What a Chilean will do for love

Summer is in full swing, the birds are tweeting, and Chileans all over are feeling warm and fuzzy inside. But how does Chile make February 14 special?

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Chileans are passionate people, there’s no doubt about that. And they have been known to do many things for love. One woman a week ago was even willing to face jail for it.

Santiago-born Grace Guajardo made world headlines after she phoned in a false bomb threat to keep her boyfriend from flying off to a new job in Spain. The plane was evacuated on the landing strip and Guajardo went to court. “I’m sorry, but I did it for love,” Guajardo said after she was charged with making the threat. “It wasn’t the best thing to do, but at least he’s here,” she said, kissing her man outside the courtroom.

For many people, Valentine’s Day means dim lighting, murmured coos of affection and the clinking of wine glasses; passions kindled over candlelight and evenings of luxury; or the solitary throes of unrequited desire.

But are Chileans as starry-eyed as Americans or British?

“No, not really,” says Ignacio Gallegos, a 23 year-old student from Santiago. “We’re much more down to earth. I think people in America get quite stressed over Valentine’s, but here it’s much more casual.”

Nonetheless, whispers, love letters, cards and flowers will be flying on the day in question. Schoolchildren give their admired ones chocolates, and adults break the monotony of home life by going out for dinners or concerts around town.

Many Chileans, however, treat this special day like any other: by getting together with their friends and holding a good asado.

Top 5 Romantic things to do in Chile on Valentine’s Day

1. Bike trip for two around Santiago.

Take a sunset ride on a two-person bicycle around the beautiful districts of Quinta Normal or Barrio Brazil on a balmy February evening. Tour-company Bicicleta Verde is offering Valentines Day discounts for their double bicycles, at a price of CP$ 5,000 (US$ 10) for 4 hours.

2. See some good South American crooning.

Chile has a rich tradition of romantic singing, going back to bolero singers like 82-year-old Lucho Gatica, the king of crooning. For a night of live music, stop by Café Brazil, a neighborhood institution where live musicians play the classic folk songs of Violeta Parra and Victor Jara.

3.  Get a room.

ThisisChile recently reported on a phenomenon which takes place in parks, where passionate young couples go to meet away from their parents. On Valentine’s Day… well, the parents run away from their kids. Recommended spots in Santiago include Hotel Valdivia (www.hotelvaldivia.cl) and Motel Cozumel (www.motelcozumel.cl), where rooms are decorated in Indian, Egyptian, Chinese, Japanese, modern, minimalist, Aztec, Gaudí and Polynesian styles. Many have Jacuzzis and free Pisco Sours on offer.

4. Stay overnight at a vineyard.

All the wine you can drink and beautiful countryside set the scene for a perfectly romantic evening. Viña Matetic (www.mateticvineyards.com), located in the Rosario Valley 120 kilometres outside Viña de Mar, offers a pool and gardens, as well as rooms in its century-old house.

5. Picnic on the hillside.

Santiago’s beautiful San Cristóbal Hill offers spectacular views of the city, and green spaces with grills available for rent. Ride the funicular from the end of Pio Nono street to the highest section of the hill and walk down one of the side roads until you reach the barbecue areas. Long sunny days make all of Santiago’s parks ideal spots for a bottle of champagne and a picnic.