Santiago by foot

Early to bed means early to rise, so we were up and about at dawn on our first full day in Santiago. Our guidebook suggested a walking route past lots of key points of interest so that was our plan for the morning. Hopefully the afternoon would look after itself, and it did: we had a perfect day.

Most points on the walking tour were only mildly interesting, but it did help help us get our bearings in this flat and very walkable city. The highlight was visiting one of only two un-flat areas of town, Cerro San Lucia, a small and beautifully landscaped rocky outcrop of a park with spectacular views from its summit. Although it was overcast and smoggy we could still see a fair way into the distance as the pics below show, and the steep climb to the top made it feel like we´d earnt them.

After an indifferent but cheap lunch we went hunting for authentic local crafts, wandering through the beautiful La Starria and Belles Artes areas immediately north of Cerro San Lucia. Not finding anything of interest we crossed the river to Bellavista, an area known for its nightlife but which also houses some local craft markets and shops. And while walking east through Bellavista it happened: the sky cleared fully and we could suddenly see the white peaks of the Andes that had been hidden by clouds since we´d arrived. Awesome to look at and seemingly very close, though they are actually dozens of kilometres away.

Returning to Bellas Artes mid-afternoon, Joel spied an intriguing bar and led us into it. What a find: the modestly-lit pub had several small wood-panelled walls covered with artifacts, objects, posters and photographs of all sorts, comfy dark wooden tables and chairs that invited conversation, and we spent a couple of hours there deep in chat. We later discovered it is mentioned in the guidebook as worthy destination, which it certainly is!

After a brief trip back to the hostel to drop off our cameras and freshen up, we went to a famously popular beef restaurant called “Las Vacas Gordas” (The Fat Cows) only a short walk away. Always busy, this place offers steak in more than 30 different ways and can cook them good. Despite not having a booking we were seated quickly and both opted for T-bone with mash, a simple option that was not out-of-this world but was certainly good washed down with a bottle of local red.

By now it was well into the night, but we still decided to drop in on the hostel´s bar for a drink or two. And got chatting to a group of Australian women, and the group swelled, and the drinks flowed, and then somehow it was 4am. We were woken by a cleaner at 11.30 the next morning who pointed out we´d left our keys in the bedroom door… after breakfast and an attempt at using the internet I had to go back to bed for the day, Joel went on a shopping expedition but also retired after a couple of hours. We surfaced about 8pm and headed off to the suburb of Providencia for a late dinner at a supposedly British-themed pub, seeking familiar food and a small dose of non-Spanish life for a few hours. Apart from a couple of faded posters there was nothing British about the place at all, however it was relaxing and tasty with friendly service from an english-speaking waitress. Very little beer was had that night.

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