Trip Start Jun 15, 2004
105Trip End Jun 15, 2005
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So arrived at 12.20pm, Wednesday 16th March - ie before I left, which is slightly bizarre, but due to me crossing the international date line, so I get Wednesday all over again.
Despite numerous overtures from Taxi Drivers (the bus is not running, its too slow etc), catch the aeropuerto bus to Barrio Brasil - at a cost of CHP 1100, or about a pound, close to where I think I´m staying
Looking at prices, Chile is meant to be one of the more expensive South American countries, but, after the last few months, this is cheap for me! - thank god, as my budget has had to be cut back a bit now!
Walk the four blocks, in the bright sunshine (its about 24c, hotter than I expected), only to find I hadnt made a reservation, I had simply been put on a waiting list, but nonetheless, found a dorm in an adjacent street, for CHP5000.
Realised straight away that my Spanish could do with improvement - the coke I bought in a mini supermarket failed to scan - how was I meant to know her babbling on in Spanish meant this?? - some guy rescued me in the end.
Hostel I stayed in only had one english speaker, who isnt around all the time.
Determined to avoid jet lag, went for a walk to downtown Santiago, which upon first impression is very nice - very European, wide boulevards, lots of shops, and very very busy.
Luckily my Spanish (or Castellano as its called here) was good enough to order a beer - except a 1 litre bottle arrived, so I was forced to drink it!
Thursday 17th March 2005
Evidently the flight did get to me - I have no real appetite, and slept almost 11 hours last night.
Walked the city, and then onto Cerru Santa Lucia, a nice park in the city centre, that stands at 630m - numerous slippery steps to the summit, which gives you OK views of the city, though my best impression of the city is from its streets.
Cross the Rio Mapucho - now resembles a canal due to its concrete sides, and looks ugly due to lots of litter. Through the Barrio Bellavista area - hip area with lots of bars and restaurants, helped by the university being there, to Parqu Metropolitana, up on the funicular railway to Cerro San Cristobal, which at 869m gives good views over the city, and its surrounding mountains - the foothills of the Andes. Santiago´s renowned smog is not too bad - you can make out most of the mountains.
Then meet an off duty police officer, who wants to practice his English - I have my doubts when he tells me he works in the presidential palace, but he shows me his ID card, which looks OK, so let him buy me a coffee - I learn a little Spanish, he learns a lot of English - quite an interesting guy, and wish I hadnt told him earlier I had to be back at the hostel to meet somebody at a set time!
Friday 18th March 2005
Got up at 7am - no particular reason, just wide awake - the jet lag is still affecting me.
Wandered eventually to the presidential palace, to see the changing of the guard at 10am, though somehow managed to stay in the middle of the square with all the TV crews, whilst everybody else was well back behind the barriers - though didnt take long for the police to eject me.
Bizarrely, the band seemed to play every tune you have ever heard, for 10 seconds at a time, which included Jingle Bells and Rule Brittannia!
Other than that, relaxing day wandering the city
Saturday 19th March 2005
Go to a shopping centre where tourist information directed me to buy football tickets - it just looked like a department store, but there was a ticketmaster in the basement, and, to my amazement, I had an almost conversation in Spanish buying my ticket - and got precisely what I wanted!
Returned to my hostal, to leave all of valuables, and caught the metro - didnt have to work out where to go - simply follow the rowdy supporters, and I´m off to my first South American football match!
Reach the metro station near the Estadio Nacional (National Stadium), and then a km or two walk to the stadium - at which point I start getting hassled by 5-6 teenage boys for "money!" plus a few other words they knew in English. Didnt actually have much money on me anyway, so wasnt too bothered, but became a little more intense, at which point a guy, who looked rougher than all the kids put together, clearly told them where to go - he didnt speak a word of English, but very nicely showed me where to go in the stadium etc.
In the stadium itself, which is a little rundown, the opposing supporters are at either end - Colo Colo supporters - the majority, in black and red, and U.Catolica in blue and white, taunting each other with chants and drums.
Only maybe two dozen riot police in attendance, plus six who escorted the referee/linesmen, with shields, to the centre of the field (and fetched them from the centre of the field at half time).
Game starts, crowd goes wild, firecrackers everywhere, though game itself is a little lacklustre, until U.Catolica score on about 70 minutes....I assume by now the defender has been shot.
U Catolica have a last minute penalty, which they miss, and then on final whistle, I dissappear quickly!