In an effort to add unnecessary suspense to my travel blog, I ended yesterday´s entry with a cliff-hanger. Were you able to guess? If you are into poetry or have access to google, you may have recognized the verse I posted as being one of the many great ones penned by the most notable Chilean poet - Pablo Neruda. Today, I had the life altering experience of spending the day at Isla Negra and visiting the home Neruda lived in before he passed away in 1973.
Before I get started on my Isla Negra trip, I´ll take a few minutes to wrap up yesterday´s entry regarding the Cerro de San Cristóbal.San Cristóbal and the Teleférico,
This was the first stop I navigated on my own, after being dropped off by Mario. The city of Santiago was now mine for the taking! I purchased my tickets to ride up to the peak in a cable car. A friend recently told me that the best part of traveling solo isn´t so much the sites you see, but rather the people you meet along the away. She was so right. On the way up the Cerro, I met a group of women from Louisiana and New Jersey that were in Chile for two weeks teaching dance classes to high school students. They gave me great advice on my itinerary and as it turns out, were reading a book I´m also reading (Eat, Pray, Love). Small world this is.
I also met a great couple from Queens, NY. Maria and Andrew. She is Bolivian and he is Canadian and once at the top, we shared travel stories and great German beer (who knew!) before riding the Teléferico (aerial tram) to a different part of town.
The views of my latest school-girl crush, the Andes, were spectacular. I was mesmerized and in love. I took picture after picture, hoping to capture its beauty for you. The thick Santiago smog was a challenge, but your best bet to get a front row seat is to come visit! Like I said in an earlier entry, there are no shortcuts in this travel blog.
The teleférico ride carried greater excitement than some amusement park rides I´ve been on. I felt completely safe, but the tiny tram did rock back and forth, especially when it hit unforseen tree branches along the way. Another interesting note, the tram door never did close all the way...things that make you go hmmm... Exploring Santiago´s Great Neighborhoods
We were dropped off in a different part of town, walked accross the canal-like Mapocho River and meandered through the beautiful, trendy neighborhood of Providencia. We saw pet taxis and traffic light jugglers, all part of the great city flair!
At this point, I parted ways with Maria and Andrew and headed to the Metro station. I could barely contain the excitement of such an every-day activity. Riding the train was easy and seemless in Santiago. The stations were clean, well-marked and quite beautifully painted, actually. I wasn´t able to get you a better Metro picture, because I wanted to blend in and taking pictures in the Metro would have gotten in the way of my attempts of not appearing to be a tourist!
I arrived at my stop and had been advised to simply hail a cab from the station to the hotel, but I figured it would be more fun to walk. It was only an additional 5-10 minute drive, how long could that really take to walk?? Well....2.5 hours! As it turns out I got immensely lost and loved every minute of it! Prior to starting the walk, I stopped in a local eatery for an amazingly delicious churrasco steak sandwich, known as the Borro Luco. Made with gooey Gauda cheese and toasted Chilean bread. It came complete with freshly made pineapple juice. YUM.
The staff was very friendly, even brought me a newspaper when they noticed I was dining alone and kept me company, asking me questions like "Where are you from?"...Guess..."Brazil?? No?? Panamá?? Tampoco. "Ecuador, Colombia, Puerto Rico??" Getting warmer. "República Dominicana?" Yessssss. "La Tierra de Juan Luis Guerra!¨"
The owner gave me what seemed like easy directions and sent me on my way. After walking for an hour, I knew I was on the wrong path, but was enjoying the walk and had made it a personal challenge to make it to the hotel without any help.
The Andes Mountains were my guide, so I couldn´t get too lost, except I´m ridiculously bad with directions! I didn´t mind being lost, because I was enjoying the walk through residential Santiago neighborhoods, the likes of which weren´t featured on my tourist maps!! 2 hours later it was starting to get dark, but just as I was starting to worry, I caught the Marriott sign in the distance. I started walking towards it and 30 minutes later arrived, feeling extremely accomplished over such a small feat!!