Our original plan was to stay in Santiago 2 days, just enough to wash our clothes and get to Easter Island. Instead with our computer needed service we rented an Airbnb high rise apartment for 6 days. Most guidebooks do not recommend long stays in this city, well we think they are wrong. We really loved Santiago. It is a large city, 5.8 million. It is surrounded by the Andes. The city has a great subway system, long narrow parks every few blocks and the primary shopping district downtown is pedestrian only, no cars or buses that just honk and keep going like Peru.
Our first full day in the city we hit the local markets and stocked up us frig for a week of good homemade meals. Santiago is famous for its fish market. The fresh salmon was a staple for us. They also have large grocerystores; the first time we have shopped in these since being in South America. The prices are cheap and we able to purchase a six-daysupply of food complete with Chilean wine for $70 (good bottles of wine average $2-$3).
We toured the city with a free walking tour. Our guild was also an actor and he provided an animated 4 hour review of the major sites and a narrative of the political history. Chile has only been a democratic state for 20 years. The current president is a woman who had been jailed under the dictatorship. Our English speaking tour group was large but we were the only people from the US. As before we were ask about the US presidential election and several people offered their opinion of how Trump as president would be a global disaster.
Our plan was to visit the major museums and parks over several days but the governmental employees waged a 3 day strike and most sites were closed. They are in the middle of annual contract negotiations, the government has offered a 4% wage increase and the workers are asking for 7%. Per our guild this is the same pattern each year with a final agreement usually at 5% We did manage to see the pre-Colombian museum that had a great collection and review of the ancient civilizations throughout S. American and the home of Chile's second Nobel laureate poet, Pablo Neruda. He is a national hero not just for his poetry but as a rebel who fought for political change under the long period of dictatorship.
We traveled by bus (short 90 minutes) to the town of Valparaiso. This is a port town and at one time it was the largest port in S. America. We took another free English speaking walking tour and had an enjoyable afternoon going up and down the hills. Typically we would travel on the funiculars but they were also closed due to the strike.
The city is famous for its street art. Most of the murals are commissioned and there is very little tagging on the work.
Our last day in Santiago was Franks birthday and we were up early to pick up our repaired computer, shopping and finally a trip up the funicular of the largest hill to the statue of Mary. It was a great day, sunny and warm, lots of crowds.
We left Santiago early on a Sunday morning for a direct flight to our next stop Easter Island
quick note on our computer.
The Maconline store in Santiago delivered our Mac Air back to us with a new motherboard but 6 days later it shut down again. We have now been advised that we must wait until we get to Brazil and a real Apple Store for further repairs. Needless to say we are very disappointed in this Apple product. But we are now resolved not to have electronics take control over us and we are carrying on with phone and IPad