"Funiculì, Funiculà" -- All day Saturday, 12/28/14

   Remember that famous Neapolitan song ?  Wait, that's close, but ... let's make that Funicular!

We don't have the street configuration down pat yet, but everything is so close -- within walking distance, really -- which is so great.  Yesterday I posted about Cerro Santa Lucia.  Today we aimed for the Funicular to take us to the top of Cerro San Cristobal and Santuario de la Immaculada Concepcion.  Along the way, we strolled thru Parque Forestal (a wonderful greenbelt park, aptly named) that borders muddy Mapocho River (which flows from the Andes and divides Santiago in half).  And I felt so much better today!

When we crossed the Mapocho, we entered Barrio Bellavista, a cool bohemian neighborhood famed for its restaurants, pubs, theaters, craftsmen's workshops and galleries.  Many intellectuals and artists live in Bellavista, following the footsteps of its most famous denizen, Pablo Neruda.  In the evening Bellavista pulses to the beat of music pouring from its discos and bars.  On weekends, an evening handicrafts market runs the length of Pio Nono (where we crossed the river).  In other words, a fun neighborhood.  Lots of people milled around, crowding the narrow streets, Latino music boomed, brassy murals decorated old bldgs, and we walked, enjoying the activity, till we found the Funicular. 

Ready to ride!  We bought one-way tickets to the top.

One of the large murals painted on the side of a restaurant.

 All aboard for the trip to the summit. 

If you look closely, at the top you can see cars descending as we begin our upward trip.  The funicular dates from 1925 and has been declared a Nat'l Monument.  It's a must-see attraction for tourists and locals alike, and it was crowded today (weekend).  The Funicular runs for almost 500 meters (1/3 mile) on a 45 degree incline, which is very steep!  Fantastic city views!

One view from Cerro San Cristobal, 984 ft above the city. 

File:San Cristóbal altura.jpg

A Wikipedia view looking up at San Cristobal Hill.  (keep this picture in mind)

Here we are at the top.  But this photo doesn't show the crowd!  The huge 1,780 acre Metropolitan Park is full of trails, a zoo, swimming pools, botanical gardens, and the Statue.  On its summit is a sanctuary dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, with a 22-meter statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, an amphitheater and a chapel.

 The crown is the Virgin Mary statue, and it can be seen from virtually anywhere in the city.

 Inside the Sanctuary of the Immaculada Concepcion.

My capture of the statue from a sanctuary window.

 So, we decided to walk a trail back down to the city, but the signboard - in Spanish - to the trailhead was confusing.  We set off, down that hill  (remember the photo above?), stopping at this scenic overlook.  The number of bicyclists crawling up this hill and cyclists flying down the hill amazed us. Walkers, too.  What we didn't know is:  We were on the wrong path   . Long story short (but not the hike!!), we went considerably out of our way and ended up with a six-to-eight mile on-yer-feet hike today!

However, if you look closely at this picture and the one above, you can faintly make out snow on the Andes, to the left of middle.  Another Los Angeles, CA, similarity is summertime smog.  Santiago's AQ was poor.  We understand that winter in Santiago affords clear and magnificent snow-covered Andean views.  The construction of the sleek, TALL blue-glass bldg on the right is almost complete.

We eventually made our way back to the river (a lifeline to find our way home) and the Parque Forestal.  Chileans make graffiti an art form.  This beauty, about three times the length of the car above it, graces the side of the cemented-in Mapocho River.

What a great city to be in!

The day being hot, 90ish, half the city seemed to be outside, lounging in the shade of mature sycamore or pepper trees or playing in one of the many fountains we encountered on our way, like the fountain above. 

Well, it was a long day, a very long walk, but it was a good day.  I am so grateful that I can walk these distances without that danged plantar fasciitis pain that plagued me most of last year.  Near our apartment, we stopped at a cafe for dinner and learned what the word bebida meant:  What do you want to drink!?

Another great feature of our location is a grocery store - Lider Express Merced - ten paces to the right of our Merced entrance. Truly, out one door, in the other. It was always crowded, but we made do each time we stopped in. We nearly fell over when we spied Great Value items on shelves and, lo and behold, if Wal-Mart wasn't listed on the label. I guess they really are everywhere in the world.

We were tired, oh sure, but we surely enjoyed our day!

1 comment:

  1. WELL Now! I've been wondering what the heck a funicular is, and now I know! Reminds me of Disneyland.... :) love from your seestah!


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