The bus ride from Valparaiso to Santiago was short and sweet and we caught up on the z’s we had missed out on the night before. Our hostel, Casa Rojo was a quick Metro ride away and by early afternoon we were settled in and wanting food. We had chosen Casa Rojo because it had a pool, however there was a slight chill to the air so we opted against a swim and went in search of a supermarket instead.
Santiago is probably the most modern city I’d been in since being in South America. It had a strong European feel and the clean streets were a stark contrast from other parts of the country. We stocked up on food and cheap Chilean wine at a nearby supermarket before creating a feast in the hostel kitchen. By feast I mean ramen noodles with frozen veggies because Chile is expensive and Jess is poor! We drank our wine and chatted with some other travellers by the poolside bar before heading into downtown Santiago to check out the nightlife.
Barrio Bellavista was the place to be when the sun goes down in Santiago. The streets of this funky neighbourhood are lined with bars, restaurants and clubs. It had that same bohemian vibe that Valparaiso possessed and it was difficult to choose where to go for a drink. We met with the Austrian twins and ordered a couple of jugs of Santiago’s famous drink, the terremoto. This potent cocktail made of pipeño (a sweet fermented – and strong – wine) and pineapple ice-cream truly lives up to its name. The English translation of terremoto is earthquake and it apt because after a couple of glasses of this strong beverage, the ground gets a whole lot hard to walk straight on! While the drink wasn’t the most delicious thing I’ve tasted, it certainly did its job! Feeling good, we found a nightclub and danced the night away until the effects of the strong terremoto wore off.
The following day was grey and overcast so we had a lazy start before heading into the city to check it out. We caught the Metro into the main part of the city and walked straight into a cool looking market. Wandering through we perused the markets before ending up unintentionally back in Bellavista. It was still as funky as the night before, with amazing street art filling the walls and leafy trees creating much needed shade. We wandered up to the base of Cerro San Cristobel to suss out how much it would cost to catch the funicular to the top. Unfortunately the state of our heads and the busy crowds turned us away from making it to the top but we vowed to come back tomorrow, which we hoped being a Monday wouldn’t be so busy.
Hunger started to kick in so we found a little café by the street in Bellavista and ordered some pizzas, which were some of the best I’ve had here! So good! After lunch we caught the Metro further into the city, to the more built up area to check out Constanera Centre, where the tallest building in South America is located. Of course, going to the top of the tower was extremely pricey so we settled for wandering through the five-storey shopping mall gushing over all the westernised shops and the huge food court. Ah the perils of the poor traveller!
We headed back to the hostel late in the afternoon because sadly we were losing one of our little group members. Alex was heading south to Patagonia before going back to Quebec and after several weeks of travelling together it was sad to see her go. After she left we stayed in for the night, still tired from the night before.
The next day Tommy and I caught the Metro into town to go on the Tours for Tips walking tour. Our guide took us all around Santiago to four of Santiago’s most famous open air markets and the General Cemetery, which was more like a housing complex for the dead. The one thing that South Americans do that I find a little strange is how they house those who have passed in apartment style buildings with several levels, instead of burying them in the ground. Some of the tombs at the cemetery were very grand and expensive and most of which housed the past Chilean presidents.
After the walking tour we met up with our friend Matt and had lunch at the popular seafood restaurant Tío Willy. I ordered salmon and the boys ordered the signature dish, which was a soup of mixed seafood. It looked heavenly with Parmesan cheese and garlic but the heavy sauce was too much. My grilled salmon was absolutely delicious and I couldn’t help but gloat to the boys that I picked better.
After lunch we headed to the Plaza de Armas for a look around and to have a squiz through the thrift shops that made up a couple of the streets. The boys were chasing winter jackets as they were both heading further south and I just wanted to do some shopping! Afterwards we headed back to the hostel because the boys were catching a bus to Pucon and leaving me on my lonesome! Around 8pm we said our goodbyes and I was sad to see them go! Our little travel group had been split up and we were on to new adventures. I gave them one last hug and waved them off before heading to bed to be up bright and early to catch my flight to Lima!