The other Santiago and the other woman

Santiago de Chile was named after Santiago, the patron Saint of Spain, by Pedro de Valdivia and the "other" woman, Inés Suárez with whom he had an extramarital relationship. But rather than reading their quite remarkable story from me, I would recommend you read the novel by Isabel Allende, Inés del alma mía (Inés of my soul) - she writes better than I do and was also related to the President of Chile, Salvador Allende.
Santiago is different from other Latin American cities. Even though it can become quite lively, as you can experience in the rowdy bars of Bellavista, on the whole I found it to be a relatively tranquil place, especially if you wander around the upmarket Las Condes district, where you can also find an open air antiques market in Plaza Peru every Sunday. It is also quite easy to get around and the underground is clean and efficient.
Visit the Cathedral; the sadly famous Palacio de la Moneda, bombed by General Pinochet during his coup d'état and where Salvador Allende died; the central market; the Cerro San Cristobal - a hill dominated by a large statue of the Virgin Mary; the Cerro Santa Lucia, where Pedro de Valdivia was pinned down by the native indians for 2 years; and the home of the poet Pablo Neruda called "La Chascona" the nickname of his lover at the time. Another site that you will not easily forget is the closeness and the immensity of the Andes.

Going up Cerro San Cristobal
Going up Cerro San Cristobal

La Chascona - House of Pablo Neruda
La Chascona- House of Pablo Neruda

View from Cerro Santa Lucia
View from Cerro Santa Lucia

View of the Andes from shopping mall of Las Condes
View of the Andes from shopping mall of  Las Condes


The town of Mystics and of someone who was played by Mel Brooks and Monty Python

The mystics were Saint Teresa and Saint John of the Cross; the other was Torquemada, the first Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition, and the town is Ávila. St. Teresa and St. John were both born in Ávila and Torquemada, famously played by Mel Brooks in History of the World, Part I and by Monty Python in one of their sketches, died there. There is an even weirder relationship between St. Teresa and Torquemada. The grandfather of St. Teresa was a converted Jew who was accused by the Spanish Inquisition of re-embracing his faith and was condemned to walk in procession, together with other condemned, wearing what was known as a sambenito.
The historical centre of Ávila is small and pleasant. The town is best known for being the birthplace of St. Teresa and for its medieval Walls that span 2.5 Kms. encircling the town.
A good option to stay in Ávila is the Parador, set in a restored 16th Century Palace, adjacent to the Wall and with a very pleasant garden and where you can also savour the local food, famously, the Chuletón de Ávila if you like meat and the sweet Yemas de Santa Teresa.

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