Santiago. Chile.

Santiago – I’ve been excited to visit you since Michael fell in love with your empanadas and Pisco Sours when he first came to Valle Nevado Ski Resort for work with Mammoth back in 2012. And I must say, you definitely lived up to my expectations.

From Mendoza, Santiago is a six hour bus ride through the Andes, which is absolutely breathtaking, and only a little unnerving with the 28 hairpin turns. You even catch a glimpse of the highest mountain in South America, Aconcagua, at 22,837ft.

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Our dear friends, Arnau and Ignacia (and one-month old baby Borja!), are from Chile and graciously welcomed us into their beautiful home for our two week stay. Upon arriving, Arnau took us straight to Lollapalooza and hooked us up with VIP tickets! Those of you who aren’t familiar with this music festival, it’s a two-day event with world-famous bands, VIP experiences, and long wild nights. I’ve never been to a music festival before, have always wanted to go to Stagecoach, Coachella, and Lollapalooza, but never had the time — Seems fitting that my first one would be abroad. Anyway, seeing as we came straight from Mendoza and I was on wine-overload (How is this possible? I don’t know.), but let’s just say the idea of partying again was less than attractive. However, we powered through and it was definitely worth it. Over the weekend, we saw Skrillex, Smashing Pumpkins, Bastille, Calvin Harris, and Kings of Leon, just to name a few. Bastille and Calvin Harris were by far the BEST! The crowd was so diverse, from kids to grandparents, everyone dancing and singing. Michael even threw me up on his shoulders for a birds-eye view and it was a sea of people for miles. I even got on the jumbo-tron! Overall, my first Lollapalooza experience was a success! DCIM102GOPROG0436121.IMG_5411IMG_5310 IMG_5386 IMG_5408 IMG_5240IMG_5422IMG_5524

The City.

Santiago is such a fun city. It felt a lot like the U.S. which was a welcomed transition from our previous travels. The bonus of staying with friends is that we had our own private tour guide the entire time. Arnau showed us around the city where we explored Cerro Santa Lucia, which is a great look-out point in the center of Santiago, complete with a 360 degree view of downtown. I always feel the need to explore a city as soon as I arrive in order to get my bearings before jumping off on other excursions. We also toured Cathedral Metropolitana de Santiago, Museo de Santiago, and the beautiful plazas with gorgeous old buildings. The day we happened to walk around the city was also St. Patrick’s Day. And those of you who know me, know that I’m a HUGH St. Patty’s Day fan. Naturally, I was hoping for some green beer and I’m happy to report, we found Dublin’s, an Irish bar in Santiago, where they were celebrating like I was back in the states. Tip: Don’t do an Irish Car Bomb in Chile. It’s not the same. Yuck.

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Valle Nevado.

As I mentioned, Michael did some work with Valle Nevada Ski Resort a few years ago while working for Mammoth Mountain. He’s always spoken so highly of the resort that, of course, I wanted to see it for myself. We drove up the winding road an hour from Santiago, with 60 switchback turns to the resort. Such a beautiful, crazy, and at times, scary road. But the mountain views were spectacular.  We saw dozens of condors flying overhead, foxes, sheep, cows, goats, etc. The resort itself was quiet given it’s their summer time, but we had a delicious lunch of Pisco Sours, ceviche, empanadas, and camarones pil pil — These are all my new favorite dishes, which I desperately need the recipe for. I’m looking forward to returning one winter to truly experience the thrill of skiing at Valle Nevado.

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Culture.

BBQs are a big part of the Chilean culture. Families, friends, everyone is invited. And it seemed to us that Arnau and Iggy were going to a BBQ literally every weekend. One of our last nights in Santiago, we went to Arnau’s cousin’s house for a get-together. On the rooftop deck, he was cooking every kind of meat imaginable. Steak, sausage, chicken, ribs, etc. But it’s not a sit down type of affair. It’s presented in a very casual manner with the meat cut and served as appetizers that just keep coming. We were stuffed by the end. I actually think I like this style better. However, no vegetables! I die.

Thank you to our Chilean Familia for inviting us into your homes, and truly making us feel special and a part of your life. We are forever grateful!

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Hikes.

Training for Machu Picchu began with a morning hike up Cerro Manquehue. An hour and fifteen minute hike to the summit, Michael and I thought, “No problem.” Boy, were we wrong. Arnua forgot to mention the hike was straight up, with loose rocks, cactus, and hot hot heat. Don’t get me wrong, the stunning panoramic view of Santiago from the top was well worth it, but I was definitely happy to get back down. Looks like I need to start getting my butt in gear for Peru!

Santiago has dozens of beautiful day hikes on the outskirts of the city, offering gorgeous views of all types. Highly recommend. Plus, it was nice to do something active to offset our Pisco Sour addictions 🙂

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Thanks for the amazing hospitality, Arnua, Iggy, and Borja! You are our family and we’re so happy we were able to spend so much time with you! xoxo #familia

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Tips:

  • If coming from Mendoza, I advise you to take the 10:30am bus and not the 7:30am after a night of drinking so you can stay awake on the bus ride and enjoy the view 🙂
  • Four days in Santiago is plenty of time to eat the good food, explore the city, and take a couple of hikes. Then I’d suggest venturing out to other places in Chile. There are so many wonderful towns to experience so be sure to get out of the city for a while. We used Santiago as a home base to relax, catch up on the blog and rest up before more adventuring.

2015 Complete Bucket List:

  • Drink a Pisco Sour everyday
  • Tour of Santiago
  • View South America’s highest peak
  • Stroll through the Andes

Next Time:

  • Empanada cooking class

  • Snowboard at Valle Nevado Ski Resort

Pros:

  • Stays light longer – So much time to explore!
  • TV room is not the center of the house – Typically in another room.
  • Siesta – Pro and con – Restaurants close and you may still be looking for food.
  • BBQs!
  • Chilean ceviche is AMAZING!! I need to get this recipe. Can’t wait to try Peruvian ceviche in a few weeks!
  • BEST PISCO SOURS! – Chile and Peru argue over who invented Pisco. I’m excited to try Peru’s Pisco Sours too. So delicious. But you have to be careful, two Pisco Sours catch up with you fast.
  • When you’re looking for American comfort food, don’t fret. Papa Johns and PF Changs can be found in Santiago and it is exactly the same as home. WINNING!
  • Chileans are so welcoming and want you to have a great time in their country, offering advice, showing you were to go, inviting you into their home, offering their home to you, etc. This is a trait I will be bringing home with me and hopefully Americans will be able to adopt this lifestyle as well.

Cons:

  • Smoking in restaurants – Literally makes me lose my appetite
  • “Suchi”, not sushi, sucks – But Chileans love it! Why would I want chicken in my sushi? And cream cheese in every roll is a little overkill.
  • More stray dogs – But all well behaved. Except for the few that chase your car bumper. Michael befriends all of them.

 

Until next time…

~Deena