Day two we awoke to another sunny day. From our apartment we’re able to enjoy the sunrise over Cerro Santa Lucia, which is an absolutely decent way to start a morning. By the time we left Germany I had just barely recovered from jet lag and had started to get used to darkness arriving around 4:30pm. Now, arriving in Santiago, my body is a bit confused about what time it is and why it doesn’t get dark until around 9pm. For now, it’s nice to be up early to take advantage of the coolest part of the day.
Despite our insistence on lugging a dozen or so Lonely Planet books across the world, the cheesy tourism poster hung in our apartment has become our guide to Santiago.
And so far we’re doing a decent job of hitting the highlights, not the least of which was today’s trip to the Mercado Central. No trip to a Latin American country is complete without checking out the Central Market. Santiago is no exception, and here the mercado is focused primarily on seafood of all shapes and sizes. Wolf’s favorite part was the stray cats who must eat like kings, enjoying the scraps from the various stalls and restaurants. We grabbed a couple of Chilean beers and some calamari and enjoyed our view from the second floor, looking down over a fun (if not a bit touristy) market vibe.
While passing a bus terminal yesterday, and again today at a taxi stand outside the market, Wolf was fascinated by the orderly, patient queuing. Calm, single file lines for public transportation… what is this world coming to?
On our way to and from the market we check out of some of the local architecture in the form of downtown apartments. Not sure I need to relocate here immediately…
Things were a bit more attractive just around the corner, with the Casa Colorada, an example of colonial Chilean architecture, along with some nice juxtaposition between old and new Santiago.
Stumbling upon the nearby 18th century Catedral Metropolitana, we were pleasantly surprised – inside it was cool, beautiful, and surprisingly lavish.
Taking a break from sightseeing, we wandered around downtown on a mission to find a SIM Card and an electrical outlet adapter so we would be able to remain connected to the outside world and charge our various devices. On the surface, our two errands seemed pretty basic. But between the two of us, our Spanish is rusty on a good day, and communicating much more than our drink orders can be challenging. This afternoon though, I was pretty proud. I managed to muster some random vocabulary to have a basic conversation about pay as you go phone plans, the various types of SIM cards available, and alternative providers when we discovered the company we had chosen didn’t support the card we needed. We didn’t end up getting the card but it still felt like a win! To top it off we visited an office supply store, chatted with the clerk about the adapter he had, and then he pointed us to a hardware store that had just what we were looking for. Another success story! The icing on the cake was coming home to find that the European adapter I already owned would have worked just fine. We’ll just chalk that one up to some quality Spanish practice :)
Feeling good, we made our way towards the Cerro Santa Lucia, a beautifully landscaped park with meandering pathways and nice views of the city. We had been eyeing the public elevator from our balcony so jumped inside to bring us a few levels closer to the peak – the man inside operating the elevator was an awesome bonus. We chose a series of winding stone steps that led us through gardens, fountains and, finally, to an impressive overlook.
With the Andes on one side and the coastal range on the other, it’s a bit hard to get your bearings here – you see mountains in every direction. Catching a glimpse of the mountains surrounding Santiago’s valley also got me thinking about what’s to come: wondering if our van will ever arrive; if so, will it even make it over those mountains; and what’s on the other side? With several months ahead of us, but very few plans, we have plenty to wonder about… and plenty to look forward to.