“ Address: Ruta 68 km 48.800 / Santiago Metropolitan Region / Chile „
Los Hornitos, Chile
We spent a few day in Santiago and on one of the days we organised a day trip to Valparaiso and Vina del Mar. I really wanted to visit Valparaiso as I had read and loved Isabel Allende's books and many were set in Valparaiso so I wanted to see the place for myself.
On the way to Valparaiso we made a coffee stop at this cafe and we weren't expecting much more than a quick drink and toilet stop but it proved to be a lovely little place with lots of character.
Our guide took us in after explaining to us that Los Hornotitos meant little ovens in Spanish and the place was so called as they had the original bread baking ovens still in the grounds.
The grounds were very nice, a huge car park but with trees and tropical pants like bougainvillea cascading over the trellis and pots full of plants around the place. There were also old wooden carts and barrels placed decoratively under trees or in corners. It had the look of a neat and tidy olde worlde farm Spanish style.
Once inside our guide introduced us to the gentleman inside the door who greeted us. All the staff were men and all were dressed in typical Chilean gaucho/cowboy gear, sort of 'High Chaparal' (for those of you of a certain age) with waistcoats and looking very Spanish. They were all moustachioed and very smart looking and very attentive. It did help that we were one of about four sets of customers so they were hardly stretched work wise.
The first thing they did was hand each of us a small glass of chichi which is the local alcoholic drink of the country. It is a sort of cloudy sherry/wine and quite pleasant. I wouldn't want gallons of it but it slipped down quite well that morning.
We were shown to a table near a fire pit which was very welcome. The floors were rough, dirt or hardened clay so the table was a bit wobbly. The whole atmosphere was rustic. The fire pits certainly made it feel a I cosier as it was quite 'chile' ( sorry couldn't resist).
We ordered a couple of cups of coffee and sat enjoying the ambiance while we looked around. On the wall were artifacts from cattle rearing, saddles, and other bits of branding equipment, photos and so on.
There was a bar if you wanted to order alcoholic drinks, more chichi if you fancied it, A chocolate shop, a full restaurant with various local specialties. We could have had some local pastries but we had not long had breakfast.
Down towards the end where the toilets were was a souvenir shop selling novelties and also a lot of local foods stuff, including chocolate but it was all quite expensive. We found Chile generally quite expensive compared to Ecuador and Peru and the people seemed generally a lot more affluent too.
I had a good look and was tempted by the chocolate but felt that nearly £5 for a couple of bars of chocolate that were pretty smell was not something I really needed.
The toilets were clean, if somewhat rustic too. There was soap, a flushing toilet and towels so really nothing to complain about but it was not modern and sleek which was not surprising really considering the image of the place was very rustic, basic and looking like a farmstead.
All the while we drank out coffee the waters stood around the fire pit, occasionally catching our eye and smiling so we did feel a little like we were in a goldfish bowl. It would have been easier had there been a few more customers but still we did get plenty of attention.
After we had enjoyed our drinks, had a toilet visit and I had managed to avoid the chocolate temptation we ventured out . As we left through the front door we notice that there was another large room with more tables going off to the left of the entrance where we had gone to the right. I think this was probably for those wanting to have a meal rather than just a quick drink but it looked pretty similar in décor.
Outside it had not got any warmer but we did have a bit of a look at the' hornitos' which looked like sort of concrete bunkers or large BBQs within a large beehive. We took a few photos and then our guide insisted on taking some of the two of us posing in various places! He meant well but we don't usually do the 'posing in front of things together type of photo' and we did several that day.
This was a pleasant surprise as we were not expecting a coffee stop and to get to try the local tipple in such quaint surroundings was a bonus.
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