Monday, May 6, 2013

Santiago de Chile (May 3th - 5th, 2013)

We finally managed to settle all our things in Vienna and prepare for our first trip to the Southern hemisphere. It seemed that we'd started off on the wrong foot, since we contracted a stomach bug even before beginning our travels. Nevertheless, by the time of our approx. 25 hour flight to Santiago (Vienna-Madrid-Miami-Santiago), we were feeling quite all right. The flights were nice, but exhausting, which may have contributed to what happened next. Namely, within the first hour of arriving in Chile, we were "relieved" of one of our phones in the much too crowded Santiago metro. Since then, things have fortunately gone smoother. We've gone on a couple of walking tours in downtown Santiago, walked some more on our own, relaxed and have by now gotten used to the six-hour time difference.

Santiago is a city of about six million inhabitants that is surrounded by mountains, some of which exceed 6000 meters in altitude. It suffers from a major earthquake once in about every five years, and the buildings seem to be relatively well protected against potential damage. We ventured mainly in downtown Santiago, which contains the old colonial buildings, but currently houses primarily the less well-to-do inhabitants of the city. The more affluent population lives in the eastern part, and apparently, this division is so strong that some people living in Santiago never cross this imaginary east-west border.

We visited the numerous market, including one where families have had their small fresh produce stalls for over a hundred years. Talk about a family business! We had lunch at one of the markets, and were served by a lady speaking in a manner that we could not identify as Spanish. It has been much easier to understand some other people on the street, so I suppose that like Vienna, there are several dialects spoken in Santiago. 

Central market of Santiago
Our walking tour also took us to the central cemetery. Apparently, the cheapest way to get a spot in the graveyard is to rent it for four years. If wanted, this contract can be prolonged on a yearly basis, if not, the coffin will be removed, the body ends up in a mass grave, and the spot is freed for someone new. We also heard about animitas - people who lived an innocent life, but experienced a violent death, and thereby became direct channels to the Almighty. People go to the graves of the animitas and ask for favors, and once these are granted, a thank-you plaque is added to the wall of the grave.

Rented spots at central cemetery
Animita Romualdo

We really liked to walk up and around the San Cristobal hill, which used to be a quarry (all of Santiago's cobblestones are from here), but is now the Santiago Metropolitan Park. This is one of the largest urban parks in the world: it's about twice the size of Central Park in NYC, but only slightly larger that the Prater of Vienna.

More pictures of Santiago can be seen at our picasa.

Last evening, after spending three days in the capital city, we took a bus to Valparaiso, where our two-week language course will begin in about 90 minutes. More on that later.


9 comments:

  1. Hi Laura, and Radek!
    Great to hear from you! :-)
    Santiago de Chile seems to be an interesting place to vist!
    Glad you enjoy it!
    Gudrun

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  2. Hey guys!! So happy about hearing from you. It sounds really cool. I would love to be there as well. Looking forward to read more from your trip! Keep posting!

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  3. Hi Laura and Radek!
    I thought you were going to travel and have fun, but instead you flew all the way to the other side of the world to go to school :) Did not get enough education already, ah?
    Looking forward to next posts about your wonderful adventures!
    Don´t lose all your stuff, especially keep an eye on your camera (need more photos).

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  4. Hei! Väga kaunis tundub kõik! Kallistusi teile mõlemale. Olge tublid ja andke ikka tihti märku endast, ootan huviga lugemist.

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  5. Great to hear from you!
    Keep posting. Looking forward to more photos :-)

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  6. love the idea & i'm gonna keep on following your blog!
    i'm sorry i didn't get to see you in vienna before you left. anyway, we'll catch up once you come back!

    hugs,
    adna

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  7. Milá Lauro a Radku, to je moc pěkné, že píšete deníček, ale já se budu orientovat spíš ve fotkách, kdepak jich je víc? Zdraví Věra ze Žamberka.

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  8. Dear Laura, dear Radek,

    you have done and seen in such a short time already a lot! I guess you will have at the end of your trip a trillion pictures and a enough stories to tell for writing a book.

    Take good care and enjoy your journey.

    Fredi

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  9. Hi Laura and Radek,
    thanks for keeping us up-to-date with all your fantastic impressions. Great to know that you are fine and enjoying the trip. Keep going, and best wishes from wet Austria, Ortrun

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