27th - 28th January Santiago
27 Jan 2008
Transfer to your centrally located hotel in santiago (the package includes one transfer) and, if you have time, enjoy some of the abundant local or international cuisine, and the world-class nightlife.
santiago is Chile's largest city and capital, with internationally recognized vineyards and Andean ski resorts very close by. Explore the many museums and parks, and visit the vibrant neighbourhood of Bellavista to see some handicrafts and trendy cafés. Day trips include a trip to Valparaiso and Viña del Mar, Chile's premier beach resort, and to Isla Negra, Pablo Neruda's seaside home.
Although santiago covers an immense area, the central core of the city is relatively small. It is a roughly triangular shaped region, bounded in the north by the Río Mapocho, in the west by the Via Norte Sur and in the south by the Avenida del Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins (more commonly known as the Alameda). The apex of the triangle is the Plaza Baquedano, where O'Higgins forms a junction with two of santiago's other main thoroughfares, Avenidas Providencia and Vicuña MacKenna.
The centre of this triangle is the Plaza de Armas, the chief plaza of santiago, bounded on its northern side by the main post office and on the western side by the cathedral. The streets between the Plaza de Armas and O'Higgins are wall-to-wall shops, restaurants, snack and fast food bars, cinemas, expensive hotels and office blocks. The Presidential Palace, La Moneda, is on Avenida Moneda, facing the Plaza de la Constitución. Near the Plaza de Armas is the National Congress building. One of santiago's main parks, Cerro Santa Lucía, is in the triangle facing O'Higgins. The other main park is Cerro San Cristobal, or Huelén, in the Mapuche tongue. It is a large hill that rises dramatically from the plain to the north of Avenida Providencia. Between this avenue and the mountain, on either side of the Avenida Pío Nono, is santiago's 'Paris quarter', the barrio Bella Vista. Here you find beautifully landscaped parks and gardens, artists' colonies and impressive views over the city, including the snow-capped peaks of the Andes (when the weather and thick smog permit).
We met up with two of the Gappers who had been on our tour from Rio to BA at breakfast so they gave us some suggestions of what to do today.
Being Sunday everywhere is closed so we walked to Bella Vista and found our way to the cable car up Cerro San Cristobal and being Sunday walked to Calvary, at least that's what the sign said as we were led up to the statue of Christ on the cross and Mary his mother which overlooks the city, similar to Rio but not on the same scale.
The gondola ride then took us high above the ground and to the other end of the park from where we walked to a different area and found the most gorgeous ice cream parlour. We needed something to replace all the calories and fluids we had walked off. The fruit salsd was hidden inside a cave of ice cream and diabetes control had to be put on the back burner.
In the afternoon we caught the Metro from the restaurant area into the centre of the city and visited the Plaza de Armas and Cathedral before walking back to the hotel absolutely exhausted. Dinner in house tonight as we haven't the energy to walk to another restaurant.
Your time in santiago wouldn't be complete without an extensive city tour for you to fully integrate the sights and stories that make the city so unique among its South American neighbors. The tour, on day two, will last about four hours and encompass sights such as Santa Lucia Hill, Plaza de Armas, among other colonial sites such as Post Office, Former Royal Audience building Municipal Hall and Presidential Palace. While parts of the tour are walking, a portion is also spent in a van. Be prepared to be dazzled.
You will then have the afternoon at your leisure to explore and further discover the city.
We had a personal guide and driver for the city tour leaving at 10am but were frustrated that they had tried to contact us yesterday to arrange for us to join the tour in the afternoon, being Sunday it would have been a lot quieter and we could have made better use of the second day but never mind.
The tour took us to the various precincts of Santiago including St Lucia Hill, the main square, financial centre and the Palace. Unfortunately the latter was shut due to protests inside the palace by "aboriginals" of Chile. We visited a Lapis Lazuli factory and succumbed to the jewellery for Christine.
In the evening we met up with friends who were on the gap tour from Rio with us and had dinner together.