Cerro San Cristóbal is located in the Santiago Metropolitan Park to the east of the Bellavista neighbourhood. You can reach the top by car, funicular (train), or walking. Walking is the free option, so that is what I did. At the top, you can visit various points of interest or simply enjoy the view of the city and mountains.
After visiting Cerro Santa Lucía in the morning, my friend and I went for lunch at Mercado Central, a large fish market. There are many foods you can buy and restaurants at which you can eat. I remember ordering fish and chips. At that point in my life, I don’t think I had had fish and chips outside of Canada, where the fish is cut into strips so that it no longer resembles fish. So, when the server in Santiago brought an entire fish – head, eyes, fins, tail, scales, bones, and all – I didn’t know how to begin eat it. However, in my experiences since that time, I now know that many countries serve fish in its entirety. It ain’t no thang.
During our lunch, we were serenaded by three men playing guitars and drums. Some people might like that kind of experience, but it makes me uncomfortable and feel weird. Call me a Grinch, but I was relieved when they left. Though now that I look at this picture, I want to imagine that they are nice old men, and I feel a bit sad for being so disinterested.
After we finished eating and walking through the market, my friend wanted to take me to Cerro San Cristóbal, or San Cristobal Hill, in the northern part of the city. It is a hill (obviously) and on top is a 14 m tall statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, several chapels, and a view of the city.
When we go there, we had two options to get to the top: walking or the funicular. It was nice weather, and some exercise sounded like fun/necessary, so we decided to walk. The hike was supposed to take about 45 minutes, so I was determined to do it in 30. However, my friend’s legs were not as long and strong as mine, so I had to slow it down a bit. The path was wide and smooth. I think you could drive up, but we didn’t have a car.
We stopped along the way to get a drink of mote con huesillo, which is a sweet drink made of peaches and wheat. The drink is more popular in the hot summer months, and I was there in the winter, but I wanted to try anyway. The peaches were yummy, but I don’t know if I can get into drinking wheat. I also needed a break because the pollution in the air was burning my lungs.
Soon we were at the top. There were benches and lookouts and chapels inside and around the statue. The Blessed Virgin Mary was white, but it would soon be getting dark and the lights would come on so that she could be seen from around the city below. I stood at the edge of the cliff and looked out at Santiago.
The snow-covered Andes Mountains in the distance stood tall and protective over the city.
My friend and I walked all around the top, looking at the gardens and observing the city from different angles, but my favourite spot was where I could easily see the mountains. It was the most beautiful. There was also a zoo, botanical garden, some playgrounds, and swimming pools, but we didn’t do anything. I think was too late in the day, anyway. After we had explored the little area sufficiently, and waited until the lights turned on to shine on the statue so we (I) could take some pictures, it was time to leave.
Instead of walking back down, we decided to take the funicular this time. We bought tickets and went inside with the other passengers on their way day. It was dark now, so the city was glowing with lights. I was quite cold at this point, since my warmth from the hike was long gone, and the night air was becoming chilly. I was happy to be inside the funicular car and on my way to somewhere warm.
The funicular only took a minute to take us to the bottom of the hill, and we were back on the same level as the city. Behind me I could still see the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, hands up and watching over the city. Still cold, I rubbed my gloved hands together in a vain attempt to get warm. My friend and I then made our way back to the city and the subway to find some dinner before going back to her apartment for the night.
I would like to go back some day, if only to see the amazing view of the mountains and the city.
Have you ever been in Cerro San Cristóbal in Santiago? What did you think?