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Published: November 22nd 2012
After flying back into Auckland we spent the night in an airport hotel. The next day we were not flying until 4pm but had to check room of the room at 10. So we decided to go for a walk about and try and find some Internet to use (the hotel Internet was about £5 for 50 minutes....it takes time to do this blog believe it or not!). We had also read in the lonely planet that there was a vineyard near the airport that was worth a visit, but having binned all our Auckland maps 3 weeks ago, and sent the guide book home, we just thought that we would walk around and see what we found. Evidently, around all the airport hotels there is little else but airport hotels! After a fruitless hours searching for an Internet cafe walking down a very busy main road, we stumbled apon the Villa Maria winery! It was set amongst beautiful park land and although we had to pay about £3 each for the tasting, it was really nice and we had a lovely lunch there in the gardens, not a bad way to spend a flight day. After this we got a
taxi back to the hotel and after a 45 minute airport check in queue and a quick boarding we were on our way. The flight was 11 hours, and confusingly we left at 4pm and arrived at 11am the same day, confusing times. Unfortunately this meant we didn't get any sleep on the way in.
On arriving at Santiago we had to get a bus into town and then the metro across the city to the area of barrio belavista where we were staying. The hostel itself was small and seemed nice enough until we asked for the key for our room and were told they didn't have one at the moment but it was very safe and they controlled who came in and out with a buzzer. Hmm, interesting, but we didn't have many options, so we carried all our valuables with us. We went out for a walk around to get some lunch, see the sights and try and stay awake as long as possible! Barrio Bellavista is the student area but also the party bit of town. All the buildings are colourful and decorated with fantastic street art, we watched one guy paint a fantastic huge
mural on the wall with spray paint in the space of a day. The main streets are full of small bars and are lined with tables on the street, very European. We went to one of those bars for lunch and watched the world go by. Then the had decided to try and go to the top of San cristobal! The biggest hill in Santiago, featuring the statue of virgin de la inmaculade concepcion. This is usually accessible via a cable car (which we knew had been closed) and a funicular train which we were not aware was also closed! It was about a 6km steep walk up and we were both sleep walking through the day, so decided to wait for the free shuttle bus to the top, apparently a 30minute wait.
40 mins later a little minibus appeared, and everyoneelse who had just appeared pshed on in front of us. We waited another 10 minutes and deciding we were in danger of falling asleep decided to try again tomorrow. We went to find an Internet cafe and killed a couple of hours getting all the pics on this blog up to date! After this we we feeling
a bit better and decided to head back to all the bars for a drink or two before a really early night! We noticed that everyone was sharing large bottles of lager, so we joined them. This was fantastic, all the bars sold 1litre bottles of beer to share costing about £1.50. Oh cheap beer how we have missed you! We headed back to bed after this, both falling into comastyle sleep by 10pm. 19.11.12 - a 40 hour day of which we saw 29 without sleep!
The next day, after a good 12 hour sleep we were ready to go. We finally made it up the hill for a great view of the huge sprawling city of Santiago. 1/3 of chile's population lives in Santiago, so it's a really big space and the city goes as far as you can see, surrounded by huge mountains. Unfortunately it was a little hazy, so maybe the pictures don't quite to it justice? After this we went into town and walked to the central fishmarket for a look round and bought ourselves an empanada for lunch. Turns out it is just a fancy pasty, nice though! We were in a rush
by this point as we were going to join the "free city tour." this was really interersting! The guide Filepe was of course a former drama student and full of big stories and power stance! However we learned a lot about history and culture in chile, as well as lots of useful information about food and drinks and modern culture. Of course this was called the free tour, but they recommended a guide tip of £5 per person, and sold us to a few refreshment stands on the way round. The tour did not finish until about 7, so we went back to the hotel to sort a few things out before setting off back into town for a restaurant recommended on the tour. We had a lovely traditional meal in a buzzing restaurant, complete with Chilean wine for under £20. Then we went back to the bar streets, which were now heaving, for a couple of beers.
The next day we decided to go and visit one of the vineyards within the sprawl of Santiago. Chile is a huge wine growing country and we unfortunately don't have time to investigate too far. We got the metro out to
the right area and walked along the side of the vineyard that we thought the buildings was on....it wasn't! An hour and a full walk round 100 hectares of vines we found the buildings. We had a lovely tour round the winery,including seeing the old and new processes of wine making, We got a free glass and some nice reserva wine at £10 for 2 bottles! That's us and wineries done now I think!
After this, and suffering a little from the night before, we got the metro back into town. Then we went to visit the cathedral, which was large with lots of beautiful painting in the ceiling and intractate carvings. After this we had a general wander around town. When we made it back to the hostel we went for a quick nap, which turned into 2 1/2 hours, clearly the jet lag is hanging in there! We went out for another lovely tea, sitting outside on the street watching the world go by! The city itself is full of stray dogs, they are everywhere. The strange thing about this is that they are really healthy! They understand how to cross roads and people look after them. The guide on the walking tour told us that in winter you see street dogs in coats and jumpers! The result of this is that when we were eating we got a little dog friend, who could give ruby a run for her money on the puppy dog eyes begging front!
The next morning we were off to Valparaiso, so after checking out we had to head off across town on the metro to get our bus. Turns out long haul buses in chile are brilliant. It was airconditioned, clean and organised, cheap and had 3 members of staff to look after the customers.
We had a great time in Santiago, it's a growing city with lots to offer and most importantly felt safe! As always more time would have been nice, but we saw most things and are on our way again!
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