December 19-20, 2015
After enjoying a wonderful Christmas party at my Mom’s Friday night, we set out for our Christmas vacation to Patagonia. Our flight Saturday departed 9:50pm. When we tried checking in at AA, they couldn’t check our bags to our final destination because we were supposedly “unconfirmed” on the LAN portion of our flights. So eventually we just checked our bags to our first stop in Santiago, Chile where we had a long layover.
In the meantime, we made sure we were confirmed on our LAN flights to Buenos Aires and El Calafate. We were. Oh well..worse case we’d wander around Santiago wearing our backpacks and best case we’d find a storage locker. Fortunately, upon arrival, we found a guarded baggage room where we could store two bags for 10,000 pesos or about $14.
After deciphering the Spanish ATM, we grabbed a cab which is metered to Plaza de Armas. Following a combination of a few walking tours from GPSmycity.com, we soaked in the highlights. At the plaza we admired the Christmas tree art made from scraps and stopped in the nearby Santiago Municipal Cathedral. The cathedral, built in the mid to late 1700s, is one of the largest in Chile.
From the church, we passed through a pedestrian shopping area and a variety of markets. Our taxi driver pointed out the fish market, so we meandered through the building. Inside, restaurants offered a plethora of seafood plates. We enjoyed lunch at Galeon.
Moving on at a leisurely pace, we passed by a beautiful arts complex and walked through a fantastic park called Santa Lucia Hill. We got a little practice in for our hiking trip as we took quite a few old stairs up to the tower atop the hill. The tower provided a panoramic view of the city that was surrounded by mountains. We also enjoyed the fountains and relaxed in the shade on a park bench. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Luc%C3%ADa_Hill
From the park, we walked to the municipal theater who’s inaugural show, Ernani, played in 1857. Our final stop was La Mondeda Museum. The cultural center is located under Citizenry Square. It houses a small film center, craft rooms, a photography show as well as a museum displaying Samurai pieces. It was a neat place though relatively quiet and empty.
In fact, for a Sunday, we felt the historical downtown area was somewhat quiet, though after a long red-eye flight it was perfect for us. Perhaps everyone was shopping for Christmas in Bella Vista. TripAdvisor recommended visiting this neighborhood, but we didn’t want to rush around. Perhaps we will come back, as the European vibe and friendly people appealed to us. We particularly got a kick out of the traffic signals. When the light was about the change, the walk sign turned into a person running! For now, however, we returned to the airport to make our way to El Chalten via Buenos Aires and El Calafate. ETB
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