We arrived at our hotel in Santiago at 1am on Sunday morning following our unscheduled night in Madrid.
When we resurfaced later that day we discovered that everything would be closed for elections – Santiago and other cities were voting for their Mayors. We saw no sign of any electioneering, no posters and no polling station but nevertheless we learned that Chileans of all ages are passionately involved in politics.
We headed for the nearest green space, Cerro de San Cristobal, the highest point in the city from where the statue of the Virgen de la Cumbre (summit) is visible from nearly everywhere in Santiago. The amount of activity was amazing – cyclists, joggers and walkers of all ages were powering up the steep paths.
The refreshment of choice up there was , an interesting mixture of juice and corn finished with a dried peach inside! It tasted okay and is probably what’s needed after the strenuous activity going on around us.
The expedition culminated with a ride down to town on the funicular.
Later that day we discovered that, also due to the elections, no alcohol was on sale. So our first night in Santiago was not spent sampling delicious Chilean wine.
Possibly inspired by all that activity we went cycling ourselves on a ‘Cultural Tour’ of the city, by bike. Despite the extensive network of cycle routes across the city it was a pretty hairy experience. It’s a busy place and, for most of the time, we were dodging our way between pedestrians and/or vehicles. Nevertheless it was a great introduction to the city taking in the cathedral on Plaza De Armas, the presidential palace (complete with a military band), various museums, ministries, two markets (we bought strawberries, in season now) and the home of Nobel prize winning poet Pablo Neruda.
Our friends, Sarah and Alan arrived while we were relaxing in the garden later in the day. We’re looking forward to exploring Chile with them over the next two weeks.