The streets of Santiago are quiet and deserted before 10am on a weekend and even more so on a public holiday. It felt like I was walking through a ghost town as I walked from Bellavista to Santa Lucía Hill in the center of the city.
I walked through Parque Forestal next to the Mapocho River. The park was created on reclaimed land from the Mapocho River and forms an almost unbroken stretch of greenery all along the river.
Even Lastaria Street, usually filled with cafes and coffee shops and people were deserted this early in the morning. It felt like I missed some announcement that nobody should be out on the streets today, or that everybody just disappeared leaving me all alone in this strange new city.
Luckily by the time I reached Santa Lucía Hill in the center the city started to wake up and people started emerging from their homes. I sat for a while at a small café at the entrance to the park enjoying the sunshine.
The hill has an altitude of 629 m and a height of 69 m over the surrounding area and has all these small winding pathways that cross it. The hill is the remnant of a volcano 15 million years old. It was originally called Huelén by the pre-colonization inhabitants; in Mapudungun the word means “pain, melancholy or sadness”. However, the current name comes from the day in which Pedro de Valdivia conquered the hill, on December 13, 1541. That day celebrates “Santa Lucía.”
Halfway up there are a couple of ornate facades, stairways and fountains. Unfortunately because it was a public holiday the “castle” was closed. I still had a lot of fun walking along the tree covered pathways to the top of the hill. At the top of the hill, there is a platform from where you have fabulous views over most of the city. What a fantastic view of the city and luckily there weren’t a lot of people at the top so I got the chance to take a couple of pictures.
I really look forward to exploring the city I could see before me!
For lunch I decided to try something from one of the street vendors that I passed along my way home. You can’t go wrong with a hot dog is what I thought. I have eaten hot dogs in a couple of countries but did not enjoy the Chilean version of hot dogs very much. They start of with a normal bun and sausage then add chopped tomatoes, which is good but then comes the weird part. They cover it in guacamole and then smother that in mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard. Not a combination I would have ever thought of. I was very hungry so ended up eating the whole thing but didn’t feel to well afterwards.
My first experience of Chilean food wasn’t too successful but luckily this doesn’t scare me too much. Actually looking forward to trying some other dishes!