Welcome to the Big City: Santiago, Chile -- Dec 27th, 2013

We picked up our maletas (luggage) at baggage claim and hailed a TransVip van to take us to the apartment we'd booked online a couple of months previously:  Spazio Apartments Bellas Artes in Santiago. We were pleased that the apartment interior looked like the pictures shown online.  Up on the seventh floor, our place had plenty of room to ramble around, with a loft bedroom.  We were also happy to note that our location is smack dab in the middle of downtown Santiago, within walking distance to restaurants and much of what we wanted to see.  Feets don't fail me now!  That's what my sister, Nannie, and I used to chant when we were running road races.  We don't run anymore, none of us, inc Jimmy, but he and I sure spend a lot of time tramping the streets and trails!

Santiago, aka Santiago de Chile, is the capital of Chile.  At over six million people in the metropolitan area, I'd classify it as a BIG Town. With an elevation of 1,700 ft, Santiago lies in a valley between a coastal range and the mighty Andes, and I saw a huge similarity to my old stompin' grounds of Los Angeles, California. Santiago and LA share nearly the same latitude, south and north, both have hot, dry summers with minuscule annual rainfall (14" if they're lucky).  Many trees and plants looked familiar, which is nice.

So if we were freezing yesterday, don't worry... tomorrow we'll be sweating!

On our first full day in Santiago, we hit the streets, armed with a small city map from the concierge, basically on an EXplore.  We had a vague idea that we wanted to see the Plaza de Armas, and an even vaguer idea how to get there.  Our apartment had two entrances -- one on Huerfanos and one on Merced.  The first thing we saw when we left from Merced was the splendid Basilica de la Merced.  Constructed in 1795, in Neo-Renaissance architecture, it's a Chilean Nat'l Monument.  These houses of worship we've seen in South America are not easy to describe -- their splendor is simply breathtaking.  Our pictures can't do them justice.

Beautiful details.

Next, we found ourselves on Cerro Santa Lucia  - a hill one block away in the other direction - with a 2.5 square mile park, adorned with ornate facades, stairways and fountains.  We couldn't see it all today; we'd come back.  It's a great park in the middle of town.

File:Cerro Santa Lucía desde el Cerro San Cristóbal.jpg

Santa Lucia Hill covered in trees, viewed from San Cristobal Hill.
And our bldg is right behind that hill (which bldg?).  Cool beans!
(photo from Wikipedia)

Red arrow points to where we're staying.  Workers were painting the bldg with the blue drape.
We saw the finished product, and it looked terrific!

Part of Santa Lucia Hill.  Wow!

Baaaaa -- One of two large urns!

We had to hike up a ton o' stairs to get here.  It was worth it, tho the temp was 90 degrees!

We entered the massive and beautiful National Library (Biblioteca) looking for a baño.
There wasn't one.  Nor was there a drinking fountain.

Sculptures and ornate fixtures seem to be everywhere in Santiago.
Hard to NOT look like a tourist with a map in your hand and gawking at everything!

A decorative, but modest nativity scene in (yet) another cathedral, with cheerful twinkling lights.

In the Plaza de Armas.

Carabinieri on horseback.  

Face it.  We were lost.  Thirsty, hot, and in need of a baño.  We'd been Out and About on our feet for hours!  We could not navigate with the map.  Left looked right, but north was south, or something like that.  I was still feeling puny.  And then an angel appeared in the guise of a Chilean tour guide, who looked at us standing against a building and discussing the map, and said - IN ENGLISH - "Can I help you?"  He pointed us in the right direction and we made it home in one piece.  We crashed.  

Tomorrow we'll be ready for a new day!


  1. love your blog, you always 'splain it all so well! love from your seester

  2. You almost wish we had decided to go ahead with plans to explore Chile instead of continuing on with the ship to Buenos Aires after we finish the first leg in Valparaiso ... but we plan to return to Chile at a later time. Lovely apartment? Would you mind telling me which booking site you used ... we're looking at both VRBO and Airbnb for a rental in Ushuaia.

    1. We used Booking.com to rent the apartments, both in Punta Arenas and Santiago. Yes, we were quite satisfied with our choices. And we both really enjoyed our ten days in Chile. (both sides of the coin: cold and hot!)

  3. My sister and I got lost like that when we were in Barcelona. A little scary at times.


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