Autumn days in Santiago de Chile

Part I of III

 

To get to Chile we chose to go with a South American airline – “Latam airlines” instead of booking with an American airline. Latam airlines had a nonstop flight and a much better price compared to other airlines which included several stops and cost more.

We were very happy with the service on board, liked the food and even got thick large blankets for sleeping. Shows again, it pays to compare.

***

One thing one needs to know when going to Chile – the country is  HUGE!

In one week you can do  EITHER  the desert in the north, Santiago in the center, Patagonia in the south  OR  the Easter island out in the Pacific, which requires another five hour flight.

We chose to spend one week in Chiles captial – Santiago and used it as our base to discover surrounding areas as well.

***

To get a good feel for the city we took part in the “free 4 hour walking tour” (based on tips) which really showed you a lot in the city center.

Every other day one can see the “changing of the guards” at the “La Moneda Palace” and we made it. Quite impressive with a military marching band playing music.


During our entire stay we kept recognizing landmarks from the tour and found our way around much better.

https://freetoursantiago.cl/portada.html

Another lesson was, March equals September in Chile and the sun is still  VERY  STRONG, even at 70 degrees Fahrenheit! Cover up and wear sunlotion!

***

Santiago itself is much bigger than I thought and more modern but not quite westernized yet. English for example is not spoken very often. We used our hands and feet quite a bit, but people were patient and most of the times we got what we wanted.

To me it was almost like the “little sister” of Buenos Aires. It is a city that has to grow on you over time. Once you discover the trendy little neighborhoods it gets more charming.

Here, the “Bellavista” quarters.

But it also is a very busy, crowded and noisy city.

The pedestrian zones are hopping and there is nothing that is “not” being sold or done on the very crowded sidewalks.

People are selling their goods on blankets on the ground and often I wondered, who would really stop and buy their stuff. It seemed so random. From Toblerone chocolate to hairbrushes, belts and locks, to crocheted “cactusses” (?) and earrings.

Every few meters you have a person either make fresh juice with a tiny blender, grill meat kebabs on a miniature grill or fry you up some “empanadas”.

And if you  NOW  imagine stray dogs wandering around or just taking a nap in the middle of everything, and women having their pedicure done, right there on the sidewalk… then you are in the heart of Santiago!


SAFETY:

We were okay for the most parts but I must admit, I felt uncomfortable at times with my camera and just standing out as a tourist. We stayed in crowded and busy areas and avoided being out at night.

***

We also saw beautiful old buildings in between the more modern looking buildings and Santiago also has Latin Americas highest skyscraper.

We went up there and one has pretty good views of the city from it. I imagine it to be stunning around dusk or at night. Next time…

http://www.skycostanera.cl/en/start/

TIP: If you go on Wednesdays, it will be cheaper.


Image courtesy of my husband


Within the historic center distances were very walkable and for bigger distances we used local taxis. Taxis were super easy to get and very affordable. Be ready for some small talk though. We found the taxi drivers to be very nosy, in a nice way though.

“Where are you from?” “Are you single?” ” Are you married?” “Do you have kids?” “For how long are you here?”

***

FOOD:

For me it was just ooookay. It was mostly international, nothing too authentic or local and it did not particularely stand out like Argentinian or Peruvian food. That was exquisite in comparison.

Two things I really liked were fresh juices, like raspberry, mango or pineapple, being offered in restaurants and the empanadas. But they also varied in quality, fried ones I liked better than baked ones. We had the very best with a crackling good crust and the very worst all in one week.

The lesson we learnt very fast was, order  HALF  of what you usually would at home. Portions in Chile make portions in America look whimpy! “Appetizers for one” in Chile qualify as “entree for two” elsewhere.

***

CEMENTERIO GENERAL:

My personal favorite sight of the city. It is the main cemetery of the city, still in use and an explorers dream!

I always thought “Pere-Lachaise” in Paris (see my “Paris” post) was my favorite but this one shares No. 1 from now on. The cemetery got called “one of the 10 most scenic cemeteries in the world” by CNN and I can see why.

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/10/30/travel/worlds-most-scenic-cemeteries/index.html?hpt=hp_c6

It is divided in two parts and the contrast could not be bigger. The northern section is incredibly crowded and the graves are very small and tightly stacked on top of each other. It looked a bit spooky, like an “apartment building for the dead”.

This is where the ordinary and working class people find their last resting place.

 

 

Image courtesy of my husband

In the southern section of the cemetery, which is sprawling over 210 acres of land and has an estimated 2 million inhabitants and reminds more of an urban park, we found the burials of the rich.

A very clear class distinction of society.

Big mausoleums, often bigger than houses, in venetian, gothic or traditional french or italian styles stand side by side. Some were better taken care of than others and some were completely overgrown with flowering bushes, ivy or palms and gave it the feeling of being  somewhere in the jungle and you are discovering forgotten temples aka Indiana Jones.

The cemetery is open to the public and it is so widely spread, we were often the only ones in that section. We did not really have a plan where to go, we just discovered things on our own, and walked around for hours in this incredible maze of graves.

If you are a lover for art, history and want to see a wide variety of architectural grand mausoleums, or just want a little peace and quiet from the hectic and buzz from the city, this is the place to go to. We actually went twice!

It really is very recommendable, and a  FREE ACTIVITY.




TIP: Don’t stay there after nightfall. It is a maze, there are no lights and ground is uneven and for safety reasons – just don’t!


~ To be continued…~





27 thoughts on “Autumn days in Santiago de Chile

    1. Thank you. The really good pictures are still coming up in my next post. 😉But I am glad you liked those already.

      We have been to Peru as well and really LOVED it. You might like that post too, it has really nice pictures.

      Ecuador is still on the wish list. Did you go on your own or on a tour?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Evangelina. I’ll be sure to go back and look at your next post and the one about Peru.

        My husband and I went to Ecuador on our own. Neither of us speak Spanish, but that didn’t seem to intimidate us. We spent most of the time in Quito and then drove to the Cayambe Coca National Park area. We stayed at a wonderful spa with hot spring pools. It was as if we had the whole place to ourselves. We also took a long hike led by a native Ecuadorian from the area.

        This may sound silly, but my husband and I are MAJOR parrot fanatics. Our little Pacific Parrotlet’s ancestors originally came from western Ecuador or northeastern Peru. That is what inspired our trip.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah, interesting. We don’t speak Spanish either but survived several South American countries. Ecuador sounds very nice, hopefully next year.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Santiago looks fun. I honestly haven’t spent any time there yet. We got picked up from the airport and spent most of our time in Viña del Mar. I have a friend that lives there so I will have to go check it out soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It definitely felt a little weird snapping photos at the cemetery, but when it’s a declared site of interest, well then, that’s just an invite. I think it’s very interesting to observe how other cultures bury and honor the deceased, and I agree with you on the clear distinction of class divisions based on the tombstones/mausoleums.

    Victoria
    https://awayweroam.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it is a bit weird but one almost had to.
      I always go to cemeteries in other countries, they tell you a lot about history and the culture of that place.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. My observations of Chile are not done yet. I still have another post coming up with the “real” Chile.

      Like

  3. I’ve not had the chance to visit South America yet, but I do plan to visit Santiago when I do get the chance one day. This post has been really informative and helpful. I look forward to the next!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Josh.
      If you ever get the chance to visit South America, go for it. Each country is unique.
      You might like my “Peru” post as well. That was an amazing country to visit and I would love to go back.

      PS: I like your new layout of your website. Looks nice.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I will most definitely read your Peru post. The Macchu Pichu hike is something I’m aiming to do one day. Thank you for your comment about my website’s new design

        Liked by 1 person

      2. People who do the Inca trail have my full admiration. I have heard many, many times that it is one heck of a tough hike. If you think you can do it, more power to you. I know I can’t.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I found the big cities of Chile don’t really commit to good food. Bread, potatoes and maybe half-filled empanadas. They do it better in the countryside. Good to read what you got up to! I pulled out of the walking tour and didn’t make it to the cemetery.

    Liked by 1 person

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