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Setting Foot in South America (Santiago)

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Time travel.  That is what we told the kids to get them excited by the flight from Sydney, Australia to Santiago, Chile.  We would leave at 12:50pm and land at 11:30am on the same day due to crossing the international date line.  Of course, our body clocks would be telling us it was the early hours of the morning!  The flight was delayed and our Son decided not to rest on the flight, making him very tired when we landed.  We had arranged a taxi to the hostel prior to our arrival so after clearing immigration we were soon on our way into the city.

We would be spending the next nine nights at the Eco Hostel Santiago.  After check-in, we were shown to our room on the first floor.  It was hot and stuffy with very little ventilation and a small fan to attempt to cool us down.  We all settled down for an afternoon nap but our daughter didn’t sleep so Dad was up entertaining her!  When everyone was awake, we got some groceries for dinner before settling in for the night.

Because of the time difference we were all wide awake at 5am! Somehow, we managed to entertain ourselves until breakfast at 9am.  Breakfast was our first-time speaking Spanish as we said, ‘Buenos Dias’ to everyone who greeted us.  Following breakfast, we took a walk to a park where the kids had fun on the climbing frames.  We continued to walk to the Bella Vista area of Santiago, famous for its street art and nightlife.  We found somewhere for lunch but our Spanish wasn’t very good and we ended up with just drinks and no chips!  We made our way to another restaurant and used Google Translate to get some food.  While there we also learnt the Spanish for ‘Where is the toilet’ and ‘The bill please’ (The two stuck with us!).  After stopping at the park on the way back, the afternoon was spent relaxing in the hot and humid room back at the hostel.

Suffering from jet-lag we spent the whole of the next day at the hostel.  The chill out day we much needed as we were out and about the next day.   This time we braved the Metro to take us to Plaza De Armas (the central plaza).  While here we looked around the fantastic Metropolitan Cathedral before having lunch.  Mum and Dad sorted out some new SIM cards before returning to the hostel in the afternoon.  Santiago gets hotter as the day goes on, peaking at 5pm.

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At the top of San Cristóbal Hill a huge white statue of the Virgin Mary looks over Santiago.  We set off early in the morning by taxi to the funicular station at the bottom of the hill.  We all enjoyed the ride up to the top of the hill and spent some time looking around, and looking over the city.   When we were finished, we took the funicular back to the bottom of the hill and took the short walk through the Bella Vista district to a restaurant for lunch.  Unfortunately, the kids had a massive meltdown here.  The result of the meltdown and subsequent talks with the kids resulted in us making a family decision to shorten our trip and return to the UK sooner.

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We felt that everyone needed a rest the next day so we just relaxed around the hostel and used the day to concentrate on some learning with the kids.  The good news was we were finally now acclimatised to the heat in our room.  Being a hostel we had met a lot of other travellers and had been enjoying sharing stories and information with them.

A few blocks away from the hostel was the Centro Gabriela Mistral (GAM).  This came highly recommended in our guide book and having walked past the large building many time we thought we would pay it a visit.  When we got there, we were a little disappointed.  GAM was split into two buildings housing contemporary art, the problem we had was there wasn’t much of it!  After twenty minutes, we had seen the few exhibits.  Convinced we must have missed something we spent another twenty minutes searching for more art.  When we didn’t find any, we walked to the nearby Barrio Lastarria district for lunch in a lovely restaurant attached to an arts cinema.  The afternoon was spent milling around the hostel.

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On our last full day in Santiago we took a walk to Cerro Santa Lucía. This hill in the middle of Santiago offers a relaxing walk to the top where there is an old Spanish castle, Castillo Hidalgo, and good views over the city.  It was a short walk from here to the park where the kids burnt off some energy.  Back at the hostel we organised a taxi to the airport for early the next morning and packed our bags.

Checking out of the Eco Hotel at 6am our taxi took us to the airport.  We lucked out when we skipped the check-in queue because we had two (arguing) children.  After a short wait an airport bus drove us to the Sky Airlines plane.  We boarded and were soon on our way to Punta Arenas, Patagonia