I´m not sure how it happened, but we had one month in Peru, three months in Argentina but just a few days in Santiago, Chile — three for me and two for Eaman. We’ve loved how our itinerary has shaped up — especially since we wound up with two weeks in Colombia, where I’m writing this post from — but it’s funny to take a step back and look at the breakdown, especially since Chile was on the top of Eaman’s destination list.
And never have we had such little concept and grasp of a city as we did when we arrived in the country’s capital.
We did have some impressions of Chile as a whole from our nine-day stay in Torres del Paine, and they mostly had to do with how much more regimented and organized the country is compared to Argentina. For example, Chilean border control guards usurped fruits and veggies we had brought from Argentina on our bus to prevent alleged cross-country contamination.
And as we soon realized, Santiago is laced with the same strictness. At the bus terminal — of all places, a crazy South American bus terminal! — to go to the bathroom, you first pay a small fee, then you get a receipt with a bar code and then you scan that bar code to pass through a turnstyle. It definitely ensures clean stalls.
But we wanted to know more about Santiago. We took the advice of a British backpacker in our six-bed hostel dorm — the wonderfully chill Don Santiago hostel in Barrio Brasil — and headed out for a free walking tour of the city. (Well, not really free because the guides, deservedly so, expect some sort of tip.)
The tour, which lasted a solid four hours, was a fantastic way to break down the neighborhoods, learn some history and get restaurant recs. It made me realize how livable of a city Santiago is; it’s clean, the public transportation is great, and, like I said, it’s very uncharacteristically efficient for a South American city.
True, there isn´t a lot to see tourism-wise, but the culture and food scene seems dynamite. And what´s better is it all feels a lot less scene-y than Buenos Aires. The cool restaurants are actually still cool. And while three days were perfect to see the city, Eaman and I could spend a lifetime visiting all the restaurants.
Here, some snapshots of our stay…not just food:
Painting of Pablo Neruda near the Chilean poet´s home:
A little kid displaying two of Santiago´s cultural pillars — skater culture and hot dogs:
Building meant to resemble a cell phone. A Zack Morris phone, I’m guessing:
Statue of a indigenous Mapuche tribesman, broken meant to represent the much-persecuted people’s broken spirit:
Another ¨cultural¨ pillar is coffee with legs, coffee houses where scantily dressed women serve cups of joe. Back in the day, these establishments had bikini-clad women who would strip down for what was known as ¨happy minute.¨ Mmmkay:
Calle New York, found in Santiago’s old financial district. Funnily enough, the city’s new financial district, located in a different neighborhood, is called SanHattan. Get it?
New York City´s Nuts4Nuts food cart was actually started by a Chilean. It flopped at first in its home country, but after succeeding in the Big Apple, its owner brought it back. Nuts for all!
After a four-month dry spell, we finally, finally, finally had Mexican food! And it was GOOD. Loved this appetizer of fresh guacamole with FRIED CHEESE CHIPS:
We took a day-trip to the colorful port city of Valparaiso. It´s Cinque Terra, Italy meets Nice, France with a dash of spice:
Not to get all Bill Cunningham on you, but I loved how edgy this girl was dressed — hard to tell from this angle — for such a simple city:
Great graffiti in Valparaiso, even better than what Buenos Aires has to offer:
See you next time with some goodies from Colombia!