Friday, October 28, 2011

Santiago City Tour – Part 1

On Saturday I played tourist here in Santiago. Since I’m still getting familiar with the city – and because the city is really big – I decided to take one of those bus tours where you can hop on and off all day long at the various stops. It was a great way to see the city without having to worry about being ripped off by a cab. And yes, I did go by myself because all of the other Fluor gringos here have already done the tourist thing and I want to take advantage of my time here and see as much as I can. Plus, I’m scoping out activities for Zack to do while he’s here since I’ll have to work 4 days during his stay.

The first stop that I got off at was at Cerro San Cristobal (St. Christopher Hill). This is a hill in the city that is the second highest point in Santiago. There is a zoo half-way up, and you can either hike to the top or take the “funicular” (tram-type vehicle). I opted for the funicular since I wanted to maximize my time on the bus route. The top of San Cristobal hill offers great views of the city (and associated smog), and there is a huge statue of the Virgin Mary on the top. There is also a chapel on the top of the hill and of course plenty of touristy souvenirs for sale.

On the funicular, ready to ascend to the top!

Check out the nasty smog in the distance...that is the worst part about being in Santiago

After Cerro San Cristobal, I stopped at Plaza de Armas. This area is kind of like the city center, and it is always packed with both locals and tourists. The square is filled with artists, comedians, preachers, old men playing chess (seriously), and on Saturday there were tons of Caribineros (Chilean police) and each had their own German Shepherd. I got some pictures because the dogs were just so awesome.

There’s a 18th century chapel in Plaza de Armas which is open to the public. I think there’s a good bit more history about this area, but I haven’t learned it yet. Although you get a really local feel in Plaza de Armas and you can get some of the good local food, I really don’t like the area all that much. It is crowded, feels dirty, and you need to be aware of your surroundings all the time because pick-pockets and scams are rampant (maybe that’s why there were so many police?). Especially someone like me who looks so different from everyone else here, I did not feel totally at ease in this area. (My light skin, blonde hair, and the fact that I am a foot taller than everyone here makes it 100% obvious that I am a foreigner.) Nonetheless, it is a pretty interesting area and is known as the heart of Santiago.

Artists everywhere!

The Metropolitan Cathedral - construction began in 1748 and it was completed in 1800. There were cathedrals in this location prior to the existing buildng, however they were all destroyed in earthquakes.

I think the dog on the right looks like Sadie!!!!

I’ve got a lot to document about last Saturday in Santiago, but I think I’ll stop here and do a separate post to cover the rest of the day. Thanks to everyone who follows my blog – hopefully you’re finding it interesting!


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