Split: A Return to Santiago & More Time in the Desert
Days 317-319 (June 10-12, 2017):
Adam and I made a dramatic return to Santiago to get our new travel buddy Smo. We had booked a new hostel close to the Bellavista and went there to await Smo’s arrival. When she turned up, we greeted her with a hug, dropped our bags and headed straight out to see the city. No rest for the weary I suppose, but we only had two days to show her the highlights of this amazing city. We started with a trip to see the main sites. We visited the Presidential palace, toured the Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral, and walked around the Plaza de Armas. We sauntered up the pedestrian avenue, making Smo try mote con huesillo and a beef empanada on our way to the market. After we showed her the fresh fish stalls and got some good shots, we decided next to head for the Cerro Santa Lucia. We took some time hiking up the hill, having some fun with the cannons and showing her the amazing views of the city and the surrounding mountains. Afterwards, we had made a reservation at a fancy wine bar to sample some Chilean specialty wines. We each got a wine flight and we ordered a meat plate to share. We thought the meat plate was a bit overpriced for your typical charcuterie board, but all our disappointment about the price disappeared when we saw it. For it was not merely a plate of thinly sliced, cured meats, but a mountain of meaty goodness. The plate was piled high with porchetta, sausages, fried chicken, sliced steak, chunks of seared pork loin and so much more. This dish made calling anything else a “meat plate” seem like a misnomer. We feasted and sipped our wine, having fun catching up on what we had missed this past year. On our way back to our hostel, we stopped at a convenience store and stocked up on a couple more bottles of Chilean wine (including one with a picture of an adorable llama wearing sunglasses Adam had to have). We had planned to go out partying in Bellavista that evening but ended up in our room, drinking wine, teaching Smo Cheers to the Governor, and catching up. It was a good night.
The next day, we slept in late as a result of our antics the night before. However, when we finally got moving, we made a beeline to Domino to introduce Smo to their amazing hotdogs. On our way there we witnessed a very long march/parade for the city’s soccer team. People were really into it. After filling our bellies, we decided to take a stroll through the Bellavista neighborhood since we did not get a chance to go out in it the previous evening. We looked at some of the street art before wandering into a large complex that housed numerous bars and restaurants. We picked a place we could have Smo try a pisco sour and enjoyed the good weather. We moved to an Irish bar and had a few more cocktails and beers before heading back to the hostel. We got some supplies to take with us on the bus in the morning, and packed our bags, taking it easy that night.
Meanwhile, Katie and Justin took a few more days to enjoy the wonders of the desert. They took some time to rest and explore more of the town itself. And they also ate waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyy to many frozen chicken patties, according to Katie. But the real highlight of their time left in the desert was the day they rented bicycles. We had read online that if you did not have a car or did not want to pay for a tour there were a couple of sites accessible by bicycles rented from town. So, Katie and Justin got their bikes and headed for the Valle de la Luna. We had originally intended to visit this site together, but when I crashed the car our plans were unfortunately derailed. They pedaled into the Valle, which is said to resemble the surface of the moon with its stone and sand formations. They explored the landscape’s dried lakes, salt caverns, and jagged peaks. They shared a lunch in the valley, took tons of pictures, and watched a dramatic sunset before returning to their new Airbnb, which apparently was a glorified shed.
On the 12th, Smo, Adam, and I set out on our 24-hour bus trip to the desert, in which Adam had his daypack stolen. We arrived in San Pedro, tired and annoyed. We found Katie and Justin and walked to our new Airbnb for the night. Our activities in the desert on the final night were limited to getting a hot meal and settling in for a good night’s sleep.