Out And About In Santiago

23rd Nov. 2016

It had to be done!After yesterday’s guided walking tour, we opt for the self-guided version today – after all, we now have a total of 3 days experience in the city (over the last 4 years) and we think we know what we do and don’t want to see. First up is the Museo Bellas Artes, which is high up Trip Advisors list of things to do in Santiago and there is a Caravaggio exhibition on. Entry is free, but the snag is that we need to put our daypacks in lockers which require a 100 peso coin to operate them – and I left all my change in my other trousers. We leave saying that we’ll come back later and do it then – because we’re bound to have energy to spare after a day walking round the city!!!!

It's great but we've no idea what it is about!Whilst we do have a vague plan as to where we are going to go, it keeps changing as we get distracted by other sights. A good case is point is that we spot a statue in the nearby Parque Forestal which when we go to investigate we then see other (bigger) statues in the distance that also demand investigation and next thing we know we’ve walked a couple of metro stops in the opposite direction to that which we had intended. Still the statue was quite impressive (and we can take the metro back into the city centre).

Chess in the Plaza de ArmasYesterday, when we got to the Palacio de la Moneda, the whole square was cordoned off for the visit (we think) of President Xi Jinping of China. The barriers have gone today and we are able to have a wander round the square and take some of the pictures that we missed yesterday before wandering up to the Plaza de Armas for a third attempt to capture the feel of the square and the cathedral. Perhaps the rows of chess boards set out for people to play was a good contrast to the hustle and bustle of the rest of the square.

Like my new car, it came from Marshalls in CambridgeOn one side of the plaza is the Museo Historico Nacional, which I confuse with the Natural History Museum and suggest we go in (well at least it is free). Not only did I misunderstand the purpose of the museum but we also end up going around it backwards starting with Pinochet’s coup to depose Salvador Allende and then working back through the industrial years and independence struggle (O’Higgins again) through the colonial era through to the pre-Columbian culture. We didn’t particularly learn anything new (though we do like the way that people are open about what happened under Pinochet). For us, the highlight was an old steam powered tractor that was made by Marshalls in Cambridge (and from whom I’m getting my new car in a couple of weeks)!

Underground street artWe’re enjoying being able to head back to the apartment for our lunch – it’s so much easier than having to make a decision as to which café we want to sit down and eat at. But there is more to do in the afternoon and so we head out again. We’ve learned that there is a railway museum in Santiago, by the Natural History Museum (not making that mistake again!) in a park out near the bus terminal we’ll use tomorrow and the Museum of Remembrance and Human Rights that made a big impression on us last time in Santiago. If that isn’t a good agenda for the afternoon, I don’t know what is! As a bonus, the metro station that we choose has the walls painted in glorious murals.

At the railway museumAs we get to the Estacion Central, it brings back memories of our previous visit to Santiago and we walk up to the grassy expanse of Parque Quinta Normal where the museums are situated. Its a big area and the railway museum (being the priority) is tucked away in one corner. The entrance fee is about £1 so we feel that we can afford it. Strangely, it is pretty quiet inside and the only other visitors are 3 or 4 mothers or fathers with their little boys in tow (Janet is in a very similar position, then!). There is just something about boys and steam engines – but it is a little sad just to have these magnificent machines sat outside, quietly rusting away.

Having a whale of a time in the Natural History museumThe Natural History Museum is not far away and has to be done. It is not on anything like the scale of its namesake in London – but it did have a whale skeleton as the centrepiece in the entrance hall. The theme of the exhibits was the natural history of Chile and the displays broadly went from north to south down through the country explaining differing climates, geography and wildlife to be found in each region. Between our two visits to the country, we think that we’ve done a pretty good job of experiencing almost all of the variety that Chile has to offer. For us, the pictures and the exhibits were an opportunity to reminisce about our highlights from this extraordinarily varied country. (My favourites are at the extreme ends of the country – the altiplano in the far north and Patagonia over 2,500 miles south).

The sun sets on our time in ChileAfter all of the different types of cuisine we’ve had in Chile, from the sausages, chips & beer in Schopdogg  on our first evening in Arica, through some strange national dishes (mostly involving fried or boiled egg and chips), through to the ubiquitous empanadas. In Santiago, we’ve eaten Indian, Chinese and now French in our three evenings here. We’ve been in Chile for exactly a month and have loved pretty much every minute of it. As we get back to the apartment block, the sun is setting and so we head up to the top floor where there is a viewing walkway and we take the final photographs of our time in Chile.

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One Response to Out And About In Santiago

  1. Clive Polley says:

    Great blog, you two really have the south American bug.

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