(If you want pictures only, go at the end, and ask us for more pics in the comments J )
After Pucon, we embarked on a night bus for Santiago. It was a lot of fun at first as we were sitting on the top floor, front seats, so with great views of the road, even though it was night time. The ride went smoothly and by early morning we reached the capital of Chile. And there, things got a bit sketchy:
We just arrived during morning rush hour and we had to take the underground to check-in into the Airbnb apartment we picked. Just imagine the two of us, big backpacks in the back, small backpack on the belly, and an extra bag with a bit of food, trying to fit in the train. Even people with no bags had to wait one or more train to pass before being able to enter. After some time, losing patience, Merima just went straight into it, leaving Fred on the platform. Just had enough time to shout the station where to disembark. A couple of trains later, an almost empty one arrived so it was much easier for him to go in. But as at the next station it got filled with more people, the situation was the same for both of us. Impossible to move, jammed between people, feeling very hot and sweaty, and starting to be in pain everywhere, as not being able to move with such a heavy load is not fun. And to make it even more memorable, Fred started to feel a hand trying to go through his pockets! With our gringos heads and heavy loads, we were easy targets!
Once we reached our stop, it was time to try to get away from the train, trying to ask or beg for people to make room, pushing without moderation, and pulling the backpacks out too. In the end, we made it, got reunited and here is a LetsgotoQuito tip wherever you’re travelling: Do not get into the subway at rush hour !😱
We found our way around, found our room for the next days, and took a well-deserved shower, a bit of rest and could start to wander around in town.
If you’ve read our story about Buenos Aires, you know how much we walked there between the different barrios to discover the different areas and atmosphere of the city. Our plan was to do the same in Santiago. Just go walking from one area to the other, and feel the city.
We found out that even though Santiago is not a small city, it’s center part, with all the points of interest is much smaller and more concentrated than Buenos Aires, so by staying four days (which is more than what we did in BA) we had plenty of time to relax as well.
As in ALL the cities or villages we’ve come across since Patagonia, the starting point of the visit should be the Plaza de Armas. Here in Santiago it is big, nice and crowded with artists, people protesting about something, tourists and circled by nice old buildings and a cathedral. And from there we walked into the financial district, had a look at La Moneda, the former Spanish mint house, but now the Presidential palace. We walked around the popular and hipster barrio of Lastarria, and enjoyed the more bohemian area of Bellavista and its graffiti-covered walls.
We have also spent some time into the great Pre-Columbian Art museum displaying plenty of information and pieces from native Chilean tribes as well as South American people. And we tried to get a glimpse of what happened during modern Chilean history under the Pinochet dictatorship that lasted from 1973 to 1990.
We enjoyed some good food in the city market, tasted some good local wine and spent some time walking in a couple of huge malls. Fred took the occasion to replace his old sleeping bag that did not performed well while camping in Patagonia. It felt a bit weird to us to walk around in the mall and just do window shopping, but after several weeks without malls, it felt nice. Merima, God knows how, found a Les Mills gym in town, and got invited to participate in a bodypump class for free! Fred witnessed that by the window, and both agreed to the fact that “Arribbaaaa amigoossss” was a slightly different cheering than the ones we know in Uppsala. More latino if you like.
And during all our stay we have hoped for rain! For the simple reason that the day following rain in Santiago, is an awesome beautiful sunny day with clear skies. The rain washes away the pollution and dust clouds that are often around the city and reveals the fantastic scenery in which the city is located. Just at the footsteps of the Andes. From almost everywhere in town, if you look in the proper direction, you can see in the distance the mountain range and its snowy summits. And within the town, you can climb too small hills that delivers fantastic views of the city. The little Cerra Santa Lucia, located in the heart of downtown Santiago is great to take a bit of altitude, but not too much so you still have a nice idea of proportion, and can admire the mountains behind the skyscrapers. The second hill, San Cristobal is higher up, and is part of a big park that is a very quiet and nice place to discover whenever you get tired of the noise, the traffic and the stress from town. From the top of San Cristobal you can really see how vast and extended Santiago is. And you understand easily the location of its different suburbs. The old town, the rich and modern areas with their glass and metal skyscrapers, and the much poorer barrios, with small houses and corrugated roof.
Here are the promised picks :
And next, we take a small bag and leave town for a couple of days.