A “Trini Christmas” 12 hours in Santiago

I’ve been to Santiago before for 10 hours and it was uneventful as I was on a layover from Buenos Aires back to Toronto. On my current trip to Antarctica, Santiago is the jump off point to Punta Arenas

As you can see, getting from Santiago to Punta Arenas isn’t some little distance either and on the conclusion of the Antarctic cruise, we will be off-boarding in Ushuaia, Argentina, so this will be my only opportunity to spend some time in Santiago

It is actually possible to drive from Santiago to Punta Arenas, but I have no desire to spend about 41 hours in a car with anyone, nor do I care to waste that time in a car!

In coming up with a high level plan for Santiago, I had to consider whether I would be back in the near future, as I couldn’t make the trip to Easter Island, I’ve figured that I would indeed come back to Santiago in the near-“ish” future. This will definitely play into the number of side trips that I’m thinking about doing. With the advent of mining in Chile, Santiago has become one of the more prosperous cities in Latin America, hence the price points that one is likely to see in Santiago won’t be similar to what you will see in the rest of Latin America. The one thing that stayed with me from my first visit was the impressive backdrop of Santiago against the Andes Mountains.

I’m pretty sure that this “Pre” itinerary and what I’m actually going to do there will be different … typically one finds that the best made plans are exactly that … “Plans” … then the real travelling starts. For your enjoyment, here is how I plan to spend the first 12 hours in Santiago

Christmas Day 2013 : Day 1

  • 1 pm : Check into the W Santiago

    • Looking forward to the largest standard suite available. It’s going to be Christmas, hence the hotel will NOT be sold out!
    • I love SPG, but I’ve had initial upgrade issues in Latin America. Here’s the story of one miler and how he dealt with it. Personally, I love the confrontation of it all … most people do not like it, however I’m on the road for 250+ days a year. I worked for all my perks and upgrades. Here’s another review … I’m looking forward to doing my own.
  • 2-7pm : doing a walking and subway tour of the city

    • Hill Climbing: I’m going head out to Bernardo O’Higgins Ave up to Cerro Santa Lucia for the city view. I’ll take all the fountains along the way as a bonus.
    • Wander from Paseo Ahumada to Plaza de Armas : This should give a first taste of local vendors, artists and cafes … I’m thinking it’s going to be like Las Ramblas in Barcelona or Calle Florida in Buenos Aires. If only we had these types of piazzas and streets in North America.
    • Bolsa de Comercio: After Plaza de Armas, it’s off tothe Calle Nueva York on the way to the Stock Market (Bolsa de Comercio). I’m sure it’s going to seem very similar to walking around Buenos Aires, then it’s cathedral hopping.
    • Cathedral Metropolitana : I love churches! I’m religious at all, but I love the architecture, history and people watching. So the Catedral Metropolitana was built in 1748, and is noted for its Bavarian Jesuit designs. It’s a massive one and covers an area of approximately one city block, and you can find its massive cypress door and silver ware. The presidential palace La Moneda is close by, I “heard” some dude named Pinochet lived here. (OK … I really shouldn’t be sarcastic about some genocidal dictator)
    • Estacion Mapocho –  It is a former train station of the Santiago-Valparaiso railway, and dates back to 1912, when it was built on reclaimed land from the Rio Mapocho (which was then just canalized).  The building has a unique Beaux Arts style of architecture. Today it functions as a cultural center with a 40-ton glass, copper and marble roof, as well as Oregon pine seats.
    • Café con Piernas : At some point, I’m going to stop off at a coffee shop for some super strong Nescafe and to see what Café con Piernas is all about. These unique coffee shops are a Santiago institution, where waitresses flaunt their legs while serving fairly good quality coffee to ogling men and gossiping ladies. This seems like it’s going to be the Hooters of Coffee. I’ll have a very detailed blog on this one … since it’s specific to Chile.
    • Mercado Central : As a foodie, I have an affinity for markets and eating in them. Since this is going to be Christmas Day, there won’t be anyone in the market, so I should have the opportunity for some great photography. If I’m lucky, there will be someone selling ceviche.
    • City Photography and Bellavista Funicular  : I’m looking forward to getting some epic shots of buildings with the mountains behind them, so the next stop is La Chascona is at the foot of Cerro San Cristobal – a 300m peak crowned by a statue of the Virgin Mary. I’ll be taking a ride up the 1925 Bellavista Funicular railway to the top for views of the Andes and the city. I might have mentioned how much I love Waterfalls, but I love Skytram, Funiculars and Cable Cars almost as much. I never miss an opportunity to ride a cable car anywhere … Here are some of my favorites from Masada, Israel, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Montserrat, Spain, Barcelona, Spain, Banff, Alberta, or Singapore.
  • 7-9pm : Dinner time …

    • I can’t lie but unlike being in Lima, I haven’t heard amazing things about the Santiago food scene. That being said, as a large metropolitan city, I’m sure I’ll be able to find something very decent and Chilean. I’m thinking that I’m going to Barrio Yungay, since it’s right near Plaza Brazil there are tons of bars and restaurants, and it’s not as touristy.
  • 9pm – 1am : Santiago Pub Crawl.

    • I have no idea what will be open on Christmas night in Santiago, but I’m sure there will be nightlife to be had!

About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at rishi@rishiray.com

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