Our last few days in Santiago were spent by seeing most of the remaining places of interest. Museums, markets and St Lucia Hill, which is a small park in the centre of the city which has a small castle at the top with a few short steep hills and large worn out steps winding their way up to it. We also made a couple of more visits up San Cristobal Hill. One of these was on a Sunday morning when we walked out into the main thoroughfare to find it completely closed to traffic for over 4 miles. Instead it was open to all manner of walkers, runners, cyclists and rollerbladders. There were also areas set up where people were able to pick up water and energy drinks. It all looked like some weird ‘anything goes race’. Sarah did a bit of digging with the locals and discovered it happens every Sunday between 9am and 2pm and encourages all the locals to get out and exercise. She may of course have just made it up pretending she understood what they were telling her !! We followed the closed roads into the park where we found the road closures continuing with literally thousands of people making their way up the hill. At this point we started
joining in with the free energy drinks and water, “Hola” “Gracias”….seemed to work!
We also caught a bus out to Valparaiso, one and a half hours from Santiago. This is the largest sea port in Chile and aswell as having a large Naval influence it is also the home of many artists, poets and writers. It is especially famous for its street art and brightly coloured houses which cling precariously to the sides of the forty plus hills which make up the city. Many years ago Steve had a friend who was in the Navy who visited Valparaiso back in the 1970’s. He told a great story about a week he spent there with a one eyed prostitue and her one legged mother. He painted a vivid picture of them chasing him to the dockyard gate after a disagreement over money! We could almost picture the scene as we walked along the sea front. Sarah became a little concerned when she saw Steve pull an old piece of paper out of his pocket with an address written on it. She kept a close eye on him for the rest of the day!!!
We took a walking tour in Valparaiso which had a great concept. The tour itself was free but at the end you paid the guide a tip amounting to what you thought it was all worth. It lasted 3 hours and took us to many interesting places off the beaten track, including the poorest area of the city. It was very informative and well worth the 100 peso’s Steve gave him (about 11p). Luckily for the guide Sarah thought it was worth a few thousand !!