The journey to Santiago, Chile started in the evening at Changi Airport in Singapore and took in all about 30 hours with a few hours break in Sydney, Australia. On our flight into Sydney we got a brilliant view of Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House. Would have been nice to spend some time here but it’ll have to be saved for a future trip. At Sydney airport we have to do some research on Tripadvisor for a place to stay – we’d emailed some guest houses before departing from Singapore but all came back to us saying they were unfortunately fully booked. One guest house suggested we should contact Hostal Casa Condell so together with a few more places we sent a few enquiries. We didn’t get any replies by the time we boarded the 12 1/2 hour flight from Sydney, and with no free Wi-Fi in the airport in Santiago we couldn’t check whether or not we had any replies – we decide to head for Casa Condell and see what happens. They had good reviews on Tripadvisor and had the most reasonable prices of the places we’d researched. As it turned out we had a few replies, also from our chosen guest house, and we were in luck that they had a room free. Casa Condell is a really really lovely family house that’s recently been opened as a Bed & Breakfast. A lovely family runs the place, and although there were difficulties with the language – as my Spanish is so rusty it’s almost completely disintegrated – we managed to somehow be understood and Adriana and Tatiana looked well after us. After a bit of freshening up we thought we’d have a nap and go out to find some food in the evening. Our plans went to pots as we slightly overslept… We went for a nap at about 14:00 and woke up 07:00 the morning after… I only managed to get one or two hours sleep during our journey from Singapore – it had been about 48 hours since we got up in the morning before our evening flight – so I needed a bit of a kip I suppose. It’s a shame though losing a day of our stay in Santiago, but what can you do?
Still groggy from our “short nap” we venture out to explore a little bit of Santiago. First stop is the statue of the Immaculate Conception on the top of San Cristobal Hill overlooking the whole of the city. The old lift is unfortunately broken but there is a free shuttle-bus that takes us up the hill – it’s a steep climb so we’re happy we don’t have to walk. It seems a lot of people have this route as part of their fitness routine, and all along the way we se people running, cycling and walking up towards the top. Finally on the top we find many sweaty people catching their breath, and we feel slightly bad for being lazy and out of shape…
There are a couple of nice handcraft shops at the top, and Hannah spots a couple of things she’d like to purchase. She asks me to enquire how many Pestos it costs… I try to explain it’s Chilean Pesos and not Chilli and Pesto which is the accepted currency in this country.
After a quick look at the statue and the view of Santiago we head back down to town to find a place for lunch and to visit some museums. We find a little local restaurant where they seem to have reasonably cheap food and order from the menu of the day – we can’t believe our eyes when they bring the food out – the portions are absolutely gigantic and we have big problems finishing it off. It’s really tasty, so we definitely picked the right place to eat.
To our surprise and disappointment all the galleries we’d planned to have a look at, save one, are all closed for refurbishment. It ends up with a lot of walking in the heat of the sun and not much but busy streets to be seen. The sun here seems much stronger than what we’re used to and it makes us tired really quickly. When we finally find the Museo Historico Nacional open we’re so glad to get inside sheltered from the burning sun. It’s a small Museum so it’s fairly quick and easy to look around and it’s got a nice courtyard where you can sit down and relax afterwards.
After the museum we start to move towards our lovely guest house but do a detour to look for the Artisan market. It’s not very big, and it looks quite expensive so it’s a quick browse. The setting is in an old Romanesque mansion next to the Santa Lucía Hill, so I decide to have a climb up to the top of the hill to look at the view, whilst Hannah takes the sensible option of relaxing on a bench in the shade of the trees. The climb takes the breath out of me quite quickly but I’m rewarded with a nice view at the top.
After my decent we head for the closest Metro station but get distracted by a market on the other side of the road from the Artisan one. We find this market much more interesting and actually do a little bit of shopping, but not as much as we would have liked to – it again boils down to the fact we have no space in our backpacks… Afterwards we abandon the idea of taking the Metro and do the healthy option of walking back to the guest house.
Finally back we decide to have a rest before going out for dinner and again end up never going out but taking an very early night and sleeping till the morning – must be the jet-lag from our journey from Singapore…
Next morning we gather our stuff together for checking out, and after breakfast have a look at places to stay at our next destination Valparaiso. We find a few alternatives and send off some messages to inquire about rooms. We leave our bags at the guest house and head over to the bus station to buy tickets for the late afternoon. From there we have a wander over to Barrio Brazil, apparently an up-and-coming area of Santiago. It’s quite a colourful neighbourhood with lots of street art and many cafes and bars scattered around its main square. Not much time to explore the neighbourhood properly we have a coffee and a few beers before it’s time to go over to the guest house to pick up our luggage. At the guest house we have the pleasure of meeting the son of the house Max. He speaks very good English so we have a nice long chat with him before we depart for the bus station. The journey to Valparaiso is just over two hours and the bus is quite comfortable and leaves dead on time – something we’re not used to after the relaxed air of Southeast Asia where they make sure no one is left behind before taking off.