Thursday, June 30, 2011

La Vista de Chillán

The view from our cabin was a tantalizing hill, which Daniel couldn't resist running up. I joined him on his second ascent, when we went for an early morning hike.

We walked past pretty little streams and cabins, followed some steep trails, and enjoyed great views over the valley and the little town in winter.

Termas de Chillán

To celebrate the long weekend of San Pedro and San Pablo, we drove down to Termas de Chillán, about 500km southeast of Santiago. In the local Indian language Chillán means 'where the Sun is sitting', and we certainly enjoyed a beautiful, sunny weekend. We rented a cabin at Bordenieve with three friends and enjoyed cosy evenings around a wood fire.

On Saturday and Sunday we went skiing on the snowy slopes of Nevados de Chillán, a ski resort located 1,650m above sea level. While I conquered the lower slopes of the mountain, Daniel skied the longest ski run in South America, a 13km ungroomed trail known as Las Tres Marias. It was quite an achievement!

The biggest novelty for us was getting so warm during the day that we had to take layers off. We even lunched outside in the sun and drank beers to cool down! It was about 25 degrees different from our previous skiing experiences... All in all, it was a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cerro San Cristobal

On Sunday afternoon we headed to the northeastern suburbs of El Centro to do a bit of sight-seeing in the Parque Metropolitano de Santiago. This park is home to several trails, Jardín Mapulemu (botanical garden), the Zoológico Nacional, Jardín Japonés, cable cars, a wine museum, and more. We didn’t manage to fit everything into this visit, but we’ll definitely be back with a picnic to explore further.

At the park entrance, we joined the queue at the medieval-style castle, which serves as a station for the 1925 funicular to take visitors to the top of Cerro San Cristobal.

The 45-foot high Statue of the Virgin, donated by France in 1904, dominates the top of the hill. It can be seen from most of El Centro.

The views of Santiago and the Andes are superb at the top of the hill and we could almost make out the snow-sprinkled mountains through the smog!