GUEST ARTICLE: Ola Amigos!! We’ve just finished our Santiago, Chile leg and loved it!! We weren’t sure what to expect in South America, it has been given sort of a bad rap from past histories, but we can honestly say we fully enjoyed every minute of it – throw away any preconceived notions and get over there!
The Chileans are super friendly, the food excellent and wouldn’t ya know it, for the first time ever we weren’t ripped off once! Go figure?! Having the Italian lingo in our back pockets also helped us out quite a bit – unfortunately there aren’t many Chileans that can speak English.
Santiago, Chile – Skyline & Andes Mountain Range credit: fahrenheit75
The flight from Auckland, New Zealand to Chile took us about 12 hours and a few days to get over a major case of jet-lag. Our accommodation at the Hotel Orly was situated in the Provendencia district, just outside of the city’s centre. The feeling on the streets was very laid back, shops open up sometime after 10am and stay open only until … well honestly I couldn’t say? It seems like they close when they like, somewhere in the late afternoon?
Lunch is a frenzy at 2pm and dinner starts around 8-9pm, now that took some getting used to, lots of snacking involved! But when it comes to snacking have no fear there is no end to the multitudes of treats – all types of delicious cakes, empanadas, and mote con huesillos (a very refreshing drink made with peaches and peach juice with cooked barley on the bottom, I know it sounds strange but – yum!).
The cost of things (in pesos of course) we found to be pretty well priced, we were able to go out for a pretty nice dinner and spend about $50AUD, that’s with two main meals and nice bottle of Chilean wine ~ perfecto!
A great place to go particularly on the weekends is an area called the Bellavista, Constiticion St. to be exact, and it is lined with a multitude of different restaurants. The next street over is strictly dedicated to night clubs and salsa bars – fun!!
So one night after having a wicked dinner at a little piazza in Constitucion we went over to check out the raging night life. The streets were teaming with people, music of all types blaring and a good time being had by all with giant cervezas in hand. The buskers were some of the coolest we’ve ever seen, one man salsa bands that spin faster than Michelle Kwan while still keeping their cool rhythmic beats ~ awesome!!
We didn’t stick around too long though, we were told by our hotel staff not to hang around the streets after a certain time and after seeing the amount of drinks being downed you could kinda see where that could end up ~ Olalay!
Santiago Chile – Subway credit: la_cola_de_mi_perro
We never once felt like we were ever in any danger even when we were on the subway and a fight broke out between some soccer fans, about 10 cops dealt with that situation asap, batons on full blow and the trouble makers dealt with within minutes, they certainly don’t fool around there!
Virgin Mary – San Cristóbal , credit:Diegosaurius Rex
As for tourist attractions, there are many. One day we went up in a cable car to San Cristóbal which gave a 360° view of the 6 million people living in Santiago and the breathtaking Andes surrounding the city. At the top was an old beautiful church (Santuario Inmaculada Concepción) and massive statue of the virgin Mary overlooking the city.
On another excursion we went to check out the local handicrafts at a wicked little outside market called Artesanos Los Domenicos.
The ‘artesanos’ are fantastic in a number of things like, copper work, leather bags, wood carving, pottery and fine alpaca knits, just to name a few.
The home-made Chilean food is something else, especially if you like corn (Choclo). One of their favorite dishes is called Pastel de Choclo, which is like a shepherd’s pie with a puréed corn crust baked in a clay pot, can you say yummo!!
In downtown Santiago are some massive pedestrian only streets lined with shops of all kinds and some of the famous ‘Coffee with Legs’ cafes. I’m not really sure what the attraction is to these shops, the girls wear a typical suit with mid thigh skirts? Normal for us, but I guess a real treat for the eyes for the Chileans?
We also saw a few protests, lots of salsa ranting and confetti throwing, all really friendly but we noticed the policia were always on the ready. Seafood is also really big and they can whip up a pretty mean fish with potatoes or one of the best seafood soups I’ve ever had ~ amazing!!
So amigos, if you’re up for some great ‘ankle expressing’, beautiful sights to the senses and booty shaking Santiago is the place!! We are now on the road in our little tinbox rental and off to Pucón (Southern Chile)….until then Adios amigos!
This travel diary has been written by Rob Gower, a friend who enjoys taking the road less traveled!