Saturday, January 28, 2012

Santiago

I got up at 4.40am the following morning. Urgh, I don't know why I thought early morning flights were a good idea when I booked them all. So far its just been really difficult and annoying. All the girls in my room were pretty quiet when they came in so I tried not to make much noise and kept the light off (in contrast to Sao Paulo where I made as much noise as possible). My cab was already waiting and the ride to the airport was easy at 5am. No traffic! My cabbie liked singing along to the radio at the top of his voice. Funny, especially when it's in Spanish so you don't really have a clue what he is saying.

Lima international airport is a bit odd. Every 5 minutes they announce that it's a 'quiet' airport and flight departures don't get announced. Why not just announce them, instead of announcing you won't announce them?

I'm flying LAN this time. Since it is arguably the best airline in South America I'm hoping for good things. They actually had my vegan meal onboard, as requested, so I was happy. Unlike TAM, and the three day old cheese sandwich. I also got to watch Contagion. Anna, I don't agree that this is the shittest movie ever. I thought it was alright actually. Better than Glee dubbed in Portuguese that's for sure.

Got to Santiago and caught the bus into town. The hostel is in a cool area with lots of bars and restuarants. I think it has a bit of a student population as well. This hostel is owned by an Aussie, so he made a cricket net cos he loves cricket (and why not? it is awesome). Genius idea!


After check-in I went for a walk towards the city looking for a veggie place. Unlike day 1 of Cuzco, I managed to find them all. But, unlike Cuzco they were all shut. None open for dinner so I ended up ordering the vegetarian BBQ option at the hostel and drinking beers. The BBQ turned out to be really good and cheap. Plus I really liked they let all the vegetarians go first to load up on all the salads we wanted. Brilliant idea.

The next morning I got up and walked into town to do the free four hour walking tour. Our guide (Phillipe) took us around Santiago and explained the history of the buildings etc. He also tells you about Chile's political history, both recent (i.e. all the student protests last year, and historical, i.e. the Spanish invasion). He was really good.



 
A building affected by the earthquake last year.


Street dog that decided to come with us.


Next we walked past Santa Lucia, a really nice park on a hill in the middle of the city into Lastarria. It's a really nice neighbourhood. Rich people live here.



Not sure why the trees here think it's autumn when it's clearly summer!


 Fountains here are popular with dogs and kids alike!



This is the river that runs through Santiago. Somehow they've made it look like a storm water drain.


This neigbourhood is called Bellavista and it has lots of cheap bars apparently and cool places to eat. A place offering a range of vegetarian food was pointed out to me by Phillipe. And it was open! I will be coming back here later.



The tour ends at the base of Cerro San Cristóbal hill. From here you can take the funicular up for views of the city and the Andes mountains. Unfortunately the fog/smog (I don't know which) meant I could find them. They were pointed out to me (you can see a bit of snow on the top on one in the middle of the top photo).



And they have a big Mary! South American's love building big religious statues and I love taking photos of them.


I caught the funicular back down and set off the veggie friendly place. The waitress pointed out the veggie things and I ordered something I was pretty sure was vegan but had no idea what it was. Out came a pastel de choclo (Chilean corn pie). This pie was totally delicious. Mine had soya mince and no egg. I really liked it, and was glad to try a veggie version of a local dish. I really want to try some empanadas, but I'm not convinced that they are lard free so have resisted. Plus they all seem to have cheese in them. Arte Vegetal in the city centre has vegan empanadas but I'll be gone by the time it opens again :(

After lunch I headed to the central market. This place sells mostly fish, so I wasn't interested in that obviously. But I was interested in the veggie market across the road where I got some yummy fresh fruit for my bus ride tomorrow. Sadly no juice ladies here. Must be a Peruvian thing.

By now I was really tired from all the walking. So I jumped on the metro and went up to Pedro de Valdivia to visit the sculpture park. It wasn't as exciting as I'd imagined but it was still worth the $1 metro fare.





Then it was back on the metro to the hostel. I got back and realised I'd been walking for 10 hours. I have to say, I really like this city. It's clean, modern, organised, and cars don't try and run you over. Michel, I know you think it's really boring and I must have sunstroke or something, but I like it and I would live here for sure.

Tomorrow morning I will get on a bus down towards Pucon. So as of 9am, I'll be done with Santiago. This is why I needed to see as much as possible today. I think I did well.

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