Santiago

Trip Start Sep 30, 2013
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Trip End May 31, 2014


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Where I stayed
Castillo Surfista Hostel Santiago
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of Chile  ,
Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Flight, depart La Paz 16:35 on LA969, arrive Santiago 22:10

In Chile they use they use the Chilean Peso (CHP)

We flew first to Iquique on the pacific coast by the Atacama desert in northern Chile.
The landscape was extreme (in the extreme!)

The Andes rise steeply from the ocean leaving a narrow coastal strip in some places and none at all in other places. Looking from the airplane I could see absolutely no sign of life for many miles. People only live here to exploit the significant mineral resources in the desert.

 
 


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Santiago is much like a modern European city with an efficient metro, coffee shops, museums and shopping malls. Over one third of Chile's people live in this area. I had expected our 'return to civilization' to be when we flew to NZ, but Chile is quite developed...a member of the OECD. We can even drink the tap water (though the sewage system still will not cope with toilet paper.)

One striking feature of Santiago (and nearby Valparaiso) is the large number of stray dogs. Our guide told us that there were 17,000 strays in Santiago and that there refuges are provided for them. In fact there were also a considerable number of dogs roaming the streets of La Paz and Uyuni, though they all appear quite good natured. I never felt threatened by them.
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Thursday 30th January

We took a free walking tour of the city and learned lots about Chile.
The Mapuche  (no I had never heard of them either) were and still are the local indigenous people. They still cling to their traditional ways in the South and were never conquered by the conquistadors.

 
 
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 We also learned about the demise of Salvador Allende who was the socialist president fairly elected in 1970. After 3 years of disastrous economic policy and CIA inspired destabilization there was a military coup and he shot himself with an AK-47 given to him by Fidel Castro. Allende was followed by 17 years authoritarian right wing rule by Pinochet.

In the afternoon we took a funicular to the top of San Cristobal to the chapel of the Virgin. Needing a bit of exercise we decided to walk down, which was rather more exciting than expected as the path was disrupted and damaged. On several occasions we had to hedge our bets as to which was the best way to continue our descent. In addition it was very hot in the sun so we had to shade hop.  

Friday 31st January - a day of museums.

We visited the very interesting and well presented Museum of Pre Colombian Art in Santiago.
 
In the afternoon we went to Museo de Belles Artes. These 2 were was the most stimulating and interesting art collections I have visited for a long while.

It was hot to very hot in the sun, and just very pleasant in the evening.

Saturday 1st February

Another walking tour but this time though several food markets and ending up at the local cemetery which they call the Cemintario) - it is the size of 18 football pitches.

 
 
 
 
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In the afternoon we took a metro to the end of the line then a short taxi ride to the local vineyard at Concha y Toro. Apparently their wine is popular around the world - I must keep an eye out for it in future. The `château` was splendid, as was the wine. They had about 20 small plots of different grapes and we could go round and sample them It was most interesting to taste the difference between Merlot and Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, and between Chardonnay and Reisling and Sauvingnon Blanc and Gewurtztraminer. 


 
 
 
Sunday 2nd February 

Santiago is situated in a large valley about 70 miles inland. Today we took a bus to the its port, Valparaiso. This is a fascinating city  of 300,000 with 2 important themes. It is built round a series of steep hills with many funiculars and there is lots and lots of `street art` (aka graffiti). Like Santiago there is a real mix of architectural styles as buildings are frequently damaged by earthquakes and usually rebuilt in whatever style is popular at that time.   

For lunch I had a sea food enchilada which was quite nice and contained a surprise  - a black olive. Unfortunately the olive contained a stone which has a very bad effect on one of my teeth. I lost a filling  AND a bit of tooth.

When we boarded the bus to return to Santiago I looked for my seat, number 40. Unfortunately the bus only has 39 setas - it was smaller than the one on which we arived in the morning. After a confusing discussion in Spanglish I was upgraded to a first class seat - very comfortable. I don`t recall much about the return journey - must have zizzed off!


 
 
 

 

My Review Of The Place I Stayed



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Comments

barbara newell on

Fantastic - an eye opener for me. Santiago in particular.

barbara newell on

Thanks Marian for adding me on for comments Happy time in N.Z AND love to Apsara, please.

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