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South America » Chile » Santiago Region » Santiago
December 3rd 2014
Published: December 10th 2014
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Our Wednesday plans revolved around the Bellavista area of town. The last two times I had been in town I had been unable to go to the Cerro San Cristotal, which is part of the Parque Metropolitano, because the park workers had been on strike. This hillside has an outstanding view of the City, although Wednesday morning the pollution was bad and the view of the mountains was not clear. It has not rained in a few days, and it takes some rain to clear the air, and the view.

Anyway, we first parked at Patio Bellavista, which is one of those several levels open air type Malls with tons of restaurants, and shops. From there we walked towards the Cerro San Cristobal, but first made a small detour to visit La Chascona. This is the house that Pablo Neruda bought for his, then, lover Matilde Urrutia. He named the house La Chascona because that was his nickname for Matilde, who eventually became his third wife, and was the love of his life. The name, Chascona, was because of her thick hair that always seemed windblown.

It is not possible to take pictures inside the house, which is a shame because I doubt there are many houses around as fascinating and unusual as this, except for his two other houses, La Sebastiana, and Isla Negra. I absolutely loved the sequence of rooms, the in and outs and up and downs, as well as the ecclectic and unique way he decorated, collected, and arranged things.

The house had been ramsacked after Allende was overthrown by Pinochet, but it was lovingly restored. After a leisured inspection of the house, we walked the short distance to the Cerro San Cristobal, and I had the inmense pleasure of finally being able to take the long ride up in the Funicular. The entrance to the Zoo is half way up the hill too, but we didn't go in.

Once we got to the top and had our fill of the beautiful views, we shared a cheese Empanada and hydrated, and then I undertook the task of climbing to the very top of the hill through a long series of steps, to where the imposing statue of the Virgin Mary stands. It was hot.

The base of the statue is an exquisite little chappel. I wanted to do a panoramic photo, but there was a priest reading the rosary, and a couple of people praying, so I didn't want to be disrespectful. I only took a photo from outside the door, but the entire place was painted in a simple and colorful way, in a rustic style, and it was lovely.

On the way downn there were a few more religious sanctuaries and areas for the devout, including one area where the wax from thousands of candles covered the entire floor. The Christmas Manger was already set up, life sized and imposing.

Then it was time to take the long ride down in the Funicular. Yay!

Bellavista is a fun and vibrant neighborhood. Not as upscale as Las Condes, but very lively with lots of side street places and, its trademark, many painted murals adorning the fronts of buildings.

We went back to Patio Bellavista for lunch, in one of the many restaurants. We picked this particular one because we had smelled something really good cooking earlier in the day when we had walked by. Here I was exposed to the fact that I should not be too naive about my surroundings. We were sitting outdoors, and I had put my purse on the chair next to me, and one of the waiters noticed and asked me to secure it. They have straps hanging from the bottom of the table, to put around the purse handles and keep them safe. Apparently, it is not uncommon to have your purse snatched if you are not careful.

The place has many shops, and Lapislazuli jewelry abounds, since the stones can be found in Chile. We spent quite a while at this one little shop, not much bigger than my closet. Both of us could barely fit in the place at the same time, and we had to keep trading places and squeezing past each other. They did, however, had some beautiful stuff.

It was such a fun day! We got home tired but happy.

We had a semi early call in the morning for an excursion to the coast to see Isla Negra, Pablo Neruda's seaside home, and his resting place, and then a tour and wine tasting at one of the organic vineyards in Valle San Antonio, Matetic, so we did't stay up too late after dinner.

Again, I slept well.


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