Monday, July 28th 2003 – Day 160

Monday, July 28th 2003 – Day 160

I got up at 8.30am and had a shower. Decided to have breakfast in a nearby cafe. They have lots of 1950s type diners in this area (and every part of the city) where you sit at the counter and order burgers etc. They have a great hot dog type roll (called a completo) with tomato and mayo for between 200 CP and 400 CP. Usually the guys behind the counter wear black pants, white shirts and Dickie Bows. Its a great service and the places look great.

I have since found out that they are the single most popular food here and they are less than healthy. It is called a “el completo”. This is a traditional hot dog in a bun topped with dripping piles of mayonnaise, ketchup, guacamole and tomatoes. It is the Chilean equivalent to the American peanut butter and jelly or the Australian vegemite sandwich. More information of Chilean foods and eating habits here.

I walked the wrong way down Avenue O Higgins for about 20 minutes until I came to a Metro station which I knew was the wrong way. I got on the metro and headed back to the city centre. The price was 310 CP off peak and 400 during peak times. There are three lines and its a great service. The stations are spotless and trains are very few minutes. When I got in to town I got a city map and plan for the metro.

I decided to follow the “Walking Tour” recommended by the “Lonely Planet” South American (2002) handbook. It took me most of the day (from 10.00am to 4.00pm). I started at the famous Palacio de la Moneda, the Government Palace that was first built as headquarters of the Royal Mint (hence its name). It was just outside my first metro stop. The largest building erected by the Spanish government during the 18th century, the Palace was criticized for being too ostentatious, but today it’s considered one of the finest examples of neoclassical architecture in Latin America.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Santiago – Chile – Palacio de la Moneda and changing of the guard (28-07-2003)

Joaquin Toesca, the Italian architect responsible for setting the neoclassical tone of civic buildings in Santiago, directed the design of the Palace until his death in 1799. From 1846 to 1958 it was the official presidential residence, and continued as presidential headquarters until the infamous coup on September 11, 1973, when Pinochet’s troops shelled and bombed the building until ex-President Allende surrendered by suicide. The military has since patched up the damage they inflicted.

I was lucky as the changing of the guard was in progress where hundreds of soldiers marched in step in front of the Palace, every other day at 10am. They wore waht looked like Nazi uniforms (especially with the helmets). I then visited Across Plaza Bernardo O’Higgins. His remains are buried under the monument dedicated to him in the center of the plaza. He was the Libertador de Chile and a red-haired Irish/Chilean. His Dad was equally famous. More information on Important Irish Americans can be found here.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Santiago – Chile – Bernardo o Higgins Grave (28-07-2003)

Barrio Paris and Londres – This charming, singular neighborhood with its narrow cobblestone streets was built between the 1920s and ’30s on the old gardens of the Monastery of San Francisco. The neighborhood consists of small mansions, each with a different facade, that today house artists, students, and cultural centers. The neighborhood was designated a national monument in 1982, and its streets are now pedestrian walkways.

The Church of San Francisco is the oldest standing building in Santiago, and although this landmark has been renovated over the years, the main structure has miraculously survived three devastating earthquakes. At the altar sits the famous Virgen del Socorro, the first Virgin Mary icon in Chile, brought here to Santiago by Pedro de Valdivia. The museum boasts 54 paintings depicting the life and death of San Francisco, one of the largest and best-conserved displays of 17th-century art in South America.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Santiago – Chile – The Church of San Francisco (28-07-2003)

Cerro Santa Lucia is a hilltop park located steps from the Biblioteca Nacional on Alameda and Santa Lucia. The Mapuches called this rocky hill Hueln (Curse) until Pedro de Valdivia renamed it Santa Lucia in 1540. In 1872, the area was expanded to create walkways and small squares for the public’s entertainment, and now office workers, tourists, couples, schoolchildren, and solitary thinkers can be seen strolling along leafy terraces to the Caupolican Plaza for a sweeping view of Santiago.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Santiago – Chile – Cerro Santa Lucia (28-07-2003)

Plaza de Armas – The plaza was founded by Pedro de Valdivia in 1541 as the civic nucleus of the country, and its importance was such that all distances to other parts of Chile were, and still are, measured from here.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Santiago – Chile – Catedral Metropolitana (28-07-2003)

The impressive plaza was surrounded by the Royal Court of Justice (now the Natural History Museum), the Governor’s Palace (now the Central Post Office), the Metropolitan Cathedral, and the grand residences of principal conquistadors, including Valdivia himself. In the mid-1800s, the plaza was fitted with gardens and trees, creating a promenade that became a social center for fashionable society.

Catedral Metropolitana and Museo de Arte Sagrado – The Metropolitan Cathedral occupies nearly an entire city block, and it is the fifth cathedral to have been erected at this site. The cathedral began construction in 1748 but was completed in 1780 by the Italian architect Joaqun Toesca, who gave the building its neoclassical-baroque facade. Toesca virtually launched his career with this cathedral, and he went on to design many important buildings in colonial Chile, including La Moneda and the Governor’s Palace. Tremendous doors made of cypress carved by Jesuits open into three interior naves with pews made of carved wood. The central nave holds the cathedral’s ornate alter, brought from Munich in 1912 and made of marble, bronze, and lapis lazuli. Just off the main body of the church is the cathedral’s religious museum, the Museo de Arte Sagrado, where you’ll find a collection of paintings, furniture, antique manuscripts, and silverwork handcrafted by Jesuits.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Santiago – Chile – Palace of Justice (28-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Santiago – Chile – Park Police (28-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Santiago – Chile – Mercado Central (28-07-2003)

I also visited the Mercado Central. This lively market sells fruits and vegetables, handicrafts, and rows and rows of slippery fish and shellfish displayed on chipped ice. The steel structure was fabricated in England and assembled here in 1868; it was originally intended as a gallery for national artists.

I was carrying my laundry all day in my day pack and finally found a place close to the “heros” metro station. It took me quite a while to find a place. It seems that there are only half a dozen places in the whole city who will take laundry by the kilo rather than individual items. I took the metro back to the hotel and went to the same restaurant as last night for a Lomo Pobre and a beer (4100 CP – 5.26 Euro). I had an early night. The cable TV had gone off line so I watched Chilean Big Brother and listened to one of my favourite bands and CDs at the moment. The band is “The Tossers” and the CD is called “Long Dim Road”. Just listen to the clip for “Ballard of N.A.T.O. ”

I have been recharging my batteries. I have three sets of four for my digital camera. They were very cheap in Peru (16 Soles for 4) so I am lucky to have them as the viewfinder in my Cannon A40 takes up alot of juice. I also have an additional two batteries for my MP3 Player. I have not been staying in places for the past two weeks that had any electrical outlets in the rooms. Very cheap places just have a bed. Thats it. Anyway my hair shaver and recharger did not work in Peru at all. Different voltages there.

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