Travel Tips: Beware of the taxi drivers in Santiago because they can easily dupe you if they come to know that you are a tourist, especially the one who doesn't know Spanish. A taxi driver tried to cheat us charging fours times the usual rate, saying that he took the fast lane. Luckily, we knew basic Spanish so managed to get away with that. Sometimes, you may also get abnormally high meter reading in taxis, so one of the locals advised us to bargain the price before getting inside the taxi.Alternatively, you can buy a card from the metro station, which can be used for both bus and metros.
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Lastarria is the neighborhood I stumbled upon almost accidentally by joining the Foto-Ruta tour. I haven’t heard of this barrio before but was incredibly thrilled and inspired by walking through the streets and taking photos. Lastarria is the hip part of Santiago with heaps of restaurants, street art and little alternative shops. Head to the Flea Market on the weekend and find some unique antiques or old books or enjoy the street painters, jugglers and other artists. The neighborhood offers a lot of cultural institutions and events. The city’s Museum of Visual Arts can be found here as well as some alternative cinemas and theatres. Head up to the hill Cerro St. Lucia on the edge of the neighbourhood for a bit of quiet. You’ll see the skycrapers of Santiago with the Andes in the background and will get a great overview of the city from above. The hanging gardens, the big terrace and the main square Neptuno (on the food of the hill) should not be missed on your trip to Santiago. Café Recommendation: A bit hidden but still in walking distance, you find Cafe Mesié Quiltro(Rosal 384). They sell really good coffee and some amazingly tasty and fresh dishes. Getting there: Get off Metro Station Universidad Católica.
Call it a holiday spirit or sudden spur of vacation energy, even after the tiring day we decided to visit the very popular Bellavista neighborhood in the evening. 'Bellavista Patio' is the main quarter filled with countless fancy restaurants, cozy coffee shops, and chic bars. This is the party destination for Santiago city over weekends. The quarter looks simply stunning and vivacious during the evenings, which are filled with live music, karaoke, and jazzy lights. All said, the restaurants of Bellavista are definitely expensive but the Patio is totally worth a visit. This is the only place in Santiago, where I spotted souvenir shops . I am an enthusiastic souvenir collector and a restaurant fanatic, so this place was simply heaven for me.
This neighbourhood is probably better known as Lastarria as it is famous for going out to eat or dance. The neighbourhood is pretty quiet during day time but will be packed with people as soon as it’s getting dark. The restaurants, bars and clubs can mainly be found on Calle Constitución and Pio Nono. The neighbourhood also hosts the house La Chascona (Fernando Márquez de la Plata 0192) where Pablo Neruda lived and heaps of other colonial houses. Another great spot to see the city from above is Cerro San Cristobal. You can buy a return ticket for the cable car up the hill for 2,000 Chilenian Pesos (about 2.60 €) during the week or 2,600 Chilenian Pesos (about 3.40 €) on the weekend. Apart from a park with its amazing view, you can visit the Zoo which is situated up there as well as a swim in a pool. They also offer free sport activities like Yoga in the park, have a look here to find a schedule. Bellavista is also a great place to admire some street art. Two streets with lots of street art are Bombero Núñez and Antonia López de Bello. Restaurant Recommendation: Visit the restaurant Galindo on the corner Dardignac and Constitución. They offer a lot of Chilenian dishes at reasonable prices. I recommend you to try Cazuela de Vacuno or Lomo a lo pobre. Getting there: The barrio is situated north of the Mapoche river. Get off at the metro station Baquedano, cross the river and you’ll there.
Yungay on the other hand is the neighbourhood of the former middle class of Santiago. Cobblestone streets and little colonial houses beautify this area. You’ll see some cités which are rows of houses that extend down narrow alleyways. On the first photo, you’ll see a poorer cite and the second one is for the richer population. Tour tip: Take part in the free Patrimonial Tour of Spicy Chile. They will give you a good historical background of this area. At the end of the tour, you’ll arrive at the Museo de la Memoria. A museum which commemorates the Chilenian dictatorship and is a must-visit in my opinion as it is an important part of Chile’s history. The entrance to the museum is for free so you will be educated about the history without paying anything. A lot of information is available in Spanish but you will find information in the English language as well. Getting there: Get off Metro station Cumming.
But his speech was short-lived; shortly after, the crew closed the bridge for our approach to Puerto Eden. And indeed this fairy tale seaside village, huddled against the shore, sheltered from the wind by the hill on which it’s built, isolated by hundreds of kilometers of sea, fjords, and wilderness, was a veritable Garden of Eden. But with no apples in sight, Puerto Eden depends on this ferry for survival. As we approached, a flurry of bright yellow skiffs swarmed towards us as if from a hive of floating bumblebees. Unloading at Puerto Eden, the loading ramp of the Amadeo I rumbled open, and the process of unloading goods to this tiny town began. Passengers were allowed down into the loading area to watch the process, which considering the amount of steps involved was rather efficient. Barrels of gasoline, cartons of groceries, and other essentials were loaded onto the skiffs and they puttered away. I managed to snap a picture of toilet paper and Coca-Cola waiting to be unloaded, thinking of course, what more do you need? It seemed as if each skiff was operated by a different family, and both adults and children lent a hand. From the sheltered vantage point inside our ship’s loading area, I realized I had probably set eyes on most of the town’s population during the half-hour process. After the last skiff pulled away, we were intercepted on our way back to the upper decks by a few Chilean truck drivers who were sharing the ship with us. They had brought barbecue grills on board and lit fires to cook the mussels and clams that they had just bought from the locals at Puerto Eden. They invited us to join them, and we imbibed with wine and freshly-cooked mollusks as our ship continued northwards. With so many different languages on board, most of the communication was smiles, animated hand gestures, and passing around cups of wine.
Plaza de Armas
The centre of the city is full of historic buildings and shopping facilities. Visit Plaza de Armas, the presidential palace and the cathedral. A short walk away, you find the central market where you can buy or eat some fresh fish or eat in one of the restaurants inside of the market. Do the free “Good Morning Santiago” tour of Spicy Chile at 10 am or 2pm to and see all the important sights of the city and get some historical background. Try one of the legendary Chilenian Hot Dogs, the so-called Completos in one of the several Domino stores within the city centre or visit a café con piernas. A café con piernas is a coffee shop where the waitresses wear short dresses and high heels. The bar is open underneath it and you have a good view on their long legs Getting there: Get off Metro station Plaza de Armas and you’ll find yourself in the plain centre of the city.
José Victorino Lastarria
For the evening, we went Lastarria - the much talked about beautiful neighborhood. Typically, all Latin American cities have a few decked up, fancy neighborhoods and for Santiago it is Lastarria and Bellavista. It is more of a lane filled with casual/fine dining restaurants, coffee houses, and bars, all of them brilliantly lit up amidst the hustle bustle of night life. There is also a small patch of the lane where you can see artists display their work or painting beautiful portraits. Besides, the grandeur of the street and restaurants will give you a hard time deciding on the place to dine. It has both budget-friendly and fancy restaurants. Make sure to walk down till the end of the lane where there is snazzy, gorgeous little square surrounded by fancy restaurants. It might be a little crowded but you can't truly enjoy night life without a spirited crowd, good food, and ambiance. We had the famous Chilean Salmon in Lastarria, which was drizzled with honey making it even more delectable.
Teatro Municipal was built in 1909, with a design not unlike that of the Paris Opera. Today, it is home to the city's orchestra, opera and ballet ensembles. The neoclassical style, all in marble, granite and bronze, makes the building one of the most beautiful in the city. Famous not only for the performances and its architecture, the house also hosts the Café do Teatro, one of the most famous such restaurants in the world. Catching a performance here is a transforming experience, which transports one to a more opulent and classical time. A great landmark and venue in the heart of Rio.
A visit to beautiful Cousin Island is also an easy trip from Praslin. The island is home to many of the bird species as Aride, but also a population of Aldabra giant tortoises, which can live for a staggering 300 years! The island is also important for breeding turtles, with up to 500 nesting every year. If you’re visiting in the first couple of months after Christmas, you may just be lucky enough to experience the awesome sight of a hawksbill turtle nest hatching, and help to protect the hatchlings from ghost crabs as they make their epic journey down the beach to the ocean.
The neighbourhood Brasil can be found in the west of the city centre. It was the barrio of the upper-class in the 1800s and you can find heaps of old buildings which still remain from that period. Thus you find a variety of very interesting styles of architecture here. Find the Basilica San Salvador which was destroyed during an earthquake in the past. Since the earthquake in 1985, they have been rebuilding the cathedral but there is still a lot of work to do. Aong the way you also find the beautiful church of San Francisco. Following Avenida Brasil and around the square Plaza Brasil, you can find some cheap restaurants. The square is also famous for its cultural scene. The barrio also hosts a university and two parks: Parque Quinta Normal and Parque O’Higgins.
La Chascona - Fernando Márquez de La Plata
Unfortunately, not all stories have fairytale endings. By the time I got back to Santiago, I was still eager to see more of Neruda’s dwellings. The more I learned, the more I wanted to see; my curiosity was insatiable. However, I only had one day left to explore, and I would leave Chile on Tuesday morning to see Mendoza, Argentina. While researching on the hostel’s lone computer, I discovered this: La Chascona was closed on Mondays. My fate was sealed. I had frolicked all over Central Chile, trying to follow Neruda’s path and understand the writer’s mindset as best as I could. But the reality was that I would have to leave the country without seeing all three of Pablo’s residences. It crushed me. Ten years later, the desire to see La Chascona remains. I suppose you could say that, nearly ten years later, I am still chasing Pablo.