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Colin and Sue’s Travel Diary

Friday, 01 Dec 2006

Location: Santiago and Buenos Aires, Argentina

MapA tale of two capital cities

We spent last weekend in Santiago (Chile) and then flew across to Buenos Aires on Monday.

We had a really relaxing time in Santiago - great hotel in a really nice neighbourhood (Lastarria) - handy for the city centre but with a nice villagey feel, full of cafes and restaurants. It´s quite a picturesque area too and we saw a couple of film shoots in progress while we were there - although they didn´t need any ´tourist´extras. We managed a couple of museums on the night they were open from 5pm to midnight and free. Also took the funicular and cable car up the local hill, Cerro San Cristobal, and had yet more ice creams. We also had a trip to the seaside - the historic port of Valparaiso, famous for its steep streets and funiculars, and the beach resort of Viña del Mar, although the ocean was absolutely freezing and not tempting for more than a quick paddle.

We went straight to the South American Explorers Club in Buenos Aires to use their computer and phones to search for an apartment - which we found and moved into the same day, much to everybody´s surprise. It´s a small studio apartment in Recoleta (famous for its cemetery with Evita´s grave) - we´re staying for a week and quite enjoying a life of semi-normality. We´re finally using our English (Waitrose finest) teabags although Sue hasn´t been able to find any porridge or Weetabix for breakfast so perfection hasn´t been achieved. Sue´s favourite sight is the Buenos Aires dogwalkers, whose job is to walk dogs for working/lazy people, in packs of up to 10 of all shapes and sizes - all remarkably well behaved.

Had a day trip to Colonia in Uruguay yesterday, on the other side of the River Plate (45km away) - it was a bit like taking a cross-Channel ferry to Boulogne. It is a pretty colonial town although, despite the Rough Guide suggesting you could spend a couple of days there, we thought half a day was about right.

We´re off to the South American Explorers Club tonight for a wine tasting tutorial - we´ve been doing some practice during the week and feel confident of getting through it. The food and wine here is very reasonable and very good quality, especially the beef. The guide books claim that people all eat out really late here - one night we had a pre-dinner nap but didn´t wake up until after 11pm by which time neither of us could face going out (delicious toast instead - one of the benefits of having your own place). The next night we decided to be unfashionably early, going out about 9.30, but the restaurant was already busy and most people were finishing rather than starting - maybe it´s different at the weekend.

We´re trying to fix up a trip to the footie on Sunday - River Plate vs Nueva Chicago, although it´s surprisingly hard to find out the kick-off time.