Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Santiago de Chile, Valparaiso, Buenos Aires - my last trip while in the US and my first time to South America

OK, it was about time - to travel again, to see some sun, and also to put my feet onto South American soil for the very first time. Santiago de Chile, Valparaiso (a lovely coast town close to Santiago) and Buenos Aires were the destinations of my 10 days of leisurely travel (a thing I haven't done in a veeeeery long time). My last major trip being to India I was expecting at least some degree of chaos during the trip - and I was disappointed in this sense, journeys and pleasure transitioned smoothly into each other.

After arriving in Chile, Gaby - who I was visiting - and myself swung ourselves to Valparaiso, 90 minutes away from Santiago. A local specialty is Chorrillana - difficult to describe, but clearly depicted below:

Now, it might look a little ... different maybe (did you notice those red ... sausages maybe ... on top?) but it is actually quite a delicious dish. Not artificially composed with rare herbs picked by 9-year old virgins or some stuff like that - no, just a healthy base of french fries, a central layer of fried onions "with a hint of egg", topped by a decent amount of grilled beef. Served with spicy sauce - and good for either breakfast, lunch or dinner. Makes everyone happy, no doubt about it! Shown below is the breakfast version. (Not that those for lunch or dinner look any different though.)

You can't live on Chorrillana all day though, so after wandering the city it was time for dinner again - fish at a beach restaurant seemed appropriate after so much walking.

Valparaiso was only on for a weekend, so a few impressions of Santiago de Chile will try to amuse the reader for the next couple of pictures. As we all know implicit assumptions are dangerous - who says that Christmas trees are only happy in a cold environment?

Random street graffiti in central Santiago. I quite liked that one.

Many of the valued visitors of this site may be aware of "Christ the Redeemer" in Rio de Janeiro. Now, Santiago has a similar statue up the hill on offer, it's just not Christ himself but Virgin Mary instead. But what the heck, the views up the mountain were great - I won't show you the pictures of my scared face during the passage about 300ft above ground though. (Believe me - that *was* a scary ride.)

And here they are - the Three Virgins of Santiago:

Well well ... that was Santiago, but every nice time finds its end sooner or later. A different day, a different city, and Buenos Aires for a long weekend followed.

What do you do in Argentina? Right - eat steak. One of the best places, well-known to my local expert Gaby, is probably Del Nivel - crowded during weekends, luckily we have been there during the week. Quite stylish as well, and no one ever left this place hungry since it opened.

Someone happy with his steak. The obvious choice was beef, but in order not to make the mistake of undersampling space that was supplemented by some pork (and salad and desert etc.), too.

And a steak happy just to be. Knowing quite well that in a few minutes, it won't be anymore.

Buenos Aires has a well-functioning subway system - even (or maybe in particular) when compared to those in big western cities such as NYC or London :-). It's cheap (10p or so) and it works.

Being the religious city Argentina (sometimes) is, this is also clearly visible in the subway entrance.
(The McD cup holding the flowers is just *that* slight imperfection the picture needed, don't you think so ... maybe?)

Sunday, sun, and walking around town.

Going out in Palermo. If you ever come to Buenos Aires and fancy a stroll through some of the bars - the area around Plaza J. Cortazar can be highly recommended by this traveller. Also good for dinner (and possibly breakfast the next day.)

While I didn't travel as much from Logan airport as I did from Stansted when I lived in the UK, I still spent enough time there to know the location quite well - and I must say, I started to like the place after a while. The randomly distributed wooden airmchairs in the international terminal, and the morning sun falling into the terminal at just the right angle ... buy a cup of tea and the NY Times, and dawn has never felt better than that.

Ubiquitous American Airlines at JFK in the morning...

... and at my arrival at Logan. I am looking forward to my next time arriving here already.

Have a good day - and hope to see you again next time :-)! A.

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