, there was a LOT of variation, including electronics, computer games, and… well, what made me think I was in Soho in the 1970s… (no photos of THAT I’m afraid haha)!  The electronics ones reminded me of the similar ones in Mong Kok in Hong Kong, with all the tiny shops selling cameras etc.

Oooooo spirals!

Oooooo spirals!

Anyway, I’m now back in my room, and will be meeting up with JD shortly to go back to Bellavista for the evening.

Final Preparations

The angry scream of the alarm clock jolts through my being like a bolt of lightning. Eurgh, alarms.  This morning was spent in Croydon (that most delightful of places), where I bought some clothes, UV proof sunglasses, and a new suitcase.  Good old Debenhams had a massive sale on, so lots of stuff was less than half price (pretty handy)!

After returning home, having lunch (and completing my health and safety risk assessment), it was back to the stables, for my appointment with Hobbit.  I think I’m slowly beginning to get the basics sorted, and this time, we went into the field, as well as the school area.  However, I did nearly fall off during an uphill trot, but somehow managed to balance myself without being removed from the saddle (although I did lose my stirrups).

Hobbit
Hobbit

Anyway, I’m back home now, and am off to the pub later for a gathering of school friends before I leave Britain.  Should be fun!