Monday, 9 January 2012

Santiago de Chile, the Big City & Bike Servicing

Sunday 8th to Wednesday 11th January

A short trip today from Los Vilos to the Capital, initially we follow the coast before turning inland with a change of scenery to more greenery & cultivation, the temperature also increases as you lose the cool breeze from the sea. We also see our first grape vines on the slopes of the valley, Chilean wine great.

We head for a Hotel chosen at random from the list in the GPS which turns out to be full, about 50m away the Hostel Londres has availability at about half the cost, it’s amazing how things work out. The accommodation is in the ‘Barrio Paris Londres’ district in the centre of town & once again is deserted on a Sunday, they really have a day of rest like the UK 20 years ago.

We have a walk around the ‘Downtown’ area & across the ‘Rio Mapocho’ to find somewhere for a drink, there used to be a second river through Santiago but it was diverted into the other with the now empty waterway being used as a highway through the town, it works as the traffic in the city flows very well with few holdups.

Monday is a ‘sort out day’ Dave sets off for the British & Argentinian consulate to sort out his Visa, we go to the Triumph dealer to get Rogers bike in for a service & then spend the afternoon working on our BMW's changing oils & filters, apologies to the car park owner for some small spillage! 
The town has also woken up fom it's slumber & we find time for a 'Schop' beer next to the Hotel.

Dave had a good day yesterday & is confident that his visa will be sorted, also he gets some news from home that he is now a member of the ‘Granddad’ club, his daughter Debbie has given birth to twins Ben & Alice.
Congratulations all round & a cause for a celebration drink, later the bikes are finished & we get some more good news that the Visa is indeed ready for collection in the morning.

Men playing Chess in the ‘Plaza de Armas’ during some more sightseeing. if things continue to go well we may be off to Argentina in the morning. 
Roger goes to collect his bike around 6pm but our travel plans turn out to be premature as they have not even started on the bike, are garages the same the world over?

Did you know that when the Spanish first entered ‘Chile’ from Peru it was initially reported that due to the desert there was nothing of importance there & it was left alone, it was only when a second Spanish incursion under Pedro de Valdivia took place in 1540 that Santiago was founded & Chile became part of the Spanish Empire.

Another useless fact is that Santiago has ‘Coffee with Legs’, these are café’s where the waitresses wear short skirts & flirt with customers for tips, they also used to participate in ‘Happy Minutes’ were after the proprietor locked the doors they would remove their remaining clothes, this was popular at lunch time with the busines population but I believe it has now largely died out.

The only indigenous tribe to survive the Spanish occupation are the Mapuche from the South of the country, they burned Santiago in 1553 & killed Valdivia. They wore little clothing & donned elongated KKK type masks to scare their children, evidently when they removed them the kids realised that there was nothing to be scared of in life.

Politically Chile has swung left & right, to some Salvador Allende was a hero when his socialist government won control in 1970 & to others the right wing military coup leader Augusto Pinochet saved the country from economic ruin, I’m not sure who is right but it is now a stable economy & Santiago is a bustling metropolis. I guess many of you like me remember the news of the Presidential Palace being bombed by a solitary air force plane on 11th September 1973?

Recovery from an Earthquake measuring 8.8 (one of the largest ever in the world) in 2010 in which 500 people died seems to have been very rapid with the damage to the Opera house being the main remaining sign, that must have been scary!

Like most large cities (particularly where the climate is this good) Santiago sems to have embraced the ‘Café’ society, this is a ‘Barrio Lastarria’ area where evidently all the Chilean inhabitants have moved to leaving the central area to Peruvian & Bolivian imigrants.

Opposite our Hotel is ‘Londres 38’ this was a Police interrogation centre under  Pinochet & many young men were said to have died there, the names of some are now permanently remembered by steel plaques set into the pavement.
Hopefully we will be off to Argentina in the morning as long a Roger returns with the Tiger!!

1 comment:

  1. I hadn't checked in for a while but I'm glad to see you are well. Here is an article that reminded me of you-