Santiago, Chile

Santiago airport is a mess; the short 2 hour flight from Antofagasta was also about as long as it took to bus us to the terminal and retrieve luggage. Just before exiting the baggage area, we bought 1800 CHP tickets for the Centropeurto bus service to Los Heros area downtown. The bus is outside exit (salida) door 5 but the end of the line was outside door 4. We had to hug the railing since after some moments of observation, we noticed the TurBus line skirts the curb to the left so standing in that line would just unnecessarily add to the time to melt you and your belongings in the brutal heat. This was the first of two trips through Santiago but the stifling heat is literally burned into our memories.

From Los Heroes, it was a hot 2 mile walk to our hostel, La Casona. It was a bit hard to find; even the guy at a mini-market literally 50 yards from the place didn’t know where it was. Recognizable now only as 2 puddles with backpacks buzzing the gate bell, we checked in to a 4 bed bunk room with a private bath. No towels, no fans and rooms 2 though 4 (we were in 3) heated up like a volcano in the afternoon (even with the shades pulled) which would be fine if it weren’t a million degrees out. In hindsight there are better private room options in the area…with air conditioning.

Around the corner, to the right on Mojitas street, we stopped for lunch at a cute little place with light blue picnic tables. The burger and steak fries we shared were delicious. In preparation for our trip to Easter Island, we located a laundry, Lavanderia American Washer, and a supermarket, both close to our hostel. Fortunately, we’d stopped for lunch before the laundry run since the sweltering heat managed to leave a light blue impression on Cynthia’s tan pants.

We wandered through the park paralleling the river, then up to the river itself where you could observe the bit of muddy water, the homeless and some nice graffiti. We continued through a market area before heading back and having dinner at a Tokyoto Sushi where we mistakenly ordered 2 dishes, one rice, one noodles, which were huge. We waddled back to the hostel and called it a day.

We started the next day with a trip to the laundromat to pick up our clothes, but forgetting it is South America, we arrived at the 10:30am time that they provided us, only to find that they weren’t open. We waited about 10 minutes then decided not to waste the coolness of the morning and headed to Santa Lucia Hill. The hill features several beautiful sights, including fountains, many varieties of flowering shrubs and trees, a castle and a bunch of narrow stairways. Atop and around the castle, we had good views over Santiago.

We picked up our laundry, dropped it off at the hostel and continued our tour. Making our way to the Plaza de Armas in the midday heat (did we mention it was like a million degrees?). Santiago is a hodgepodge of architectures. We visited the Metropolitan Cathedral and the National History Museum. Both were worth a quick stop. The museum is not very big and gives you the complete history of Chile, although completely in Spanish. We did “drivebys” of Santo Domingo Church and the Museum of Fine Arts. The first was closed and at this point we were too hot and tired to peruse an art collection.

Eclectic artwork at Patio Bellavista

Somewhat by chance, we wound up in the Central Market which is a huge fish market and even bigger seafood restaurant. It seems that a single establishment (Augusto) has monopolized the seating throughout the main area. We found a rather rare sight in Chile, a bar with bar stools (Augusto, of course) and stopped for a cold drink. There we decided to make our way to Patio Bellavista, a meeting place with numerous delights: wine shops, restobars, restaurants, art, crafts, an ice cream parlor and art galleries. After looking at just about every menu, we decided on Open Box where we had great service and a delicious meal of sushi and a shrimp quesadilla.

At the end of the day, we walked to the Cerro Santa Lucia park, where families were enjoying an outdoor Disney film, a playground and the shade of the large trees. The day ended with a 7+ earthquake at 10:35pm, January 19, 2019. Time to head to Easter Island.

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