Monday, January 20, 2020

Chilean Patagonia: Day One - On The Way ... Via Santiago, Chile

I'm a bit late at documenting our winter travels to Chilean Patagonia.  I haven't been much in the mood to write lately.  But this needs to get done so here goes.

Our dog/house sitter drove us to the airport mid-afternoon on the day after Christmas.  All our flights on this trip were at great times - mid-morning, mid-afternoon, or evening flights.

We flew from Omaha to Dallas then on to Santiago, Chile.  Our connecting flight gate in Dallas was changed twice.  The first change took us to another terminal and the skytrain, which would have made it easy, was out of service.  Fortunately we had lots of time to walk to the new gate.  It's interesting that the stores in the international terminal are so much more upscale than those in domestic.  Hmmm ...

In Santa Lucia Park.
We arrived in Santiago an hour late.  Customs went smoothly and we were picked up by a guide.  We knew we would have the afternoon to ourselves and had planned to see if we could set up a tour of the city.  This turned out not to be necessary as our guide had anticipated this and had already setup an afternoon tour.

We got to our room some five hours before check in time and had a half hour to freshen up before our city guide picked us up.  We started with a list of places the Wife and I had visited the last time we were in Santiago so the guide could change his plans a bit to add things we hadn't seen.

Santiago had changed a bit since the last time we were here.  Every wall we saw was covered in graffiti related to the recent ... and continuing ... protests.  A lot of the graffiti was violent against Paco, a nickname for the police.  Our guide took us to a church, past the historical district, and  a small hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop when we mentioned we hadn't had anything to eat for nearly twelve hours.  The restaurant served the local favorite: Chacarero.  The sandwich was good but a bit too spicy for my tastes.  I only finished half of it.

Black Neck Swans.
We visit San Francisco Church with it's connected colonial museum, several parks including Santa Lucía Hill.  We visited with the black neck swans and flamingos.  We took a gondola ride up to the top of San Cristóbal Hill (we visited here before but last time we took the funicular).  In between the stops the Wife talked to our guide about politics.  Based on his comments about the protesters, we decided our city guide was a fascist. In general, despite being a bit tired, I enjoyed the tour.

Words are not necessary in this example of protest graffiti.  The 'nose' through
the eye represents a protester injured when a rubber bullet hit his eye.
After they dropped us off at our hotel we walked to our favorite ice cream place (Cafe de Opera).  Our hotel was not far from the one we stayed at last time so we roughly knew the area.  The ice cream was just like we remembered it - delicious.

Resist ... with a heart.
As we were returning to our hotel, protesters began to gather in a park a few blocks from our hotel.  We knew something was coming when we saw people calmly strolling down the street carrying gas masks.  Next came the police vehicles (water cannons).  As it got darker the protesters began banging pots and pans (the Casseroles).  While I would have loved to take pictures of the protest, I was a bit over-cautious.  We had a meal of tapas in the rooftop bar before the Wife and I retired to our room on the eighth floor.  We opened our balcony door and listened to the well coordinated banging of pots.  Occasionally there were explosions - either tear gas or fireworks, hard to tell.  You could see smoke in the distance.  I wondered if we should be experiencing this in our nation's capital as well.

I think we are becoming birders.
Our flight to Puerto Natales left late next morning.  We had breakfast, were picked up by our airport guide, and we took the flight south.  Patagonia ... here we come.

Pictures can be found in my 2019-2020 Chilean Patagonia Google Photos album.

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