31/5 Monday: It was a pretty solid work day today, with the girls’ guide coming out tomorrow. We enjoyed the pastries that Nico put out for breakfast, and had big hamburgers for lunch. Ange and I went for a long walk around Godoy Cruz and bought all sorts of groceries that we didn’t end up turning into dinner – although we did manage to eat some guacamole and drink some wine.

1/6 Tuesday: The day of the big launch! Last night’s dinner became today’s lunch, possibly a bit later than we’d planned to eat. Craig and I met up with a friend of a friend, who gave us some advice on wine-tasting and took us to an information office to get more info and pick up some brochures. We had coffee and medialunas for afternoon tea (at about 7.30pm) then met a couchsurfing contact for tapas at about 10.30; a very tasty day.

2/6 Wednesday: After three days in Mendoza, we finally managed to head out wine-tasting. We only tasted at one bodega, the second one we went to wanted to charge us 25 pesos for three tastes of 25-peso wine – we decided to go to the supermarket and just buy the wine. We also visited two places that gave us tastings of liqueurs, preserves and chocolate. We finished the day with guacamole and far too many episodes of 30 Rock.

3/6 Thursday: Ange and I left Craig behind in Mendoza to have a girls’ weekend in Santiago. The seven-hour bus trip was amazing – the views are absolutely stunning. I’d heard that people pay 100 pesos for day tours up into the mountains, so our 90-peso bus fare was definitely worth it. When we arrived in Santiago, I felt right at home … it was awesome how familiar and easy everything was. We spent the evening eating pizza and catching up with Maria Paz.

4/6 Friday: Today was one of the best days of the trip so far – Ange and I were on a high all day. We set off pretty early to catch a bus from Santiago to Valparaiso, and arrived there at midday. It was an epicurean journey – we started off in style with an enormous completo – an American hotdog smothered in avocado and a special salsa. Other gastronomic highlights were the churros, the sopaipillas, and the oddly-named Bilz soft drink.

We really enjoyed exploring the hills of Valpo – we travelled on three funiculars and followed three separate walking tours. The houses are all incredibly colourful and the street art is varied and widespread – everything from murals to stencil art, with a fair bit of banal tagging thrown in for good measure.

Maybe it was because we were two girls wandering around together, but we got a lot of male attention. Mostly regular guys just saying “you’re pretty” but one builder really won the prize with his two-minute tirade on our virtues.

We also visited Vina del Mar, before heading back to Valpo to catch our bus home (after jumping on the metro in the wrong direction). We were stoked to get back into the city in plenty of time for the last metro back to Maria Paz’s place.

5/6 Saturday: A good solid day of tourism today. We started with the funicular then had a menu del dia in Bellas Artes and an ice-cream from the best ice-cream place in Santiago. We’d arranged to meet Moroni at 8pm and it got dark at 6, so we filled the time watching the end of an excellent street performance of Macbeth and searching for coffee. We spent the evening in La Piojera, which felt like a sailors’ watering hole – my ass was grabbed more than once. It made for an interesting experience – and the Terremotos were surprisingly tasty.

6/6 Sunday: I think the journey from Maria Paz’s place to Moroni’s is just about the longest trip you can do in Santiago without actually leaving the city, and that’s how we started the day. At least we had a stop in the bus station to buy tickets for tomorrow! When we got to his house, I was put straight into the kitchen to make pebre (mmm pebre) and we had a pleasant lunch with his parents. I’m glad I got to see them again, I’d been thinking it wouldn’t be possible.

After lunch we headed back into town, where we spent a fair bit of time failing to find Pablo Neruda’s house and then deciding not to go in anyway. Instead, we had a coffee and an ice-cream in Bellas Artes, then watched an awesome procession in the Plaza de Armas.

We spent the evening with Maria Paz, Christophe and Chame, trying out almost all of our recipes – we had causa rellena, guacamole, pebre and devilled eggs … and a fair bit of wine. It’s pretty sad that we have to leave tomorrow, but it’s been a good trip.

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