Day 1: Santiago 22/10/2019

Balcony View

After a fantastic weekend in Bedford at our friends wedding, and staying with Kerri & Martin, we began our long journey from Heathrow to Santiago, Chile. Kerri very kindly dropped us to Bedford train station and from there we started to look into the unrest that was unfolding in Santiago after seeing it on the news the night before! Possibly a bit late…

After learning more of the violent protests through the government website we decided that it may be best for us to sacrifice our pre-booked hostel in Santiago and travel straight out of the airport as soon as we arrive. Knowing that we wanted to visit an island called Chiloe, further south of Santiago, we had a rough plan to catch a flight 3.5 hours after landing. However, with many flights into and out of Santiago being cancelled, we couldn’t book the flight from Toronto until we knew we were good to go – so we put a spare pair of undies in our hand luggage, just in case!!

After the 7hr 45 flight from Heathrow to Toronto we were pleased to find our flight was still scheduled as planned for the next 11hr leg! During the flight we were sat next to an Argentinian lady, which gave us a great opportunity to test out the Spanish we have been learning on Duolingo… She was returning from her daughters wedding in Canada where she had married a Scotsman. Didn’t understand a word of what she said but she showed us a picture of a bride with a bloke in a kilt.

We landed half an hour later than planned but we were positive that we could sprint through security and collect our baggage at lightening speed in order to buy tickets and check in to the next flight. Unfortunately, despite our manic sprint through the airport with our huge bags on it was not enough after the 1 hour wait for baggage and the huge queue for security! Once we finally found the Latam flight desk we bought tickets for the next flight which was the following day, and stepped out into Santiago.

We got an illegal Uber to our hostel, which meant Alexz had to sit in the front posing as an “amigo” rather than a customer. Our hostel entrance was found tucked between dozens of fastfood shops under a very large, beautiful building, forming one side of the Plaza de Armas. The inside however, did not match the grandeur of the exterior of the building. The entrance lobby looked like it was once very opulent but was now very tired and in need of some serious repair! We waited for the elevator, with thick wooden doors, above which an arrow remained fixed to somewhere between floor 3 and 4. Thankfully, it did arrive eventually, and we were surprised to see an elderly man sat on a wooden stool – a lift operator! Not much of a view. He asked us which floor, and thankfully our Spanish extends from one through to eight, so we were able to reach our destination. The reception and dorm rooms of our hostel were found on the 6th floor but our room was down on the 3rd. The 3rd floor had a lot of separate flats, not all belonging to the hostel, a lot of families living there and, a lot of smells…

Planning with a good view & a beer

Our room was big but the highlight was the balcony! For Emma, mostly because it was a super nosing spot but for Alexz, it was a great spot for photography! The balcony overlooked the centre of the Plaza de Armas. Due to the protests, there was a curfew of 8pm on the city. From our balcony, we could see and hear groups of people ignoring the curfew and it wasn’t long until 6 policemen on motorbikes drove into the Plaza (a pedestrian area) and surrounded groups of people requesting they leave. Throughout the evening there were a few small groups of protesters walking past banging pots and pans peacefully in tune but they were soon interrupted when two cars came racing through the Plaza which looked like something out of Grand Theft Auto! Before we went to bed we spotted a few fires had been lit 200 metres down our street. All was fine when we woke up after a much needed sleep, and there were no signs of any more trouble in the Plaza from the night. Emma had not missed out on any curtain twitching. Although, during our taxi ride to the airport the next day we could see more of the aftermath from the riots; piles of burnt rubbish on the street, smashed bus stops, shops remained locked down and a lot of armed police.

Next stop, Chiloe…

This went well with balcony views and cold beers.

One thought on “Day 1: Santiago 22/10/2019

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