We decided to take in a free walking tour of Santiago – see http://freetoursantiago.cl/portada.html for details – after John ranted on about how good the walking tour in Buenos Aries was.
We started the tour at the Plaza de Armas, which is the central square surrounded by several impressive buildings including the post office building. Our tour guide was really passionate and gave us an honest quick history of the capital explaining the history as we went around the different sights.
We headed from the square down to the Palacio La Moneda, the seat of the President. Palacio La Moneda was the site of the bombing in 1973 when the Socialist President Salvador Allende was defeated by his own military which was headed up by Pinochet. Our guide recreated the scene amazingly as we sat in front of the palace.
He also touched upon the current problems with the political system all too similar to the problems in Argentina.
We carried on past many of the sights of the city, seeing the opera house which shows the scars of recent earthquakes, Cerro Santa Lucía which is a huge hill / park in the middle of the city with some crazy fountains.
We headed up via the student district, past the Cerro San Cristóbal hill which we visited the previous day and ended up at Pablo Neruda’s house. Neruda was a famous poet. His house was like a boat and had a great view over the city.
In all, we were on our feet for a good 5 hours and really took in a large amount of the city. The tour was really informative and made a great way to be introduced to the city. The tour is free, however, tips were given at the end, we gave around £6-8 for the both of us.
We ended the day back at the hostel, Ventana Sur Hostel, where I was strangely subjected to some racist abuse. The cleaner in our room asked us where we were from. In Spanish I replied saying we’re from England. The lady didn’t understand an was unable to explain in English so she put her hands up to her face and said, “but you are” and then pulled the corner of her eyes up to make “chinese eyes”. Very strange. I just shrugged it off and said yeah, I am Chinese but I am from England.
In the evening we met another Chinese person that confused the locals, Rob a Chinese Aussi. We also found out that Philippino Chris who we met in Buenos Aires and saw in Mendoza was staying in Valparaiso so we booked for the same hostel and arranged with Rob to go Valparaiso the next day!