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Santiago

Written on: Tuesday January 22nd, 2008

A journal entry from: Kevin and Julie's RTW

Location: Santiago, Chile

Author: Julie

Hola!

We woke up a little late this morning and feeling a little rough from the celebrating the night before. It had been a great start to my birthday and the day could only get better.

First, we had to take care of a bit of business of booking our flight to New Zealand, the next leg of our round-the-world trip. We had been watching the ticket prices for a couple of months and realised that we had found the lowest price possible. So, with beating hearts with booked the flight that would take us across the ocean in a couple months time. Also, knowing that we had a finite amount of time of 8 weeks remaining in South America, we booked flights from Puerto Montt, Chile to Ushuaia, Argentina at the tip of the Americas then a flight from El Calafate, Argentina to Buenos Aires to continue on overland to Rio and our departure date of April 1st. During our booking process, we encountered a small problem reserving our flight with Aerolineas Argentinas for our flight to BA. You can reserve a seat on a specific flight but you cannot make an online payment. We now had 24 hours to find an office of the airline and make the payments in person. Luckily for us, there was an office in the Los Condes neighbourhood of Santiago. So, we took the efficient metro to Los Condes and wandered around trying to find the offices. With the help of a few people, we finally found it and quickly made our payment. Yeah, we had organized things for the next couple of months.

Los Condes is one of the richest neighbourhoods of Santiago and it was apparent in its high rises, cute cafes, high-end label clothing stores and cleanliness of the streets. We walked around for a while and decided to walk to our intended site of the day: Cerro San Cristobal. At 458 meters in height, it is the highest point of the city and is also the location for the Parque Metropolitano, the city?s largest space with two swimming pools, a botanical garden, a zoo, and an art museum. The walk brought us through the quiet residential neighbourhoods of Los Condes and beautiful home after another. There were only a few people at the bottom of the station, eating a quick snack at the snack bar. We reached it from Avenida Pedro de Valdivia Norte where the 2000-meter long teleferiqo was located. We quickly had a Popsicle and bought our tickets. The five minute ride took high above the tree tops and gave us a 360 degree view of the city below.

At the top pf the station, there was chapel with an amphiteatre and a 22 meter statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary donated by France in the 1920s overlooking the city. It was here in 1987 that Pope Saint John Paul II gave a sermon. We stayed for a while, sitting on a park bench, enjoying the city and the nice breeze blowing up the hill. It was another perfect day of sunshine and 30C weather and the cooling breeze felt good. We descended the old funicular which climbed an almost vertical degree. We arrived at the bottom to find a long line of maybe 100 people waiting to ascend. This was unexpected since there was no one waiting at the other entrance where the teleferiqo was located. We walked along the streets of Pio Nono through the Barrio Bellavista with its cool cafes and restaurants. We crossed over the river Mapocho and turned left unto the Avenida Merced which followed along the lovely and peaceful Parque Forestal. We soon arrived at the Palacio de Bella Artes, Santiago?s early 20th-century fine arts museum. We only had an hour before the museum closed but adjoined to the same building was the Contemporary Arts museum which we were more interested in seeing after the last 4 months of seeing colonial art and buildings. Unfortunately, the contemporary museum was closed as it was hosting a book publisher?s convention.

We walked back to our hostel and took an hour to relax before meeting Mark and Maxine at our usual cute café. I was a little turned off red wine from the evening before so spent my night drinking Agua con Gas (mineral water). At close to 11 PM, we finally realised that we were hungry and walked out of the Barrio Paris-Londres to try to find something to eat. Unfortunately, none of the restaurants were opened including the fast food places. Walking into a sketchier area of the neighbourhood we were met with transvestites on the corner. At first we thought they were prostitutes but they were just a couple of guys (girls?) heading for the metro station. We had a quick supper of a hotdog and hamburger and headed back to our room to catch up on our sleep. Definitely a good birthday.