Seeing the sights in Santiago

Trip Start Jun 16, 2007
Trip End Nov 13, 2007

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Thursday 23rd August - Sunday 26th August

Our shortest bus journey yet!  Just an hour and a half south from Valparaiso to the smog
of Santiago. 

Caught a cab to our hostel and thought we had the wrong place.  Swankiest hostel yet, more like a hotel than a hostel with fantastic facilities, a hotel room and bathroom, and very central too! 

On arrival we were offered free tickets for the tourist bus and we thought this would be a good way to orientate ourselves in the city.  Turned out service was only 2 weeks old and we were the only tourists on the bus...and maybe the first in the 2 weeks!  Had a personalised guided tour of the city from a patriotic Chilean, proud of his city and desperate for us to love it too!  He was a legend!  In 2 hours we saw the main sights and knew where and where not to go.  Had not heard any good reports of Santiago and so we pleasantly surprised by the city. Fairly clean and well maintained streets, a great metro, loads of green parks and plazas and some lovely buildings.  However, could not avoid the fact there was smog and we could not see the surrounding Andes on the first day. 
01 Santiago plaza....06 Chess in the main plaza....02 Old and new......
Spent another 2 days exploring in the city, visiting the huge fish market, plazas etc and spent Sunday mainly on the hill of San Cristobal.  This towers above Santiago and has a 'ascensor'Žup to the top and a cable car across the hills.  Great views of the city as the smog had cleared a bit.  Ate empanadas (yummy Chilean pasties) and ice cream. 
03 Santiago smog....04 Cable cars....
Witnessed in the centre of the city what appeared to be the rumblings of some sort of protest.  2 days later after leaving Santiago we read about the arrests of 300 people in protests in the city and realised we had narrowly missed trouble again.  Felt sorry for our tourist guide in Santiago and hoped these protests had not jeopardized his new city tour

Nest day we caught an early bus to Pucon in the north of the Chilean lake district...........

Had heard rumors of a fabled curry house in Santiago and so our mission began to find that craved jalfrezi!  Found it was a genuine Indian restaurant in a fairly posh hotel, and were gutted to find it was booked out that night.  Promptly reserved our table for the following night!  Needless to say we ate very well, and hopefully our cravings will hold out until our return. 
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