A brief stop in Chile
Trip Start Oct 01, 2002
158Trip End Aug 08, 2005
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Sorry we couldn't think of a more inspiring title for this update but quite honestly there's been little here to inspire us! We didn't actually plan on coming here at all originally, but due to the way our flights worked out when we bought the package we had to stop here. We therefore paid for the flights here and away as we couldn't just transit through, so we decided that seeing as it's paid for we might as well have a quick look around for a few days.
We left Rio on the 17th and we were sorry to say goodbye, it was such a fantastic place. Our flight went via Sao Paulo (something they forgot to tell us again) and due to delays it ended up being a six hour journey with no upgrades to Business Class this time! We were met at a metro station by our Globalfreeloader host, Anna, and after grabbing something to eat in a local cafe and sampling the local beer, we headed back to her apartment for an early night. It was Independence Day on Sunday the 19th and holidays were declared from the 17th to the 19th. We thought that it would be a good time to visit and enjoy the celebrations of this national festival, but in reality it just meant that most things were closed for a few days and there were a few parties going on but unfortunately we didn't manage to get to any interesting ones.
On the Saturday, we went to a 'fonda' which is a traditional get-together in a local park, usually with beer flowing (ours didn't) and various stalls, traditional foods and traditional dancing. Due to the lack of alcohol, the one we went to was more like a family fun fair but we did enjoy watching the traditional hanky twirling dancers and listening to the music. One good thing about Independence Day was that there were Chilian flags everywhere, adding a bit of colour to the streets which are lined with a mixture of modern and colonial style builidings, all very large and grand but not that interesting. Apparently, you can be fined if you don't have a flag displayed from your building so they were almost everywhere and even on the cars.
On the Sunday we decided it would be a good day to visit the museums when they have free
entry but due to the holiday most of them closed early. We wandered the neighbourhoods and glimpsed the snow capped Andes throught the smog. The Museum of Fine Arts kept it's doors open and out of want of something to do, we popped in. There was a permanent exhibition of Chilian art which was okay-ish and a temporary exhibit of Arne Jacobsen's architecture and furniture which was interesting but not exactly traditional Chilian!
By Monday when the nation resumed it's daily business, we found we were about done with Santiago so we decided to visit the nearby coastal cities of Vina del Mar and Valparaiso which are only a couple of kilometres apart. As Chile is an extremely narrow country they are only a 2 hour bus journey from Santiago, which itself lies at the foot of the Andes Mountain range. Vina del Mar is a popular beach resort but also a sprawling city, although it does have some pleasant pockets of green here and there. After grabbing something to eat we hopped on the bus to Valparaiso and although initially unipressed, it does have some nice buildings and colourful streets set at different levels on the hillside. You have to get on a rickety lift-come-cable car thing to get to these different levels but some of the quieter, cobblestoned, winding streets were quite nice and somewhat strangely, many of the buildings were constructed of corrugated iron sheeting in various colours. There was also an area referred to as an open air museum where various artists have painted colourful murals on any spare blank bit of wall. It would probably have been quite nice had we not wasted most of the day in the Lan Chile airline office whilst they tried to sort out Kev's flights. For some reason several had been randomly cancelled and another had had the date changed which meant we were travelling on different dates for our next flight. They offered no explanation for this and accepted no responsibility but they eventually and 'miraculously', found a seat on the full flight, but only after 3 hours and only when Kev eventually started to get a little angry. By the time we got to wander the streets of Valparaiso it was getting dark, not that we'd have had any pictures to show you anyway as the camera batteries went flat!
We had originally gone to the airline office to try and get on a flight today, but no luck as they were all full, so we spent most of today (Tuesday) wandering around one of the museums which had been closed on Sunday. It actually turned out to be really good with loads of ancient stone, ceramic and precious metalwork exhibits on many Central and South American countries and civilisations including the Incas, Aztecs and Mayas. We were actually quite glad we got to stay and see it in the end.
So that brings us to the end of our Chilian travels, sorry there's not been much to say. The country is supposed to be spectacular in places but you have to go to the very north or the very south, so not on this trip for us! Also, sorry there aren't any pictures to show you but when the batteries ran out on our camera yesterday, and to round off a crappy day, the memory card somehow got corrupted so we lost what few pics of Chile we had when we had to re-format it.
Well, until next time, wherever we may be..
K & S.