Thursday, 29 November 2012

Weekend in Santiago - Friday/Saturday

Crossing the Andes into Santiago
Last weekend was a long holiday weekend, so John and I decided to take a quick getaway to Santiago Chile. Santiago is only a ninety minute flight from Cordoba and we were able to get a sweet deal on flight and hotel through Expedia. We arrived in Santiago on Friday evening, quickly checked into the Plaza El Bosque Hotel and found that we had a suite with a little kitchenette, dining table, couch, chairs and separate bedroom.  It was located in a beautiful and very clean neighbourhood with lots of excellent restaurants, so after a walk through the parks along the Rio Mapocho we wandered over to restaurant row on Av. Isadora Goyenchea for the first of many wonderful meals that weekend.

Beautiful flowering trees;     Sunset over Santiago

On Saturday morning we took the free city map that John found at the airport and headed out for our self-guided walking tour of Santiago.  First stop was Cerro San Cristobal, the city’s second highest hill.  We wanted to ride the funicular up to the top of the hill but it was closed for repairs.  Luckily there was a free shuttle bus which wound its way up the mountain.  During the ride we were serenaded on board the minibus by a mediocre guitar player/singer who then passed the hat when we reached the summit. At the top we enjoyed the somewhat smoggy view of downtown Santiago from Terraza Bellavista, walked up to see the statue of the Virgen de la Immaculada Concepcion, and wandered around the souvenir shops.  It was hot so we stopped at the refreshment stand for a mote con huesillas which is a very odd looking Chilean concoction of peaches, wheat, and juice that is surprisingly refreshing and delicious.

Smoggy Santiago

Walking through the beautiful parks;       Six foot tall geraniums!

When it was time to head back down again, John suggested we hike back down but I stalled until the bus arrived and we rode back down to the base of the hill in air conditioned comfort, once again serenaded by the same guitar player.  Once we arrived in Barrio Bellavista I convinced John to take the tour of La Chascona, one of the famous poet Pablo Neruda’s residences.  He built the house a bit at a time and it was full of quirky little rooms and odd collectibles.  His house was ransacked right after the military coup in 1973; some of his things were never recovered and his entire library was taken out to the street and burned, but they have brought things from his other homes in Chile to refurnish this one. I thought it was very romantic that he created two designs for the house – one to look like La Chascona (the tangle-haired woman), his wife Matilde and the other a combination of their initials P and M.  We were only allowed to take photos outside and when I asked John to take a photo of the two designs, he looked at me like I was a bit off my rocker, but took it anyway.  I think John was more interested in Neruda the diplomat than Neruda the artist and poet.
(Admission price to La Chascona was $3500CH pesos which is about $7 Canadian).

Street art outside Neruda's home

After a quick visit to The Museo de Belles Artes (admission by donation) we made a quick stop at a cafe for a late lunch where John had a delicious tortilla and I had the world’s worst pizza.  Then we were off again to Plaza de la Constitucion and Palacio de la Moneda, which is the Presidential palace and the site of the dramatic siege that brought Gen. Pinochet to power in 1973.  According to a magazine that I had read on the airplane, there was an art gallery, The Centro Palacio Cultural Palacio la Moneda, with a display of some of Peggy Guggenheim’s collection including works by Picasso, Jackson Pollack and Kandinsky.  In the article, it said that the entrances to the art gallery were at the far right and left hand side of the building.  After a bit of wandering and no sign of any door, we decided we must be at the wrong side of the building and walked an entire block to the other side.  Sure enough, we found the entrance and went in to enjoy the exhibit.  We skipped the rest of the art gallery and only went to the Guggenheim show as we were getting weary, especially me!  By this time we were so far from the hotel we decided to take a taxi back ‘home’ and then found a lovely cafĂ© where we could have a snack and a glass of wine. 

Art installation called 'Out of Sync' in front of La Moneda

Finally sitting down for a beverage and a snack after a long day's walk

After a long nap it was time for another fantastic dinner with a pisco sour as our pre-dinner aperitif. Both Chile and Peru claim credit for the pisco sour, which is a mix of pisco (brandy), lime juice, bitters, simple syrup and egg white.   It was a refreshingly tart drink and the perfect end to a great day.
Admission to the Art Gallery was $5000CH pesos each, about $10 Canadian; taxi ride across the city was $4000CH, about $8 Canadian) 


1 comment:

Thanks for posting on my blog!