Woke early this morning – had a pretty good night sleep … a lot quieter than Saturday night had been! This morning it wasn’t rowdy uni students who woke me up, it was the garbo! Street noise is pretty bad here – especially with our room rightÃ‚Â above the street corner and old wooden windows which don’t do a great job of sound insulation. It’s very hot and stuffy in the room, but leaving a window open to catch the cool night air means we wouldn’t be able to sleep – too much noise.
I got up early and went out to buy some water – we’ve been drinking a lot here – it’s very dry and we’ve been pretty active. Went through a 5L bottle of water in half a day on Sunday – at least bottled water is cheap. We did bring a water filter with the idea of being able to drink the tap water – even if it is safe to drink, the filter should help remove some of the bad taste. Unfortunately the water here is so strongly chlorinated that it tastes disgusting, even after filtering. It’s like drinking swimming pool water. At least we know nothing is alive in it!
After I got back and got Leanne out of bed we showered and went for breakfastÃ‚Â – same as yesterday. We then packed our day-packs and headed out for the day. Once again we jumped on the metro at Ricardo Cumming, and eventually worked our way back to Santa Lucia and spent some time wandering around Centro Artesanal which is an art andÃ‚Â craft market with dozens of small craft stalls. Leanne bought a small purse to hold all the coins in it – our wallets don’t cope well with the large number of coins we seem to gather on our trips … this small purse makes it easy to carry and access the coinsÃ‚Â – so we are more likely to find things quickly enough to actually pay for things with the correct change (rather than always spending larger notes and getting even more coins). It worked well for the rest of the day – so a good purchase for only 1000 pesos (about AU$2.40).
We then wound our way back through the city to Plaza de Armas – the difference between today and yesterday (Sunday) was quite remarkable. Yesterday the city was largely deserted (other than in Plaza de Armas itself) – and most of the shops were closed with roller doors covering the entrances. It made the whole place look very run down and not very populated – almost slummy. Completely different today – it was packed with people, all the stores were open and the colours, smells and sounds made it feel like the bustling city Santiago really is – after all – it has roughly the same population as Sydney !!
After sitting around people-watching for a while., I took some more photos around Plaza de Armas. Yesterday I only had the compact camera, today I brought the DSLR with my wide-angle lens, which makes it much easier to take photos of buildings and large open spaces.
We walked back to the Centro Mall for lunch at the food court – Leanne gets to practice her Spanish when ordering food and train tickets and such … although I’m quite capable of buying water on my own (Agua sin gas por favor – water without bubbles please). We did have a little trouble with paying for lunch (on credit card), but the girl serving us was very good natured and patient, and even wrote out some questions for us (which didn’t help much)Ã‚Â – we were rescued by a local girl who spoke good english and answered the question for us. A few of the people we’ve met at the hostel don’t speak any Spanish at all, and have survived for 6+ weeks in South America, even in some of the more remote areasÃ‚Â where English speakers may be less common … so it can’t be too hard (patience and a smile always helps I find).
After lunch, we headed back to the metro at Plaza de Armas and got off at Baquedano where we crossed the Rio Mapocho and headed up to Cerro San Cristobal and the Parque Metropolitano which is home to the 14m high statue of the Virgen de la Immaculada Concepcion. They have a funnicular railway to get you to the top – two rail cars counterbalancing each other as they move up and down the steep track in opposite directions. Very much like the cable car in Wellington NZÃ‚Â in basic design (although not as classy or modern!). At the top we were rewarded with fantastic views over Santiago and of the gleaming white statue of the Virgin Mary
Originally we were planning on visiting the Jardin Zoologica – which is not a very good zoo apparenrly … but we discovered this morning that it isn’t open on Mondays – so we’ll have to save that for our next trip.
Next we jumped on board the teleferico – a 2km long cable car that takes you from the top of San Cristobal down the other side across the park. A very pleasant journey – although the high wind at altitude makes it swing a bit too much! After a stop for an iceblock at the bottom, we climbed back on board the cable car to the top, followed by the funicular back down to where we started.
WeÃ‚Â caught the metro back home, stopping on the way to buy makings for dinner. I cooked up some ham and cheese toasted sandwiches while Leanne started organising our clothes and packing.
Some observations about Santiago: it doesn’t seem to be a huge US influence here like in some other countries – sure, there are McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken (yes, they still admit that everything is fried here unlike back home!), Pizza Hut, and even Dominos. But they aren’t everywhere, and serving sizes seem pretty small – not supersized like in the US and increasingly in Australia. Kids are still kids, and they still throw tantrums when they don’t get their way, although one I observed yesterday at the mall seemed to involve a lot more foot stamping – might that be the Tango, or perhaps a Paso Doble influence?Ã‚Â ChileansÃ‚Â do seem to be very family oriented – lots of people out with family over the weekend. Ã‚Â Public displays of affection is another thing I’ve noticed … couples kissing passionately in public is a fairly common sighting.
Anyway, it was another good day – we are enjoying our trip so far. We have a taxi booked for 6:45am tomorrow morning to take us to the airport for our flight to Buenos Aires – so we have to be up early. I’d better hit the sack now and get some sleepÃ‚Â I think!