Lan Airlines (now known as LATAM) flies direct from Auckland New Zealand, so a stay in Santiago is a must for those of us traveling that far, if only to recover from jetlag.
However the city has over 6 million people – so where to stay in Santiago Chile?
Here is my advice for where to stay and how to enjoy a day there. Be prepared for smog and traffic …
Hostel De La Barra
Wonderfully central – turn left and walk for 5 minutes to the hilltop of Santa Lucia and turn Parc Forestel and a walk through the Bella Vista neighbourhood of cafes and bars, to the wonderful San Christobal hill and park. Downtown is a short walk away, metro stop nearby, it has a café and bar next door and 24 hour reception. Hostel prices – good value
It is a massive pile of rock full of historical remnants – castles, waterfalls, with lots of great pathways with lookouts across the city. In 1852 it was the site of an Astronomical Observatory, the first in Latin America. These days the smog prevent any such activities.
Like others, we found these Easybiki bikes at the foot of St Christabel. 12000 pesos 18usd for 1.5 hours guided tour on an electric bike. Our fantastic Brazilian guide Octavio led the way as we effortlessly cycled up to the Madonna at the top of the hill then around the rest of the reserve with regular lookouts across the city.
The slightly negative thing was that this is a very modified landscape, with very little sense of what might have grown here before colonisation. Sadly true of most cities.
On our way back from San Cristobal we walked through Bella Vista neighbourhood – which is a great place to look for a café or bar.
We stopped at Viva La Vida en Chile for the traditional Pastel de Choclo – a hot bot of corn, beef, and egg, and Cerviche – raw fish. The Cerviche was a bit lemony for my taste, but worth trying.
We are still recovering from Jetlag I think, so not that hungry.
Around the block from our hostel, this was a great find for a lovely light fresh meal – you can make your own salad which was just what we wanted – I had Quinoa with fresh tomatoes, avocado and grilled aubergine, along with a Mango juice.
Great service – an Australian and an American adrift in Santiago. When a Mango Lasse was not possible, my Mango juice was complimentary. I will come back next time for some of their delicious cakes!
PostScript – the Australian woman who served us had started the Easibici Ebike hire company we enjoyed earlier in the day. Even among 6 million people it can be a small world
Be prepared for smog – sometimes serious enough that schools close. How they ever had an observatory here is hard to imagine. We never saw the sky in our visit.
- Airport Taxis – they are unregulated and very pushy and will try and fleece you, very disappointing. You should not pay more than $30US, Uber is good – about half that if you have roaming to locate them.
- Water – the water supply seems fine, and we are assured it is, though Cynthia continues to treat it.