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May 062014

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the hip Constitucion street in the Bellavista district at night, Santiago, Chile

After a 1.5 hour bus ride from Vina del Mar, my friend M and I got to Santiago at 9PM. Her seatmate was a Chilean named Gabriel who speaks english, and when I woke up from my bus nap, we all had a great chat about governments and bitcoin.


Our first stop wasn’t the hotel, but Cebicheria Constitucion, a restaurant in the Bellavista area near our hotel. We were famished. Constitucion street has a lot of bars and trendy restaurants. This restaurant serves Peruvian cuisine. I was surprised that fried rice is a thing in Peruvian cooking.

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We stayed at the Hotel Don Santiago, a cozy little hotel that seems like a refurbished old house.

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mounted police in the Central Market area

mounted police in the Central Market area

The next day, we walked half an hour from our hotel to the Central Market (Mercado Central),traversing a huge park. The Central Market is a big hub of seafood stalls and restaurants. I don’t think I’ve seen fish this huge in my life.

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We headed to Cerro Sta. Lucia after, a park on a hill. We hiked up to the peak (entrance is at the structure labeled Castilo Hidalgo inside the park).

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You could view the beautiful Santiago skyline from that vantage point.


Spotted these people in costume on our way down the hill.


Our other friends joined us while we were at the top of the hill, and our merry band had lunch at a really slow fast food joint, Guili’s Burger, we headed to Plaza Armas to join a free walking tour. There was only one guy in his 60s making food for the whole restaurant, and it closes at 2PM. they gave us an extra plate of fries for our long wait though, so it’s all good.

Guili's Burger

Guili’s Burger

Plaza Armas itself was under repairs, so we didn’t get to see it. We did get to check out the Metropolitan Cathedral across it. Afterwards, we went to check out the Presidential Palace, and other different buildings. There’s a lot of classical French style architecture in Santiago.

One highlight is when the guide introduced us to the concept of “coffee with legs” in the financial district of Santiago. We did our tour on a Saturday so offices are closed, but he said during weekdays, these coffee shops attract customers by having scantily dressed baristas serve coffee. He said,even if the coffee culture in Chile was undeveloped, these “coffee with legs” chains are doing quite well. There’s also such a thing as a “happy minute”, when they close the doors of the coffee shops and the baristas lift up their tops for the mostly male clientele (from the offices nearby) to ogle at.

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We also passed by a small restaurant called La Pica de Clinton (a.k.a. Clinton’s Dick).


We stopped at a coffee shop called Mulato for a little pick me up.

We ended the tour outside Pablo Neruda’s house, then my friend and I went to have dinner again in the Bellavista area, at Ciudad Vieja Sangucheria, a famed sandwich shop the guide recommended.

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We left the Santiago bus terminal for Vina del Mar around 9 PM, making our stay almost exactly 24 hours.

Empty Bottles, Bellavista, Santiago

Other snapshots from this trip on Flickr.

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