Santiago

Our rather grand hotel

Following our stay in Easter Island, we flew to Santiago in Chile. There is only one flight a day which comes in the morning and leaves after breakfast for the five-hour flight to Santiago, where we spent a single night before flying back to Europe the next day. We only had 30 days travel insurance, so we had to get back in time.

At Santiago, we stayed in a modern hotel near the centre, from where we walked to t he historic centre where we walked round the square. Santiago is  a thriving modern town and we were impressed.

We wandered down to the centre, and eventually reached the new Plaza de la Ciudadanía (‘’Citizenry Square’’ in Spanish) at the end of which was La Moneta Palace, which was originally the Royal Mint but is now the presidential palace, the equivalent to 10 Downing Street but rather more grand.

It is the masterpiece of the Italian architect Joaquin Toesca (1745-1799)

We then went on to the main square the Plaza de Armas, which was very lively. It is surrounded by most of the best historic buildings in Santiago

In the square we stopped to hear a comedian, who was working the crowd telling jokes. He saw us and recognised that were foreigners and addressed us in English and asked how we liked Santiago. I said we had only been there a couple of hours so we didn’t really know.

How long have you been here, he asked  so I replied three hours. How long are you staying he said, and I said we leave tomorrow morning at 10 o’clock so we are now hasving a good look at Santiago. Why not stay longer he said. I explained that our  health insurance had nearly expired. I think he turned it into a good joke and got quite a laugh  from it.

This is the main building being the Real Audiencia, originally the Royal Law Courts, but it is now the National History Museum. It was built in 1808.

This is the most flamboyant building, which looks very grand but it is in fact the Central Post office, built in 1882-3 by Ricasrdo Brown.

There are a number of fine churches in Santiago, mostly dating to the 16th or 17th century. I thought at first that this was the cathedral, but I find the fact that it was the Basilica of La Merced. It was built originally between 1736 and 1760 and rebuilt after a fire by Toesca in the 1790s.

The next day we were up early to catch the plane and then it was a long, long journey back to Europe. Almost immediately we climbed high to fly over the Andes, where there was still snow even though it was in the autumn after a hot summer

We spent a long time flying over what must have been a tributary of the Amazon, and then over the Atlantic to finally on the next day we reached Madrid. Here we had about 90 minutes to change over to another terminal and we just manage it in time and caught the plane back to London. We found we had only been away for 30 days, but in practice we had been away for 31 days. It had been a wonderful trip.

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17th September 2021

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