Posted by: glenswatman | December 11, 2009

20091201-10 CHILE


2009 –
Gabriel has left by the time we get up but Juan Carlos is home
and prepares us breakfast.  He goes out
with the girls who have visited Santiago to do their Christmas shopping.   We
leave late morning and walk to the city centre where there is a nice main
square with the old cathedral surrounded by modern office blocks.  The nearby market is famous as the roof structure
was made in Birmingham, England last century then shipped here and
assembled.  Inside the market there are
restaurants all round the edge with way too many people trying to persuade you
to visit theirs.  We order from the
special menu as you get your main course plus soup and an after dinner
drink.  First they bring the main
courses, Steve enjoys a local seafood speciality Paila Marina whilst I have
fish.  Next they bring our bill but we
explain that we have not had our soup. 
After the soup they try again with the bill and we have to ask for the free
after dinner drinks before paying it. 
Across the river is a fruit and vegetable market with low prices so we
buy some cherries and a fresh fruit juice. 
We stroll through the riverside park then head to “Cerro Santa Lucia” in
the centre of the city for nice views. 
It is a strange hill with lots of walkways and terraces and really
interesting.  On the way back we detour
to the streets called “Londres” and Paris where there are some nice buildings.  Taking our first journey on the underground,
CP$400 (50p) we do quite well once we have changed direction from going the
wrong way!   At Parque Quinta Normal the
Natural History museum has free admission and passes an hour.  The boating lake is funny as loads of people
are swimming in the murky water in spite of the “no swimming” signs.  We take a large bottle of wine back to the
flat to help celebrate Juan Carlos’s birthday. 
This goes down well with the cream cake the Gabriel has bought.  The girls join in the celebration before
leaving to catch the bus to Antofagasta, 19-hours.   Juan
Carlos then serves us some filled courgettes that he has cooked and they are really
tasty.  Gabriel & Juan Carlos are
very friends hosts but we wrote to 3 Couchsurfers in Santiago and all invited
us so tomorrow we will move on to another couple and spread ourselves around.



We take the subway across the city to an area known as Los Condes.  As we emerge from the subway Steve is
approached by a man.  It is Pablo our
host who is heading home for dinner and to meet us.  At their modern apartment we are introduced
to his wife Sol and their dog Pappo. 
After a cooked lunch Pablo returns to work and I go to the shopping
centre with Sol.  She needs to buy an
airbed for us and some blinds for the window. 
We are their first Couchsurfers and she is very excited about having us
to stay.  In the evening they are out to
a friend’s birthday meal (amazingly don’t set out until after 9pm) so we are
home alone.  Think it is around midnight
when they arrive back.



A combination of things mean we have little sleep.  At the junction with the city ring road the
traffic is noisy all night.  The air bed
is not pumped up enough and we keep bouncing around.  With no blinds at the window it is very light
and then to cap it all we get a helicopter search nearby with it flying round
in ever increasing circles with a huge flood light – welcome to the city.  Join Sol and Pablo for breakfast after which
Pablo heads to work (he has his own company) and Sol to college.  The maid is in today so we can come and go as
we please.  A few blocks away we visit
the supermarket for drinks and groceries. 
In the afternoon we enjoy sitting out by the swimming pool, almost feels
like an apartment type holiday.  In the
evening Sol and Pablo go out to play tennis. 
Pablo is keen for Steve to put the blinds up in our room as he is no
handyman so whilst they are out Steve gets them up.  We get an E-mail to say Natasha has had an accident;
she tripped over her friend’s foot in the playground and has a scaphoid
fracture to her wrist.  Sadly she is
going to miss some important swimming galas but also Claire has to cancel her
planned birthday swimming party that should have been on Saturday.  Around 9.30pm we have our evening meal.  Sol has cooked a nice joint of pork and I
have done fried potato cubes and a kind of ratatouille to go with it.  Finding it hard eating so late at night but
as they say – when in Rome… 



With the airbed pumped firmer, black out blinds at the window and ear
plugs I manage a better sleep.  We head
into the city and catch the changing of the guard at the Palace.  It is surprisingly good with a band marching
the new soldiers down the street to the parade ground.  It is really good music and almost sound like
a circus parade.  The changing of the
guard is done with great precision and lasts almost half an hour.  At Brazil Park we cannot understand the
barriers and crowds then realise it is a funeral.  No ordinary funeral but that of the famous
Chilean guitarist Victor Jara who was murdered in 1973 during Pinochet’s
regime.  His body was recently found amongst
others and it has taken until now to confirm which one was his.  He was tortured and shot more than 40
times.  Now they are holding a funeral
come memorial service so we join the queue to file past and time our visit to
fit in with that of the President of Chile, Michelle, and Victors widow Joan
Turner from Britain.  Next we head to the
sculpture park north of the river.  In
the park nearby there is a kind of outdoor gym with lots of workout equipment
which we have brief go on.  It is a
cloudy afternoon so we use the time to do some Internet tour planning.   Sol & Pablo are from Argentina so we get
lots of information from them also.  In
the evening they go out to visit friends.



Sol & Pablo have suggested a ride out to the coast.  We want to have a few days there so take our
baggage along.  It takes just over 1-hour
on toll roads to reach the coast.  At
Isla Negra we visit the home of Chile’s famous poet Pablo Neruda, $3600 (£4.50)
for a guided tour in English.  He has 3
homes but this was his favourite and houses his largest collections.  Loving the ocean many of the rooms have a
nautical sea and the lounge with lots of figureheads is amazing.  Further north along the coast at Algarrobo we
enjoy a fish dinner sat out behind the beach. 
At the far end of the bay is a hotel with the largest swimming pool in the
world.  The accommodation in Algarrobo is
either full or expensive so we back track to nearby El Quisco.  There we have many choices and settle on Galligo
2 with pleasant motel style rooms at CP$13,000 (£17).  The only rooms available are near the road
but the owner says we can change to one at the back tomorrow.  We all take a walk the couple of blocks to
the waterfront.  At this end of town
there are many granite rocks creating small beaches and it is very attractive.  Sol & Pablo head back to the city whilst
we enjoy a quiet evening watching movies on TV. 
We are surprised just how cold it is a night but at least it is quieter
than in the city.


CP$13,000 (£17)


It is a cold an misty morning so we wrap up for a walk along the
coast towards the town centre.  There are
loads of houses for sale but most need a lot of TLC.  On the town beach many families are braving
the cold.  Walking back along the main
road we pass a school building advertising a “grand fish fry”.  Today they are serving fish and
accompaniments at CP1, 300 (£1.70).  It
is the same fish as yesterday but less than half the price and comes with rice,
salad, bread and salsa.  By mid afternoon
it is still cold and windy so we settle back into our new room at the back.  When we settle down to sleep we realise the
bed base has collapsed and the mattress has sunk in the middle so it is not at
all comfortable.



We are woken by the sun streaming in through the window.  Love the room but not the bed and explain
this to the friendly owner who says we can move, again.  With a clear blue sky it looks like being a
nice day.  Catch a bus, CP500 (£65p)  to the last town on this stretch of coast,
San Antonio, a large fishing port with an interesting fish market and long
promenade.  Steve tries the local seafood
pasty and I snack on “churros”, a Spanish style doughnut in long fingers.  We eat at a small shack on the waterfront so
are quite surprised that the owner speaks good English.  Many times in Chile we are surprised to be
confronted by older people speaking English, probably more so than the younger
ones who we would expect it from.  Return
at lunch time then spend the afternoon on El Quisco beach.  OK so now we are at the back of the building
and have a comfy bed, fingers crossed nothing can spoil our nights sleep. 



Today we head north up the cost to Algarrobo, CP$300 (38p).  At the far end is the hotel San Alfonso del
Mar with the largest swimming pool in the world, over 1km long.  We walk around the bay and through the
village just taking in the scene.  Today
is a public holiday so the beach is crowded with people.  We prefer to return and go to the quieter
area of El Quisco beach.



Catch the Tur Bus back to Santiago, CP2800 (£3.50).  Taking the metro to the end of the line we
then pick up a taxi to Las Condes shopping mall area, CP3200 (£4).  Couchsurfing hosts Mark & Di live in an
apartment block behind the centre.  Mark
is from Liverpool and Di is an Aussie so we are assured of a good time.  We begin with champagne out on the
terrace.  There’s a shopping centre next
door so I nip round in the afternoon to pick up some beers, essential for Steve
& Mark to watch the Liverpool game. 
Di has 3 pet ferrets, 2 of which are known to bite your toes so I get
pretty good at sitting in the chair with my legs crossed.  We spend ages chatting and drinking wine to
the extent that it is 10.30pm before we eat. 
Well worth the wait as Mark cooks a delicious roast beef dinner complete
with Yorkshire puddings.



Di & Mark work from home on their computers.  I go to the shopping centre to buy some new
clothes for the cruise, travelling light I have almost worn out some of the
tops I brought with me.  In the afternoon
we enjoy a couple of hours on the sun loungers by the pool.  For our evening meal I cook us a chilli pasta
and we spend the rest of the evening watching “you tube” clips and photographs.




  1. I love my chance to be an "armchair traveller" with your blog entries, Glen.

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