Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Santiago 2

I have a theory about the fountains in any large city: if the fountains are operating and clean, the city's infrastructure is probably functioning quite well. Santiago's fountains are operating and are clean; the only fountain that was not working had a prominently displayed sign giving the dates of its closure for renovation. So from our point of view things seem to be working well in Stgo.
The best way to get a quick view of any new city is to take a bus tour. We have done this in Buenos Aires, LIma, and now, Santiago. TURISTIK does this in Santiago with red double-decker hop on/hop off buses that take about two hours to cover the mapped route. After looping around the historic Centro, it heads east to the upscale neighborhoods of Providencia and Las Condes. HIgh rise glass towers mark these areas as the new business and residential center (some call it Sanhattan) of greater Santiago. The tour was well narrated in Spanish and English; we enjoyed it very much.
Shades of India

Street Art in Barrio Bellavista
Two days later we did the walking tour of the Centro (outlined in our guide book), most of which we had seen from the bus but now could more thoroughly explore. It was Sunday morning and we stopped at the Catedral Metropolitana to listen to the mass and explore some of the chapels. Later, as we walked through the large plazas and saw the clean fountains, we had a more intimate feel for the city. Near the end of the walk, we came to Cerro Santa Lucia, signed in with the nice lady at the entrance, and climbed to the top via pathways and steep stone steps to a birdseye view of downtown. After a couple of hours on our feet, we just had to plop down at the first sidewalk cafe and have our juice, coffee, and media lunas!
Architectural Contrast

Catedral Door

There are a Lot of Stray Dogs in Santiago
Sculpture Along the Alameda
The Rich/The Poor
Fountain at the Base of Cerro Santa Lucia
Yesterday, we ponied up a bit more cash to TURISTIK and took a day tour to the Pacific Coast to visit the deep water port of Valparaiso and the Garden City of Vina del Mar. Valparaiso is the legislative seat of the Chilean government located about 80 miles northwest of Santiago. The city is built on 42 hills that radiate from the port area making it difficult to get around on foot. It is said that the women of Valparaiso have the most beautiful calves of all the women in Chile! We would to like to spend more time in this sprawling UNESCO World Heritage site; that may be next winter as it has been added to the growing list of places to see south of the equator.
Chilean Naval Headquarters in Valparaiso
A Building Within a Building!
By law the old building cannot be demolished, so after an earthquake the new building was built inside the walls of the old. This is adjacent to Plaza Sotomayer, the main square in downtown Valpo.

Harbor in Valpo

Flower Clock in Vina del Mar

A moai from Easter Island at the Museo de Arqueologia e Historia Francisco Fonck in Vina del Mar. He looks lonely and quite out of place!

It's a BIG door into the Apartment Building!

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