11/6/10

Santiago: Cerro San Cristobal & Barrio Bellavista

Santiago's San-hattan

On days when it's clear, nothing beats the view of Santiago than at Cerro San Cristobal. This hill, jutting above the northern part of the city, gives the impression that one is within the vicinity of the Andes. Up on this hill is Parque Metropolitano, Santiago's immense green lung and a very popular park among locals. To get here from el centro, I took the subway and stopped at the Baquedano station from where I walked the length of Calle Pio Nono all the way to Plaza Caupolican. An elderly local, seeing that I had my DSLR in full view as I took random shots, called my attention in Spanish and pointed at my camera. I couldn't at first get what he was trying to say and all I could understand was the "de la mano" part. It turns out, he wants me to "wrap my neck strap around my hand" as a foil against possible snatching. Muchas gracias old man, petty crimes do happen in Santiago, just like any major city everywhere.

Bikers get a good work-out going up here
The 72-feet statue of the Virgen de la Immaculada Concepcion
"What about me Papa?"
Lovers on a PDA moment

At Plaza Caupolican, I took a queue with the locals and tourists lining up to buy tickets for the funicular ride. A roundtrip cost 1,750 pesos (or about $3.65) for an adult. It was already late in the afternoon but this being spring time in the southern hemisphere, the daylight is getting longer. A funicular tram, built sometime in 1925, hauled all of us up the steep incline of the hill, stopping momentarily midway for those visiting the Jardin Zoologico (which I was told is boring), until we reached the top. There are various viewpoints at the peak with a towering statue of Virgen de la Immaculada Concepcion watching above everyone else. Another ride on a cable car would have brought me further out into the other side of this sprawling park but I was already happy up where I was. Unfortunately, the afternoon wasn't clear enough to afford me a really great view of the Andes as a background to the city's skyline.

A funicular brings visitors up & down the hill
Chileans chilling out
Cuanto es eso?

After spending my time wandering at the park and helping others take photos of themselves (don't we all?), it was time to go down, back in the funicular and into Barrio Bellavista which sits just at the base of the hill. Bellavista is definitely Santiago's answer to Paris' Montmarte, a bohemian quarter full of art galleries, edgy restaurants and quaint boutiques. On one street, tables are set out as locals gobble up on parrilas and drink Escudo beer. Those already drunk spontaneously erupt into a loud chorus of off-key singing. Long-haired, bearded and grungy artists meanwhile, sell their stuff on the sidewalks to the amusement of curious tourists.

The home of a poet
La Chascona's inner courtyard

On one little corner of Bellavista, close to Plaza Caupolican, is La Chascona, once the home of Chile's Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda. It is a house whose architecture grabs attention, a reflection on the quirky taste of a man who named the house in honor of his third wife Matilde. A visiting Chilean family, perhaps seeing that I was alone, motioned for me to go inside with them. There's an entrance fee to go inside the house, now a museum, but my stingy self told the Chileans (in broken Spanish) that I'm not going in but just taking a peek at the inner courtyard. I ended up visiting the gift shop and perused  some of the numerous books about Neruda and of course, his poems. While Neruda is famous for his love poems and sonnets, this one caught my attention:
 
                                                 "... It is the hour of departure, the hard cold hour
                                                 which the night fastens to all the timetables.

                                                 The rustling belt of the sea girdles the shore.
                                                 Cold stars heave up, black birds migrate.

                                                 Deserted like the wharves at dawn.
                                                 Only tremulous shadow twists in my hands.

                                                 Oh farther than everything. Oh farther than everything.

                                                 It is the hour of departure. Oh abandoned one!"
                                                                                           - from "A Song of Despair" 

20 comments:

  1. such a nice place parekoy... sarap mamasyan...sarap magpicture picture... add kita sa link ko tol...

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  2. wonderful view on top!
    i like the photos of the statue of the virgin, that father & kids for obvious reasons and yes, that of lovers doing pda...'kaw ha! he he ...

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  3. Wow! The best. Sobrang ganda ng mga shots. May ganitong feel din sa atin, tayo na sa Antipolo. :)

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  4. i like the fourth shot the most. talagang may yakapan pang nangyayari sa taas.

    beautiful from above.

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  5. It offers a great view up there! Great shot on the 4th photo, but I think it would be scary for me to lift up a kid there since the brick wall seems to be very low..

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  6. nagtext yung couple. istorbo ka daw. ahihihi :P i love the 5th pic!! :)

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  7. I love your shots!! What camera do you use(just want to get an idea before I make a huge leap to SLR's, and not to belittle your photography skills:-)

    I found your blog thru Gwen's. Are you from Gensan? I am. Btw, I have a blog myself. Please check it when you can:-)

    http://themelangery.blogspot.com/

    Thanks and more power!!!

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  8. Moks™,
    salamat sa pag-add. pasyal din ako sa site mo.

    docgelo,
    yun ang paparazzi moment ko Doc hehehe! tsamba nga lang.

    Rizalenio,
    oo nga, naalala ko sa Antipolo yung views overlooking Manila. kung di lang sana masyadong polluted.

    dong ho,
    maraming ganun na moments doon Dong. sadyang romantic yata ang lugar at di na mapigilan nung dalawa.

    micki,
    it's not really a straight drop-off, rather sloping downwards so even a kid is not in danger of falling.

    princess_dyanie,
    istorbo ba, hahaha! sorry sa kanila. actually, i was idly aiming my camera when i chanced upon them kaya ayun!

    Jane S.,
    galing ako Davao, former classmate ko si Gwen. I'm still using my trusty Nikon D80, more than 2 years na. thanks for dropping by!

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  9. Paparazzo mode ka sa lovers. Haha. If they were here in the UAE, they'll probably be in jail by now. ;)

    You always, always take nice photos.

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  10. san the potential snatching, chile is a must to see esp for honeymooners =) such a wonder! txs for bringing us here dens, txs for the visit. PERFECT SHOTS AS USUAL! :)

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  11. NP, Pablo Neruda would be the greatest kick kung bibisita ako dyan. Ganda ng pics. Anlinis.Salamat for the bday greetings! Ayo-ayo, bay:)

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  12. Maganda pala ang Santiago! I've not been there yet. Marami rin bang mandurukot d'yan?

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  13. very nice trip you had there. that outdoor dining shot is fabulous. people are really out and about enjoying the longer daylight hours. i love the vivid colors of the houses.

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  14. nextime, I will try to capture shots of people. andaming story behind them. effective!

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  15. grabeh pala ang expanse ng santiago no/ diko napapansin ang Chile dati kasi maliit sya na economy compared sa mga katabi nya---Brazil and Argentina---but I was surprised that during the mine crisis at napunta sa spotlight ang Chile, that's when I found out that they have the highest percapita income in Latin America. in short....sila ang pinakamayaman in that part of the world. And Santiagos skyline is a testament to that. ang hilig ko pamandin makakita ng cityscape, you got me there.

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  16. witsandnuts,
    totoo, kaya they cherish their freedom just like in the Philippines & the US. salamat sa compliments!

    AJ,
    yes, pwedeng pang-honeymoon ang Chile especially up north in San Pedro or south in Patagonia, basta ba adventurers na bagong kasal!

    Z Joya,
    Neruda's popularity apparently hasn't waned. his house gets many visitors. ayo ayo sab bai.

    bertN,
    Chile doesn't have the violent crimes as other South American countries but petty thefts are on the rise in big cities like Santiago. kaya common sense as usual applies.

    Photo Cache,
    southern hemisphere is enjoying longer days right now so they have a lot of time to spend outdoors.

    Chyng,
    totoo, maraming beses, dun ko nakita ang istora ng lugar sa mga lokal na nakikita ko. alam ko kaya mo yan.

    pusang kalye,
    sila nga along with Argentina ang mga mayayaman sa South America. matibay ngayon ang kanilang ekonomiya at ang tourist industry is one of their big earners besides mining, winery and fishery.

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  17. cant wait to go there next year!!!

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  18. galing! interesting yung view...:)

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  19. It seems that the statue of either the Virgin or Jesus is a prominent feature in Latin American countries. When I was in Quito, they had the El Panecillo, and Rio de Janeiro has the big statue of Christ the Redemptor, and I believe Cochabamba in Bolivia also has a similar one.

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  20. fufu,
    it will be summer by the time you get there.

    pamatayhomesick,
    mas lalo na sana if it was clearer that day.

    Linguist-in-Waiting,
    strong faith in Catholicism pretty much makes its mark into parks and hilly places all over South America. Cuzco's Sacsayhuaman has one Cristo Blanco remember?

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