Our first trip to Santiago was just a sampler to see if we would like the place and this time around we weren’t even planning on stopping. But the earthquake in Valparaiso saw us popping in for an extra couple of days.
The thing that I had forgotten was just how close to the Andes the city was. And that you could be at ground level sweltering at mid 30’s temperatures while staring at snow covered peaks. By rights the long vista would indicate a cold climate, but I wandered around in shorts sweating.
Upon arrival, what we found out was that we had gotten pretty good at identifying and visiting the main tourist sights of a city. We pulled up the things to do in town pages and found that the lists were basically made up of all the things that we had done the first time around.
Clearly, #1 on the list was to make your way to the top of Cerro San Cristobal. This is the hill overlooking the city with the broad views, the funicular to get up and the statue of the Virgen de la Inmaculada Concepcion. Well, we clearly ticked all of those the first time around.
#2 on the list was to shop at the historic Mercado Central Santiago that dates back to 1872, well big tick here too, we even got the version of the shopping centre that included the dancing girls. #3 was to take a stroll in the various parks and squares around the city of Santiago, notably the Parque Forestal, that was another big tick.
#4 was to visit the Historic Museo de Bellas Artes. This was more a check the pretty building from the outside than a go in and wander about thing for us.
Needless to say that the list went on and the ticks kept on racking up. It was interesting to me that the main square (Plaza de Armas) only came in at about #8 on the list and the main cathedral was even lower.
The Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago, tick.
La Moneda palace is the Presidential Palace and pseudo parliament house area, tick.
Basilica de la Virgen de Lourdes and Gruta, tick.
So for the most part, we had seen all that there was to see (of note) in the city of Santiago. So with that in mind, it was time to bounce about and experience the food, wine beer and general feel of the place.
We liked Santiago our first time around and nothing on this trip has changed that opinion. The prices are relatively comparable with Australian prices (maybe a little cheaper). The graffiti that we saw in Valparaiso was here too but more effort had been put into cleaning it up. The streets felt as though they were safe (as long as you are aware of your surroundings) and the food is good (if a little heavy on the carbs).
We found a nice little spot and Jill got her much overdue ceviche fix. And before you knew it our second Santiago stint was over. And as we flew out of the airport, once again we were met with the snow capped peaks of the Andes within minutes.