Chile Trip, Part 3: Valparaíso, City of Colour

    This port city is a bit rougher than Santiago, but its artwork is more established and more substantial.

    This is where we stayed, and the view from the window of the breakfast room:

    And here’s the same mural from ground level.

    Some of the artists like figures with way too many eyes:

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    Or way too many crowns:

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    The art doesn’t stop taggers, though:

    If your canvas is a wide stretch of concrete, sometimes your subject has to be sideways:

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    And a few more:

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    It was hard to reach the sea because of the port and the railway line. So we took the train a few kilometres along the coast to Viña del Mar, where there’s a beach:

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    Back in Valparaíso proper the dogs are parked everywhere, as usual, and there are funiculars, because it’s very hilly:

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    Chile Trip, Part 2: Santiago, Street Art, and More

    As you’ll recall if you’ve been paying attention, I started what appeared to be a series of posts on our trip to Chile. But then stopped. Well, not exactly, because here we are again. It just takes me a long time to sort out all the photographs.

    We spent three days in Santiago (and another one at the end, just before we flew back).

    You can click on any of the photos or galleries below for a bigger view.

    Santiago Street Art

    Santiago Street Art
    Santiago Street Art

    There’s a lot of street art, much of it showing some of the artists, musicians, and writers who have come from Chile or had an impact on it.

    There are plenty of other subjects, though.

    As well as oddities like this gym which is supporting the most popular Linux distribution:

    Santiago Street Art
    Santiago Street Art

    And there is more formal public art, too.

    Up Hill, Down Cable

    Funicular Castle
    Funicular Castle

    Santiago is in the foothills of the Andes, at 500m above sea level, so mountains are all around it:

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    Though it’s hard to tell the mountains from the clouds in that first one.

    But there’s a hill in the city itself, big enough to have both a funicular and a cable car. We went up one and down the other.

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    Apart from the ride, you get great views, of course, but the main attraction is the giant statue at the top: Our Lady of the Radio Masts:

    A statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary that has been used to support various radio and mobile phone antennas.
    A statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary that has been used to support various radio and mobile phone antennas.

    Also known as the Ladderback Virgin:

    A statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary with a ladder up her back.
    A statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary with a ladder up her back.

    (OK, those are just my names for her.)

    This is the kind of thing you really go up for, though:

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    Flags and Padlocks

    A bridge covered in padlocks
    A bridge covered in padlocks

    La Moneda is the President’s official residence. Outside it we find the biggest flag I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t windy enough to really get the effect, unfortunately.

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    And then there’s this lovely bridge:

    A bridge in Santiago, Chile
    A bridge in Santiago, Chile

    Which demonstrates that “love locks” get everywhere (and they didn’t originate in Paris, as I have just learned):

    A bridge in Santiago , covered in padlocks
    A bridge in Santiago , covered in padlocks

    More later.

    Chile Trip Part 1: There and Back

    We’re not long back from a family holiday to Chile. I plan to write several posts about it. I’m going to take a thematic approach, rather than a purely chronological or location-based one. Though some will be that kind, too. There will be pictures, but not so much in this post, as it’s about planes, airports, etc.

    First, then, the whole business of travelling to another continent, and to the southern hemisphere of our amazing planet.

    Getting There

    We flew on Latin American Airlines, or LATAM. They were pretty good. I have no complaints. Maybe not as good as British Airways to New York a few years ago, but certainly much better than the budget airlines. The only thing was that we couldn’t get a direct flight. There just don’t seem to be any to Santiago. Though a taxi driver told us towards the end of our stay that BA have one direct flight a week. If so, then either we didn’t find it, it was on an inconvenient day, or it was really expensive. Or any combination of those.

    So we had a multipart flight out: first to São Paulo, then on to Santiago via Rosario. That was just a stop at another airport, without leaving the plane. Though some confusion in the booking system meant that we had different seats for the second part. We were not alone: it was all a bit chaotic, as new people boarded and wanted to sit in already-occupied seats, as people who were staying on didn’t realise they had to move. Still, it got sorted out.

    Also I didn’t realise till later that Rosario is actually in Argentina. It doesn’t count as visiting a country if you stay airside, but still, interesting to have touched down in two more countries than we planned to.

    Above all, it’s a long journey. Around 6000 miles, and about 22 hours, if memory serves.

    Jet Lag

    We didn’t suffer too much from jet lag going out. Except… almost every day for the entire three weeks I woke up around 4 in the morning. Usually got back to sleep OK. Our clock-time confusion was confounded after about a week when the clocks in Chile went forward by an hour. It’s the tail end of winter there, so it’s the start of summer time. But it’s earlier than when clocks in Europe change, relatively. Also it was only Chile: in Bolivia and Brazil the time was unchanged.

    Taxis Home and Abroad

    While I’m on travel I’ll just touch on taxis. Chilean taxi drivers, in common with those all over Europe, get out of their car and help you load your bags into the boot. This happens everywhere; except Britain. Or at least, except London. When we were getting a cab when we were coming home I was struck by the fact that all these people were struggling into the stupidly-designed-for-luggage black cabs with no help from the driver.

    And then I was ashamed when it was our turn, and the driver did get out and help us. But it’s uncommon.

    Internal Flights

    Chile is distinctive on the map for its length. It runs almost the entire length of the continent. So there are some long distances to travel if you want to see much of it. As it is, I couldn’t say that we saw much of it, but we did see some very distinctive areas. Notably the Atacama Desert and the Lakes region.

    They’re quite far apart, though, so we took some internal flights. All by LATAM (we should have signed up for their frequent-flyer programme), and all fine. Security at the airports was generally less intrusive than it is here. We didn’t have to take iPads out of carry-ons, and I once went through security with my metal water bottle full! Radical.

    Long(ish) Distance Buses

    The only other trip we took was from Santiago to Valparaíso, which was by bus (coach). A couple of hours. Very comfortable, if you could avoid hitting your head on the badly-designed overhead screens.

    Santiago Metro and Valparaíso Light Rail

    Santiago has a decent Metro system. You get a contactless card like London’s Oyster cards, called Bip!. Which is a great name, in my humble opinion. It also has the advantage over Oyster that you can make multiple journeys simultaneously with one card. So for a family of four, for example, you just put enough money on the card for everyone, and tap in four times.

    I don’t really know why Oyster doesn’t support this. My only guess would be that they thought it would cause too many complaints with people accidentally being charged twice.


    Coming back took even longer: 23 hours in airports and planes, but 27, 28, if you count getting to and from the airports.

    The weird thing here was that we flew from Santiago to Rio de Janeiro; then, after a four or five hour stopover, to São Paulo. An hour and a half there, and finally on to Heathrow. I don’t understand why it was like that, but as I recall it was the only available option when we booked the flights.

    The annoying part was that — seemingly because the Rio – São Paulo bit was a domestic flight — we had to collect our luggage in Rio, and then check it back in. We went landside, got Brazilian entry stamps in our passports, all that.

    We took off for Heathrow at 22:10, which made it 02:10 in the UK. So I wanted to get to sleep, but first I wanted to eat. On these long flights, though, they don’t rush to serve food like they do on a short European flight. So it was, I think, around 4 am before I could close my eyes.

    Adjusting back home wasn’t too bad, though. People always say it’s worse coming east, but, apart from sleeping late on Bank Holiday Monday, I didn’t have too much trouble.

    Piano steps, Calle Beethoven, Valparaíso.

    Same Desert, Same Day

    Two places we visited in the Atacama Desert, yesterday.

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    This seems to be my personal altitude limit, though:

    Screenshot of the iPhone Compass app, showing an altitude of 4990 metres.

    Can’t wait to get the photos off the big camera and see what they’re like on a decent screen.