Oh Santiago De Chile, you quaint, busy, and historical Capital City full of Art, Music, and wonderful WINE.
I began my journey to Santiago from Mendoza, Argentina. Mendoza, Having one Malbec of a time. I had already spend 4 full days and nights there and was ready to hit Santiago and Chillllll. I was particularly excited about this trip as I’ll be meeting a very dear friend of mine from Hawaii, Kawai ( pronounced Kah Va eye) who currently lives in Sao Paolo Brazil with his lovely husband Rodrigo. I haven’t really got to know Rodrigo since the last I met him, was at his Wedding party at a club in Waikiki . Never-the-less, I was excited to see them both. By this point, traveling solo was sort of becoming a little bit of a downer. I truly enjoy traveling alone, but sometimes I’d like a reaction from someone else when I see something amazing, funny, or weird, and I”m sure locals are tired of seeing this odd girl talk to herself and giggle to herself. I’m sure they thought I was missing a few screws, and that probably ensured my safety 🙂
My flight out of Mendoza wasn’t until the noon hour. I would have to make a stop in Buenos Aires at the Aerolineas Parque Airport AEP ( domestic) as it is Aerolineas Argentina’s HUB. The sad thing is that by car it would take only 6 – 7 hours of driving through the beautiful Andes mountains. And although my flights were somewhat quicker, it’s always a hassle transiting and flying through airports.
When I was in the research stages of my preparing for my trip, I initially was going to take a lie flat double decker luxury bus Bus Link up through the Andes , unfortunately it is not guarantee passage because at the time I was planning on going, was the beginning of winter, and the Andes sees a lot of snowfall during this season. Thank God I didn’t take it as you can see from my pictures in air over the drop dead gorgeous SNOW CAPPED ANDES Mountains, that I probably would never have made it.
My flights over were nice and comfortable, and again I stress the importance of spending a few extra dollars ( Pessos) and upgrade yourself to Premium Economy class . It’s not that expensive, and you sit in a former 1st class cabin.
Before you land at Arturo Merino Benitez Airport ( SLC) you have to fill out a customs form where they ask you if you have any plant products. THEY MEAN IT. ANY type of plant products . I was carrying Yerba Matte I bought while in Igua who? Iguazu….Please go Chase Waterfalls and I asked the FA if this too needs to be claimed. She said ABSOLUTELY. Failure to do so can result in heavy penalties. Please claim everything they ask for.
When I landed, I immediately was taken to Passport Control, which was very swift. Unlike Argentina, they didn’t take my picture. In baggage , there are Remise ( hired car) kiosks. My Airbnb host told me that this would be the easiest way to get to the city . And he is absolutely right. I got a ticketed receipt and was told to look for the guys in the Yellow jacket.
After immigration, I was on the search for an ATM .. mama needs money honey. The ATMS were so confusing for me. It kept rejecting my card. I couldn’t understand what the hell I was doing wrong. Clicked English, Withdraw, Checking etc. But It just wouldn’t work. I honestly can’t remember what exactly I did, but after much confusion, a security helped me figure it out. Gosh how irritating hahaha.
Money in hand, now time for a biggie break. When I stepped out of the terminal I thought there were a million people smoking because it was very could and foggy outside. Well, no , I was the only one about to light up. Santiago was Fogged out… A typical occurrence unfortunately. With all the traffic and pollution, and being in a valley with a lack of wind, creates fog . No worries not a problem, I’ve survived New Delhi’s Smog Delhi: Old and New this was nothing.
Finally I handed my ticket over to a gentlemen in yellow, was met by a bubbly portly older gentleman who braved carrying my 1000000 pound bag. He was cute and kind and very talkative. He said he has a cousin who lives in Hawaii and that he’s been here before, but can’t remember what island, city, or area he stayed at hahahaha. I think he meant to say he watched a video of Hawaii maybe. 🙂
About 25 minutes later, I was entering the heart of Santiago. There were people everywhere. I saw so many native looking Chileans that it made me so happy. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the people of Argentina, but I just didn’t feel like I was in South America there. To see people of color finally, to see authentic ethnicities made me very happy.
We pulled into the Providencia area, and landed at my apartment. Uncle was so cute. He gave me his number and hustled me to remember to call him for any rides I may need. Ok uncle.
A quick WhatsApp text to my host and he was there in no time checking me in with security, and taking me up to my room. I rented a more modest place this time around, as it was really all about the location. Never-the-less I did enjoy my apartment albeit the red light in my bedroom which made me wonder if i was sending off any signals to the neighboring buildings.. Oh well.
My Host was British. British. I was amazed. An expat who fell in love and had a family, he’s been in Santiago for over 15 years. My place , was clean, quaint and everything i needed. The views of San Cristobal ( which I couldn’t see currently because of the smog / fog) was right out my balcony window. The city was peaceful from up here, and I really liked it. This was my last Airbnb experience for the rest of this trip. I will be staying in hotels from here after. So this was my last chance to feel truly at home like a local. Airbnb Apartment in Providencia
Providencia: It’s one of the commercial and gastronomical hotspots of the city, in particular along Avenida Providencia. Here you can find culturally interesting barrios like Bellavista and Italia, and in the east, towards Sanhattan, some of the city’s skyscrapers. Cerro San Cristobal, one of the city’s most famous hills, is located here as is the part of the Mapocho river and the parks on the bank of it. It’s such a cool area, with beautiful homes and apartments , lots of international life, and a safe and wonderful neighborhood to be in
Kawai and Rodrigo were staying a 10 minute walk away and I couldn’t wait to see them. The sun was already starting to set, so we decided to go get a munch and cocktails. I met them at their apartment which was quaint and full of people . A very active apartment which I probably would have loved as well. Their room was really nice and large enough and perfect for a couple.
We headed out and took a taxi to our dismay, as the traffic was horrendous. We were heading for Boccanariz a popular restaurant in the Lastarria area. It started to rain which made our taxi ride even longer. Once we got there ,the host wasn’t the brightest or sharpest tool in the shed. We arrived around 7 pm and asked to be seated. She didn’t understand and said that 9:30 would be better to line up. Ok. But is there no way to make a reservation? Not possible. Weird.
So we decided to walk around and see some sites. Well it was pretty busy as it was a Thursday night, and there were people everywhere.
When we initially got out of our taxi there a window display with a coy looking man sitting on a rocking chair trying to sell his peculiar yet colorful items. It really added to the ambience. There were street art, performers, and craft sellers lined up , all before the rain poured. We ducked into an outdoor cafe to grab a couple of glasses of wine. It was a very chilly night in Chille ( i just had to) so we opted to sit under a heated lamp. 2 hours went by and we decided to head back to the restaurant as we were now starving!.
We came back at 9:30 to a plethora of people waiting. We were told 20 minutes wait. Ok , an hour goes by and still no seat and she was eating everyone else. We weren’t very happy about that. Once seated though , everything changed. The menu is amazing. The wine tasting fantastic. The food delicious and the service excellent.
Try the pistachio desert its to die for.
Really fantastic quality food and the price was great
Tired and full we called it a night. The next morning I awoke to early for reason. Why am I not getting a full 8 hours of sleep when I can? Frustrating. Seems like Kawai had the same problem.
Day 2: The views from my room were better than the day before. Although still cloudy / smoggy, I was able to see more of San Cristobal and some bits of the Andes in the distance. I heard that it is truly a sight to see when the mountains show themselves in the city.
I walked on over to meet Kawai and Rodrigo again as I enjoy nothing more then early morning walks in a big city, when everything is still nice and quiet. The walk was gorgeous
There seems to be a common theme in the local airbnb’s here. First off you get fuzzy tv stations , secondly and most amazingly each host left us with a metro card called Bip! and all we had to do was top it off. It’s really easy to do of course. AT the metro stations ( there were 3 within walking distance ) you scan the card on the yellow machines and add money. It can be used more than once per journey but they will deduct the currency from the card after each swipe. Easily done.
So I was waiting for the boys as they were still getting ready for the chilly day in Chile ( had to again) I sat outside in a cafe across their apartment for some coffee. Thank goodness the coffee here is a thousand times better and stronger than in Argentina. After a few minutes they joined me , and we were then off to the metro to head towards the center of town. First and most important on my list was the Museo Chilean de Arte Precolombo . We got off in Plaza de Armas. A huge square with so many sights located right there. We decided to sit at a touristy restaurant and grab some breakfast. Although the menu left little to be desired, we fueled up and were ready to tackle the day . Since the plaza was so festive and there were a few things to see there, we decided to have a look around. The Main Cathedral (Cathedral Metropolitan) was there and we popped in for a visit. It is very beautiful with its Baroque architecture , vaulted painted ceilings, amazing tile work, and a quiet yet profound use of lights reminding you the He is greater than thou. It was free, and we did it in 10 minutes.
On the square is the beautiful post office as well, although we didn’t take a gander inside. On our way to the Museum, which was a quick 5 minute walk from the Plaza, we came across the Hall of Justice . Really beautiful architecture.
The Museo Chileno De Arte PreColombo was amazing. It is housed in a somewhat grand structure . Entrance fee was nominal and a pamphlet with locations of the exhibits by time, area, and significance lead you on a wonderful journey back in time before the massive destruction of the Colombian dynasty. It was eye opening, beautiful and profound. Especially when we came to the Rapa Nui Exibit ( polynesian for Easter Island) . Rapa Nui belongs to chile, and I find it very interesting how the similarities of this polynesian culture matched that of my own and that of the indigenous people of Chile. I guess it goes to show that we truly are all one people . It is equally interesting to note all the other dynasties that have influenced South, Central and Latin America. The Incas and Mayans were truly great empires. When we were exiting, we noticed the patio restaurant was now full to capacity, so starved and anxious to eat, we were on the hunt for food.
We walked around and made our way to the famous Fish market of Mercado Central. Boy you can smell the seafood from a mile away. We tried our best to choose the right little restaurant to sit at that wasn’t so touristy. IT WAS VERY TOURISTY. But what can one expect from a tourist attraction. We ended up eating at a small tiny place pushed to the side with no bells or whistles and we were so glad we did. We noticed locals one after the other heading upstairs to eat in their more private section. Each restaurant touts and hustles you to eat their food and sit at their restaurant. Fortunately Trip Advisor warned us of each and every restaurants down fall . lol I ordered a seafood Paella , Kawai ordered everything on the menu, a true Hawaiian, especially their famous crab. Wine , food and company what an amazing way to have lunch.
We enjoyed a walk around Central Santiago with all its colorful people. Merchants sell their crafts along pedestrian only boulevards, some authentic some not so authentic. There were a group of students protesting peaceful while marching to the beat of their own voices. Come to find out later, they were beaten by the police. Oh sweet justice how you show your ugly head sometimes.
We wandered on our way in hopes to see more art and we were fortune enough to run across the National Bellas Artes museum. Lovely museum housed in a lovely building . The art was awesome and it was a nice refuge from the cold. There was a lovely cafe with cool modern art in the back entrance with most excellent coffee and scones. The museum is broken up into sections. Local Modern Chilean art, Renaissance, Impressionism, Sculptures, Busts, and Ancient. Was lovely
After a lovely few hours in the museum we decided to walk home to Providencia for a nice siesta before trying our hand at finding a lovely restaurant for dinner. At about 8:30 pm we set out from our apartments to the Bella Vista area of Providencia. A quick metro ride , we exited and walked over the river’s bridge towards Bella Vista, only to find it teaming with people. Everyone was out. It was a party night, and it was packed. There were street art, music, and nick knacks for sale, there were toasted people, and live rap artists all trying to make a coin. We walked into Patio Bellavista, an open air market full of restaurants and stores. It was packed there as well. We fired up the Yelp and Trip Advisor apps and searched our way around to find the Peumayan Ancestral Food Restaurant. We chose this restaurant for its Pre-Colombian Pan Chilean cuisine. When we arrived, we were told ” It is not possible to eat here tonight” . What a bummer for us, as we didn’t make reservations, but with a quick swift response, the host said ” Maybe in 25 minutes, but it’s not possible. But you come back in 25 minutes ” hahahaha we got a kick out of that one and have had that saying stuck in our heads from there on. Upon our return, we were surprised to see that it was possible to eat there tonight. 🙂 We sat down in the back courtyard next to the kitchen. Beautiful outdoor feel ambience with soft lighting and lovely smell from the kitchen. Our server Maria excelled with her knowledge of the menu, its origins and how and why the native’s ate them. We started off our dinner with unusual Pisco sours ( freshly made of course) OMG they were delicious. Next came out a little gift from the Chef to tempt our pallets. Fortunately I asked our server what it was ” Horse Meat” Um ya, I’m vegetarian … ha! The rest of our meals, drinks, and service were stellar, it is comparable to that of a Michelin starred restaurant . Fortunately The not Possible turned into Possible 25 minutes later, where we got to enjoy a sumptuous dinner in a lovely setting.
Day 2 was such a busy and fulfilling day and night. Rest was most important now, and hopefully I will have more than the few hours I slept the night before.
Day 3. Bright and early I was up yet again and couldn’t wait to slay the day. Today we thought of visiting the neighboring port town of ValParaiso. We thought of a few options on how to get there. Rent – A Car, hire a driver, or take the bus. The bus became our option and it was super easy. At the end of our metro line was the Terminal Sur which would be the bus for us to take. We purchased a round trip to leave later on in the evening, and ran to grab some breakfast pastries and coffee for our ride. It took around 1.5 hours to reach ValParaiso. The bus ride was lovely, the drop off point in Terminus at ValParaiso not so much. I was wondering to myself, where is the paradise I’m supposed to be seeing. Instead it was for lack of a better word, a farmer’s market going on in the center of town where we were dropped off. There was food trampled on the ground, chaos everywhere, and I secretly loved it. The buildings look like they haven’t seen any love since 1930, but it was so full of life, culture, and the authentic day-to-day lives of the people. But hey , we were here to play fairytale paradise lost …. After a good half hour of walking, we found the area we were supposed to be in.
Valparaíso played an important geopolitical role in the second half of the 19th century, when the city served as a major stopover for ships traveling between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by crossing the Straits of Magellan. Valparaíso mushroomed during its golden age, as a magnet for European immigrants, when the city was known by international sailors as “Little San Francisco” and “The Jewel of the Pacific“. In 2003, the historic quarter of Valparaíso was declared a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site. Courtesy of Wikipedia…
The cool and amazing thing about Valparaiso, is how everyone lives high above the center of town on steep hills. There are funicular style elevators to help people get up as well as busses and taxis. The houses up Cierro Conception are so colorful and full of art. You can reach there up through Ancensor Reina Victoria. We stopped first for some cocktails to soak it all in and relax a bit. The weather was chilly, cloudy and a bit rainy. After our few Pisco sours, we grabbed a map from the TI across the street, paid the few pesos at the asencar, and headed up to Cierro Conception.
Cierro Conception: What a lovely and lively place. Art is everywhere, and so are commanding and beautiful views of the port. We walked around and checked out the stores and shops and had a spectacular lunch .
We then thought it a great idea to go and visit the famous Chilean Poet Pablo Neruda’s house . Except we decided to walk. WALK up very very steep hills. It took us a good 40 minutes walking up hill and burning our butts of steel until we finally reached his home. Tired and exhausted, we relaxed, watched the sun finish setting, and just relaxed. We didn’t even go inside. ha! We did order a taxi from there, and in no time we were back at the Bus station early. We were also lucky enough to change our departure time an hour earlier . The Bus station was busy with people. There were sailors arriving, probably coming home for a visit, old couples holding hands and watching the young children rush by as if life was leaving them so quickly. It was surreal to step back and observe … On the bus we were tired and I knocked out. Next thing I knew, we were back in Santiago, and hungry. Think its time to revisit Patio BellaVista for some dinner. We decided upon a french restaurant, who although wasn’t terribly bad, sort of failed on the most important thing I was craving for, French Onion soup…. Oh well it was good enough . The surprising thing was how empty Bella Vista was on a Saturday night, the normal busiest night in the States. Definitely a cue to call it quits early. Tomorrow the boys leave back for Sao Paolo , and I spend my last full day and night in Santiago de Chile…
Day 4: Last day with the boys. I started off early this morning and headed up to the opposite end of my red metro line to the little village of Los Dominicos. It is in back of an old dominican church. Here they are famous for local handicrafts all in one place. Think of an artisan swap meat but in a classy and beautiful setting. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t very much into anything I seen. I couldn’t believe it. I was so hoping to knock out all my souvenir shopping here. Alas, it was a lovely stroll for the day …
I met up with the boys at their apartment and we decided to do a goodbye lunch together. On the menu today… Indian. We decided on the Jewel of India, based on their reviews. About a good 20 minute walk away, we arrived at the Jewel of India. Which looked like it was part house part restaurant. We’ve been hungry for Indian food, after reading how delicious Indian food was in Santiago. After much research we decided on here.
We made reservations via online and was answered by email by the colorful owner who welcomed us in the email and sent us to YouTube videos to get us in the mood.
Located along he lines of different south East Asian restaurant ms, there was no mistaking this place.
Beautifully decorated and with a dining room almost al fresco we were welcomed by said amazing host who is the owner of the restaurant and it just so happens to be his fabulous house as well.
Our food was delicious. I ordered the vegetarian Thali ( a bunch of small dishes ) to sample it all. Omg we were so stuffed to the brim but we couldn’t stop eating.
On the pricier side , it wa well worth this 5 star cuisine. It was our last meal together and I was a bit sad about it. We walked back to the apartment where they grabbed their suitcases and met with their uber driver who took them to the airport. I said my sad goodbyes, and they were off. I suddenly felt all alone 😦
Back to being alone, I decided to plug in my earphones and feel sorry for my loneliness as I walked around the now rainy city taking the still sights of Providencia on a Sunday afternoon. I tried to go back to Lastarria and see if there was anything for me to do or see, but the rain really put a damper on it. I grabbed an early dinner close to my apartment, finished packing my bags and cleaning the apartment for my 7 am pick up the next morning. I sad outside drinking my wine and enjoy my cigarettes as I looked out on the foggy lit up hill of Cierro San Cristobal and recalled the fun memories I just created with Kawai and Rodrigo. I missed them already . It was very intoxicating to have friends around you when you’ve been traveling for two weeks alone. Tomorrow I leave back for Argentina, and to Patagonia to the little sleepy city of El Calafate , home of the Perito Moreno Glacier Park.
My hired car came exactly on time, and I was whisked away to the airport. Check in was a breeze , and the next thing I know , I was going through security and passport control en route through Duty Free to the Lounge. A quick side note for Delta Elite customers. If you are traveling on a Sky Team Airline in an international Airport, you qualify for Lounge access, even if you fly coach. Thank goodness I researched that. I spent most of my remaining Chilean Pesos on some souvenirs for my family and relaxed with some wine and food in the lounge.
It has been quite a lovely trip. I would suggest however , if ever you think of visiting Santiago, please try to make it at least 10 days. There were so much things to do and see and I only barely scratched the surface. It is such a charming city and lovely country and I can’t wait to return and really dig deep…
Thank you so much again I hope this has given you a brief intro to the many possibilites of a wonderful time that awaits you in Santiago….