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Published: March 7th 2016
C: We arrived into Santiago quite late in the evening after a 12 hour bus drive from Pucon. Not a fun way to spend the day but the rest of the world could definitely learn something from the South Americans about comfortable buses, great reclining seats and loads of space.
We got to our Airbnb which is a cute little duplex apartment on the 12th floor of a huge building right in the centre of the city, great location. The next morning we headed off to explore central Santiago. There isn't masses of sights but it's a nice city to wander around in, clean and smart, and pretty much everything is in walking distance. We found a very sweet district called Barrio Paris y Londres which is basically just two streets named after those cities. Lots of attractive buildings though and a good spot to stop in a shady cafe.
The next day we decided to head to Valparaiso, a port city on the coast that holds UNESCO world heritage status. It's about a two hour bus ride away but once again it was a very comfortable coach and at a princely sum of £3 each we couldn't go
far wrong. We also got the subway for the first time, to get to the bus station, and it was great. Very smart and even air-conditioned, we were impressed. Valparaiso is certainly a city of two halves, however. We arrived into the newer part and it was grim, really grim. Very busy, loads of rubbish and graffiti everywhere, we wondered what we had come to. Our map told us we needed to walk about a mile to the base of the old town which was basically built on the side of several cliffs. We trudged through the newer part hoping it would get better and finally got to a fairly grand central square where, I have to admit, we took refuge at a Starbucks to work out what to do next. Because of the steepness of the old town, there are several ascensores (tiny funiculars) that take you up into it. We found one, hidden in a back alley, and headed up.
We were very glad we did. The old town is really nice. Still not that smart, more of a Bohemian style, but full of attractive and brightly coloured buildings and cobbled streets. There's still graffiti but it's
much more the street art type. Lots of cafe options made it a good place to get some lunch but we mostly just wandered around and up and down, getting the (extremely cheap) ascensores as and when we needed to. Quite a few travellers stay here but a day was enough time to explore. We hung around for quite a while in the old town before braving the walk back to the bus station in the evening.
Our apartment block is huge here, apparently there are over 1000 apartments. On our third day we enjoyed making use of the swimming pool on the 18th floor. It was very refreshing aka freezing(!!) but has amazing views of the city from the terrace.
Tot: 2.471s; Tpl: 0.057s; cc: 11; qc: 60; dbt: 0.0427s; 2; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 1;
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