12.09.2010 0 °F
I've been staying in hostels the entire trip and I'm over shared bathrooms and unwashed sheets. So the last 4 nights of this 2 week trip I will be staying at a hotel in Santiago. The place is Meridiano Sur, Petit Hotel and it's in a great location within walking distance to the metro (Santiago's subway) and restaurants, and most importantly bars.
The first day in Santiago we just wandered around Providencia (the neighborhood where our hotel is located) and Las Condes. As you travel East along Santiago's main road the neighborhoods get more and more ritzy. Walking around Las Condes you're surrounded by skyscrapers and this neighborhood has been called Sanhattan with it's shimmering high-rises like in Manhattan. The Andes rise up above the urban sprawl of Santiago for a dramatic backdrop but most of the time the smog clouds a clear view of the city.
Our first night in Santiago ended up with us having dinner with a Santiagian. We stopped at a bar in Las Condes and had a few beers while discussing Chile's history with the server (the server to the left of Judy).
We ended up staying there for drinks and conversation well beyond the closing time and didn't realize it. We felt bad for keeping the staff there late but they were all very gracious and the owner just as gracious. The most gracious of all was the server. We ended up having a home cooked meal of soup and steak at his house along with great wine. He lived in a very modest house and had a son that had poor hearing in one ear because of a meningitis infection. It was an amazing experience. We got to experience the day-to-day life of a working class Chilean...no better way to experience the culture of Chile. He was so gracious...he even paid for both of our subway rides and the taxi ride back and refused to accept anything from us. The next day we tried to find him at a rally commemorating former President Allende's death but didn't run into him. Gonna miss the dude.
The next day we visited La Vega, which is Santiago's open vegetable market. If it grows from the ground there's a good chance this market sells it. There are also many hole in the wall places to eat here that serve peasant food if you will--you know the kind of food that your mom would make. We ate at Carmen's and had a delicious soup followed by a braised beef pasta dish.
The best thing to do in Santiago is wander around the streets so we decided to do a walking tour. Started off at a hectic bar with Judy squeezing in between just over 18 years-old Chileans trying to order a terremoto, which is cheap wine with pineapple ice cream and definitely gets you going.
From there we went to Mercado Central to gawk at Santiago's open fish market. Judy hates fish because of the smell so she wasn't too impressed. Luckily the cheap wine made her not mind the fish smell so much so I was able to walk around a bit.
The walking tour continued through the streets of central Santiago. This town has it's share of Plazas and everyone was out enjoying the nice weather. Street performers attracted huge crowds of people yet others were out just to enjoy a nice game of chess. Also went to the National Library and got a chance to see an art exhibit.