Maria arrived on Thursday, which happened to be the start of the Flyers oral exams the junior school kids were taking, and I unfortunately had to be on hand to act as usher, and make sure they didn't have a nervous breakdown waiting to start. However, these were only in the morning so we had the afternoon free. The first day Maria came to Redland for the afternoon, where she met the English department, had a look round, then rapidly persuaded me that it would be a good idea to go and see the new James Bond. We did, and it was awesome.
Friday night arrived, and we celebrated this in true middle-aged fashion by going for some drinks and getting something to eat in Barrio Brasil, which for me was the Chilean equivalent of sausage and chips. We then met a few of my friends, and by 2am headed out to Barrio Bellas Artes for a bit of cultural education.
The next day we continued our cultural education by heading into the south of Santiago to visit Bodega Concha y Toro, one of the largest wine producers in the world, producers of labels like Casillero del Diablo. We joined a tour, and for an hour were shown around the place along with a large group of Brazilians, who apparently swarm the place.
Concha y Toro is very tourist oriented, but it's nice all the same, and it's not often you have the chance to discuss the "floral notes" of a fine Chilean cab sav whilst wandering around vineyards in the foothills of the Andes. However, we did get a little bored with the slightly pretentious wine tasting, and ended up amusing ourselves by taking increasingly ridiculous photos and making bizarre claims about the taste, something the Brazilians were somewhat alarmed/amused by.
For the final day, we headed out of Santiago and to the coast, where we spent the day in the "jewel of the Pacific": Valparaiso. I've already been there before with school, and so it was nice to show Maria around and also see some things I hadn't really had the chance to see. Valpo is a big port city on the Pacific coast, and is very different to Santiago: it's very cultural, historic, dirty, busy and increasingly touristy, and a really interesting place to be.
We visited the Naval Museum, which was actually quite interesting, and amusingly anti-Peru. We found loads of Simon Bolivar statues and streets, which was quite fun given that we both studied him last year. We kept up the cultural stuff by going to the Valparaiso Museum of Fine Art, which is very well done but contains mostly terrible paintings. We walked around the port, up a few hills, used the old funiculars, bought some empanadas and avocado (doesn't get much more Chilean), and then slept most of the bus back.
Nice weekend. Oh, and I'm going to Perú next week.