Trip Start Aug 10, 2007
Trip End Dec 27, 2007

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Flag of Chile  ,
Friday, September 28, 2007

"Santiago, officially Santiago de Chile , is the capital of Chile.  It is situated at an elevation of 520 m (1700 ft) in the country's central valley. Although Santiago is the capital, the government  meets in nearby Valparaiso.  

Approximately two decades of uninterrupted economic growth have transformed Santiago into one of Latin America 's most sophisticated metropolitan areas, with extensive suburban development, dozens of shopping malls, and impressive high-rise architecture. The city also boasts some of Latin America's most spectacular infrastructure, such as the Santiago Metro   and the sparkling new Costanera Norte,  a highway system that passes below downtown and connects the Eastern and Western extremes of the city in 40 minutes. Santiago is headquarters to many important companies and is a regional financial center, like Microsoft.
Santiago was founded by Pedro de Valdivia on February 12, 1541 on Huelén Hill (later renamed Cerro Santa Lucía). Valdivia chose the location of Santiago because of its moderate climate and the ease with which it could be defended - Mapocho River then split into two branches around Huelen hill, and rejoined further downstream, forming an island.
The city was destroyed on September 11, 1541 by the native forces under the chief Michimalonco, which led to the Arauco War.
The first buildings were erected with the help of the native Picunche Indians. The south bank of the Mapocho River was later drained and converted into a public promenade, known as the Alameda (now Avenida Alameda Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins, the city's main avenue). The city was slightly damaged during the War of Independence (1810-18), during the Battle of Maipú, which was fought south-west of the city. Santiago was named capital in 1818.

During the early 19th century, Santiago remained a small town with
few buildings excepting Palacio de La Moneda, the building used as the
Chilean mint during the Spanish period, and a few churches and other
civic buildings. The Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús caught fire during an 1863 church service, and 2000 people died, one of the worst modern fires.[3]
In the 1880s extraction of nitrate
fertilizer in Northern Chile brought prosperity to the country, and
promoted the capital city's development. Important landmarks were built
in 1910 during the Centennial celebrations of independence from Spain,
such as the National Library, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Mapocho Train Station (Estación Mapocho, now an events center).
Santiago began its transformation into a modern city in the 1930s, with the building of the Barrio Cívico ,
surrounding El Palacio de La Moneda. The city also grew in population,
due to migration from the north and south of Chile. In 1985 an
earthquake destroyed some historically significant buildings in the
downtown area.
Nowadays, Santiago is among the largest and most important financial centers in Latin America, ranking high as a Global City." the above is from  Wikipedia and explains a bit of the Chilean history and culture.It has been a culture shock for us.  The city is strange in many ways, especially since coming from New Zealand.  The streets appear unsafe and people are constantly warning us to look after our backpacks and keep watching people around us.

The streets are dirty and there is a lot of garbage lying around all over.  People stare at us constantly and make us uncomfortable. 

Our hostel, Le Chimba, is in the Bella Vista area which is a Bohemian part of the town full of restaurants, sidewalk cafes and disco´s.  Wherever you look around us are disco´s which begin playing their music at 12ish and go through til who knows when!  We have battled to sleep with all the loud music and have slept in quite late each morning as a consequence.  A bit of jet lag is certainly not helping (we landed here in Chile, and hour after we left Auckland, after an 11 hour flight!).

We have wondered the city and had a look at the many statues, parks and buildings.  Today we decided to have a picnic in the park, so we packed some rolls, cup a soup, a box of slap chips, a flask of hot water and some fruit.  We set off for the park near us and were dismayed when the weather turned very cold and overcast.  So we had our slap chip rolls and cup a soup and then came back to the hostel to lie in our warm bed and read, after Jules got a huge cream donut from the bakery down the road.
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