Over­seas Walks: A trail of two ci­ties

If you are plan­ning stopovers in San­ti­ago or Lima, Jim Tully rec­om­mends th­ese city trails for those who en­joy ex­plor­ing a city on foot.

Walking New Zealand - - Contents - By Jim Tully

San­ti­ago is a sprawl­ing city of 5.5 mil­lion in a basin about 570 me­tres above sea-level, its eastern edge brush­ing the foothills of the An­des, which form a dra­matic back­drop to Chile’s cap­i­tal – at least on a smog-free day when snow-capped peaks loom large.

It’s one of my favourite ci­ties and af­ter six vis­its I thought I knew it well espe­cially the leafy streets of Prov­i­den­cia, an up­mar­ket com­mune pop­u­lar with tourists and the diplo­matic com­mu­nity for its cafes, restau­rants, shops and cul­tural at­trac­tions.

San­ti­ago’s im­mac­u­late, ef­fi­cient and cheap metro has you in the CBD in a few min­utes or, for the flat rate of about $1.20, you can go to the eastern end of the line and the highly re­garded Los Do­mini­cos ar­ti­sans’ mar­ket with 200 stalls set in the peace­ful grounds of a for­mer monastery.

For se­ri­ous walk­ers (and moun­tain bik­ers) San Car­los de Apo­quinda Na­tional Park, just 6kms from Los Do­minico sta­tion, of­fers ex­cel­lent trails in the foothills of the An­des.

Our ho­tel was close to the Manuel Montt metro sta­tion. By co­in­ci­dence, our two nights co­in­cided with the visit of Pope Francis who was stay­ing a lit­tle fur­ther up Avenida Prov­i­den­cia. As a re­sult, this nor­mally bustling av­enue was fenced off and there was a heavy po­lice pres­ence. We saw El Papa three times be­ing driven to and from the city and al­though not of his faith we felt the wave of ex­cite­ment that washed over the crowds wait­ing for a glimpse of him.

We de­cided to ex­plore Prov­i­den­cia by head­ing off in a new di­rec­tion, about 300 me­tres up Avenida Manuel Montt to the Mapocho River, which be­gins in the An­des and splits San­ti­ago in two. We set our­selves up for a day’s walk­ing with break­fast at Cof­fee and Me, a great lit­tle café on Manuel Montt, where the barista, who lived in Melbourne for nine years, makes ex­cel­lent cof­fee.

We turned right on to a walk­ing track over­look­ing the river which at this point is usu­ally a trickle in a canal, whose stone walls are a pop­u­lar ‘can­vas’ for street artists and po­lit­i­cal ac­tivists. Dozens of cy­clists were tak­ing ad­van­tage of the pub­lic hol­i­day to mark the Pope’s visit by rid­ing the cy­cle­way be­tween walk­ers and jog­gers and the tree-lined Avenida An­dres Bello. Thanks to a group of cy­cling en­thu­si­asts, who per­suaded Pres­i­dent Michelle Bachelet to sup­port Mapocho Pedaleable, this path will be sig­nif­i­cantly up­graded and ex­tended by De­cem­ber 2019.

As we walked on through Par­que Uruguay with its well-equipped ex­er­cise sta­tion up ahead, with a back­drop of the An­des, was the tow­er­ing 300-me­tre Costan­era Cen­tre, the tallest build­ing and largest mall in South Amer­ica and the sec­ond-tallest build­ing in the South­ern Hemi­sphere. Opened in 2012, it ab­so­lutely dom­i­nates a city that has many skyscrap­ers de­spite its propen­sity for earth­quakes.

Af­ter about 3kms we reached the cen­tre, crossed the river and headed back to­wards Manuel Montt through Par­que Repub­lica de Ecuador and the won­der­ful Par­que de las Es­cul­turas, a sculp­ture park fea­tur­ing the works of more than 30 renowned Chilean artists and an ex­hi­bi­tion hall. The park was cre­ated in 1982 to re­store an area of gar­dens badly dam­aged af­ter one of the worst floods in San­ti­ago’s his­tory. It is a pho­tog­ra­pher’s de­light.

We crossed the river to where we had started at Avenida Manuel Montt then walked about 3kms fol­low­ing the river to the cen­tral mar­ket through a se­ries of parks – Ava­cion, Bal­maceda and Fore­stal – en­joy­ing the shade on a hot San­ti­ago sum­mer’s day.

Just past Par­que Bal­maceda at Plaza Baque­dano, it is worth de­vi­at­ing across the river to Bar­rio Bellav­ista, which travel books usu­ally la­bel San­ti­ago’s” bo­hemian quar­ter” with its restau­rants, bars, clubs and bou­tiques. It’s a great place for hand­i­crafts espe­cially jew­ellery made from the dis­tinc­tive blue lapis

lazuli stone.

Bellav­ista is at the foot of Cerro San Cris­to­bal, which rises 300 me­tres above the city of­fer­ing a stun­ning panorama. It’s about a 40-minute walk to the sum­mit where there is a 22-me­tre high statue of the Vir­gin Mary, a chapel and am­phithe­atre used for masses. The sum­mit is ac­ces­si­ble by road or a fu­nic­u­lar ad­ja­cent to the Chilean Na­tional Zoo.

If you con­tinue through Par­que Fore­stal past the Na­tional Mu­seum of Fine Arts you reach the cen­tral mar­ket (Mer­cado Cen­tral). From here, it is a short walk to San­ti­ago’s main square, the Plaza de Ar­mas and Ahu­mada, the busy pedes­trian thor­ough­fare in the city cen­tre.

Turn left on to Au­gus­tine and af­ter 500 me­tres you are at the en­trance of Santa Lu­cia, the 70-me­tre rem­nant of a vol­cano where Span­ish con­quis­ta­dor Pe­dro de Val­divia an­nounced the found­ing of San­ti­ago in 1540 and es­tab­lished a fort. Now, it is a most at­trac­tive park with or­nate build­ings, stair­ways and

foun­tains. Santa Lu­cia metro sta­tion is on the red line and just four stops from Manuel Montt.

We did not di­vert to Bellav­ista or Santa Lu­cia on this walk as our main aim was to fol­low the Mapocho River from Prov­i­den­cia into the city cen­tre. In our ex­pe­ri­ence, it would be worth de­vot­ing half a day to Bellav­ista and Cerro San Cris­to­bal and a cou­ple of hours to Santa Lu­cia.

Un­like land-locked San­ti­ago, Peru’s cap­i­tal Lima is on the coast sprawl­ing across the arid val­leys of three rivers that flow into the Pa­cific. For many, this city of 9.7 mil­lion is a brief stopover be­fore head­ing to Lake Tit­i­caca, Cusco and Machu Pic­chu.

There is a desert-like feel to Lima, which has just 6mm of rain a year but its con­stantly high hu­mid­ity sus­tains plant life. It also gen­er­ates a con­stant grey haze from May to Novem­ber, which lo­cals call panza de burro – don­key’s belly. The weather in late De­cem­ber was per­fect for walk­ing.

There was no panza de burro when we ar­rived at our ho­tel in Mi­raflo­res, an up­mar­ket dis­trict about 10kms south from the city cen­tre, pop­u­lar with tourists and noted for its parks and green spa­ces. We stayed, as many Ki­wis have, at Ho­tel Tierra Viva on Calle Bo­li­var a short walk from the hub of Mi­raflo­res, Par­que Kennedy. An­other bonus of the lo­ca­tion is across the street – True Caffé where they serve great cof­fee from break­fast un­til late.

Sur­rounded by shops and restau­rants, Par­que Kennedy was named af­ter Pres­i­dent John F Kennedy in thanks for the aid given to Peru dur­ing his pres­i­dency. It has be­come fa­mous for the more than 100 stray cats that live there with the bless­ing of the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Mi­raflo­res.

You can buy hand­i­crafts at a small mar­ket in the park but nearby on Avenida Petit Thours at the mer­cado in­dio dozens of ar­ti­sans’ shops sell al­paca prod­ucts, sil­ver jew­ellery and Peru­vian hand­i­crafts.

We had tasty, fresh sand­wiches at La Tien­decita Blanco, a Swiss café over­look­ing the man­i­cured grass of the Mi­raflo­res Oval ad­ja­cent to Par­que Kennedy and then joined Avenida Jose Pardo, which has a most pleas­ant walk­way down its mid­dle, so we could join the Male­con about 2kms away.

The Male­con is a su­perb 10km walk­way along 70-me­tre high cliffs over­look­ing the Pa­cific. Down be­low are beaches pop­u­lar with surfers

in­clud­ing Makaha and Waikiki, so named by Car­los Dogny, a Peru­vian sug­ar­cane heir who re­turned to Lima from Hawaii in 1942 with a surf­board. At the bot­tom of Jose Pardo, we crossed to Par­que Grau, the north­ern Above left: The clifftop Mi­raflo­res walk­way is the premier paraglid­ing sport in Peru. Above right: Sev­enty-me­tre cliffs stand be­tween the Pa­cific Ocean and the Mi­raflo­res walk­way. start­ing point of the Male­con, which fol­lows a se­ries of parks to Par­que Amen­dariz. Along the way, there are im­pres­sive sculp­tures, no­tably, at Par­que Del Amor, Peru­vian artist Vic­tor Delfin’s pow­er­ful de­pic­tion of lovers in an em­brace. The wall on the sea­ward side of the park fea­tures mo­saics in­spired by the Span­ish ar­chi­tect/artist An­toni Gaudi in which quotes about love by Peru­vian writ­ers are em­bed­ded.

Par­que del Li­bro is dom­i­nated by a seven-me­tre high, colour­ful totem, Si­len­cio, by Jose Tola. When it was in­stalled four years ago it pro­voked con­tro­versy with some lo­cals call­ing it a mon­ster that would frighten chil­dren.

More likely to get your adrenalin pump­ing is paraglid­ing- year-round - from the clifftop at Par­que An­to­nio Rai­mondi. For shop­pers, it is hard to go past the Lar­co­mar shop­ping com­plex on Par­que Salazar.

Af­ter a most en­joy­able walk, we found our way up Avenida Jose Larco to Calle Bo­li­var and a much-needed cof­fee at True Caffe.

Above left: The larger-than-life sculp­ture, The Kiss, is a fea­ture of Par­que del Amor on the Mi­raflo­res walk­way in Lima. Above right: South Amer­ica’s tallest build­ing, the Costan­era Cen­tre, dom­i­nates the San­ti­ago sky­line.

A trail of two ci­ties

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