Santiago: Enter Crazy Parents
Trip Start Aug 09, 2007
47Trip End Jul 29, 2008
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Where I stayed
Nik and I arrived one day before our parents were set to arrive and we managed to find an amazingly pimpy hotel downtown Santiago for next to nothing. We spent the majority of our day collecting tourist information for when our parents arrived and then celebrated Valentine`s day in style at the local diner. I thought the neon lighting made the setting extra romantic and Nik thought the French fries were done to perfection. All in all, one might say it was an unforgettable evening. Well, maybe not so much, but our days of cheap food were over as soon as that plane landed and my mom and Nik`s folks walked through those gates!
It was a great feeling to see our parents down here in Chile and even better that it all went so smoothly
The next day we set out on a self-guided walking tour of Santiago beginning right from our hotel. We passed through a sculpture garden and the prestigious neighbourhood of Bellavista en route to Cerro San Cristobal. This hill gives us a view of the entire city at 880m above sea level (300m above Santiago) and a close of view of the 22m statue of the Virgin Mary at its summit. This hill was pretty cool as well since we were able to take a gondola up one face, take in the views of the city and the Virgin, and then take this awesome fenicular down the other face of the hill. Basically, it is just a very very steep train track that you scale down on a platform. Very cool and very different.
We continued our walking tour past some artisan markets and Pablo Neruda`s house. We tried to enter this eccentric poet`s home, but the wait was near an hour so we felt our time was better spent elsewhere - likely an oversight in retrospect, but something for the next time we are through Santiago (ie/en route to Easter Island!!). The artisan market`s we visited were very cool
The next day we went to Valparaiso (`Paradise Valley`) which is only 120km from Santiago. Valparaiso is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Chile`s most important ports today. It is also where the National Congress is located, not in Santiago! More striking is how all the houses are built up the side of the hill - apparently to protect against pirate raids back in the day. Because of the hills, there are feniculars everywhere (steep elevators on rails to the top of hills). We checked one out, saw the port in full swing, had an amazing seaside lunch, and then drove to Viņa del Mar (`Vineyard by the Sea`) that is famous for it`s floral clock that actually keeps accurate time. This is where Nik`s dad finally got to dive into the Pacific Ocean for the first time
After shopping around Santiago the next day, through local artisan markets and absolutely stunning shopping centers, we went to a fabulous dinner show at Los Buenos Muchachos. This show featured typical Chilean dances from all it`s regions, including Easter Island (Polynesian). The variety of live music and dance was absolutely fantastic, as was Nik`s dad`s improvisation on typical Chilean dance - It was very good!! The food was amazing as well, as seems to be the norm down here.
And that was it!! Santiago was over and done with before any of us knew it!! We hopped a bus the next morning to head to Mendoza, Argentina and it was a beautiful passage through the Andes. The road that snakes it`s way to the actual border crossing to Argentina (near Cerro Aconcagua) was a joy in itself - it climbs to 2740m from near sea level on continuous switchbacks (probabally about 20). Looking down on it, the road itself looks like a racetrack. It was great! The mountain views were stunning the entire ride and we arrived into beautiful Mendoza and another beautiful hotel ready to test our palates.
Santiago was a really great place, I look forward to going back another day to explore more.