After exploring Easter Island, we headed to Santiago for six days with plans to explore the city and nearby wine country. But sometimes things don’t go as planned . . .
The sniffles started the day we arrived in Chile and I used a hefty supply of tissues as we visited the moai. I thought it was allergies, and then, on the last day in Rapa Nui I got a fever. By the time we landed in Santiago the fever was higher – and I was dizzy and queasy. It was not allergies. Oh why didn’t I get a flu shot this year?
I spent the next three days in bed and debated whether I should write this post because we didn’t get to do very much in Santiago. But we did get out and about a bit for a few glimpses of the city.
Sightseeing in Santiago
We ventured out a few days for short, 2-3 hour mini sightseeing excursions before I headed back to bed.
Plaza de Armas
The Plaza de Armas was the city’s original town center. It is anchored by the Catedral Metropolitana. There were lots of people and some dogs milling around.
Adjacent to the Plaza de Armas, you can explore the Museo Historico Nacional and learn about the history of Chile. Admission is free!
Take a ride on the Funicular to see a great view of the city.
I was excited to check out Barrio Bellavista because it has a lot of street art. We started at the Patio Bellavista (see Shopping section) and then walked along the main street, which is lined with tons of restaurants and bars. There was lots of cool street art to be found, although we weren’t able to fully explore. The neighborhood looks like a great night life spot.
We went to the Barrio Lastarria for our only meal out in Santiago (see Eating and Drinking section) and then took a short walk around the surrounding streets. The neighborhood is very cute and we saw several appealing cafes and an interesting jewelry shop. The Museo de Artes Visuales, Museo Arqueológico, and two parks are also nearby.
Costanera Center (Gran Torre)
The Gran Torre, Costanera Center, designed by Cesar Pelli and Associates, is the tallest skyscraper in Latin America. It is 984 feet high and has 64 stories. The building was completed in 2013 at a cost of one billion US. The complex has a six-story shopping mall, hotel, business center, market, and observation deck. We drove by, but didn’t get a chance to go inside.
We didn’t do any shopping in Santiago, but did get in some browsing.
Patio Bellavista is a small outdoor mall in the Bellavista neighborhood with local shops and restaurants.
The Parque Arauco Mall is a large, modern mall outside the city center loaded with international brands and lots of restaurants.
Santiago Street Dogs
Before the trip, I read a few blog posts about the abundance of street dogs in Santiago and was thinking I would be sad to see them. Perhaps it was because we didn’t get out very much, but we didn’t see a ton of street dogs. We did see community water stations attached to trees (although some were empty) and water bowls in front of buildings.
Eating and Drinking in Santiago
Because I was sick, we ate most meals at the hotel. Michael went to the lounge and ate, then brought me a few bites (I had no appetite, and ended up losing six pounds on the trip). But I was determined to make it to at least one cool restaurant / wine bar – and we did. We had lunch and a flight at Bocanariz. It has cool décor, an interesting menu, great service, and tons of wine tasting options. This is the kind of place we would have visited a few times had I not been sick.
Where we Stayed
We pondered whether we should stay in the city center or a cool-looking Marriott in a suburb (to earn points). We went with the Renaissance (Marriott) because in addition to earning points, we liked the idea of having a city / mountain view from the room.
Overall, we were very happy with the hotel – our room (and the view), the staff, and the club lounge. The only problem we had was at check in. We arrived at 11:00 at night, I was sick, and they did not have a record of our reservation – even when we provided the reservation number. Luckily I had the confirmation email handy and we were able to check in.
The Renaissance Hotel is in the Vitacura suburb just outside the city center in a wonderful neighborhood. It is walking distance to the Parque Arauco Mall, grocery store, and a huge European-style park with flower gardens.
What Could Have Been
Had I not gotten sick, we would have included the following activities during our time in Santiago.
• La Chascona – poet Pablo Neruda’s house
• Going street art crazy with a long walk along the banks of the Mapocho River.
• Day trip to nearby wine region – most likely Casablanca, and possibly Maipo or San Antonio
• Possibly a day trip to Valparaiso