27h in Santiago de Chile

Written by Donovan June 27, 2013 Category: Chile, South America Comments

early morning flight to Santiago
 

My last country that I visited in South America is Chile. I flew to Santiago from Cuzco via Lima. I wanted to catch the last bus before midnight to the city centre of Santiago, but due to unforeseen circumstances, my plane was stuck on the tarmac for about half an hour, so by the time I collected my luggage and came out of the airport, it was past midnight. I did not want to spend money (25 usd) taking a cab, so I slept at the airport. I took the first bus out of the airport at 6am for $3.50 and then took the subway to Bellas Artes station. I like the Santiago subway system because it is much faster than Buenos Aires and the fees are cheaper than in Brazil. They have 3 different fare types: for normal, peak and low-peak hours. I reached after 6.30am so that was considered normal hours. There were quite a number of people on the train at such an early timing. Usually in such big cities, it is common for people to wake up early so that they can travel from the suburbs to the city centre in order to be in time for work.

metro ticket in Santiago, this is for normal hours
Upon reaching Bellas Artes station, I asked the nearby hostel if I could leave my luggage for the day while I explored Santiago. They refused to accept any responsibility and said that the service was only for clients. I finally found a hotel which allowed me to leave my baggage for the day. I did not need a room because I had to be at the airport at night. The reason for choosing Bellas Artes station was because there was a free walking tour of the city at 10am.
Central market of Santiago
Since I was super early, I decided to explore the surrounding area on my own. It was a bad day to visit Santiago because it was freaking cold and cloudy. I had breakfast from a streetside stall and wandered around the central market. It was already open and the stallholders were displaying the seafood. Here in Chile, seafood is quite affordable and you can get to eat razor clams, abalone, crabs etc for a very reasonable price.Apparently, the Chileans don’t like to eat abalone and it is more for the export market. I think Asians like to eat abalone, judging by the amount of abalone we eat during Chinese New Year.
the Chile flag hung proudly in the market
all sorts of fresh seafood

I was waiting outside the museum with 3 other British girls since 9.30am, but the guide arrived late. Apparently, there was going to be a student demonstration in the capital this afternoon and there was traffic congestion. She told us that the tour which usually lasts 3 hours would be cut short so that we would have enough time to get to somewhere safe and not be caught in the middle of the protests. She brought us to the central market which sold seafood, the wet market which sold fruits and vegetables and the cemetery. The cemetery was really grand like the one in Buenos Aires. I noticed that burials of the dead is an important process in South America and the dead are treated like royalty, apparent from the huge coffins and beautifully decorated graves. I wasn’t very impressed with the tour because it covered few places, not as comprehensive as the one I did in Sao Paulo. Moreover, my friend who had recommended me this said that there would be free drinks at the end of the tour, but the guide skipped that due to the protests. She even had the cheek to tell us that the average tips that people pay is $10, but I was on budget and not that impressed, so only gave her $5.

the largest cemetery in the city with several famous people buried here
I wanted to have seafood for lunch at the market, but my friends wanted to join in the demonstration, so I followed them. It was a bad decision because I missed out on the chance to eat cheap seafood. I didn’t know that the restaurants in the market were only open for lunch and not dinner. So we followed the students in the protests, they were carrying banners and chanting for free education, we walked along the main roads, holding up traffic. There were police by the roadside, but they did not interfere as they did not want to provoke any violence. The demonstration congregated at the main plaza where some people were giving speeches or setting stuff on fire.
student demonstrations in the city, it was not violent but protesters were just setting fires to random stuff
I left shortly to go to San Cristobal because my friend told me that there are nice views of the city from the top of the hill. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy day and after my hike up the hill, I could only see the city covered with fog. There was the Andes mountain in the distance as well with its snowcapped peak and the rest of it was obscured. Alternatively, you could take a funicular up the mountain but you need to pay for it.

hiking up San Cristobal
the view of the Andes, if only the sun was out, it would be nicer

It got dark in Santiago around 5pm. I visited other churches and parks along the way. After I found out that the seafood market was closed for the night, I was really upset. I realised sometimes it is better to break away from the crowd and do whatever you want, instead of sticking with them and you might not enjoy the activities that they do in a group. In the end, I had fish and chips at a cafe. It was horrible because the fish was prefried and the person just put my dish in the microwave to heat it up. The fish was thick with batter and the mashed potatoes were salty too. I had pisco sour at a bar before heading to the airport. Both Chile and Peru have pisco sour as their national drink, but I prefer the one in Chile because of the stronger taste and it is not blended, so there isn’t a layer of foam at the top of the drink. Hereby ends my short stay in Santiago, I didn’t really like this city due to the cold and the bad weather. I did not even have the chance to send out my postcards because the post office was closed so early and I did not buy any souvenirs. My flight back to Buenos Aires was delayed by one hour somemore, what bad luck! Or maybe one day is just too short to discover Santiago and all the bad stuff just had to happen on this day. Maybe I will give Santiago de Chile another chance next time if I’m back in the region.

Etre libre, ce n’est pas seulement se débarrasser de ses chaînes ; c’est vivre d’une façon qui respecte et renforce la liberté des autres.

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