On the 1st leg of our South America trip, we fly into Santiago in Chile.
I’ve lead with this iconic statue of a man on a horse.
In this case, its Pedro de Valdivia, the founded the city of Santiago.
Our flight had taken 14 hours. A seat with extra leg room, was £60 extra, which I honestly consider the best investment I’ve ever made in air travel.
It’s easy on a trip to upgrade things and add on luxury’s here and there. The problem is, on a trip with so many moving parts, its easy for costs to rise and get out of hand.
So instead of a taxi from the airport, we got a bus (after 14 hours flying !).
I always love how a disaster can turn into an opportunity. Turned out, we got off the bus about a mile and a half before our correct stop.
That enabled us to walk down Bernardo O’higgins street and really get a feel for the place (and the weather was fantastic).
One we checked into our hotel and got cleaned up, we headed out to explore.
Santiago de Compostela cathedral is right in the centre of the city near Plaza de Armas square.
Inside, its quite spectacular (if only churches were my thing).
Plaza De Armas square with its palm trees.
Wandering around the square, this classic image of 2 people playing chess outdoors.
There had been some unrest (although we found the place to be very safe and we were comfortable the whole time).
That being said, if this is the best they’ve got in crowd control, its just as well there aren’t a lot of demonstrations.
In the UK, this would be in a museum.
More wandering around the streets, we stop for coffee and get some replacement sims for our mobile phones.
A few of the classic sites.
The Municipal Theatre. I wish we’d had longer in Santiago so that we could have watched a show there.
The Bibleotaca public library.
One of the iconic rows of buildings with a more modern structure in the background.
La Moneda Palace.
The former presidential palace where the infamous General Pinochet resided.
It’s here, that the incumbent president Salvadore Allende killed himself on September the 11th, 1973 as General Pinochet took over ruling the country.
He committed suicide so he could not be coerced into backing Pinochet.
Entering from the side, there is an amazing area underneath the palace.
It has a superb coffee shop and lots of interesting things about Chile.
Including this archaeological museum.
We head back to our hotel and enjoy an evening of good food and wine.
With Santiago being so close to the Andes we didn’t want to miss out.
We had arranged a tour and were delighted when our driver and guide arrived at our hotel, and we were the only guests (so a private tour for the price of a public tour).
Our guide is from Chile and since her father is American, her English was superb.
Our first stop on the tour is to a winery and our first look at the Andes mountains.
The San Esteban vinyard shop.
Inside we were supposed to have a wine tasting but as there were only 2 of us, it wasn’t worth them running one.
Disappointing, but Instead they gave us the 2 bottles of red wine to take away (more of which later).
We head up the hill to relax and enjoy the view. Lots facinating plant life here and several walking trails, like so often I wish there was more time.
Our tour included complimentary Empanadas and the idea was to eat them on this beautiful hillside spot washed down with Chilean wine (unfortunately, we had no glasses, so couldn’t drink the wine, but everything else was perfect.)
We were shown various Petroglyphs, drawings in stone by the Aconcagua people in the rocks nearby.
They have all been scientifically catalogued and most are at least 10,000 years old.
Now were off to the high Andes.
We drive along the highway connecting Chile and Argentina and stop near the top for a photo opportunity.
It features 29 bends and is nicknamed the snail by the locals.
We arrive at Hotel Portillo – In winter its a ski resort (the oldest one in South America).
The staff lend us some glasses and were able to wander around outside with spectacular views of the Torres del Payne national park.
After this, we sit down for lunch. In my case, its a delicious steak, and were already into our 2nd bottle.
As usual I offered to buy lunch for our guide and driver, but they declined.
The view outside through the window, The Portillo Inca Lagoon. An image that will stay with me to the end of my days.
We head home. The guide and myself both drift off to sleep. The end of another fantastic day, and were only 3 days into our 3 week trip.
Our last day in Santiago and we’ve got a couple of hours free.
We wander around and see this colourful street.
Our target for the morning is Santa Lucia hill.
The fountain in Patio Circular.
We walk up the hill (230 steps), there are forts and ramparts throughout.
An arcade road at the top has shops and nice places to sit.
We have an ice cream and then head back down the hill.
But it’s not all fun.
After this, we get the bus back to the airport.
Our room was clean, the food was nice, but no matter what they do, airport hotels are normaly quite dull (see the view out of our bedroom windows !).
Next day, we fly to Easter Island.