Day 1 – Santiago, Chile

25 Mar

After arriving in Santiago, we had gone straight to the hotel in the Providencia region. Nice hotel, complete with suede bed covers.

We started the day with a group briefing and ran through the usual introductions. Nothing unusual, but it is back to not flushing the toilet paper again! How civilised we are!

Had a chance to freshen up with a shower – the first in 40+ hours! Also discovered that my numerous plug adapters don’t fit any of the sockets here, except for the phone charger!

Also had time to buy some water in the local “Big John”. It comes in three varieties – now nicknamed skimmed, semi-skimmed and not. Need to make sure we buy it without the bubbles!

Fernando then took us on a bus tour around the graffiti strewn streets of Santiago – the graffiti was even on 600 year old churches. Not impressed so far, nothing much here except earthquake damaged buildings, dust and graffiti.

Eventually, after many more uninteresting turns, we stopped at the Presidential Palace and started to walk. There was a humongous flag pole and flag, which had me snapping away merrily. Think I have a fetish for large flags.

Walked around the palace, trying hard to ignore the big men with big dogs and big guns. We daundered through the mostly empty streets until we came to a square, which had the Catholic cathedral and a museum, as well as lots of people evangelising with guitars.

Had a chance to wander ourselves, and I took in the Catholic Cathedral,complete with man in Ironman costume outside, and the “local” African arty being sold in the square.

We were due to meet back at an appointed time. Due to a slight misunderstanding regarding this time, Michael, Penny and I got the opportunity to walk to our next stop, rather them take the bus that the rest of the group found.

The fish market was as you might expect – smelling of fish, and I was surprised how many on the group didn’t like it, to the point of not wanting to walk past any fish stalls.

As well as the fish, there was also a lively set of restaurants around a fountain and Jo asked us to stay there while she reunited us with the rest of the group. Luis, the shortest restaurant owner in the world, introduced himself and gave me his card. Worried.com. Meanwhile we also had the chance to see some local dancers entertaining the crowds.

As the whole group joined us, we were asked to stay together, which we promptly didn’t. Fernando led us off and then got frustrated that we all wanted to stop for pictures,to smell the fish, buy some things or absorb the atmosphere at a slower pace. Thankfully for his sanity, we did all eventually make it out the other side.

Santiago is at 543m of altitude. We drove up the local hill, adding a further 300m to that, and took photos from the local dogging spot, overlooking the city.

We ended up back at the hotel, and a few of us decided to try the pavement cafe across the road,.where I had Pisco Sour to drink – the local delicacy. Everyone else had a litre of beer. During this I found out about Michael’s four ex-wives and his plans for Vietnamese number 5.

A group meal followed in a very posh place – Park Lane, where we decided to try the Chilean wine, and got some foods as well. If this it’s anything to go by, I’ll have run out of money by tomorrow!

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