Thursday, 1 July 2010

Valparaiso & 'The Fat Cow' for dinner

One more UNESCO site ticked off the list! Valparaiso was awesome, once we found out which area we were supposed to be in... After another ample breakfast at our hostel we caught the bus to Valparaiso from the Parajitos subway station in Santiago. It was really convenient, buses left frequently and connected directly pretty much.

Once we got to Valparaiso we were immediately accosted by a bunch of people trying to sell us guided tours of the city, of course if people accost you when you get off the bus alarm bells go off and you generally don't dive headfirst into their offer, at least we managed to get a free city map and some advice from a guy before we turned down his deal, and wandered toward the touristy bit.

At Plaza Arturo Plat we stopped at a cafe for a quick break and managed to ask the somewhat-English speaking waitress for some advice, which was basically that we shouldn't go past a certain point of the city area since it wasn't safe for tourists - sure enough, when we ventured past a certain square to look at the oldest church in Chile, a policeman (and his police dog) came up and, again, told us we should leave as it wasn't safe for tourists there... Given this was now the second time we'd been told, we thought we should probably listen to their advice and headed back towards the Concepcion funicular, the one that was safe for tourists.

At the top we found a fantastic view of the city and also all the colourful houses and street art Valparaiso is famous for:
This one's for you, Mel! =)

We had lunch up the top there, and again, got told by another waitress where was safe/unsafe for tourists. Fortunately the scenic road to one of Pablo Neruda's houses was safe, so we ambled along that till we got to 'La Sebastiana'. It was definitely worthwhile going in, a great audio tour, and you can definitely conclude by the end of it that the guy was an absolute nutter... 

After that we basically went back down the hill through the 'open air museum' (a bit disappointing actually after all the other street art), and back onto the bus to Santiago. The bus steward (or conductor) was incredibly attentive and nice, he automatically got blankets to tuck in passengers who were dozing off, and also turned on the reading light for someone when it was getting dark, without being asked. Better service than our Aerolineas Argentinas flight! Though that's probably  not too difficult.

Back in Santiago, we got a recommendation to go to a restaurant called 'The Fat Cow' (or in Spanish "La Vaca Gordo'). When we got there it was absolutely choca full of locals, which was probably a good sign, and decided to wait the 20-30 mins to get a table. And wasn't it worth it! Definitely the best steak (and dinner, period) we've had on the trip so far, probably helped that we had a few Pisco Sours (the local cocktail of choice) and a very friendly waiter. Would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone who visits Santiago! Best of all the prices were awesome, I had a 400g Chilean Wagyu steak for NZ$18, the cocktails were about NZ$2 each (and believe me it was much stronger than the usual stuff in NZ that costs NZ$15). Plus we got free empanadas and even a free Armaretto at the end - we probably made up for it in the generous tip we left behind but totally worthwhile!

Tomorrow we have an early start to Mendoza... if we can wake up in time! Hopefully can get some great photos of the Andes as we cross over. 

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