Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Stuck in Santiago

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:49 PM 0 comments Links to this post
The LanChile flight we were put on didnt exist. We spent an entire morning talking to American Airlines and finally got rescheduled for the 9th. With that much time in Santiago we decided to move to a local hotel, the Españoles, just a few blocks from the Sheraton. The area was nice and close to everything, so the 3 star locally owned hotel was ideal. The rooms were good size and clean and the staff friendly, with free local calls and internet. I spotted some available seats on a flight for the 7th, so we went to the AA office to change our flight. The AA office was actually close to Plaza de Armas, on a pedestrian only street. We took the metro back and it was easy, fast and fun. The Hippo always liked metros. So we're stuck in Santiago, a city I did not like much. No character. No major attractions. It's hot and smoggy. But the food is actually quite cheap and the people very polite and willing to help. We metro'd to the handicraft center at Domenico and bought some more lapis. We went to the park with the statue of Virgin Mary on top and took the funicular down. Then we spent the afternoon at the biggest mall in South America, the Parque Arauco. This place was so enormous it's mind boggling. Taxi is cheap here. Across from the hotel, there's a park along the Mapocho river, with exercise machines. The caminador eliptico, aparato para elongacion de cintura and aparato para desarrollo muscular de hombros y brazos, were all there to use for free. Nice place. I wanted to spend a day trek at the base of Aconcagua but again got voted down. 12 years ago I was here and met with S and spent a day doing absolutely nothing. This time around I was still bored. Santiago just didnt do anything for me. I would have been happier if stuck someplace else like BsAs. Somehow Chile means bad news for the Hippo. The first time I was in Chile, I was stuck in Paine. I wont be back to this city except in transit. But I still like to explore Atacama and the Lake district some time.

Reflections of the Catedral at Plaza de Armas


Santiago

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Chaos onboard - Valparaiso

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:49 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Chaos in the ship. Long lines at the service desk, outside phone lines were cut and lines waiting to use the internet. All flights at Santiago were cancelled. The Star Princess will stay in Valparaiso to act as a hotel for those stranded. We booked at the Sheraton in Santiago. We were rescheduled to flight out on LanChile on the 4th. Amidst the chaos, with no help from the ship service desk and our Santiago tour cancelled, therefore no transport to the city, we called the Sheraton to arrange for a car to pick us up at the Valparaiso port. More confusion at disembarkation. We were 1 hr late getting off the boat but the guy with the van was there to meet us at the port. We went for a short tour of Valparaiso and the sister city Viña del Mar. What I remember of this place was hazy. Just narrow streets up to Neruda's house on the hill, a seaside restaurant for lunch and the deserted beach in an overcast day. Today though it was warm and sunny. Viña had many new seaside apartments and we stopped at the Fonck museum with the Moai (remember these guys?) in front. Halfway to Santiago we stopped for a Chilean empanada. No good at all! I much prefer the Argentinian ones which are tastier and flaky. The highway into Santiago proper had some damage and at one point the highway was actually cracked and we had to slow down to cross it. The Sheraton was major crowds and chaos. Every internet station was filled. There were huge cracks on the walls, ceilings and floors. Only 1 elevator was working. Everything that was glass was broken. The rooms were small but we were on the 6th floor which offered a spectacular view of the city and the Andean mountains. Our room table had no top and we saw pieces of glass on the carpet. The hotel restaurant and breakfast staff was a shame. For a 4 star hotel, one needed to get your own coffee and if you need a waiter, none ever came! But the hotel had a nice outdoor area with a good size pool. 15 minutes of walk from the hotel brought us to Av Providencia with shops and restaurants. We ate at a Peruvian restaurant with very cheap but excellent arroz con mariscos. They even had Inca cola! The entire meal cost us only $50. And a very good service from the only waiter there. Thus the cruise ended although not on a very good note.

Valparaiso with Star Princess at Port


Moai at the Fonck Museum
 

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