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Arrival in Santiago

At 10 minutes past midnight, we finally got rolling. My eyes are so dry, my eyelids feel like they are glued open. Thankfully, I have Visine. Unfortunately, we are seated behind a kid who seems to have devoured all the Keebler elves and wants everyone to know how loud he can screech. I slept intermittently until 0830 CST.

I awoke to a flight attendant delivering breakfast with the kind of authority that would make a German headmistress glow with pride. A crisp “Snack!” command removed all doubt that we had a choice in the matter, and we reluctantly accepted our meal of dried bagel chips, “natural flavored” Craisins in the strawberry variety, and a muffin bar that was slightly more moist than the /amazon/ Pemmican bricks we used back in Boy Scouts. I’m still not quite sure how a craisin can be natural, much less strawberry flavored.
We’re set to land at 0930 CST or 1130 Chilean local time. We stood in line until around noon to pay for a reciprocity payment to Chile - $100 USD. Picked up our bags, stepped into the terminal, and all of a sudden had three new best friends who were all taxi drivers as luck would have it. The most tenacious one helped us find _the_ ATM, then showed us to a cab. The ride into town was $30,000 Chilean, but so worth it. The streets are busy like any city, but tight and narrow off the main roads.
Downtown Santiago

Our /yelp/ Hotel Vegas at 49 Londres is quaint and nice. The whole area is home to some sweet architecture which we can see from our room on the top floor. After a little relaxation time, we were off to explore the city. The first destination was /link/ Cerro Santa Lucia, which is kind of like a fortress on a hill. I think I saw this place on /link/ The Amazing Race a few weeks ago. Some of the steps were quite steep, which is probably what deterred all the teenagers we saw making out on the park benches nearby. The Neptune fountain was the most picturesque venue in the area, which probably looks better when looking up to it instead of down and out over the city. By the way, Cerro Santa Lucia does offer a good panorama of the city with smog covered mountains in the distance.

We headed north from there to /link/ Rio Mapocho, which was rather unimpressive. Everything around us gives me the feeling of being in San Francisco in the fall, but with really misspelled signs. We followed the river to /link/ Mercado Central, which I also remembered seeing on the Amazing Race. Odd to think that only a few ago I saw this place on TV and now I’m here, thousands of miles from home but we’re not out of my comfort zone. We had dinner at /yelp/ Donde Augusto because their floor-man was much more gentile and less pushy than his competitors. Grilled salmon and rice with Tres Medallas 120 Sauvignon blanc d.o. valle central – Santa Rita. Good wine, a view of the market from the balcony, and lively conversation. Perhaps more unusual was that a guy who worked there, but not our waiter, said goodbye and shook our hands even after we had left the restaurant. Who does that?

From Mercado Central, we meandered towards the Plaza de Armas. On the way, we stopped in to /yelp/ Café Haiti for some “coffee with legs.” The place is known for hiring attractive girls and making them wear skirts. Like Starbucks if it were owned by Hooters. I had a café frio, quite good. We got got about a block further before we saw a gelato store, so we had to get that too.
I cannot see how this means "café frio"
We walked around the area a little more, listening to what we were able to determine was an evangelical music assembly. I took a good number of photos of the /link/ Catedral Metropolitana and Museo Historico Nacional at night; I had to play with the camera settings to get a couple of pretty sweet photos.

From there, we walked over to Plaza de la Constitucion, which had some huge Chilean flags outside, which look a lot like Texas flags.

/image/ chile & texas flags.

We saw even more dogs just lying around at the plaza. Throughout the day, it seemed like we would pass one every 15 minutes, either passed out on the sidewalk or lying in the shade. This plaza is no different, with half a dozen dogs lying around on the grass. And then a guy came by and fed them some kibble and walked away. The school kids (easily detected because they were still in uniform at 8pm) didn’t get nearly as much adult attention. Most were in groups hanging out, but some had paired off. We saw one guy who looked like he was trying out for lead singer with the Cure. But to his credit, he did have three chicas hanging out with him at the school supply store. We started out walk back to our hotel, stopping by the Plaza del Liberador O’Higgins, which looks to be the site of a new apartment complex.

On our way to the hotel, a guy stopped us to ask directions. Not sure why, since we don’t look the most local. But about 5 minutes later, I found out why. My camera was missing from my slightly unzipped messenger bag. I’d grown a little tired and placed it in the most convenient pocket, both for me and the thief. It’s actually the first thing I’ve ever had stolen, as far as I can remember. Which in itself is somewhat remarkable, considering how many places I’ve been to and stood out as a tourist. But still, not a great start to a very scenic vacation. But I had been looking into buying a new camera and only lost one or two photos that I can’t replicate with a new camera tomorrow. Hopefully, the thief won’t be able to find a battery charger (it’s an older model not carried any more). Looks like it’s a trip to the mall tomorrow, because the last thing I want to do is buy a camera from a guy in a back alley that already has my name on it.

For the most part though, we just wandered around under the overcast sky thinking that we could get better pictures tomorrow. Many of mine are similar to Kacey’s, but her camera is nicer and still in our possession, so it’s not like the day’s gone forever. But complaining and dwelling won’t get it back, so it’s time to enjoy the rest of the trip.

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