Technology makes traveling a different beast to the one I knew in my twenties. On this trip in particular we seem to be carrying a vast array of electronic devices of all shapes and sizes. I remember my trip to Europe in 2003 armed with the shared investment of a new and exciting digital camera with shutter lag that meant you could have a nice cup of tea between pressing the shutter button and the picture being taken. We had mobile phone, but google maps was still a twinkle in Larry Pages’s eye.
Having had the obligatory talking to by iiNet before activating global roaming at home, I live in fear of getting home to an enormous bill in case of allowing a megabyte of data download while I’m away. Most of the places we will be staying while on land include free wireless which is awesome. And today I’ve made the breakthrough discovery (that the rest of the world has probably known about for forever, or at least the last 10 years since Google maps was released) that you can download a offline area in google maps that comes complete with directions.
That saves me the anxiety I had yesterday when I realised we didn’t have a paper map to navigate. So old school, who does that now, right?
The best of directions won’t always mean you do the right things in the right order, and today we estimate we walked a total of 35-40 kms, at least ten of which could have been avoided. I don’t regret a step of it, but the ones that included navigating lots of steep, slippery steps at Santa Lucia hill are going to be felt in my calves and butt muscles tomorrow I expect. Despite going the long way once today I still stand by the impression that Santiago is a great city to find your way around, even if you are navigationally challenged like I am.
We set out at about 8 am. Nothing really opens here until at least 10am, but an early start means you get to enjoy a very comfortable 17 degree walking temperature and you have the place pretty much to yourself. Well, not entirely as there are a number of people out clearing up litter from the day before, and people walking their dogs.
I should warn you now there will be few pictures of architecture here. There are many pretty buildings, but I have taken pictures of pretty buildings in my previous travels and rarely go back to look at them. Most building photos are likely to be on the iPhone. I should add that this morning while entering one of the main parks, Parque Forestal, we were looking at the cute young pug being walked much more than the very handsome, important building across the road ( I believe it was gallery of some sort).
I mentioned yesterday that Santiago is very pedestrian friendly. Well that goes double for Sundays, or at this this Sunday. Many of the roads in the city were closed so that the locals could pull on their Lycra and ride or run through the city unimpeded by cars. Lots of these happy runners and cyclists took it upon themselves to express their zeal by riding or running up San Chistobel, yes, that big freaking hill with the Virgin Mary statue at the top.
We got tired just riding the Funicular up the side, but hundreds of folk, in the 35 degree midday heat , braved the steep and winding road to the summit, at which point they all sat around comparing Fitbit results, drinking some kind of sago like tea and eating empanadas, kind of like the MAMILS at coffee shops on a Sunday morning back home.
Back on the flat, at a particular set of junctions street performers busked for the cars stopped at the traffic lights. We saw ballet dancers and jugglers and some guy with a glass ball like David Bowie from Labyrinth. As the lights go green they flit their way amount the cars collecting cash for the performance. Much more appealing than being accosted by boys and their squeegees.
Every day in Santiago seems to be take your dog to work day. Most ages seems to have a water bowl out for their canine guests and dogs happily seem to go into shops with their people. Some dogs clearly take themselves to work though and are likely street dogs. Most of these still appear to be well fed. There is a collection of four kennels in the big park that presumably are there for the use of the dogs when the weather is inclement. Apart from the afore mentioned pug we also spotted five dachshunds during our travels today and resisted the urge to rush up and try to communicate with their confused owners that we are crazy dachshund people.
After we discovered that where we were going didn’t take us as long as we thought, and that the Funicular that takes you up the hill didn’t start running until 10 we performed our first backtrack to climb up Santa Lucia hill. Very pretty with some nice views and crazy crazy steps with somewhat dodgy railing to hang on to and you and it fall to your deaths. If your not very mobile this may not be for you. We saw two ladies with a local guide and were tempted to follow them from a discrete listening-in distance, but decided against it. We did get a good view of the big hill that the crazed cyclists were riding up though.
Having pottered around for a bit we trekked back to San Christobel to find it now in full swing. We bought return tickets on the green trolley cars at the weekend price of 2600 CLP per person (around the $5 mark) and waited in line for our turn. 5 minutes later we got off at ( or at least close to) the top.
We went o have a look at the big statue, as you do. The huge radio tower at her back it a little distracting. As a side note I find the religious tourism thing a little odd, being an atheist myself. I’ve visited any number of cathedrals in Europe and templates and such like in Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and Bali. I always feel awkward as I see people lighting candles, firecrackers or whatever, and praying to their deity of choice. I feel like an intruder, though few have ever seemed to mind and I try to be as discrete as possible.
Once we’d grabbed a drink and a bite to eat and oohed and aahhed appropriately at the view of Santiago from above we ran out of things to do at the top and jumped on the next Funicular to the bottom. That left us with an hour and three quarters until our lunch reservation at the highly rated (TripAdvisor) Peumayan Ancestral Food restaurant in Bueno Vista. In retrospect we could have found somewhere to sit and have a cool or warm drink, but I felt sweaty and wanted to change before lunch so we decided to walk back to the apartment, dump some gear and freshen up.
On that note, my tip to fellow travellers would be bring more tops that you imagine you’ll need. I’m going through two a day at the moment in an effort to not be too stinky.
The trip home would have been fine if we hadn’t zagged rather than zagged on the way back, taking 40 minutes rather than 20 to return.
Lunch lived up to expectations nicely. They do have a vegetarian option on the menu, but if you’re put off by the fact they also have horse on the menu best to avoid. We did NOT order the horse and I try not to impose my cultural values on others, but I must say the idea made me feel a bit icky.
The first dish we were given was a tasting plate of different traditional breads. Only one was made form wheat, the rest being various grains, legumes or potato.
We started with two cocktails based around Pisco sour which were lovely and followed that with a nice rose, because we’re on holidays and we can. The service was top notch and we are very glad we booked as lots of folk were being turned away. Lunch, consisting of the complementary bread plate, palate cleansers between each course, cocktails, a bottle of wine, shared tasting plate and two mains came to 60,000 CLP including a 10% tip ( approx $120 AUD) but given that we’d probably spent $50 for a steak sandwich and a pint each at the Inglewood it was well worth it.nit was also the only meal we paid for all day as we had toast and sloppy marmalade in the apartment before heading out. In retrospect a good move as I don’t recall seeing anywhere open to serve breakfast…
By the time we were stuffed to the gunnels it was 3 pm. The funny things is that in Santiago it seemed significantly hotter at 3 than at midday. I’m not certain if that is scientifically verifiable or the lunch talking. Either way, we had planned to head across town to the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos. This turned out to be a longer walk than we anticipated, so if your planning a visit I would recommend checking out some public transport, or going in the morning when it is cooler.
They have an English audio tour for hire at 2000 CLP ($4 ish AUD) which is recommended as everything is in Spanish. We should have allowed ourselves more energy for the visit as by now our feet were whinging and whining like bored toddlers and we didn’t make it through the whole exhibit. It did give us a taste for what Chile went through during the rule of the Junta and a desire to least more about the history of the country. It is always amazing to realise just how recent some of the atrocities people do to each other world wide really are.
The walk home was hard work and we promptly collapsed fro a nap, not feeling any desire for dinner as our bellies were still distended form lunch. I’ve dragged myself out of bed to write this but won’t be up for much longer.