Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sunday, December 21, 2014 – Santiago, Chile –Partly Cloudy – mid 70s

Our last day in Chile and finally, the sun is out…

We have the whole day because our flight doesn’t leave until 9:55 PM.

We have to check out at Noon so we will need to leave our bags with the boys on Floor 14.

Our walk today started out by passing Santa Lucia Hill – today, we got a nice view of the fountain in front of the entrance.  We never climbed the hill on this trip – maybe, next time.

20141221_Cerro Santa Lucia fountain (Small)20141221_ Cerro Santa Lucia fountain 1 (Small)

Santa Lucia Hill

From there, we walked along a massive park - Parque Forestal - and one monument caught our eye.  The Monumento de Francia (French Monument, I guess).  Note the white face near the bottom of the monument – that is not original but rather an unauthorized modification.  The face looks like a vampire or demon – art superimposed on art.

20141221_ Monumento de Francia Parque Forestal (Small)

Monumento de Francia

The last time I took a picture of the Museo del Bellas Artes, it was from a moving bus – this time, I was able to shoot the building directly (below).

20141221_Museo del Bellas Artes-1 (Small)

There were lots of people in the park on this Sunday, including a group of people doing yoga (I think) (below).

20141221_Parque Forestal yoga (Small)

As we walked further along the park, we came across a castle like building.  The Castillo Forestal is actually a restaurant and coffee shop.

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Castillo Forestal

We had plenty of Pesos left on this trip, so we decided to stop in an try some Chilean coffee.  The interior was very interesting with knickknacks everywhere including some hanging from the ceiling.  The waiters spoke perfect English.  We ordered some coffee (there is no decaf) and tea and spent a good deal of time just checking out the park through the large windows.  It was like a very upscale Corner Bakery.  We were tempted to get something to eat – they had some very nice looking sandwiches.

20141221_ Castillo Forestal interior (Small)

20141221_ Castillo Forestal toys ceiling (Small)

20141221_ Castillo Forestal ET (Small)

Interior of the Castillo (see Ellen on the right)

The structure below is a heater – it was still a bit nippy outside but toasty warm inside.

20141221_ Castillo Forestal heater (Small)

Our waiter not only spoke good English but he also had steady hands and took a clear picture of us enjoying our coffee and tea.  It was probably the nicest time we spent in Santiago – just relaxing and peaceful.

IMG_201502112Coffee at Forestal

Coffee and Tea with a View

We resumed our walk – the park was patrolled by police on horseback.  It felt like Central Park in New York.

20141221_ Mounted Carabineros 1 (Small)

Mounted Carabineros

I just had to take a picture of a stylized equestrian sculpture, aptly titled “The Horse”.

20141221_The Horse (Small)

We decided to go to the Central Market – in our past visits, we had only seen the Market from a bus or taxi.  I should mention that we actually had a map that we using to get around. 

On our way, we came to a traffic circle of sorts with a monument in the center.  This the Parque Venezuela – couldn’t find out much about the monument or the park but it does have a nautical theme.

20141221_ Parque Venezuela 1 (Small)

Parque Venezuela

We arrived at the Mercado Central but opted not to go inside because of the overwhelming aromas emanating from within – fish and who knows what else.  Instead, we walked along the perimeter of the market, where all of the vendors were located.

20141221_Mercado Central (Small)

Mercado Central

One vendor specialized in Chicago Sports teams – yes, the Bulls and Bears are popular here in the land of soccer.

20141221_Chicago wear (Small)

Our route, of course, took us back to the Plaza de Armas.  I wanted to capture the iconic statue that sits in the square – “Pueblo Indigena” – a monument to the indigenous peoples that were “defeated” by the Spanish Conquistadores.  It’s a very popular photo spot and it was difficult to get some locals to vacate so I could take my picture.  Eventually, they got the point and voila…

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20141221_ Pueblo Indígena (Indigenous people),  (Small)

Pueblo Indigena

We had one more opportunity to see the Historical Museum and Cathedral before heading back to the Hotel.

20141221_Museo Historico Nacional (Small)20141221_Plaza de Armas tree (Small)20141221_Catedral de Santiago (Small)20141221_Plaza d A panorama (Small)

Plaza de Armas – Panoramic Shot (Ellen at right)

The pedestrian walkways were simply loaded with Chileans – literally solid humanity.

20141221_Pedestrian walkway (Small)20141221_wall to wall people (Small)

The People are Everywhere

Back at the hotel, we found a place to hang out in Tower A – comfy couches and plugs.  We had some lunch (sandwiches) and discussed a ride to the airport with a limo driver parked on the street.  We arranged a time to meet later in the afternoon.  The only real issue was finding washrooms – we eventually had to use the facilities in the office on the 14th floor.  Very inconvenient but our only choice.

At 5 PM, we checked on our limo and he wasn’t there so we negotiated with a taxi for a ride to the Airport (approximately $20 as I remember).  We arrived pretty early and instead of checking in and going through security, we found a nice set of seats set pretty far away from the entrance to the gates.  The area also had limited plugs, which were not available in the large seating area serving the gates.

We had dinner (more sandwiches) and read and sat until about 7 PM when we went to the American Airlines ticket desk and checked our bags through to Chicago.  We had priority status and went through security and passport control simultaneously (a new thing).  Security had a very interesting display next to its screening area – a Plexiglas container full of weapons and other items confiscated by the security personnel.  In additions to the expected knives, there was a pretty large hammer in the container.  I wonder what story was used to explain this away.

The airport looked brand new (all of it including where we stay before we checked in) – we had always flown in and never departed from SCL so I never got a really good look at the place.  Our lounge was comfortable with lots of light and windows.  We would be here for about an hour and half before boarding.

20141221_SCL tower from gate 16 (Small)

The Control Tower at SCL

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Plane Landing

20141221_Andes mts from SCL16 (Small)

Andes Mountains

When we arrived at our gate, there was no plane waiting for us.  About an hour before departure, a 767-300 was towed to our gate (the plane had come in in the morning and was probably in a hangar until needed for our flight.  In any event, AA912 was being readied for her flight to Miami.

20141221_AA912 towed to gate-1 (Small)

20141221_ AA912 towed to gate 1 (Small) 20141221_ AA912 towed to gate 2 (Small)

AA912 Towed to our Gate

We boarded on time and took no time to get airborne.  The flight, though long, was relatively smooth, and we had plenty of legroom in our exit row seats 12H/12J.  Our Kosher Meals were OK but it is always hard to have dinner around Midnight local time.  That makes it hard to sleep. 

We arrived in Miami at around 5 AM and departed on AA1254 at 7:15 AM.  We were, of course, in zombie mode and no pictures were taken.

We arrived in Chicago around 9:45 AM.

An all around successful and enjoyable trip…

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