Day 15 Santiago
We arrived early into Santiago and after some mucking about were able to get at least a couple of room s in which to shower. As soon as we were all ready we headed out into the centre of the city to a nice little Italian place with a great breakfast. It was great to finally be walking around with the sun on our backs.
After breakfast we headed to Cerro Santa Lucia. It is made up of lots of fountains, gardens, great little architecture pieces all slowly rising along a single hill in the middle of the city. It was created by the first mayor and founder of the city of Santiago. The views from the top are incredible. Beneath you the city pans out surrounded on all sides by the Andes Mountains, which appear painted especially as their peaks were still snow covered despite the warmth of the city.
Next we walked across the city to Cerro San Cristobal. To get to the top of this far larger hill there was a funicular at the bottom, complete with a number of llamas. At the top there is are again a number of gardens which lead the way to a giant statue of the Virgin Mary, complete with eerie church chants being played over the speakers. The views were incredible, the extra height making the mountains more pronounced in the background.
On the way back to the hotel we each had a hotdog, Santiago’s signature fast food dish. Admittedly, food safety wasn’t much of an issue for the bloke selling them but they were delicious. Chorizo sausage topped with guacamole, salsa and a bit of chilli sauce. So good!
That evening we went out to celebrate Kate’s (fake) birthday. First stop was a very nice Turkish restaurant, the food was great and my Whisky sours proved an awesome alternative to the disgusting Pisco variety. Next we went to a bar across the street which seemed to have been converted from an old warehouse space. Half litre drinks in equal proportions of spirits to mixer, good music and a packed crowed, proved for a very interesting night.
After feeling a little worse for wear I decided not to immediately join the others who were off on a walking tour of the city. Instead I recouped and then headed out on my own. The first place I went was Plaza de Armes the central Spanish square on which the colonial city was developed. It is a vast open space, comparable to Trafalgar square and at one end there is an impressive cathedral. Hungry, I routed out a couple of the great hotdogs and then headed to the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art. Here I met the rest of the group who seem a bit bedraggled. The museum, although small, proved to be very interesting. The artworks; consisting of jewellery, pottery, metal works, and wood carvings, provided an insight into the various societies in existence before the Spanish conquest.
From the Museum we all went to the central square. Here we were met by the Sunday afternoon preachers who had congregated outside the Cathedral. These people could not help but annoy me. Their holier than thou attitude and entrench belief in the certainty of their viewpoints was not what I was looking for on a Sunday morning. The inside of the Cathedral was however stunning, a treasure trove of religious art and artefacts.
That afternoon Chris and I went on a hunt for Pizza. In doing so we managed to explore the central market (mainly tat stalls but some interesting stuff), find a bakery that sold the world sickliest buns but sadly no Pizza. In the end we went back to the hotel to discover that Button had become World Champion before joining the others for dinner.
We woke up quite early in the morning to go to the Plaza de Moneda to watch the Chilean equivalent to the changing of the guards. It occurs three times a week and consists of two Calvary squads and a brass band. As they are all dressed in brilliant white uniforms and the band has an interesting score (jumping from Hawaii 5 O to Rule Britannia at one point) it made quite a spectacle. After the parade had finished we took another wander around the town.
In the afternoon we all headed to the Uragana vineyard, about a 30 minute bus trip outside of the city. Our guide was fantastic, he explained to us all the various stages from growing, pressing, fermenting, barrelling and finally bottling. At the end of the tour we had a brief wine tasting and as I thought that the older red and late harvest were very good I took a bottle or two home along with my complementary wine glass.
That evening we all went for Chinese. Having shunned a posh seeming establishment for being too expensive we headed to another with a seemingly reasonable set menu. It was a disaster! The waiter couldn’t even speak Spanish. Instead of taking our orders together went along the table one at a time. I had finished my food before Ian’s order had been taken. By the end there were audible sighs of dissatisfaction and the food was far from brilliant.