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Published: August 30th 2006
We're back...to South America anyway. Our crazy round-the-world dash has landed us back here for 5 more glorious weeks of seeing everything we'd missed the first time (that's kind of the plan, anyway).
So to Chile.
Santiago is another city with a reputation...for smog. The city is situated in a lovely spot on the foothills of the Andes, surrounded by mountains. The downside of this is that the area is prone to low cloud, which in turn traps the crap spewing out of cars and factories in the city. I would leave my return to good health through running until we'd left Santiago.
Our hostel, the Happy House in the Barrio Brasil area of town, was maybe the best we've stayed in on our entire trip (no mean feat). Not much to look at from the outside, the place is huge, gorgeously restored to a traditional style indoors with high ceilings and lots of cosy wood finish. The first two nights our room was great, but we had to move on the third night and ended up in a room with not just a private bathroom but a sauna! Cool.
Like much of the previous weeks travel, Santiago would again be a place to catch up with old mates. Two friends from England were travelling in the area and decided to come and see us in Santiago to exchange stories, and a local Chilean guy we'd met way back in Buenos Aires at the start of the trip was keen to catch up.
There followed two very unhealthy evenings exploring the bars and restaurants of Santiago, from the most basic of locals joints to the bars of trendy Bellavista.
Despite the reputation, we warmed to the city. The pollution wasn't bad every day, and although much of the city is quite rundown, there is certainly some life here, lots of history, interesting buildings and very friendly people (though watch where the taxi drivers take you as detours to earn them a few extra pennies are not uncommon).
Unfortunately we made the mistake of visiting the Mercado Central after having had lunch, so missed out on the chance for some excellent cheap seafood, with the largest choice of fresh sea urchin seen outside Tokyo fish market. Maybe next time.
Make sure you visit Cerro San Cristobal for a trip on the very steep funicular railway and slightly rickety cable cars, plus the other small hill in town, Cerro Santa Lucia (but just watch out for the cannon at midday....)
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