Sunday, July 04, 2004


What an incredible city is Santiago.

On my last day in town, I took the day off and toured the city. I took the metro - only two years old, very clean and only C$320 (around 40 cents) one way - to the Centro. There, I went on a tour to...

La Maneda: home of the presidency, beautiful and well guarded
Museum of PreColumbian History: not huge, but some incredible artifacts
Place de los Armes: as usual, a beautiful Plaza with many old buildings and a bandshell
Mercado Central: market similar to those in Madrid, with restaurants, vegetables, fish
Bellavista: bohemian neighborhood with many art galleries and restaurants

At Place de los Armes, a concert was going on in the bandshell. The Santiago Instrumental Orchestra was playing a medley of Abba hits, which was a little unexpected but not bad.

Mercado Central is a cross between a flea market and an eatery, similar to Madrid's markets but also with a CampdenTown fleamarket built in. All the merchants kept trying to persuade me to eat at their restaurants, it got old so I left. When you cross the river, the flea market continues. Lots of produce and meats and nuts and fish as well as tshirts, pottery, incense, etc. It was cheap and I just made my way down the river until I got to the heart of Bellavista...

Bellavista is a colourful area, all the houses are painted different colours. Just beautiful, big trees. There are many neat restaurants and my full lunch with wine at one of th nicer places was C$9500, or US$15. Along Avendia Bellavista are many lapis lazuli vendors. The stone is indigenous to Chile and after a while you get bored seeing it, but it was neat to see all the vendors.

I then took the metro back to Las Condes - the very modern district where the Hyatt is - and went to Pune. It is such an incredible store, and I got my gifts there. Then I took a cab back, packed and headed home.

An incredible city... can't wait to go back. Beautiful, clean, great weather, safe...

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