There’s quite a few free walking tour options in Santiago. I opted for the bumper four hour City Tour, with Franco from Santiago. This was a very good tour with the time flying by. Franco had the right blend of historical knowledge, humour and quirkiness, although he did a great job of explaining some of the dark recent history. I discovered that the name Chile is not a Spanish word but in fact an Inca expression for cold. Compared to some of the other Incan places it must have been freezing down here! Franco had an unwitting catchphrase of,“Don’t forget it,” which he’d tag onto the end of any sentence that included a fact. We visited quite a few of the places that I’d walked past yesterday but Franco was able to explain their context, such as the story of the bombing of the presidential palace during the military coup in 1973. There was plenty of lighthearted stuff too. Apparently Chileans love sweet drinks with Fanta shandy being a popular tipple. Franco also acknowledged that pisco sours, a drink of disputed origin, must come from Peru as people in Chile prefer to drink pisco and Coke rather than the sour option. He advised us not to order a pisco and Coke in Peru as this would be considered sacrilege!. The tour finished at the former house of the revered poet, Pablo Nureda, in the excellent nightlife area of Bellavista. Nearby is a park with a funicular railway up a steep hill that supposedly gives great city views. I say supposedly as it was closed due to a strike. Unfortunately it was still shut when I came back tomorrow.
During the afternoon I took the subway out to the suburbs to have a look at the Chilean National Stadium. This place has had more than a checkered history. During the military dictatorship years it was the site of all sorts of unpleasant occurrences. In more positive times though, Chile won the Copa America football tournament here in 2015. The stadium itself is a bit of a soulless bowl and is quite ugly from the outside. Sometimes stadiums have an open gate where you can walk in for a quick look but security was tight. With Chile being arguably the most prosperous nation in South America it’s a wonder why they don’t have a more modern national stadium. Peru, Venezuela, Colombia and the post-World Cup Brazil all have more contemporary grounds.