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Written on: Monday January 18th, 2010

A journal entry from: South America

December 20th - 27th

Jean had booked a nice "apartment hotel" for us in Santiago which was perfect for the four of us as there were two bedrooms, lounge, kitchen and balcony in a quiet part of Santiago. We had a nice time eating out in the square nearby the hotel and enjoying drinks and snacks on the balcony. We visited a nearby "Irish" bar for some cultural experiences one evening which was fun. Barrie, Ronan and Andy did some sightseeing in central Santiago. We went to Santa Lucia hill and Plaza de Armas and also visited the artisan centre Los Dominicos to buy some presents (Yasmin had been before).

On Barrie´s final evening we visited a friend of his for dinner. Alfredo and his wife Marcella and two of thier children live in a nice area, not too far from our hotel. The evening was great fun and they kindly invited us to come and visit them on Christmas Day since we were going to be in Santiago by ourselves. 

The following day Barrie had lunch with us and then left for the airport. We hoped that his flight would be ok as the weather in UK had been really bad. The rest of us had booked a wine tour at the Cousińo Macul winery in the outskirts of Santiago (where Prince Charles had recently visited). There was a beautiful vineyard and a very interesting tour. We got to try a couple of wines in wine glasses that we got to keep (hope they survive the rest of the trip!). We bought a few bottles including a very nice one for Christmas Eve.

After a rest in the hotel room we headed out to Bellavista for dinner. It is a very lively party area in Santiago with loads of bars with tables and chairs on the street, stretching for hundreds of metres. After dinner we checked out a couple of these bars and had some cheap beers. It was nice to see some nightlife in Santiago.

Ronan had to leave the next day after lunch and would be back in time to get to his sister´s house for Christmas. In the evening we stayed in the hotel and had a great curry takeaway while watching a film. Perfect!

We had a nice and quiet Christmas Eve, just the two of us. It was 30 degrees, so not the Christmas weather we were used to. After a simple dinner that we prepared and some of the nice wine we opened our presents. We had a couple from Jen and Aldus which was great and we had of course bought each other some small gifts.

On Christmas Day Alfredo and Marcella picked us up from the hotel and took us to their house. There was a very large family gathering - the whole apartment was full! We were made to feel very welcome and it felt like a proper Christmas with lots of family, food and drinks. We even got a Christmas present which was two nice bottles of wine. 

Before leaving Santiago on the overnight bus to San Pedro de Atacama we went to do some last sightseeing. We visited Santa Lucia hill again, the market near to Plaza de Armas, Plaza de la Constitucion and Palacio de la Moneda. Palacio de la Moneda is the site of the 1973 coup. There was a statue of Salvador Allende, among others. We tried to visit Pablo Neruda´s house in Santiago but only got to look at the outside as it was full. After some shopping for food for the long bus ride (25 hrs) we set off for the bus station.