Sunday, March 27, 2011

Saturday, March 12, 2011 – Santiago, Chile – Cloudy then Sunny – 70s

Didn’t sleep quite as late as yesterday – must be getting on local time.  After breakfast, we are once again planning to walk the Santiago Center area.  Today, we are tackling the Santa Lucia Hill and the Hidalgo Castle – we were there yesterday but today we are going to climb to the highest spot – a lookout at the very top of the castle.  Since I am typing this after the fact, no one was injured during the attempt to climb the castle.

Before our historic climb, I got this nice shot from our “balcony” (about a foot deep) of the green space in the center of the multi-tower condo complex.  We never did figure out how to get to this grassy area.

 View from 1202 (Small) 

The statue below is that of Don Pedro de Valdivia, the Spanish Conquistador (under Francisco Pizarro) who founded the city of Santiago at this spot in 1541 after defeating the local indigenous peoples.

Pedro de Valdivia founder of SCL (Small)

The moat below – surrounding the castle – is the starting point for the climb. 

Moat at base of Castle (Small)  

The stairs are not really stairs but a bunch of nearly flat irregular stones placed in a line. They are narrow and difficult to deal with if you have big feet (yes). Fortunately, there are handrails all the way to the top.  

I went up first so Ellen could get a picture of me at the top or passed out partway up.  The climb was surprisingly easy and soon I was at the top turret (along with quite a few other people).  Can you spot me in the pictures below (orange shirt and waiving)?

I took a picture of the rocky steps leading to the top (picture below).

Me at the top2 (Small)Me at the top (Small)

looking down from top of Castle

The top of the hill is 226 feet above the street level (that was a lot of climbing) – the equivalent of almost 22 stories.  That makes the top of the hill taller than our condo, which is clearly visible in the picture below.  The structure (dead center) with the large windows is the swimming pool (located on the 18 floor of the condo).  This is where I took those terrific panoramic shots yesterday.

Our hotel from the top1 (Small) 

Even more spectacular vistas are possible from this vantage point.  It is a bit hazy today but the mountains surrounding Santiago are clearly visible as is the terrific skyline (below). 

 View from the Top of Hidalgo Castle1 (Small) View from the Top of Hidalgo Castle (Small)

One of our fellow observers took this picture of us against the background of Santiago and the Andes mountains. 

View from the Top of Hidalgo Castle and us1 (Small) 

We took a different route down, which had better stairs.  As we made our way down to the base of the hill, we came across a nice area called “Darwin’s Garden”.  I am not sure that this is named for Charles Darwin but I suspect so, since he and the Beagle did pass this way during his epic five year voyage (“the Beagle Channel”).

Darwin's Garden (Small)

At the main terrace, a “fencing” club was just wrapping up either a practice or a demonstration.  I did catch two of them sparring – an unusual site on this historical hill (we did notice that they stored their gear in a storage compartment right there in the terrace – maybe this is their practice area).

 Fencing at the Castle Terrace1 (Small) Fencing at the Castle Terrace (Small)

As we continue down toward the “Alameda” or Avenue Libertador Bernard O’Higgins (yes…), I got this photo of a magnificent structure called the Fountain of Neptune.  You can’t see Neptune from this side which is the back of the structure.  The Alameda is the street just beyond the monument.

Neptune Fountain back (Small)

Neptune Fountain2 (Small)

  Neptune Fountain1 (Small) Neptune Fountain (Small)

Top: Back of Fountain of Neptune; Three pictures that follow: Various views of the magnificent Fountain of Neptune

The view from the Fountain (below) reminds us that we still have some stairs to go down.

View from Neptune Fountain (Small)

We do finally reach ground level – the Fountain of Neptune is in the background.

Me at the Neptune Fountain (Small) 

After we get back, we go back up to the Tower A 18th floor for a little reading and some more spectacular shots of the surrounding areas.

Below is the Santa Lucia Hill, that we just climbed. 

Santa Lucia Hill and Hidalgo Castle (Small)

The day wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t get another photo of the Andes mountains.

Another view from floor 18 (Small)

Tired after over 10,000 pedo steps (most of them vertically). 

Tomorrow we travel to Valparaiso to meet the Celebrity Infinity.

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