I came to Santiago not expecting much. People that had been to Santiago and Buenos Aires told me that Santiago couldn’t compete with the liveliness and offers that Buenos Aires had .. and I had already not liked Buenos Aires much.. It might’ve been the temperature, a nice 15 degrees rather than 36. It might have been the fact that I was coming there completely relaxed, rather than from the stress predating the start of my trip. Either way.. I really liked Santiago.. I like the way it bustled with people, the noise level in the market and being pushed round in the main streets.
I also got quite lucky with the one day I was visiting. I had just started walking from my hostel towards la moneda, when the exchange of the guard happened. Now I’m not a big fan of military (or in this case police) parades, but if it’s free and you just happen to be there.. Why not? So I watched the guard walk into Moneda and noticed that everyone had their best uniform on, including the horses and the dogs.. As I would realize later, this may not have been because of procedure but rather because people in Santiago seem to genuinely believe that a dog will be cold otherwise. I saw many dogs that day, all of them wearing some kind of cover to protect from that 15 degree (Celsius) cold.
Next I made may way onto the main plaza and there I was greated with a lot of people in indigenous clothing. It turns out that that day was the national meetup of the Chilean (? or maybe just local?) tribes. So plenty of people in all kinds of traditional clothing had met up and were talking to each other and to the police. Very interesting to watch.
After that the tour of the main sights was quickly done, the cathedral and some of the buildings I noticed here and there. And, of course, graffitis.. Valparaiso is the city famous for it, but it has spread over to Santiago and you can see some truly beautiful pictures along the way.
Another thing that Santiago has to offer is museums. In more or less historical order, I visited the pre-columbian museum, the national history museum and final the museu de la memoria, retracing the dictatorship of Pinochet and its ultimate demise. I learned much that day, although a lot of it was really quite depressing.