Sunday, 30 April 2017

A day around Santiago de Chile

ALLIE: DAY 73: Friday, 27th of April

Lots of organisation, a battle with Lan Chile and strolling around Santiago
enjoying the views across the city
What a terrible night. This time it wasn’t the dogs, nor the disco, but I just could not fall asleep. 

Feel absolutely trashed in the morning but manage to do a little jog up the hill. The views are spectacular. The city is surrounded by the snow-white mountain tops and the morning sun is bright and warm.

After breakfast Carolina takes us into town and we briefly stop at their office to meet Paulina and make a call to Bolivia. 

Then it’s a battle with Lan Chile to arrange our further tickets. Even though the staff is very helpful the whole arrangement is very complicated and it takes nearly two hours to get it all sorted. I am in bad shape. 
Phil enjoying his shoe clean
Try to keep awake and absorb a bit of the street life whilst Phil patiently waits at the counter.

The downtown area is lively, full with street musicians, bars, cafes and very green with all the trees and little parks. The atmosphere is certainly a very relaxed one and reminds me more of cities in Spain then of South America.

I am told to be careful with my handbag but in general I don’t feel threatened or unsafe. Phil enjoys a good shoe clean for only 300 pesos. He claims that his shoes have never been so shiny.
beautiful architecture

Most of the downtown buildings date back to 19th century and are well preserved some even dating back to 1543 when Santiago was founded. We climb up a little hill in Cerro (Park) Santa Lucia and enjoy a good circular view around the town.

It’s now a sprawling city with at least 6 million people in the city centre and another 6 million in the surrounding areas. Even Charles Darwin has come up here and left an inscription of praise.

Phil at the funicular
Across the river Mapocho we enter the quarter of Barrio Bellavista. This lovely area is full of colourful houses, bars and trendy restaurants. 

The similarity to Montmartre in Paris is striking. We are too tired to climb up San Cristobal hill and decide to take the old funicular tram way. 

In only 8 minutes it brings us to the top of the 859 meter high mountain and to the ‘Santuario de la Immaculation Conception’. 

A beautiful white standing virgin Mary extends her arms in blessing to the city and every visitor. No wonder that anno 1987 Pope John Paul II was here and held a sermon.   

We take the ‘teleferico’ (a small cable car) back to the bottom of the hill and catch a taxi. Just as well I went jogging in the morning and got some orientation – the taxi driver got somehow lost!

dinner with the family

A little rest at home and then we were invited by the family to ‘A l’otro sitio‘, a peruvian restaurant that Phil used to enjoy with Victor on his last visits to Santiago.

But this is a brand new restaurant and even though the food is good, it lacks somewhat the atmosphere. We start with pisco sour and have some wonderful fresh ceviche - fresh raw seafood with a delicate spicy dressing.

PHIL:     Day 73/27 April

Driving downtown the sky is uninterrupted cerulean blue, the tinted leaves showing no sign of any wind. Traffic has been eased by serious attention to a new motorway network, extensions to the subway, and the resultant reduction in air pollution for which Santiago was once infamous.
Downtown Santiago
We have to make phone contact with our Bolivian ballooning friends who speak no English by using the Silva family as intermediaries. 

After a lot of mis-connections Lourdes, the girl in charge in La Paz, confirms we will be met on arrival and a balloon flight near Lake Titicaca looks on the cards. 

Two hours in LAN Chile’s city-centre office finally provide linking flights to La Paz via Iquique and Arica, then subsequently on to Cuzco via Lima. Re-writing our fat round-the-world ticket seems to be the challenge of the day for the office staff who finally succeed in saving us significant sums by their efforts.
Santuario de la Immaculation Concepti
This must be one of the few cities remaining where there is a shoeshine ’boy’ on every corner and I take advantage to restore my by now very scruffy leather shoes. 

We collapse in a sunlit café on the Plaza de Armas with its imposing Spanish colonial and neo-classical public buildings, before climbing Sta. Lucia hill from where Darwin had surveyed Santiago. Walking across the parks lining the Rio Mapucho the streets lead you past multi-hued buildings to the tramway up Cerro San Cristobal.

A plaque announces that ours is the same tram-car once apparently occupied by Pope John-Paul II on his pastoral visit in 1987, and then descend via the cable car line on the eastern flank of the 600m hill.

dinner party
A farewell to our hosts takes the form of dinner in Il Otro Sitio, a Peruvian restaurant whose original downtown Bellavista branch had become my favourite after five visits to Chile.

This new outlet is still stylish but lacks the quirky architecture of the original, but any lack of atmosphere is compensated, for Allie at least, by superb prawns from the Humboldt Current and ceviche, sea bass marinated in lemon juice.

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