|We went down to breakfast and were lucky to get a table. There was a large group of girls on a tour(?)that were in the breakfast area and took over the majority of the room. It was a very nice breakfast buffet which we enjoyed before returning to the room to prepare for our morning tour of Santiago.
Claudio met us in the lobby at 9:10 to conduct our tour. (The tour company was Condor Travel.). On the way to the first stop Claudio ran us through the history of the region, beginning with the indigenous people, the Mapuche. Santiago itself goes back to 1541 and the Spanish. Since it was Sunday, there was no traffic to be had in the city, a good day for a tour.
Our first stop was San Cristobal Hill. It is located in the northern section of Santiago, and when you climb to the top, a great overview of the city. It was a cold day and the fog had not completely lifted yet when we arrived there. The top of the tallest building was still in the clouds. At one point, the hill was a Spanish fort. It now has an observatory, park, gardens, etc.
We drove along past old churches (now it was Sunday but I didn't see people around the churches), including the San Francisco Church, the oldest in Santiago. We did not stop, but continued over to the government buildings area. We exited the car, and our driver disappeared. We walked over to La Mone da Palace (originally it was the mint) area called Constitution Square. It houses the presidental palace (but the presidents have not lived there since the 1970s) and is surrounded by various government agencies buildings. After a few pictures, we continued on past the Supreme Court over to the Plaza de Armas.
Here were a lot of tourists and locals. We walked over to the Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago and entered. Wow, what an impressive cathedral. We walked around (no services were currently happening) and took some pictures. On the way out by the main entrance was a chapel that was holding services behind glass doors.
We then walked over to the Museo Historico Nacional (National History Museum). Claudio told us a few things about some of the exhibits. Unfortunately, the map of the museum was bilingual, but the exhibits were only in Spanish. So it was just look, interpret as best as we could, and guess the rest. It showed the history of Chile from the 1500s up to modern day. A nice stop, but it would help to be able to read Spanish.
We then walked along a pedestrian mall towards the fish market. There were many vendors displaying their wares on blankets in the street, but all of a sudden you heard "Policia" and everyone was pulling up their blankets and acting like nothing was happening. After the police had walked through, the blankets were out again. At the Mercado Central, you had the pleasant odor of fish, and many little restaurants serving seafood. You even saw the "spiders" which are large crabs whose claws look like spider legs.
While waiting for our driver outside the fish market, there was a great view of the Andes. Our next stop was at Bellavista Souvenir Market. We just walked through the market looking at the shops and restaurants, but not entering any. Not in the mood for shopping. We walked up the street once outside of the market past some nice looking restaurants before hitting the intersection near a funky looking boutique hotel. It was like the flatiron building in New York City. This is where our driver picked us up for our return to the hotel.
We returned to the room to relax a little. We then headed over to the Costanera Center Torre 2, the tallest building in the city. It was now totally visible in the chilly sunny afternoon. We walked along Santa Maria Boulevard and at no time in Santiago did I feel unsafe. It was about a 25 minute walk. We wanted to have dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe located in the building. We had seen it earlier when we passed the building during our morning tour.
On the way we saw at an intersection puppet car washers. Jeff McBride had told me about them. I tried to get some pictures. The people are dressed all in black with masks as they handle a 10 foot puppet which is dressed with a reflective vest. They make him come out, chose a car, and proceed to "wipe the car's windows" which it never actually comes into contact. Then they clear the intersection and run amongst the cars for contributions.
The Hard Rock was a busy place. We were lucky enough to be seated right away. I ordered the BBQ salmon entree and enjoyed the fried shrimp platter. It was an interesting Hard Rock on two floors. We were seated near the stage.
Afterwards we entered the mall which is on the first six floors of the tower. Egads! It was hopping at the mall. They obviously have a robust economy. We ascended to the sixth floor which was a restaurant/food court floor. Every restaurant was filled and had people waiting in line. Even the fast food places were mobbed. The Burger King line alone was 30+ people deep.
We went up to the movie level. I wanted to see what was playing. Even that level was mobbed. Most movies were dubbed or had subtitles. If it wasn't so busy, I would have liked to see a subtitled version of a movie. We went down to the next floor and explored. By now it was getting later in the day, and I did not want to be walking back in the dark. On the way back, we went through a sculpture park (Parque de Las Esculturas) which was interesting and some of the displays were interactive. We were also able to look down into the tunnel beside the river.
Back in the room, I packed for the next day's departure and we watched TV before setting the alarms and hitting the sack.