We have spent another few days wandering around Santiago. We are constantly suprised by the beautiful old buildings that are falling apart and unused, but also glad to see how some have been restored or facades preserved, such as the Centro Cultural Estación Mapocho, once a beautiful old train station, now a Cultural and Events Centre.
We did a walking tour of the city, which was fantastic. It started in the Plaza de Armas at the Catedral de Santiago. From there we walked the streets past important sites such as the Palacio La Moneda (Government House), the Opera House, Stock Exchange and Pablo Nerudas House.
But important buildings aside, we also learned about some things we had been pondering up until that point:
- Chileans only make drinks sweet. This would explain why the juice from the supermarket was ridiculously sweet. We are yet to try some of the typical alcoholic beverages that are made to be super sweet also.
- Young people wandering the streets in torn clothes covered in flour, pen and with a distinctive fishy stench are university students completing their initiaition, who are then put on the streets to beg for money to pay for the return of their belongings.
- "Coffee with Legs". The other day we went into a coffee shop, where we were served a hideous tasting cappucino by a young lass in about 6 inches of make up, tight, short dress and with rather large cleavage flirting extensively with the clientelle. Due to the terrible standard of coffee in Chile, serving coffee in this way is designed to help distract the drinker from the taste. Though we haven't ventured into them, there are two other versions of "coffee with legs". In one, the windows are blacked out and the girls wear a little less fabric, and the other involves the "happy minute", where for 1 minute at random times, the doors are locked and the girls get their kit off for a minute, before redressing and returning to normal service.
A visit to the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolumbino was fascinating. This contains artefacts from the various Indegenous cultures of the Precolumbian Era such as newborn mummies, fabrics, pottery, carvings, stonework and metalwork. We spent hours wandering the exhibitions being blown away by the cultures and skills of the artists.
We are trying to eat in out apartment as much as possible to save money. Last night we thought a steak and salad would be nice. We used our Spanish disctionary to decipher what meats were what in the supermarket and purchased some beef? As we cooked it, it started peeling apart into thin layers. We still ate it, and so far so good, but we might try an actual butcher next time we buy meat! At least we had a giant corona to wash it down :-)