Monday 18 June 2012

Today I fell a little in love

For the first few days here, I hadn't been 'feeling' Santiago. I certainly didn't dislike it, it just hadn't grabbed me quite like Buenos Aires or Rio had, for example.

Today, all that changed and I fell a little in love with Santiago.

I spent the whole day exploring and checking out the recommended sights and at times, felt quite emotional.

I started the day by heading up Cerro Santa Lucia which is a hill (altitude 629m, but only 69m above the surrounding area) literally 10 minutes walk from my hostel. The weather today was absolutely perfect so I got great views of the city and nearby snow-covered mountains.
View from Cerro Santa Lucia
At the top of Santa Lucia, there is a castle and a viewing tower. Lots of lovely greenery around, including the 'Darwin Garden' and I saw quite a lot of humming birds. It was great to get an idea of the spread of the city and the diversity of the buildings compared to the amazing mountains behind (and get a view of those mountains reflected in some of the high-rise buildings).

At the bottom of Santa Lucia there is the Plaza Neptuno which I thought apt to mention. It comprises a fountain (funnily enough!) with a statue of the God himself.

After my trip up Santa Lucia, I thought I'd head up another of the city's hills - Cerro San Cristobal (altitude 880m, and approx 300m above the rest of Sanitago).

I took the metro to Baquedano and wandered through the very trendy area of Bellavista to the bottom of San Cristobal, only to find that the funicular didn't start until 2pm. Of course, I could have walked up, but I like funicular trains!

So, to fill in some time, I wandered around the streets taking a few pictures of the awesome graffiti and the most famous of Pablo Neruda's houses, La Chascona (sadly as it was Monday, I couldn't go in - most museums and galleries are closed on Mondays). I also stopped off for a bite to eat - traditional Chilean fodder: empanadas. Yum!

Amazing graffiti in Bellavista

Pablo Neruda's house
Once at the top of San Cristobal, the view quite simply took my breath away. This was really the first time I appreciated the scale of this city and for some reason, it made me quite emotional. A mixture of being overcome by the beauty of the view and excitement at the trip which lies ahead of me.

Its a big city!
I had a good walk around the hill, including to the top where there is a large white Virgin Mary statue watching over the city.

After this, I headed to the bus terminal to buy my ticket to La Serena for Wednesday and then made my way slowly back to the hostel, stopping off at the Centro Cultural Palacio La Moneda which had a fab exhibition on about India - lots of wonderful Hindi god statues and paintings from the mid 1800's. There was also a Violeta Parra exhibition on, which was incredibly moving. This exhibition also had a very cool feature which I don't think I've seen in any other museum/gallery before. Certain pictures had a sensor on the floor in front of them, which would trigger a particular song, relating to that painting, to come on. It worked really nicely.

La Moneda
That about sums up my day really. But I feel I should finish on an astronomical note...

Just along the road from my hostel is this shop:

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