Sunday, 5 July 2009

My First Real Day in Santiago, 16 June 2009

The receptionist guy in my hostel told me that you could take the subway to the city centre, but I decided that it didn´t look so far to walk and I started making my way into the city.

The first thing I noticed were the dogs. Loads of them. All dirty, horrible, mangey, stray dogs. I didn´t like it one bit. And I walked fast and tried not to let on that I was terrified. I was still getting flashbacks of the big dog that chased me when I was in Vietnam.

My heart wasn´t stolen immediately by Santiago. It was quite a dreary city, and this wasn´t aided by the grey and cold weather.

I wandered and I wandered around the streets of Santiago taking in all the old buildings which weren´t particularly special. I came across the Cathedral in the Plaza de Armas which was really beautiful inside.

Other than the woolly hats that were being sold on every street corner, nothing was grabbing me in Santiago. As I wandered around further I decided that I really wouldn´t be staying here for long.

I made my way to Cerro Santa Lucia, a small hill that the receptionist had recommended I should visit. I made my way up the top to the small little fort. The views from the top were pretty cool, but from here you could see another hill with a statue of the Virgin Mary at the top, this hill was going to have even better views.

At the top of the Cerro Santa Lucia I met two guys who were also travelling around South America, and Ozzie and an American (pro-BMXer). The three of us decided to walk over to the other hill to check out the views from the top there.

It was nice to have some company for the first time since I arrived. They were both cool guys and we had a nice chilled out walk over to the Cerro San Cristobal.

We got to the foot of the hill and discovered a Funiculair. It was cheap as chips to ride the funiculair but we decided to walk up so that we would appreciate the view at the top more.

The walk was good, a little steep in parts, but still really cool. And seriosuly, walking up the hill was well worth it, the views were incredible.

From the top you could see the massive sprawl of Santiago, admittedly, it was still not a pretty city, but what made this view complete were the mountains, the Andes mountains that fenced in the city of Santiago.

It was a clear day (except for a thin line of smog) and it was simply stunning to see such urban sprawl, and then the spectacular Andes range.

We spent quite a while enjoying the views from the top of the hill standing next to the Virgin Mary. We all headed down together and were guided by a dog on the way down. This dog was nicer than some of the others that I had seen so far, but I certainly didn´t want to get too close to it. Like the dogs in India and Asia, these dogs jsut reaked of rabies!

By the time we were down the hill it was about 5pm and I decided to head back to my hostel to cook some dinner, get warm and go to bed again (I was so tired!).

When I got back I was so relieved to discover a big warm heater in the lounge at my hostel and sat there getting warm for a while.

I had had a good day in Santiago, but I didn´t love the place one bit. I wanted to be away as soon as I could, so I decided to sit with my Lonely Planet and do some route planning.

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