Santiago de Chile in 3 Days

was the perfect respite from the nonstop activity that had categorised my time for the last three months on the road. Additionally, I had miraculously timed my visit there to coincide with a friend who was visiting the city on a business trip – with a generous employer, a charge card and a reservation at the W. Perfect!

Day 1

A wander around the bohemian area of Bella Vista where quirky shops abounded and a market (name unknown) seemed to materialise every day. The barrio is home to two universities, and buzzes with energy. There are lots of cafes and bars, as well stately houses and a pumping night scene.

It is in Bella Vista that find a random sidewalk cafe and order the lomo a lo pobre for lunch, a steak and fries dish topped with fried egg and onions. It makes me wonder why steak isn’t always served with a fried egg – that should be made a compulsory rule, it’s so delicious! Unbelievably, we finish the whole thing and wash it down with a cold beer.

Pobre de lomo

We also go to Casa Museo La Chascona, the former home of , poet, diplomat, senator and Nobel Prize winner.  He is ’s most beloved poet, and at the time of his death, thousands crowded the streets in mourning despite Pinochet’s curfews. His work is melancholy, surreal, erotic, all combined into a heady cocktail of verse.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
Write, for example, ‘The night is starry
and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.’
The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.
She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.
To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.
What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is starry and she is not with me.
This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.
I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.
Another’s. She will be another’s. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.
I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.
Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her. 

Dinner is at the poetically-named Como Agua Para Chocolate, which is housed in a beautiful 18th century colonial mansion. Portions are huge here, and with no expectations, we enjoyed our meal, but reviews from other travellers have not been as forgiving. We enjoyed the ambience; however given the prices, there are better places to eat in Santiago.

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Fountains in Santiago, Chile

Day 2

With the memory of the awesome Sandeman’s free tour in Berlin, I joined Santiago’s version – Free Tours Santiago, which meets in front of the Cathedral in the every day at 10am or 3pm. The tour is four hours long, which taxes our feet, but also gives us ample opportunity to quiz our local guide. “Where is the best place for a completo (Chilean style hot dog), or a (pork sandwich)?” “Where did you study?” “Why are there so many universities in Chile?” “Where should we go for cheap souvenirs?”

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The guide is also extremely knowledgeable about the history of Chile, and the tour was a good chance to learn about the country’s colonial past, Socialist Chile, as well as the darker days of Pinochet’s regime. The tour moves only as fast as the slowest walker, so we picked up lots of street food on the way – completos, sopaipillas (corn fritters), choripan (chorizos in a breadroll) and my favourite: mote con huesillo (a cold, sweet and refreshing peach drink).

Plaza de Armas
Plaza de Armas, Santiago

We eat at the Mercado Central, with vendors shouting out deals and trying to convince us to eat at their establishment. The place reminds me of Seremban’s Pasar Besar, the wet market, with its smells, noise and displays of seafood piled up in towering mounds on ice. There’s a main area where the restaurants are located, and pick a random stall. The seafood is good, but the ambience is what we are here for.

Day 3

Santiago is dominated by Hill, which stretches almost 3,000 feet above the city. there is also a zoo, a landscaped Japanese garden and a huge Virgin Mary statue at its peak. The vintage funicular is a fun little ride and the local families obviously also think so – there was a 30 minute line for it when we got there in the middle of the afternoon. We killed time by attempting to learn all the Spanish names of the animal soft toys on sale at the nearby stalls (Because there’s a zoo nearby. Obviously). On a clear day, the vistas from the top of San Cristobal stretches all the way to the snow-capped Andes.

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Funicular Cerro San Cristobal
Funicular Cerro San Cristobal

Lunch is at Fuenta Aleman, located a block from the Plaza Italia. This is a retro, popular, pumping sandwich joint, with (word on the street has it) the best lomitos in Santiago. The pork has been marinaded in a secret sauce for hours, tenderly roasted, then sliced paper-thin before being heaped into a sandwich filled with at least three sauces, queso (cheese), chucrut (sauerkraut) and palto (avocado). We loved the U-shaped counter, high stools and locals all intently focused on their meals – take this advice and don’t even bother with the utensils, it will get messy no matter what you use.

is a modern, easy-to-navigate and safe city – the perfect ending to my travels in South America. There is history, architecture, art and food galore – and if you get bored, there’s always Valparaiso, the beachtown to the north of the capital… but that’s another story, for another trip.

12 Comments

  1. Santiago sounds like such a cool city. I love street food, miss it so much!

    1. Peggy Tee says:

      Was just thinking about ice kacang… and some rojak… or goreng pisang… and some apam balik… *sniff* Now I’m homesick! 🙁

      1. Yau char koay…. Tau fu fa… Popiah…. Oh man….

        1. Peggy Tee says:

          We should do a post on street food of Malaysia… that would help with the homesickness/cravings? Or make them worse, perhaps?

          1. kitchengoodies says:

            Probably make them worse… 🙁

  2. Chile is definitely on my list! I intend to make my way through a number of Chilean wines when I go. I’m glad you had a great time in Santiago.

    1. Peggy Tee says:

      The Chilean cab savs are very good – peppery and flavourful, but personally I liked the Argentinean Malbecs more. Either way, your plan to work through Chile on a wine belly is a good one! 🙂

      1. Ah…. Argentinean Malbec… sigh. One of life’s great treasures. I was introduced to them about 9 years ago, and that was the first time I actually started to enjoy wine! I’m so glad a wider variety is available in the US now, as opposed to then.

  3. Sartenada says:

    Santiago is great modern city. I have been there two weeks when my daughter worked there.

    Happy travel and blogging!

  4. lara dunston says:

    Great itinerary! Loved Santiago, but oh, it was so long ago I’m not even going to say when. Spent a month there and spent a lot of time in Bella Vista too – and visited Neruda’s home a few times. I was doing Latin American studies for a masters in International Studies and fell madly in love with his poetry in the process. Must return and take Terence next time! And shall definitely use this when we go 🙂

    1. Peggy Tee says:

      Thanks for the comment, Lara! I loved Bella Vista… and Neruda’s poetry – so lyrical and beautiful! I did try to read it in its original, but my Spanish was just not good enough. Hope all is well in Phnom Penh!

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