After months of preparation we have finally made it to Santiago, Chile!! After both of us attended our graduation ceremonies on Wednesday of last week, we had just two days to finish off packing, say our goodbyes and finally make our way to the airport. We had 30 hours of travelling to get through, flying to Toronto first and finally onto Santiago. So when we arrived into Santiago, discovering that Charlottes bag was stuck in Toronto wasn’t the greatest of news! However, we went straight to the hostel keen to not let this ruin our first day of the grand trip.
To make sure we didn’t let the bag loss get us down, after a good nights sleep and early morning (3:30am for Charlotte due to jet lag) we set off with a list of attractions to see and embarked on what turned out to be a 15km walk – in flip flops. This walking tour took us around the main central ‘wedge’ of Santiago, visiting the very first colonial era building to be built in the city – The San Francisco Church – which housed floor to ceiling sized paintings dating back to the 17th century. These paintings were alongside various Catholic religious artefacts – from silver bible stands to huge mother of pearl covered bibles and some incredibly creepy dolls– that were just hanging or on shelves inside a crumbling damp building that itself dates back to 1622. Being in an area of high tectonic activity, the church itself has survived 15 strong earthquakes! This is as a result of a technique taken from the indigenous of the area called ‘floating foundation’.
After exploring the church we wandered around the area it is in which is called Londres and Paris – you can see why it is called this with beautiful tree lined streets with little places to stop for a coffee in the quiet. You definitely feel like you could be in Europe and is a reminder of Chiles colonial history. Eventually our wander took us out of the tree lined streets, back through the centre of the city and onto the Central Market. With all the hype about the seafood restaurants surrounding this fish and meat market in various guide books and websites we were actually a little disappointed. We had hoped to find cheap seafood stalls we could return to every day for lunch with great fresh food. Instead we found it to be above averagely priced and not actually all that great. The seafood was fresh but the salmon that we ordered was battered and also raw inside and also about four times the normal portion you would eat. It was just a bit odd.
After lunch we decided to head up the San Cristobal Hill which is behind our Hostel. We stopped off on the way to check on Charlottes bag and luckily whilst we were there it arrived!!! After a happy reunion and checking it was all there we then went to catch the funicular up the mountain(Hill maybe?). It was such a steep long climb and Oscar was gripping the side so hard his hand was turning another colour! It was worth it though as we got to the top and saw the view. It was incredible with the Andes snow capped mountains stretching out behind the flat never ending city below. You could see for miles from up here and so we sat below the statue of Mary at the top and just kept seeing more and more of the city. We decided to then walk down, which took a bit longer than expected. By the end our feet were thick with dirt and we were ready for a sit down! It shouldn’t have taken quite so long except that we were about to walk down a wooded pathway down the hill off the road when a local stopped us and told us not to as we would probably we held at gunpoint and robbed. After that we decided to stick to the roads!!!
Once down we crashed out on the sofas in the hostel and just about made it into a shower before heading off to find some dinner. Today, now that the museums are open, we are going to hopefully see Londres 38 – a museum about the disappearing people in the 70s and 80s – and maybe go up the tallest tower in Latin America.