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Mez’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 16 Dec 2007

Location: Santiago, Chile

Back in the land of the Spanish-speaking so I can keep practising what I´ve studied!
Santiago is gorgeous. Very European. Feels a lot like Madrid, although I am staying in one of the nicer areas, Providencia. The hotel I booked is this cute little boutique hotel, a converted mansion with only 28 rooms and, um 'tastefully' decorated. Well, all the senior citizens staying here seem suitably impressed! Good job Mez! The hotel room feels like a country retreat. A cottage out in the Dandenongs, clean and homely. No smelly backpacker accomodation for me! Woo hoo!!! And, for the first time in ages, wait for it... English speaking staff!! Ok, not exactly immersing myself in Chilian culture, but it´s so nice to have somewhere nice to stay for a change :-)
Arrived at 7am after a 5 hour flight from Rio. The view of the Andes as we were descending was absolutely spectacular, snow-capped mountains were gorgeous. I´d almost recommend taking the flight over just for the view :-)
Chile is exceptionally safe which is a really, really nice break after travelling around for so long, and especially coming in from somewhere like Rio.
Based on my swish hotel and the chic area I was staying in, I decided to keep all sightseeing activities to a minimum. From what I`ve seen already, I would definitely love to come back to Chile and explore the entire country as well as Argentina, so maybe the next time there will be more adventures. However I did do the basic city tourist route for a whole day which was exhausting. Walking through the streets reminded me so much of Melbourne inner-city; tree-lined streets, loads of parks scattered all over the city, outdoor cafes - felt like I was back home, had a Carltony or Richmondy kinda feel. Providencia itself reminds me a lot of Hardware lane, so needless to say, I spent most of my time there. Reading whatever trashy romance novels I could get my hands on, sipping lattes (yes, they have them here!) and in the evenings sampling all the local wines. The wine is devine, I must say. Nothing like the poison we were being served all throughout the rest of South America even though they did claim it was Chilian. Its not expensive here either, loads cheaper than the equivalent in Melbourne. Was sooooo awesome taking the time out to relax right at the end of my trip. Am so glad I did this.
Have also taken my trashy novels to the nearby parks and just lay out in the sun reading. So nice, I know there will be no time for any of that when I finally get back home and re-connect with the ´real´ world and (aaarrrggghhhh!!!!) responsibilities :-)
Its been so hard to come by any form of quality literature whilst travelling that in the end I had no choice but to settle. I veered towards romance novels, and low and behold, I actually have been enjoying them. They warm and fuzzy up that little spot in your heart. Ok, not literary works of art, but I have had moments of sheer exhileration when ´they´ finally kiss, and have also wept quite a bit during ´their´ turmoil and tragedy, and I think perhaps this whole new reading experience may have made me slightly more dramatic... or romantic! Either or. hehe
The city has heaps of historical sites, although didn´t read up on them, just took loads of pics. There is also a laneway in the middle of the CBD that´s a lot like Bourke Street mall but heaps longer; heaps of shops, street performers and even some people holding up signs offering free hugs. It had been a while for me, so I treated myself to a hug from a stranger! The mall leads out to the Plaza de Armas, or the city square where they had a gorgeous cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana) and heaps of old buildings. Continuing on, the lane takes you to Mercado Central, almost the equivalent of Vic market, but without the produce. En-route, I also saw the National Library, Cerro Santa Lucia, a museum (Museo Precolombino), Palacio de Bellas Artes and Parque Forestal.
Santiago is also gearing up to Christmas, so as you can imagine, loads of frantic Christmas shoppers, loads of specials and crammed stores, so no shopping for me. Which was actually a really good thing considering the amount of debt I racked up in Rio... :-)
I fly out tonight for my journey back to Oz. Its Sunday afternoon right now and I get home Tuesday morning (time difference / International dateline, blah blah). I can`t believe this trip is over, I´m a little sad :-( BUT, the adventures don´t end here! This time next week I´ll be sunning myself on the beaches of Palm Cove in far north Queensland with Nicko and the family! Sooo excited to see them all and really excited to see my boy. Nicko, I´m coming home!!!!!!
Love ya