The cathedral in the main plaza
Santiago, the capital of Chile for the geographically challenged of you, has an amazing setting - the Andes are only a few miles away and can be seen from all over the city between the skyscrapers! We spent a couple of days doing the "sights" of Santiago
, including the cathedral, the central market, and the palace. Also ventured into our first museum of the trip as it was so cold - the museum of precolumbian art! Turned out to be free for students and actually really interesting, lots of pottery and clay figures, apparently made when the Inca and other peoples were high on drugs. There was also a figurine taking a dump! Santiago itself is really flat (and incredibly clean!!) but there are a few big hills.
The palace - randomly just allowed to wander in after a quick bag search from the police
..including San Cristobel which we took a funicular up. At the top there is an open air church with a huge Virgin Mary statue..and THE most incredible views over the city with the mountains behind. We then took a cable car along the ridge, with more amazing views. There is a metro in Santiago which we used lots, it is so different to the underground though- the trains run on tyred wheels not tracks and its not hot/smelly/dirty!! As the Andes are so close there are also ski resorts near by, so we took a day trip to Valle Nevado
to see if we could remember how to ski....took ages to get there as there was so much snow on the road and the minibuses chains kept falling off, but when we did had a great day.
Unfortunately the conditions weren´t the best as it was snowing so much and visibility wasn´t good so some of the lifts and runs were shut. However, there was plenty of green, blue and (by the afternoon) red runs to keep us busy, and all the powder made for very soft landings!! Incase you are wondering, yes skiing is like riding a bike and even after 5 years it comes back to you really fast!! Yesterday (Friday) was of course Claire´s birthday!!!! We started celebrating on Thursday at midnight with Charlie encouraging people in the hostel to give me the birthday bumps....we then headed out (at about 1am!!) with some people in the hostal first to a salsa club, where we proved that we do indeed have two left feet, and then to an ordinary club. Got to bed at about 6am, and had an amazing night!!! The big day was spent slowly..and then with a BBQ in the hostal later. Unfortunatly we had an early flight this morning to Buenos Aires! We are feeling very lucky to of booked a flight though as lots of people had got stuck in Santiago because the pass across the Andes to Mendoza (another way to get into Argentina) has been shut for several days due to heavy snow!