Published: December 11th 2010
December 11th 2010
Well had not too bad a flight out, even managed to sleep a little having avoided being sat next to crying babies, consumptive asthmatics, habitual seat pullers and people who prefer their drink in my lap as opposed to their glass.
Fairly straight forward run in from the airport to the hostel with a taxi driver who a) could actually drive b) had a functioning taxi and c) charged me the correct fare all which made a nice change. I'm staying at a very nice hostel in the barrio providencia. The staff are all very helpful and thankfully most of them speak english which means i don't have to torture them with my appalling spanish. Although my room is fine the shared toilet is tiny. When in sitting down mode you end up with your knees up under your chin. In an effort to save space the toilet roll dispenser is on the outside of the door so you have to judge how much you need before you go in, or as in my case forgot and then have to sneak the door half open and waddle out with your trouser round your ankles grab what you need and dart
Anyway my first day here a took a walk into the centre of town around the area where most of the historic buildings, churches, monuments etc are. Popped into the cathedral metropolitana where a service was in full swing. It seemed a bit rude to wander around taking photos so I sat down for a bit of a rest and to generally soak up the atmosphere. I got a bit lost in my own thoughts, well to be honest I was half asleep, when all of a sudden everyone is shuffling out into the isle to go do the body of Christ/blood of Christ thingy which is all very well if your a Christian but me I'm a bit of an atheist, well i say a bit, more of a fundamental Darwin/Dawkins is my hero kind of an atheist but anyway the next thing i know I'm half way to receiving holy communion!! Luckily with a bit of deft footwork i managed to get myself out of what could have been a very embarrising moment.
During the rest of my time here I've walked up the Cerro Santa Lucia which is a sort of staircase leading up a hill in the centre of town with fountains, a fort like gate, gardens and various statues etc. Its a bit of a flog up to the top but well worth it for the cool breeze and great views over the city. My guide book describes it as "a monumental staircase were you can rest among trysting lovers" its right about the monumental staircase but i'm not sure the lovers i saw were what i'd call "trysting" more playing find the lumpy bits under your jumper.
I've also taken a trip up to the statue of the virgin up another great big hill but this time i took the easy option and got the Funicular railway to the top. It was meant to lead onto a 2km cable car into the rest of the park but for reasons i never got to the bottom off it wasn't working. It was a hell of a jaunt on foot so i had an ice cream and came back down.
Today i wandered off to the Mercado Central which was (as a very helpful bloke told me) made in England in the mid 19th century and shipped out here and put together like a bit of giant Mecano. Its not much of a market today more a few stalls selling tourist tat and lots of bars and cafes. Mr helpful bloke told me it was modelled on Smithfields in London but the only bit of market that was left seemed to be selling fish so maybe it was modelled on Billingsgate. Apart from the very nice building it was a bit disappointing as a market which I had hoped would be full of the hustle and bustle of people going about their business. But by a bit of luck i found a much better local market while getting lost on the way back to the digs.
One bit of news that might not have made it to the papers at home is that the local prison burnt down killing 81 of the inmates.
So to end having a great time the weather is as you would expect hot and sunny although it cools down at night to the point were I've even had to put a jumper on.
If all goes to plan i ill be leaving Santiago the day after tomorrow and heading North up to Valparaiso on the coast.