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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Coffee, Tea, or Me? Meet the Coffee Culture of Santiago, Chile

may have chosen this destination the same day I ventured out. Realistically, the destination chose me, doesn't it always? Anyway, I didn't have adequate time to do research beyond the essentials (i.e. Do I need a visa? Are hotels affordable?) so once again I am winging it. I did, however, watch a couple of YouTube clips on my favorite travel guru Anthony Bourdain.  He spent some time in Santiago, Chile. I saw a clip of him eating enormous avocado pork sandwiches, drinking local beer, and joining in on cultural events like having cafe con piernas served to him by a leggy lady dressed in a Vegas-style cocktail waitress uniform.

Upon arriving in Santiago, we realize we are in the exact same time zone as New York. Bonus!  We also realize it's the end of autumn and winter is around the corner. It's kind of gray out but still pretty mild. We stayed at Loreto Hotel downtown for $100/night. Free wifi, free breakfast, and a charming balcony included! We ventured out for coffee -- actually, cafe con piernas or 'coffee with legs'.
We made three stops. First, a coffee and croissant with avocado at Caffe de Lucia. We quickly found out that avocado is an essential part of the Chilean diet, and there's no portion control. No complaints from me. 

The next two stops are at Cafe Haiti and Cafe Caribe, both located downtown on Calle Huerfanos. At Cafe Haiti, tables surround a stage type of platform with railings for waitresses to strut down with your cappuccino in hand. At Cafe Caribe, it's standing only. Both equally exploit women in rump-hugging minidresses and heels for your enjoyment with your morning coffee. The skin bearing waitresses have fun with it though, flirting with the regulars, who generally seem like harmless old men. It is undoubtedly a dated tradition that got the locals into coffee drinking. So will the inevitable world domination of Starbucks on the coffee industry ruin this uniquely creepy tradition in Santiago? I sure hope not. 

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