With on-air host Brandi Parisi

Flying into the Chilean central valley at daybreak was breathtaking, with a literal roygbiv rainbow played across the Andes mountains.  We arrived at the Santiago airport and were greeted with Chile’s comprehensive customs process; this is a country tightly nestled between mountains and ocean, and acutely concerned with outside flora and fauna disrupting the ecosystem.

Our guide Hannes is very enthusiastic. He immigrated to South America  from Austria several years ago, and clearly loves his adopted home.  After rounding up our group at the airport, Hannes had us dive right into Santiago, with a trip to Santa Lucia Hill, a place rich with history and  gorgeous views of the entire city http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Luc%C3%ADa_Hill, and to  Iglesia de San Francisco, the oldest standing church in Santiago. http://www.allsantiago.com/barrios/snfco.html

Even in these first hours after arriving, something our group has noticed is the incredible variety of architecture here, and the old church offers a clue to the mash up of architectural eras: earthquakes.  Early 19th century monolithic structures sit side by side with 70s era condominiums in Santiago, and there’s a certain shabbiness in the sophisticated urban landscape here; it all points to the ongoing reconstruction and rebuilding of Chile, necessitated by earthquakes (as you may remember, the most recent one an 8.8 this past February.)

Dinner this first night is in a rotating 16th floor restaurant, providing arresting views of the vast city of Santiago at sunset.  Looking forward to a good night’s sleep and a vineyard tour tomorrow!

Brandi Parisi, All Classical Portland On-Air Host

[photos gallery=”south-america-october-2010″]

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