Trip Start Jan 28, 2011
19Trip End Apr 29, 2011
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Where I stayed
Santiago is BIG. Third of the population of Chile live here apparently, and they produce a lot of smog, slightly obscuring the view of the Andes, but not so much that it doesn't all look epic and brilliant.
Despite averaging about 14 hours' sleep a night/day since we got here, we've managed to get up the Furnicular (Mr Lynch would be proud) to look out over Santiago, with a further little climb up the the gigantic Virgin Mary statue and even better views.
Our hostel is in a beautiful old colonial building, all faded grandeur. The dining room looks like a mini version of a gothic Harry Potter-esque scene. The atmosphere is more like laid-back MTV: pool out the back with swim-up bar, many many blondes in bikinis, obligatory man with terrible white dreads and some baaad holiday tattoos (you can tell the Kiwis 'cause they're the only ones that look good with tattoos
Santiago feels very much like a large European city (though granted we've not much else to compare it with yet). We are (just about) managing on our 5 words of Spanish, but the general theme of our conversations is 'comically inept.' Hoping soon that we will retain anything we' learned in the phrase book or talking to people for more than half an hour If only we had needed to ask for the time yesterday..
Also managed a bit of culture at the excellent Museo Chileno de Ante PreColumbio, or pre- the European invaders, as the leaflet accurately pointed out. Fascinating stuff, especially all the number of ancient civilisations (I'd pretty much only heard of Aztecs and Incas) and what they' discovered way before anyone else (mummification 2000 years before the ancient Egyptians), plus a bunch of other gross stuff about fashions of the time. Best way to indicate your membership of the aristocracy? Cross- eyes and visible 'cranial deformity' (insert your own joke about the Royal Family here).
We've booked a bus tour down to the South of Chile in a few days time- off to Valpariso for some beach action in the meantime.