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The Shady Side of Santiago

sunny 32 °C

The hazy, lazy days of summer are on the wane here in Chile and many stores are having end of season sales and 'Back-to-School” specials. But, with daytime highs still hitting the mid-thirties, it sure feels like August to us. The hibiscus, oleanders and bougainvillea are still in bloom and the Italian gelato parlours are doing a good trade. However, the Santiagans are used to the heat and have created one of the shadiest cities we have ever walked in...
And walking in the shady streets of Santiago could not be easier. The centre of the city is almost entirely a traffic free zone filled with plane trees and palms. None of the economies of South America have been doing particularly well of late so a lot of commerce takes place unofficially on the street. Santiago is no exception and the shaded boulevards provide good cover for the traders...
The traffic free areas are also a good place to listen to the many excellent musicians who perform in the city...
With no traffic to contend with, the Santander bank has spread onto the street and into neighbouring stores where it operates a 'Work Cafe' where everyone is encouraged to just hang out, enjoy the coffee, and do whatever they need to do... it seems like a very good idea...
Along with the many pedestrianized shopping streets, Santiago has a fast and inexpensive metro system that links all the major sites including the National Museum, the Presidential Palace, and the Plaza de Armas where it is difficult to see the buildings for the trees...
This is the clock tower of the National Museum where, despite the excellent displays, there is absolutely no information in English...
At the core of Santiago is the largest urban park in all of South America. The forested park rises steeply from the city centre and is surmounted by a statue of Christ...
Climbing to the summit is easy thanks to a vertiginous funicular railway that is more than a century old. However, a brand new teleferico (cable car) then transports tourists across the top of the city. Unlike the telefericos of La Paz and Medellin, the Santiago cable cars are not part of the city's commuter network, but it is a great way to get an overview of the place for a few dollars...
Santiago is a modern cosmopolitan city with French restaurants, upmarket shopping malls, elegant arcades and, of course, American junk food joints, (if you must). Although we have heard that there is considerable poverty in parts of the city and the countryside, judging by the prices in the restaurants and stores there are many Chileans who are seemingly doing very well – there are no four dollar lunches under these sunshades...
We are now leaving Chile for southern Argentina and Tierra del Fuego. We will be leaving the summer heat behind us, but only for a week, as we go in search of the penguins of Patagonia. See you soon.

Posted by Hawkson 12:50 Archived in Chile

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Enjoy. Snowing hard this afternoon on Gabriola. Favourite photo is that of the three crows? sitting on bent branch. Bent branches here, too, but caused by the weight of snow.

by R and B

Great envy, more snow last night. Looks like a warm and sunny place. Happy travels.

by Sue Fitzwilson

This looks like community. Well done to all those who keep going, keep providing and keep supporting local business.

by Janet Vickers

Looks fabulous. Quite a contrast to my views of Rome, a city with almost no trees in its urban core, and for the past couple of days, little sun. Look forward to the penguin photos. Makes me smile at the memory of a single frame cartoon featuring a penguin worried about identity theft! Perhaps you had to be there.

by Tom

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