Ever since my trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2006, I always told myself that if I had the chance to return to the region, I would stop by Chile. I figure that if I make such a long journey, I should see whatever destinations that I can in the region. Low and behold, 11 years later I received a second chance to visit southern South America, so this time I made sure to make a pit stop in Santiago.
My first observation of Santiago is that it is a very modern city. It is one of the more cosmopolitan cities that I have seen in the world, and probably more than any other I’ve seen in my travels in South America. My hotel was in the upscale Providencia neighborhood. I was walking distance from a shopping mall, subway station, and a cable car.
One of the main attractions in Santiago is an elevator that gives a sky view of the city. Unfortunately, this was closed on Sunday, so I took the subway to Mercado De Abastos Tirso de Molina to grab a meal. I like to check out such markets if I can, it gives a good perspective on how locals live. Here, I had a local fish called merluza. In English this translates to Hake, a type of cod that I was unfamiliar with. Needless to say, the food was delicious and cheap!
After this it was a quick hike to the center of the city, the Plaza de Armas. Most Latin American cities have such a center, usually with a church and some government buildings. There tend to be several people, most just hanging out and also some local vendors also hawking goods and snacks. This was like that, it was quite crowded, probably since it was Sunday.
Finally, it was off to the grand attraction, a cable car that had just recently reopened; this cable car went to the top of Cerro San Cristobal (cerro means hill in Spanish). This was actually walking distance from the hotel, and had I realized this earlier I would have gone here first, as it is not open very late. Luckily, I made it a few minutes before closing and got a chance to go up the cable car. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any time to do anything besides snap a couple of pictures before having to go back down. It appeared to be a very long walk down so that was definitely not something I was planning on doing.
Finally, it was off to the mall, where I finished off my day with a tasty waffle. One thing I noticed is that prices of clothing were quite expensive; there were definitely no deals to be had. However, the Peruvian store Kuna was in this mall, which was a pleasant surprise. I had already bought an alpaca sweater in Peru but it was interesting to see that this material is available in a neighboring nation as well. I fully recommend buying a sweater of this material if you have the opportunity, it definitely keeps you warm.
Just like that, the day was over. If I had more time in Chile, I would definitely venture outside of Santiago for hiking and/or skiing, as that is what the country is well-known for. There are also many wineries for those who are wine aficionados. Santiago itself suited my plan perfectly, there was about enough to do for a day, so I didn’t regret not spending more time here. I’m glad I had the chance to visit and experience the local culture if only it was for a few fleeting hours.