Santiago de Chile

Days: 324-325 & 330-331 (15th May 2015 – 16th May 2015 & 21st May 2015 – 22nd May 2015)

Total distance travelled: 62,334.46 kilometres (38,717.06 miles)

After twenty four hours on a bus, it was nice to be able to stretch the legs a little on hazy Chilean afternoon.

It felt weird after being in the clean air and beneath the clear skies above San Pedro de Atacama, to suddenly find ourselves in a place that even well into the afternoon, had an early morning feel about it.

It wasn’t long either before we quickly tired of what ultimately proved a pretty long walk as well. Our destination, the central Plaza de Armas.

Incredibly, that was right where our pre-booked hostel was located and with breakfast included, it ultimately wasn’t a horrible price either.

We eventually located the building, then discovered that the only way was up… our hostel was on the sixth floor!

A backpacker’s hostel with 5 star views of the Plaza de Armas

A backpacker’s hostel with 5 star views of the Plaza de Armas

The building itself was full of old world charm as well. It was just a pity this didn’t extend to the staff that checked us in…

The building itself was full of old world charm as well. It was just a pity this didn’t extend to the staff that checked us in…

After quickly abandoning plans to catch up on emails, or just use the internet in general (it was horrendous in the hostel), we set about exploring our immediate surrounds.

The early afternoon sun (that still resembled an early morning sky) shared little warmth, and our fatigue from the long journey meant our wandering didn’t take us too far, the sights skirting the plaza an obvious starting point.

The Catedral Metropolitana de Santiago

The Catedral Metropolitana de Santiago

Getting artistic with the afternoon sun (left) & The stunning interior (right)

Getting artistic with the afternoon sun (left) & The stunning interior (right)

Of course there was also our stomachs that needed attending to, and for this we got our lips around our first Empanada de Pino.

This baked delight was chock full of delicious savoury mince, with the added pop of some boiled egg (which Sarah didn’t love) and a solitary olive (which I didn’t love).

Despite this, it was still a ridiculously tasty treat.

Lunching on an Empanada de Pino

Lunching on an Empanada de Pino

Incredibly, when we returned the next day for another each, the shop (which was chock full at lunch the previous day), was closed!

No business acumen…

Waking somewhat refreshed, but still unused to the late rise of the sun (that’s how we were up later for breakfast than planned), we opted to ignore the organised city walking tours, and instead take a self guided version of our own.

That’s how we found ourselves wandering the Yungay neighbourhood, home to many stately buildings, many sporting reminders of the seismic nature of the region (one block is essentially condemned from earthquake damage… although this doesn’t seem to have deterred some folks from living there), and also one of the richest street art (or graffiti if you prefer) scenes we’ve observed anywhere!

Artistic colour adorns the former home of musician Victor Jara murdered (during the Pinochet regime) in 1973 (left) & Exploring the Yungay neighbourhood (right)

Artistic colour adorns the former home of musician Victor Jara murdered (during the Pinochet regime) in 1973 (left) & Exploring the Yungay neighbourhood (right)

The area is home to a plethora of wonderful street art

Home to a plethora of wonderful street art

It was an easy, obviously colourful stroll, but at the end of our walk sat a rather sobering experience.

Free to enter, the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (Museum of Human Rights) stands as a monument to not only the victims of the brutal Pinochet military regime (which controlled Chile from 1973-1990), but to victims of human rights violations around the world.

Beginning our explorations of Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos

Beginning our explorations of Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos

It was made all the more sorrowful, to think that I actually lived through much of this period in history, to think that much of the world not only sat by and watched this occur, but it was a regime that was backed into power by the CIA!

A poigniant illustrations of those lost and 'missing' since September 11, 1973

A poignant illustration of those lost and ‘missing’ since September 11, 1973

September 11, truly a sad day in history for many, just as meaningful reasons beyond New York…

The mood wasn’t lightened when we discovered the aforementioned empanada’s could not be had, but when we ultimately dined on chocolate cake (yes, that was lunch), the lovely colours of autumn as well as the interesting flavour of Mote con Huesillo, apparently the national Chilean drink, did cheer us up some… okay, it was probably mainly the cake!

Mote con Huesillo (Peaches, nectar & husked wheat), Chile's national drink (left) & Autumnal colours on Cerro Santa Lucia (right)

Mote con Huesillo (Peaches, nectar & husked wheat), Chile’s national drink (left) & Autumnal colours on Cerro Santa Lucia (right)

The Acadamia de Belles Artes

The Acadamia de Belles Artes

We rounded out the afternoon by ascending one of the inner city’s two grand hills (or Cerro’s), but as we’d suspected, the hazy afternoon didn’t really lend itself to the greatest of views.

That said, they weren’t truly horrible, whilst the park itself around the Cerro Santa Lucia was a gem to simply wander.

Lovely trees, old fortifications, water features, and on a clear day I’m sure commanding views of the city and mountains.

Gazing across a hazy Santiago towards the Cerro San Cristobal

Gazing across a hazy Santiago towards the Cerro San Cristobal

Exploring the heights of the Cerro Santa Lucia

Exploring the heights of the Cerro Santa Lucia

We had two short stints in Santiago, but it was a pretty cool city with some nice neighbourhoods.

But when we did ultimately leave for good, it wasn’t one of those cities that we found terribly difficult to drag ourselves away from…

Farewelling Santiago from the Estacion Central

Farewelling Santiago from the Estacion Central

 

Notes:

* Entrance into the moving Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos is FREE!

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2 Responses to Santiago de Chile

  1. Chris, at some point in the future, we plan a sweep through this part of S America, so it’s really helpful to see it through your eyes, and hear an experienced traveler’s opinions. It’s interesting that most of the large cities that I’ve visited in Latin America fit in the “it’s interesting, I’m glad that I visited, but once is enough” category. From your comments on Santiago, you agree. ~James

    • Chris says:

      Yeah, our favourite was probably Buenos Aires which you can read about soon, but most of the more interesting highlights tend to be outside of the cities… as always, thanks for popping by!

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