It’s not every Saturday morning that you get to wake up in Chile. We have spent the past couple of days in this beautiful country and have quickly grown to love its people, culture, and breathtaking landscape. Today we are traveling from the capital city of Santiago to Viña deal Mar, which is on the coast of Chile.
We started the day off at Santa Lucía Hill. Santa Lucía has so much history surrounding it and is adorned with canons, fountains, and parks. This hill is 69 meters high and is home to two forts. One of these forts, Hidalgo, has a viewpoint that overlooks Santiago. We climbed to the top and were given a full view of the city. On a good day, you can see the Andes surrounding the city – unfortunately, smog blocked our view of the mountains. Nevertheless, we were not disappointed with the panoramic view.
We came upon several historical buildings in the area, but few were as impressive as the Santiago Municipal Cathedral (also known as the Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago). This is one of the largest cathedrals in Santiago. Its construction began in 1748 and was completed in 1800. Once inside, you can see the scars from the earthquakes Chile is famous for. Many of the churches in the area have been destroyed by such earthquakes, but this cathedral stands strong.
Next, we traversed to the Civic District to visit La Moneda Palace. The palace houses the Republic of Chile’s presidential offices. It also occupies an entire city block. Here, one of our group members, Arren Wells, had to leave us for the airport. Arren was heading to Rome to to study abroad for the summer.
We said farewell to Santiago and jumped on our bus to head toward Viña del Mar. After a two-hour drive, we arrived at our destination. We were welcomed by the cool ocean breeze and everyone quickly unpacked and headed toward the beach. As it is winter in Chile, there were few people who braved the water. Although, when some people had their backs turned, the ocean did not give them a choice (speaking from personal experience).
That night, we drove along the coast to the nearby city of Valparaíso. This seaport is the second largest metropolitan area in Chile and one of the South Pacific’s most important seaports. It has been referred to as “Little San Fransisco” because of its hilly cityscape. Because of these hills, Valparaíso has “elevators” throughout the area. These are called funicular railways. We rode one of the eight elevators in the city that are still fully functional.