BootsnAll Travel Network


Here we are in Chile. We didn’t get much sleep on the plane but it was a reasonable flight with quite nice food. It was fairly easy getting to the hostel, which is excellent. It is called Las Casa Roja and was obviously a very grand building originally. Now it is teeming with backpackers but the rooms are huge and the facilities are very good, including a swimming pool – all for $11 US per night. We went to bed early as Friday seemed to have lasted for about 48 hours but were fighting fit on Saturday morning for exploring Santiago. It is very hot here – much hotter than NZ. I had forgotten how the heat makes you feel like a limp rag after a few hours. But we went on a walking tour as recommended by the backpackers bible, Lonely Planet. We started by climbing up lots of stone steps to the the top of Cerro San Lucia, a hill with gardens and a fountain and fortifications on the top. There was a good view of Santiago from the top but there is a lot of pollution so it was a bit hazy and the Andes were not very clear in the distance. We strolled through the centre of Santiago and finally ended up in a big plaza where we went into the cathedral which is actually rather plain by Spanish Catholic standards. The highlight of the walk was a museum of Pre – Columbian art. I hadn´t realised how many different cultures there have been in South America (very ignorant really) apart from the Incas, Mayans and Aztecs. The pottery was interesting because a lot of it is anthropomorphic although some of the vessels also had representations of various animals on them as well. There was lot of jewellery, including lots of jade items and some mummies in which the internal organs and bones had been removed and replaced by wood and other plant materials. So I have some more reading to do when we get home to find out more about all these different people. Then Katie tried out her Spanish and got us some lunch in a cafe. After that we walked across town to La Chascona which is one of the houses belonging to Pablo Neruda the Chilean poet who won the Nobel prize. It was a fascinating place. He had the house built in the 50s as a secret home for himself and his mistress and the name of it refers to her unruly hair. He was rather eccentric and obsessed by the sea so it is built in the form of a ship and has lots of nautical fixtures and fittings. He also collected lots of bizarre things from his travels. It was also very sad because he had to go into exile following the military coup and the soldiers burned all his books and diverted a stream through the house so it was ruined. He died shortly after that but his mistress, who was actually his wife by this time, renovated the place and added to it. Her style was rather different so there is 60s style furniture as well. We didn´t know much about Neruda until we went there but they do an excellent guided tour so now we are more clued up although we must read some of his poetry now.
We carried on with our walk and went up a big hill on a funicular railway for more views of Santiago which is huge. More people live there than in the whole of NZ! Unfortunately we were sitting having a drink under a tree when a bird pooped all over my T shirt. We wandered down the hill through some gardens and then walked all the way back to the hostel where we got organised for our trip south on Sunday morning.

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