Archive

Posts Tagged ‘La Granja’

My Chile travel blog is finally online

August 16th, 2016 No comments

Every time I travel it seems to take longer and longer for my travel blog to be posted online and this is definitely the case again now. Seven months to the day from the start of my memorable and highly enjoyable trip to Chile and I have finally managed to get it online.

Flower Clock, Viña del Mar

A photo of the flower clock in Viña del Mar, added to the top of this post for the purposes of my WordPress Facebook plugin.

Route to Chile

The route I took to Chile

As those who follow my travel blog, or those who just happen to have read my previous entries, will know I don’t blog live while I travel for several reasons. Usually there is the case that when I travel I tend to visit places that are off the beaten path, or in some cases off the grid completely, meaning no chance to post live but more importantly I feel that this takes your concentration away from what you are seeing and experiencing. It is my opinion that when you blog live, either daily or periodically, while things may be fresh in your memory you will experience each day in terms of what you can write about in your blog rather than in terms of new experiences.

As a result I write my blog in bullet point form and then, in collaboration with the photos that I took and the schedule for the trip, reconstruct my blog and type it up after returning. However a combination of the fact this was a trip to visit a friend, rather than an organised trip that had a schedule, and my current personal circumstances have resulted in extended delays which is a shame.

However here it is… my 2016 Chile travel blog! Just read on on this page, or navigate to the “2016 Chile” category using the site menus, to read all about this great country.

Chilean Flag

The National Flag outside La Moneda

I won’t post much about my trip in this announcement message but to cut a long story shore I loved Chile and want to return again soon. The people, the food, the culture, the way of life, the climate, the atmosphere, the prices and the experiences that I have made me fall in love with the country very quickly. Even though I only visited Santiago and two cities fairly close by I know that Chile is a county that I want to visit again soon, maybe combining Santiago with another region such as Patagonia, The Atacama or Easter Island.

The blog I have written, since there wasn’t a set itinerary and we didn’t spend the whole time rushing from place to place, is written in summary format as opposed to my usual point by point account of what happened each day but I think it gives a good overview of my experiences in Chile.

For the purposes of search engines who will pick up on this post once I publish it, key words for my blog and sights that I saw include…

  • Chile, South America, Latin America, Santiago, Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, La Granja, Las Condes, Parque Forestal, Parque Metropolitana, La Moneda, Plaza de Armas, Iglesia San Francisco, Museo Violeta Parra, Cerro Santa Lucía, Costanera Centre / Center, Metro de Santiago, Plaza Baquedano, Quinta Normal, Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos, 1973 Coup, Pinochet, Iberia, Empanadas

As usual there is no way I can finish with a boring list so here are a few of my favourite photos from the trip.

Pancracia

Pancracia the cat

Mote con Huesillo

Mote con Huesillo

Santiago de Chile

The steps up to Cerro Santa Lucía

Plaza de Armas, Santiago de Chile

Plaza de Armas

Iglesia San Francisco

Inside Iglesia San Francisco

La Moneda

La Moneda, the Presidential Palace

A great view of Santiago de Chile

The view from the very top of the hill at Parque Metropolitano.

I hope that you enjoy my blog from this trip. I didn’t see much of the country compared to most people who visit but as usual feel free to message me if you have any comments, corrections, random messages or want to ask anything.

Happy travels!

Share

Thoughts after returning from Chile

February 21st, 2016 No comments

I have been back in the UK for a few weeks now and as well as getting back into things here I have had a chance to process my thoughts and think back to my time in Chile. I generally always find it hard to readjust to being back home after a great trip, in fact this has probably been the case with every trip since China and North Korea in 2010, and Chile is no exception.

Latin America is a region of the world that has always fascinated me since I was young. To start with my main area of interest was Central America, specifically Nicaragua and Costa Rica, and I never had much of an urge to visit South America. However, after my visit to Central America in 2012 this changed as I realised I really like the atmosphere of Latin America. Of course every country has a different culture and identity, as the region is so big, but I started looking further afield and decided that one day I would like to visit either Ecuador or Chile before then exploring more of South America. So when I had the chance to visit my friend Steven in Chile I could not say no, and I am glad I went.

Iberia Sky Map

The route that my flight to Santiago took

Pancracia

Pancracia the cat

This trip was slightly different to previous ones in that I stayed in a friend’s house and a rented apartment instead of hotels, I was visiting a friend instead of travelling on my own or with an overland group, and I went with no real itinerary compared to the fairly detailed plan that I usually have. As a result, my thoughts about this trip were always going to be different, and I was always going to end up liking this trip more, but I definitely really enjoyed my time in Chile. The people, the food, the experiences, the sights, the memories and the atmosphere have made this a trip that I will remember for a long time.

Because I had no real plan we spent a lot of our time just walking around visiting places that Steven thought I should see, without having to be at a set place at a set time, and this meant that we saw lots of things that we wouldn’t have done otherwise. This part of the post is mainly for my benefit as I am in the process of creating a printed book with my travel blog for the past 10 years and don’t want to forget anything over time, and also to give me an excuse to post some of the photos from the trip that I have not had a chance to post so far. It may seem a little disjointed compared to the rest of this blog but it’s necessary.

One thing I found out during my visit is how different the labour market, and related areas, are in Chile compared to those that I am used to in The UK. During one of my days in Santiago we were entering a metro station and passed an old lady who was playing a musical instrument and Steven explained that she is a retired teacher who can’t afford to live in the city on her pension and so has to busk on the street to get extra money. Near the Plaza de Armas there was also a big department store which was closed the entire time I was in the city due to a workers strike. Apparently the workers felt that they were not being treated properly so all went on strike, blockaded the store entrances and were making a large amount of noise. It seems that the labour market is a lot more controlled in The UK, in that workers have better protections but conversely there are more regulations about when and how strikes can take places.

I mentioned it briefly in my blog posts about Santiago but every time I travel to Latin America I love how much more they embrace the outdoors compared to how much it is embraced in The UK. Things have improved a lot in The UK in the past 10 years, I think partly due to a change in culture but also partly due to the ban on smoking in indoor public areas which came into force in 2007 meaning more people have to spend time outside, but even in the summer we still don’t spend as much time outside as they do around the world. Santiago makes good use of its outdoor space, with a number of avenues, parks, plazas etc that would probably have been developed and sold off as building opportunities in The UK in addition to restaurants with a lot of outdoor seating.

Baquedano

The area around Baquedano station

Chilean Flag

The National Flag outside La Moneda

Paseo Bulines

Paseo Bulines in Santiago

Obelisk

An obelisk just off Plaza Baquedano

Patio Bellavista

Patio Bellavista in Santiago, just off Pio Nono.

Something that would not have been as apparent if I had stuck to the tourist areas and the centre of the city is the divide between the “haves” and the “have nots”. During my time in Santiago I had a chance to visit one of the affluent areas, Las Condes, and a couple of areas of the city where the average worker lives. The properties in the affluent areas and those in other areas, such as Las Condes, are almost a world apart from each other. There is a divide in The UK, for example council estates vs Kensington, but it seems more noticeable in Chile. However, I enjoyed seeing the “real” Santiago, where the average Chilean lives, and would have hated sticking in the sterile affluent areas of the city for my whole time there as they have no character.

The apartment I stayed in was somewhere in the middle. It was close to the city centre but was small and functional and, as I mentioned earlier in this blog, was all that we really needed. Here are a few photos, which I have not been able to include in the blog so far.

Apartment

The living area of the apartment I rented in Santiago

Apartment

The dining area

Apartment

The bedoom

Apartment

The hallway outside the apartment

Apartment

The small patio area outside

Chile appears to be a country that, while discrimination is still prevalent due to the influence of the Catholic Church and historical prejudices, is progressing forward. For example, there have been homophobic murders, most notably that of Daniel Zamudio, and homosexuality was only decriminalised in 1999, but conversely there is a popular pride parade, a popular drag scene and a bill permitting civil unions was recently passed by the Chilean Parliament. The opinion of the Catholic Church still makes a big difference in Chile, so the country is behind many in the area on civil rights, but it appears that the people want to do something about it. There is crime in the country but I did not personally see any luckily and I overwhelmingly found it to be an open and welcoming part of the world.

I don’t claim to be an expert on Chile when comparing the situation there to the situation in The UK, the above points are just my opinion based on what I saw during my time there and what I have heard by speaking to people that know more than me and it is possible I could be wrong on a number of opinions. My visit has peaked my interest in the country and I definitely want to learn more about it, both after returning to The UK and also by returning in the future. My current plan is to return again on my next trip unless something else comes up, either next year or the year after, and to spend half of the time visiting Santiago and the other half visiting other parts of the country. The scenery in this part of the world is so spectacular and in the future I would love to visit Patagonia, the Atacama Desert, the wine producing regions and Easter Island in addition to other countries in the area. I have no urge to visit Brasil at all at the moment, least of all Rio di Janeiro due to how dangerous it can be, but I want to see more of what South America has to offer.

Before I return I definitely need to improve my level of Spanish so that I don’t have to rely on Steven when I am in the city, and so I can visit other areas of the country with ease. I studied Spanish to GCSE level at school but unfortunately didn’t speak it again for a number of years afterwards. I did some revision in advance of my visit to Central America in 2012, and have been relearning it for the past 9 months now, but I still have a lot of work to do. The only problem is that Chilean Spanish is very different to the Spanish that I have heard, in that they use a lot of slang and also have hard to understand accents. I watched a video that was posted on YouTube by some Christian Missionaries last year which said that most of the people from their mission who visit Chile don’t understand anything for the first month despite being proficient in the language. This is something that I want to work through, however, but it will require a lot of practice.

Overall I would highly recommend Chile to anybody who wants to visit South America. You won’t be disappointed. While I have no plans to move out of the UK at the present time, as this is my home, Chile is definitely a country that I could see myself being ok living in if I was ever offered a work transfer at some time in the future.

To finish, here are some final photos that I want to post on my blog but have so far been unable to use.

Snack time

Stopping for Alfajores and Empanadas in Valparaíso

National Library in Santiago

National Library, Santiago

This is the old Chilean Parliament building

The old Chilean Parliament building

Orgy graffiti

Apparently it’s this way for orgies

Estación Central, Santiago

Estación Central

Chile… I love you and really miss you but I will be back soon!

Share

Bienvenido a Chile

January 20th, 2016 No comments

Welcome to Chile! I have just checked into the apartment where I will be staying for the next 10 nights and it’s really close to everything. It looked a little far out on Google Maps but my friend assured me it was central and he was right – the nearest metro stop is less than 5 minutes walk away, and it’s only 10-15 minutes walk to what I would class as the centre of the city. The apartment is basic but we don’t need anything fancy just somewhere affordable, safe and central. The owner seemed nice, and she even bought us a selection of fruit as a welcome gift, but other than when she took payment we won’t see her again.

Charlie in Santiago de Chile

Charlie enjoying the view from the apartment

Santiago de Chile

Our apartment was in the smaller building in the background

This is my 3rd day in Chile and for the past few days I have been staying at my friend Steven’s house in La Granja, a residential area to the south of the city. The idea of me staying there was to see where Steven lives, meet his family, play with his cat and just relax after a long flight. Oh my what a long journey it was.

I decided to book a cheap Travelodge near Heathrow the night before my flight, even though I didn’t depart until mid-afternoon, as being a weekend I didn’t know about engineering works and also as I just wanted to relax. I’m definitely glad I chose to spend the night as there was so much engineering on that I had to take 2 trains, 3 tubes, a bus and do some walking to get there, compared to the usual 1 train and 1 tube plus a small walk, which would have been stressful on the day of the flight. I knew I would have 24 hours of travelling ahead of me the next day, including a 13.5 hour flight, so all I did at the hotel was relax in the restaurant and then watch TV.

Waking up to snow near London Heathrow

Waking up to snow on the morning of my flight to Chile via Madrid.

I woke up on the morning of my flight to be greeted with freezing temperatures and a covering of snow on the ground which, considering I had not taken any thick jackets due to travelling to South America during their summer, made me look forward to my trip even more than I already was. Transport that day was a lot smoother than the day before and I got to the airport, checked in and boarded my first flight to Madrid with ease. Upon arrival at Madrid I was transported by shuttle bus to the non-EU section of the airport ready for my flight to Chile which, luckily, was on time. There aren’t many options for food at Madrid airport from what I have seen, just a couple of cafes, fast food outlets and a Starbucks but I passed the time eating in a cafe and using the free WI-Fi in Starbucks.

Then it was time for my 13.5 hour transatlantic flight. For the whole outbound journey, and the transatlantic portion of the return leg, I have booked extra leg room seats at a cost of 150 euros total but it seems that it was worth every penny as Iberia, who I’m flying with, seem to have some of the worst leg room I have ever seen. On the way to Madrid most people had their legs pressed very firmly into the seat in front of them and there’s no way I could survive that especially not long-haul. Luckily I had this much leg room.

Exit row on Iberia

This is the leg room I received by paying for an exit row

The flight itself was very smooth, on time, the food was nice and the entertainment system was pretty good considering I had heard lots of bad reports in advance. Plus, being a night flight, having the exit row meant I was able to get up and stretch my legs whenever I wanted. Although a piece of advice – don’t pick the exit row at the front of economy on the left hand side as this is by the entrance people use to board the plane and I got knocked by bags and elbows a lot. The other side should be fine. The man next to me, I think a Chilean businessman, was kind enough to let me have the window seat for descent and landing as it was my first time in South America and I was treated to some amazing views.

Flying over The Andes

Flying over The Andes on my approach to Chile

Santiago Airport

Arriving in Santiago de Chile

Immigration, baggage claim and customs went very smoothly considering the long queues and I think I went from plane to arrivals in 30 minutes – so quick that Steven had not arrived yet. I took the opportunity to change some money and stretch my legs.

One thing you should know about Santiago airport is that there is no metro or train service to the city. They have plans to build it but it’s not there yet and so your options are taxi, private shuttle or airport bus. We took the airport bus as it’s reliable and fairly cheap, only a few thousand pesos per person. The ride into the city, to Los Heroes metro station, took around 30 minutes and from there we took the metro a few stops before taking a shared taxi to Steven’s house. The shared taxi system will be confusing for non-Chileans but it seems efficient – they travel on vaguely set routes, for a cheap fixed fee, and leave either when full of when the egg timer they have reaches the end. I think we were in the taxi for maybe 10 minutes before we arrived in La Granja.

La Granja is not an area of the city that you will ever visit as a tourist unless you have a reason as there isn’t much there. It’s a fairly residential area, I believe with houses mainly built in the past for the military, with a couple of malls but nothing for tourists. It’s also a commune which a number of guide books say to avoid but I never felt unsafe there, although granted I never went out at night. Except for a few Mormons, and the Chinese family that run a general store on the main road, there generally aren’t any non-Latinos in the area either so you will stick out like a sore thumb, unless you are Latino yourself, but this is never something that has bothered me. But as it’s an area with a certain amount of crime I didn’t take many photos.

Pancracia

Steven’s cat, called Pancracia

The two days in La Granja I spent mainly relaxing, adjusting to the time zone and heat, playing with Pancracia thr cat and eating some good home cooked food. Wow what food it was. We did a little bit of shopping and walking around seeing the area where Steven grew up but didn’t do too much as we knew that we would be doing a lot of walking around for the rest of my trip. We did travel a few stops on the metro one afternoon to visit the Mall Plaza Vespucio, where Steven used to work, to stretch our legs and have some coffee but that was about it. As I said this area isn’t really for tourist so you won’t really have a reason to visit here.

Share