There is only one way to see Santiago.. Open your eyes.. Only kidding.. Hire a car! Despite being a Spanish colony for years, the Chileans seem to thankfully have moved away from the bad driving habits held by their European counterparts, and in hiring our lovely maroon Bora (yep, they still make them here!) we could both remain confident in being able to make our way about this sprawling city without being overly concerned about crashing!
We decided to start our day by visiting the Concha-y-toro vineyard which is one of the 10 largest manufacturers of wine on the planet (they do that great Castillero del Diablo stuff you can get in Morrisons [or any other reputable liquor outlet!]). Mistake one! Driving and visiting a vineyard. D'oh!! Anyway.. The tour was excellent despite the weather keeping us indoors (rain again!) and we even got to see the cellar with the Devil in it! A few hours later we emerged, ready for the return journey to the city centre with the by now obligatory 4 bags of souvenirs!
Given the torrential rain, the dual carriageway (with bizarrely a speed limit of 35ph) was now down to one lane as the inside lane was flooded! This obviously made our journey slightly slower than expected, by allowed a few cheeky locals to make a few bucks by either charging people a few pesos to cross 'bridges' over the water (made from palettes) or even cycle them through the water so they didn't get wet when crossing the road! Clever stuff..
We headed to the centre to see the historic buildings dating back to the 1700s which was fun given that half of the streets were one way and the remainder were full of parked cars and suicidal pedestrians! After about 30 minutes of this we had had enough, and moved on to Cerro de San Cristobal, a hill/park slightly outside the city centre. After having an attempted discussion with the guard at the entry road (no-one here speaks English) we were allowed in avec autocar but sans £2! The view from the top of this peak was spectacular, allowing views over this massive city and over to the Andes in the background. It also sold the most ridiculous souvenirs you ever did see. My favourite was the nativity scene with Friar Tuck in it.. Don't remember him in the bible?!
Once done there, we visited a sculpture park just before the sun went down. Odd sculptures, even more odd number of stray dogs gnawing on bones on the grass. We left before we found out how they got the bones. We both value our legs!
Tomorrow we head for Brazil and the final stop on our tour. Hopefully we will be as pleasantly surprised there as we have been here!
L & A