We started the day with a walk to the closest Metro station – perhaps 20 minutes from our hotel. It’s beautiful and the walk was nice after a great night’s sleep.
Devlin’s Spanish was great as he helped us buy Metro cards (Bip!) and the machines would only take small bills, and of course we needed more pesos on the cards than we had small bills. So off to the counter he went to chat with a human. A few minutes later and we had our cards and were on the train.
I will say that Metro here is amazing – clean and easy to follow. There seems to be a train every couple of minutes. This system makes the Metro in Washington DC look like a dump. It was busy even at 10:am, but nothing intimidating.
Off to lunch in the Barrio (neighborhood) Lastarria. I had crab empanadas. Devlin ordered himself a grilled roast beef and cheese sandwich. David enjoyed grilled ham and cheese. Devlin says the lemonade was fantastic.
The big adventure was our bicycle tour of the city – art and politics. We arrived at the Green Bicycle tours for a 2:30 tour and were joined by 2 men from Brazil. The tour was in English, but the pre-tour chatter was in Spanish with Devlin and another tour guide. And funny enough, one of the Brazilians had just been in Portland for the International Beer Festival!
The tour was great. The cultural and history lessons were beneficial to say the least. Democracy here is so fresh. And with many not having money to spend on political campaigns, here they express themselves in graffiti.
I will say this, a bike tour, or riding any bike for that matter, in Santiago during evening rush hour is not for the faint of heart. Let’s just say that I am not sure I can describe the absolute insanity, volume of people, and masses of cars as a pedestrian, and we were on bikes. It might take me a day to recover from repeatedly being near panic! Our tour guide was sure to point out to Devlin that he can go home and tell his friends how “badass” he was riding a bike here.
We celebrated our survival with a walk up Santa Lucia Hill and a visit to Castle Hidalgo. The views of this massive city were impressive. And afterward we were more than ready to sit and relax at dinner.
Ah dinner. Ceviche for me, pasta for the men. Post dinner meant ice cream at a local helado shop. We had to wait out the Metro crowds (think sardines in moving vehicles) anyway, and the area was fun to explore.
We are debating tomorrow and our next steps. I want something with less adrenaline.
It was explained to us today that Chileans don’t speak Spanish, they speak Chilean! And so things like strawberries are not fresas but rather fruitilla (likely spelled wrong). Crab is not cangrejo but something now I can’t even remember. But we are getting by thanks to our 10-year old translator. And yes, the kid translator gets many smiles and extra patience from the locals!
Until tomorrow, enjoy a few pictures from today.