First of all, I am sorry that I haven’t posted for a couple of days. I am having problems with this web page and the internet provider here at the hotel. I worked Saturday night on my blog and lost everything. I need to show the technical support person what happens, but I also need a translator, because having this explained to me in Spanish would be way over my head.
This past Saturday (July 14, 2007), David and I hopped a bus to Valapaiso. It is on the coast and about a 2 hour ride from Santiago. It was nice having someone else do the driving! Plus, the buses are very nice, modern and comfortable.
Once in Valapaiso, we walked through the open air fruit and vegetable market. There were some beautiful fruits and vegetables. I only wish I could have brought some back to Santiago with me! It was also very crowded.
From there, we walked through a park that was in the center of a major boulevard. Eventually, we found the historical neighborhood, Concepcion. Valaparaiso has been compared to San Francisco because most of the homes are built on the surrounding hillside. In its heyday, it was a major sea port, but this declined when the Panama Canal opened.
To access the neighborhoods, one can walk or take one of the 14 funiculars (originally there were 33 funiculars). We took one of the funiculars. It was old and rickety but a fun experience. Concepcion neighborhood is being restored. There appeared to be many artist in that area. Their was a variety of housing. Some of the houses were narrow and built at unique angles as if to be tucked into a vacant small space. Other homes were built with sidings of correguated metal and painted a variety of colors…blue, turquoise, lavender and pink. There were many stairs to get from one very narrow street to another. The view of the port was great.
On the road to/from Santiago, we passed through a National Park. The landscape reminded us of the landscape in central California, near the Diablo Range. We also passed through an the “Casablanca” wine area. So, there were many vineyards. The wine that I have had here is very good, although I am far from a wine connoisseur!!!
On Sunday, we explored Santiago. We made our way downtown on the subway, which is very clean and modern. Once there, we headed in the area of the Mercado Central. A large fish market that we had heard about. On the way, we passed through the Plaza de Armas. There were vendors there selling crafts, books (I got 2 paperbacks in English) and other “flea market” type items.
The fish market was amazing. There were fish there that we had never seen before. Also, there are several restaurants. Unfortunately, we ate breakfast late and we weren’t hungry, but will definitely have to go there soon to eat.
We found another open air market, but it appeared to be in a poorer part of town. I doubt if I would venture there alone. It was very interesting, though.
Santa Lucia park is at the top of one of the two hills in Santiago. It is a lovely area and gave us a great view of the city with the Andes in the background.
From there, we discovered the neighborhood of Bellavista. It is a lovely area with quiet neighborhoods, plazas and restaurants. We both agreed that we would love to live in that area, if we were to stay in Santiago.
Near Bellavista, is Parque Metropolitano where we took another funicular to the top of Santiago’s other hill. At the top is a huge statue of the Virgin Mary and more great views of Santiago and the Andes. We took a gondola to get down the hill.
Our day ended with an early dinner at a nearby restaurant. I had a salad with salmon and David had a salad with roast beef. Only, he didn’t eat the roast beef. He gave it to a homeless dog. That is the one thing that is really distrubing down here. There are many homeless dogs. Some appear to be relatively healthy, others don’t fare as well. They sleep just about anywhere….in the subway or train station, in the parks, inside stores. They are very street wise and gentle. It just tears us up that we can’t rescue all of them.
Well, that is it for now. I am going to try to post this. Forgive any spelling mistakes as I am unable to check my spelling…I can only hope that I can post this!!!