Day 1 in Chile: Downtown Santiago

After 10+ hours in the air  (with a layover  in Lima), we finally got into Santiago at 6am! Our arrival was greeted by mountains…and the sun.

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I guess being welcomed by the sunrise sort of softened the blow of a 6am red-eye arrival…

We met up with C’s roomate J’s mom at the airport, who helped us get a taxi to our hotel/apartment (Infinity Suites by Ameristar in downtown Santiago).  We forgot that check-in is usually in the afternoon and were worried we would be stuck with our bags, but thankfully, Infinity Suites allowed us to check in on arrival. Hooray!

Infinite Suites offers apartments in a residential complex for travelers to stay in. For ~$60 USD/person/day we got a comfortable 2 bedroom, 3 bed apartment with a kitchen and living room (and wifi!)–not bad at all.  We proceeded to take pictures of our home for the next 3 days:

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…before making a unanimous decision to take a nap to recover from our flight. Since we arrived so early, and since it was also summer in Chile, suddenly daylight was 14hours again, giving us plenty of time to explore the city after a 3 hour nap :).

Our first stop was to exchange $$. Per recommendations by our hotel, there were a number of banks and money exchange counters available on Estado, between the  streets of  San Antonio and Bandera and perpendicular to Bernado O’Higgins (which is a major road in Santiago). We soon found out that Saturday = most banks close in the early afternoon (like the US!), but found two money counters with comparable rates. Since our Spanish still quite poor, we decided to exchange a small amount first to make sure we weren’t getting scammed.  We also decided to spend some right away at Sandwicheria Vivi (thank you Foursquare!), chosen because it was nearby, cheap, and advertised wifi, though we couldn’t get it to work on our cell phones :/ . Not Chilean food yet, but it satisfied our appetites (and confirmed our money was real! yay!).

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Estado, a pedestrian street between San Antonio and Bandera

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there were a TON of street vendors selling yellow undergarments! apparently, this is given to people for good luck in the new year

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first meal in Chile: simple chicken and salad with soup

After lunch, more wandering on Estado…

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some guy dancing with…a doll??

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i guess street performances in cities is pretty universal 🙂

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Which led straight to the first tourist spot on our list, Plaza de Armas

statue at a corner of the plaza

statue at a corner of the plaza

also universal? art being sold along the sides

also universal? art being sold along the sides

Catedral Metropolitana de Santiago (Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago)

Catedral Metropolitana de Santiago (Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago)

Edificio del Correo Central (Central Post Office Building)

Edificio del Correo Central (Central Post Office Building)

 

inside the plaza

inside the plaza

In the backgroun: Palacio de la Real Audiencia de Santiago (Royal Court Palace), formerly home of the royal courts of justice in the 1800s and now home of the  National History Museum of Chile

In the background: Palacio de la Real Audiencia de Santiago (Royal Court Palace), formerly home of the royal courts of justice in the 1800s and now home of the National History Museum of Chile

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Next stop, a hike up Cerro Santa Lucia. Apparently, Pedro de Valdivia founded the city of Santiago on February 12th, 1541 at the foot of this hill! Now, it is a popular tourist spot for panoramic view of the city. Admission is free, but everyone has to sign a guest registry when entering (I found this out after the fact, and was relieved we weren’t signing some random notebook :P). For future travelers, entrances are at Avenida Alameda and St. LucĂ­a, or St. LucĂ­a and Merced; alternatively, you could take the elevator to the top on St. LucĂ­a Street at Agustinas.

walking up the steps--the hill looks deceivingly small

walking up the steps–the hill looks deceivingly small

a colorful lizard that crossed our path! too fast for my camera though! haha

a colorful lizard that crossed our path! too fast for my camera though! haha

one of many mini-plazas within the hill

one of many mini-plazas within the hill

fort #1, built originally to house cannons to defend the hill

fort #1, built originally to house cannons to defend the hill

 Pedro de Valdivia square, in the middle of the hill

Pedro de Valdivia square, in the middle of the hill

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beautiful STRAY dog! there were so many breed dogs just wandering around the hill

beautiful STRAY dog! there were so many breed dogs just wandering around the hill

Part of Fort Hidalgo (I think?), at the corner of Pedro de Valdivia square

view from Pedro de Valdivia square

view from Pedro de Valdivia square

pretty chapel near the top

pretty chapel near the top

garden dedicated to darwin

garden dedicated to darwin

View from Pedro de Valdivia square

another view from Pedro de Valdivia square

almost there!

almost there!

hello santiago! view 1 from the top of Fort/Castle Hidalgo

hello santiago! view 1 from the top of Fort/Castle Hidalgo

view 2 from the top of Fort/Castle Hidalgo

view 2 from the top of Fort/Castle Hidalgo

view 3 from the top of Fort/Castle Hidalgo

view 3 from the top of Fort/Castle Hidalgo

On the way down, we encountered another palatial structure– the fountain of Neptune. This was built by BenjamĂ­n Vicuña Mackenna in 1872 as part of his efforts to beautify the city

on the way day, we encountered another palacial structure-- the fountain of Neptune

This was built by Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna in 1872 as part of his efforts to beautify the city

mural at the bottom

mural at the bottom

Then, we took a quick metro ride to the Los Leones stop in the Providencia District of Santiago, where we planned to grab dinner. We were happy to find the subway system in Santiago very modern, quite convienient, and pretty much the same system as in New York or DC in the US. Each station can be found on the streets under huge signs with 3 diamonds, and colored according to whatever line you are traveling (aka, 3 red diamonds for the red line). There are different rates for off peak and on peak, and you buy a metrocard (‘called ‘Bip!’) that you can reload with $$ at machines within the station. A one way trip is about 600 chilean pesos, but varies depending on the time you are traveling. 

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metro platform

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subways in santiago are pretty much the same as in US cities…but with fewer seats, I guess to accommodate more people during rush hours?

We closed off the day with dinner at El Giratorio, a revolving restaurant on the top floor of a building in the more modernized part of Santiago. As reviews stated, the food was on the pricey side, but the views made it worth it 🙂 If you plan on checking this out, the best time is definitely around sunset, to catch both day and night views of the city!

view outside our windows

view outside our windows

C and K trying to decipher the menu (no english version :()

C and K trying to decipher the menu (no english version :()

hello santiago :)

hello santiago 🙂

shrimp and flounder ceviche appetizer

shrimp and flounder ceviche appetizer

view #2

view #2

my dish: a trout stuffed with veggies in a seafood sauce

my dish: a trout stuffed with veggies in a seafood sauce

night view 1!

night view 1~

night view 2!

night view 2

And that ends our first day in Santiago. Tomorrow (what I’ve been looking forward to all year): hiking in the Andes!!

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6 comments

  1. $60 dollars for your place is a steal!!! wow!! and I love how you guys tested the money first… hahaha is that type of scamming common/legal?? also, i love all the historical facts you added as well! keep them coming

    last but not least… the food looks so good! i didn’t even realize that the menus would be in spanish… i think you deciphered it pretty well haha but you girls seriously did your research with where to stay and eat!! i can’t wait for more posts =D

    1. Aww thanks jenny!! haha it was def a good price for the space! About the scamming–Kelsey knows someone who got fake money from an ATM D; We just didnt want to take any chances, especially since we can’t speak Spanish haha

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