Chile, we’re back! Our first taste of this land was in San Pedro de Atacama, gorgeous northern cowboy town in the desert. We’re now here again and finally stepping into the capital’s soil, and I can say the two locations have absolutely nothing in common (if not the high price of living). If San Pedro is the cowboy, Santiago is the metrosexual bar owner. With its very European air we quickly felt at home (even if our actual home – an airbnb room – wasn’t all that welcoming with its mouldy bathroom and questionably clean sheets).
As in many of our city experiences we mainly dedicated our time to a free walking tour (super helpful to get the lowdown on its history and not lose our mind aimlessly walking around town) and exploring the markets; this time we visited an amazing fish market with dozens of stalls and restaurants where we tasted a hearty Chupe de Jaiba (crab soup/stew), followed by the fruit and veg market “La Vega” where people flock to at weekends to stock up on their weekly grocery as produce is sold by the kilo.
First impressions were 10/10 but what made Santiago special was Philip, an old school mate of Annalie’s, and his husband Alejandro. They met us for lunch one day and warmly took us under their wing for the entire day and evening, proudly showing us the sites and taking us on an insider tour of the city. We walked their friendly dogs to Santa Lucia – a green leafed hill in the city – and after the rain poured we washed them and dried them off (with a hairdryer), we discovered the outskirts and more residential areas of town by car, walked through a romantic artesanal market composed of dozens of huts selling, amongst other trinkets, stunning brass jewellery with blue lapis lazuli stones (unique to only Chile and Afghanistan), and, before hitting the town, we also got to see their brand new flat to which they’d just been handed keys.
It’s a nice problem to have, but constant lonely planet and web research around our daily activities / shelter / food stops can get a little taxing, so it was nice for once to be hand held through the city knowing we were getting an authentic local experience and not one dictated by trip advisor. The boys took us to a few super cool bars, our first stop being La Piojera, a grungy / artsy bar where we tasted a local ‘delicacy’ called Terremoto, a concoction of cheap wine, grenadine and pineapple ice-cream (pretty rough, not gonna lie). This was clearly a favourite spot for Santiagonians (is that what they’re called?) demonstrated by the arrival of freshly married couple in white frilly gown and iron-pressed three piece suit who’d quickly stopped off for a cheeky Terremoto before heading to their wedding’s reception. That eve was continued with a tasting of Chilean empanadas with ‘pebre’, a dynamite salsa for all chilli lovers, and ‘micheladas’, beer with lemon juice, tabasco and salt. Our discovery of the city’s nightlife was complete with us finding Pio Nono, a long long road filled with bar after bar and a very loud and youthful movida à la Brick Lane. It is here where Annalie got hit on by a young lad who was lucky to get her number (well, if her number was 0712345678). We can only imagine Pio Nono stays awake till the late hours of the morning as after a game of cards and a beer we went home to get our beauty sleep.
A day of rain was followed by a day of clear sunny skies, an ideal setting for a trip up San Cristobal hill. Up we went with the rickety funicular to walk up the hill and take in the views across the entire city. It was all this walking that made my foot sore, clear sign the course of antibiotics didn’t get rid of the swollen insect bites on my ankle, so our next stop was yet again the hospital which unfortunately turned me away as I forgot my passport. Thumbs up KT.
Santiago is a spectacular spot, it felt homey and welcoming. I guess the only remark to be made is that its European familiarity meant that in our eyes it was lacking a bit of Latino flair. That said, we’d still come back in heartbeat.
Next stop, the famous costal town of Valparaiso where I’m sure we’ll find a bit of that flair.
Ciao for now x