Cerro San Cristobal

20140210-211347.jpgCerro San Cristobal perches above Santiago, and is another popular spot for exercise, by bike riders, runners and walkers alike.  There is also a cable car to get you to the top if you’re feeling less energetic, or you can drive up in your own car.

The hill makes a great weekend workout and, after climbing the steep paths to the Virgin that stands at the top, you are rewarded with a view over all of Santiago.  Unfortunately, it also the best vantage point to see exactly how polluted Santiago can be at times, which you sometimes don’t notice as much at street level.

20140210-211400.jpgThe locals are out in particular force on the weekend, and I swear that some only make the effort in order to drink the ridiculously sweet, yet refreshing, “mote con huesillo” at the top, a local specialty made with dried peaches, sweet juice, and a good serving of “mote”, a kind of barley.

When I take the hike, I don’t usually carry my camera, or any valuables for that matter, as it can be unsafe.  There are stories of robberies on the sometimes secluded trails, and particularly if you are there late in the day (which I’m not, Dad.)  Unfortunately, that means not many photos from the top!

It’s great to have Cerro San Cristobal close by for the occasional weekend challenge, and to see so many people making the most of the great outdoors, making it one of the reasons that it’s one of the things I love about living in Chile!

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parque forestal

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This reclaimed piece of park land, previously part of the Mapocho river bed, is one of my favourite places in Santiago.  It took me a long time to find my current apartment, partly because my criteria included being in a neighbourhood near this park.  The park follows the Mapocho, and joins up with other parks along the way, such as Balmaceda to the East and Parque Bustamante to the South, forming part of a large green belt that runs through Santiago and adds to its charm.

20140203-105643.jpgParque Forestal is my front yard, being just one block small block in front of my house.  It is my primary place for running and exercise, my thoroughfare on the way to La Vega Central for my shopping, it’s where I often go to lie and read my book, or the site of an impromptu picnic with a sneaky bottle of wine.  Well, actually not so “sneaky”, since nobody is going to bat an eyelid if you are openly sharing a bottle of wine or a few beers in the park (or a joint for that matter, but I’ll leave that to others).

20140203-110158.jpgThere is often free outdoor entertainment, some planned and others, well, just improvised and, on a hot day, you will see kids playing and cooling off in the fountains.  It’s a favourite location among locals for many forms of exercise, from cycling and running, to yoga, and I have seen some pretty impressive slack-lining, an activity where crazy brave people string a band between trees and attempt to walk across it and perform all kinds of crazy manoeuvres.

20140203-110832.jpgThe park is extra busy on weekends, with families out in full-force, and a flea market usually set up behind the Fine Arts Museum.  There are often exhibits set up in the park, like the current “Visito mi Historia” (“I visit my History”), consisting of large placards explaining many different and interesting aspects of Chile’s history, from the origin of empanadas to the 1962 World Cup and many things in between.

Parque Forestal provides great refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city, and a walk through it always invokes a better, calmer mood.  No wonder it’s one of the things I love about living in Chile!