We went for a walk starting in this very European area, the Paris/Londres (London) neighborhood around the hotel. The cobblestone streets and sidewalks certainly add to the European flavour here.
We stopped at a very small shop (three tables), run by a young woman and an older woman who was probably her mother, to have a bite to eat. We each ordered a sandwich, choosing from the list of fillings: jambon (ham) queso (cheese) and were puzzled by palta. What is palta? She held up an avocado. Yes, yes, that's good. Likewise, what kind of bread? When she held up the whole wheat, we said, Si, si. What a delicious sandwich that was! Was it the fresh ingredients, the lovely bread, or the good appetite? Before we left I used my first real Spanish phrase, from DS's phrase book, estabey buenissimo (phonetic spelling), or, That was just the best!
We walked along the Avenida Alameda, also named Avenue Bernard O'Higgins, toward the Cerro Santa Lucia, a very high, basaltic hill in the city. The entrance to this this lovely park is through this colonnaded area with pool and fountains. A uniformed guard asks you to sign into a guest book. There is no charge to visit this park.
The paths lead up the hill and there is something interesting around every turn. Statues, fountains, large freestanding brick entry ways, plazas, and especially people are around every winding of the path. Lots and lots and lots of people.
It was a beautiful evening, with the temperature around 32ºC, very warm, but with a nice, refreshing
breeze flowing up the hill. This is especially a park for lovers, and there are couples embracing everywhere. This cute couple found a unique way to overcome a
discrepancy in height.
We climbed to the very top and were rewarded with views of the city and the surrounding mountains. There was some haze, but perhaps not as bad as most days.
On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a small grocery store to buy a few things to eat that evening. The empanadas had no filling as expected but were very airy, deep fried pastries. After eating one, I felt I'd had my week's ration of oil.
March 24, Thursday
Breakfast is part of the deal here, and we were introduced to what turned out to be pretty standard fare: some cold cereal (not always included) a plain bun, a pat of butter, a bit of marmalade, a cup of Nescafé, and a small container of yogurt.
We made arrangements with the front desk for a room for our return trip, and the went out walking.
This is the Plaza de Armes, a very large open square park. Lots of place for people to walk, mingle, sit on a bench.
The Avenue Bernard O'Higgins is a very busy street with four lanes of hectic traffic in each direction. Pedestrian crossings are provided with lights, and are the only safe, sane way to cross that main thoroughfare. Many of the other streets are very narrow, parking on both sides or one side only, and almost without exception are one way traffic. These busy streets are compensated for by these wonderful open squares for pedestrians only and by the many parks sprinkled throughout the city.
We made our way to the Cerro San Cristobal, another abrupt hill within the city. We rode the funicular to the top and visited the shrine (?), a large statue with a nearby platform for religious services. The sign said, Silencio, but was ignored, most egregiously by the music coming from the loudspeakers. Not a place to inspire reverence.
We were a little disappointed by the Cerro San Cristobal, as there was not the same abundance of interesting sights as on the Cerro Santa Lucia. There was one "hiking" trail that led down the hill, and we went down that trail for a little way to this view of the city. Then we returned to the funicular and descended to the city again.
(To be continued)