Santiago is a city we could live in, easily, if the idea ever struck us to stay in South America. It has a laid back easy vibe - hardly anyone is up before 9 even during the week & the nights are easy, stretching into the late hours for dinner. Here we opted for an AirBnB in a great location above several restaurants & bars just far enough off the main street to feel cozy. Our host, Pablo, was immensely helpful not only for the immediate Santiago area but also provided suggestions & guidance throughout Chile.
Barrio Lastarria, the area in which we stayed, has a European vibe. Its a quaint street where, on Saturday, the local gelato shop opened before my favorite coffee house. For whatever reason, Thursday night there was a "pop-up" street parade, none of the spectators seemed to know what it was about & they didn't bother to clear traffic as cars simply skirted past the dancers.
The city is young & has a "hipster" vibe to it, Ben said it reminds him of Shaw in DC or somewhere similar. The street art grabs my attention. Its everywhere as if the city had always planned to be a canvas for "street" artist. Each "piece" from the well planned mural to the, late night I'm sure, graffiti only adds to the uniqueness of the city. No topic is off limits from the political to the graphic including a very raw image which hauntingly graced the side of a walking bridge.
Santiago boasts its fair share of historic & religious sites spread within the city. Upon our arrival we stumbled across the foot of Cerro Santa Lucia, located squarely in the center of the historic district. I hadn't really worn an appropriate outfit or shoes to trek up a hillside but we went for in anyways. Stairs to numerous for me to count guided us up the front of the hill, showcasing various statues of archbishops, conquistadors & a fountain dedicated to Neptune himself. Opposite the cannons perched at the top, Castillo Hildago cascades downw its ancient steps laid out across the backside of the hill.
Neptune's Fountain Castillo Hildago
Our appetite for trekking apparently unfulfilled, we decided to visit Parque Metropolitano our second day in the city. This time I made sure to don appropriate footwear (though still not a great hiking outfit, I'm still figuring this out). 300m above the city, atop the San Cristobal Hill, sits the Sanctuary of the Immaculate Conception and replica statue of the "Virgin of Rome". The sanctuary itsself is gorgeous & its boasts probably the most amazing views of the city. There is a tram to take visitors to the top but being impatient & cheap we decided the best way up was to climb 45 minutes up the dirt hiking trails that wound up the mountain side. Beautiful & an invigorating workout but not the most brilliant idea we've had in 90+ degree weather. We earned the ice cold refreshing Estrella Damm beers that followed, of that I can assure you.
Overall, we had a great trip to Santiago and it was a great start to a long journey. Two to three days is plenty to get a feel for the city before heading to see the rest of the country - most Chileans would agree. Adios Santiago we're off to Valparaiso, a city known for its culture & color!