a waiting for the rental car  Waiting for the rental car La Serena


 a palm trees santiago

A view santiago


Santiago is a very pretty city.  The town is full of parks, huge palm trees, and of course the amazing volcanoes in the distance.  Santiago is situated in a valley, surrounded by the Andes to the east, the Chilean Coastal range to the west,  to the north is the Cordon de Chacabuco, and to the south is the Angostura de Paine, another Andes mountain range.  There are mountains, jagged, snow peaked mountains, wherever you look.  This city of nearly 6 million people, produces a lot of pollution, and because Santiago is in this “bowl” the air quality is generally very poor.  Fortunately when we were there, the air seemed fine and we couldn’t wait to explore. 

Unfortunately, it was Navy Day, a public  holiday commemorating a battle with Peru, and the stores were closed.  After walking around town for awhile, and having a nice lunch on a sidewalk cafe, we decided to head to a major mall not too far away and see a movie.  Night at the Museum had just come to Chile and the kids were anxious to see it.  For some weird reason, two of our favorite things to do in a foreign country is to rent a car and see a movie.  Since we’d already rented the car, it was time to see the movie.

The shopping mall was a modern marvel, combining outdoor casual and upscale restaurants with 3 floors of very upscale shopping.  Both the mall and the movie theater were packed.   People, mostly younger, were everywhere.   It seems Chile has a very young population, and they love to shop.  The showing we wanted to see was sold out, so we waited in a long line to get the next available “english language” showing.   The movie theatre had about 12 movies going at once, and the lines to buy tickets stretched out the door.  It was crazy!  But we had our tickets, enjoyed the show, and enjoyed a great night of people watching.  Santiago people were  friendlier  than we had encountered in the other cities of  Chile, and that made us feel better.  They seemed to be enjoying life more, and why not?  The city was beautiful, they appeared to have money, and there was plenty to spend it on. 

a another cathedral  Cathedral in Santiago


a cathedral snatiago Cathedral in Santiago


a presidential palace  Presidential Palace


The next day, we did the full city tour.  We walked down to see the Presidential palace, and of course a cathedral.  I’ve lost count of how many cathedrals we’ve seen on this trip but I think this was the largest.  After that, we walked and walked and walked some more in the opposite direction, heading towards Cerro San Cristobal Cable car.  This park had several unique features.   We bought a ticket at the base, caught a trolley going up the steep side of the hill, and had our first stop at the Santiago Zoo.  The Zoo was unique in so many ways, from the number and type of animals, to the fact that it was situated on a steep hillside.  It was quite a workout trying to see all the animals.  The conditions at the Zoo were underwhelming, some of the animal cages seemed small, but the kids, who hadn’t been to a zoo in years really enjoyed it.  After the zoo, we again caught the trolley to take us to the top of the hill.  At the top is a huge statue of the Virgin Mary, though we have no idea why.  You get a great view of the city from here, surrounded by beautiful gardens.  When we tired of this, we caught the cable car, which took us across to another hill and then back down into the city.  We had a really great time.  We had a late dinner, then left the Maria Angola and headed to the Holiday Inn at the airport for our last night. 

a view 4


another view


a virgin mary



a great group


a zoo 3




a zoo        

The Holiday Inn was a really nice hotel.  Our flight was early in the morning and because Santiago’s traffic was so bad, we wanted to be close to the airport so we didn’t have to get up so early.  We couldn’t be any closer than where we were.  Literally, we only had to walk across the street to the airport.  It was great.  The hotel was very nice too, and since we showed up without a reservation, she was happy to give us a discount.  I’m anxious to see if this trick works all the time!