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Published: November 7th 2009
A Quick Visit to Santiago and Valparaiso 23 Apr 09
We arrived in Santiago at 11.30pm and after a bus trip and taxi ride, we arrived at ‘Chile Hostel’ in the Providencia area. After our hectic day is BA and Uruguay, we fell straight into bed! 24 Apr 09 - Santiago to Valparaiso
We boarded the 11am bus from Santiago to Valparaiso which took about 90 minutes. The bus station was a good 2km from the Old Town, apparently the only area worth exploring.
As we started the 2km walk, it quickly became obvious that we weren’t in the nicest part of town. We stopped via the street fruit markets and were warned by a vendor to be very careful and to keep our belongings close to us whilst in Valparaiso. We nodded politely and simply assumed that it would be like any other town - just be aware of your surroundings. However, it soon became a theme: the locals looking at us from cars signaling for us to put our cameras away and a woman stopping us on a dodgy backstreet to tell us to wear our back packs on our fronts.
'Monumento a los Heroes de Iquique’ in Valparasio
Monument to the lost sailors from the War of the Pacific.
It started to put us on edge! Nevertheless, the warnings were relevant; Lonely Planet specifically stated that the area we were exploring (between Serrano and Plaza Echaurren) was dangerous (“stay on your guard as robberies happen here”). We definitely got this vibe - there were a number of suspicious looking men lingering around the area.
We first strolled along the waterfront which was predominantly docks, yards and the railway - not a very attractive city! However it should be noted that this is a fully functioning port town. It is chaotic, industrial and being fully operational, it was also quite interesting.
At Plaza Sotomayor, we took in the sights of the ‘Monumento a los Heroes de Iquique’, a monument to the lost sailors from the War of the Pacific. We then wandered around Muelle Prat, the waterfront area where tourist boats offer port tours. Here we were constantly harassed to take a tour, however we eventually shook the guy!
After taking in the sights of the waterfront, we made our way down Serrano (the dodgy area) and walked up the stairs by Ascensor Cordillera. However after starting to feel vulnerable, we left the area.
Stacy keeping us on track...
Checking the Lonely Planet..."is there anything else here?"
the Ascensor Concepcion to Inglesia San Pablo where we were greeted by live music and markets. The change in the ‘vibe’ was a welcome relief! The corrugated-iron buildings were brightly painted and the cobblestone streets were authentic. The view was also impressive: ships, navy vessels, trains, cars, people…chaos! After taking our time wandering around the markets, we headed back on foot to catch our 5pm bus back to Santiago.
That night, back at the ‘Chile Hostel’ we had a great BBQ with Chilean wine and fantastic local chorizo. 25 Apr 09 - Santiago
Today was our one and only day to explore the city, so we planned to make the most of it.
We walked 2km to the funicular up to the Cerro San Cristobal (statue of Mary on the hill). This is a great vantage point to see the city nestled amongst the Andean mountains. Unfortunately, Santiago’s famous smog blocked any opportunity to see the ‘view’.
Following this, we walked another couple of kilometers to Cerro Santa Lucia, a multitude of staircases and fountains up to a small summit in the middle of the city. It also seemed to be the destination for
many couples, keen to get in some serious smooching!
We strolled across to Centro Artesanal Santa Lucia, an outdoor craft stall where we ate some lunch and pottered around the stalls.
Our final stop was Plaza de Armas. Here we were shocked to witness a woman (in her work uniform) urinating in the mall! The only initial giveaway was the stream of urine making its way across to the centre of the mall! That pretty much summed up our experience of the mall. We were harassed by a rude man who demanded money from us and became aggressive when we refused. He shoved us multiple times, walked with us and swore at us until Stacy ended up giving him a shove back accompanied by a firm ‘NO’. We had to practically run down the street to get away from him.
After a 5km walk back to Providencia, an area known for its bars, restaurants and outdoor dining, we bought some food from the supermarket and headed back to the hostel. At this final stage of our trip we were keeping to quite a tight budget! After eating and showering, we made our way to the airport for
our late night departure back to Oz.
After 2 incredible years in London and an amazing 7 week adventure in South America, we were on our way home. We were not sure whether to laugh or to cry!!! No doubt many adventures still await us….
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