Needless to say, after the nearly 6hr hike yesterday, we slept pretty well last night. Today was another day of exploration in downtown Santiago: on the agenda = the Northern part of the city!
Our first stop was the district of Bellavista, known as the bohemian part of Santiago. Apparently, a lot of the city’s artists and intellectuals live in this area, and the quarter is known for its vibrant nightlife. Pablo Neruda, one of Chile’s most famous poets, also built a house here. Though we didn’t go see his house (since we were going to visit his other house in Valparaiso), we saw plenty of other colorful buildings and quaint streets 🙂
In the central part of Bellavista, there is an outdoor mall-like concentration of restaurants and artisan shops known as Patio Bellavista. There are a combination of unique and chains restaurants here (i.e., Starbucks), as well as higher end souvenir shops. Think better quality, but more expensive gift items, crafted from materials like lapis lazuli–a semi precious stone with only two major deposits in the world, one in Chile and the other in Afghanistan–or copper, two of Chile’s major exports.
We had originally planning to grab lunch at a popular sandwich spot in Bellavista, Ciudad Vieja, before heading to Cerro San Cristobal (which is at the edge of the district), but because the restaurant was closed, we opted for food at Le Fournil instead (because its wifi :P) French food in South America! It was basically like “Le Pain Quotidien”–I also think Le Fournil has other locations throughout Chile.
After lunch, we headed to our first attraction of the day: Cerro San Cristobal! Also another super popular tourist spot for views of the city, San Cristobal is much bigger than Santa Lucia and equipped with a funicular at its Bellavista entrance, located at Pío Nono 450, Barrio Bellavista; Baquedano, allowing people to easily get to the summit without much effort 😛 The funicular costs about $4 USD for a roundtrip ticket, which wasn’t bad at all. There is also a zoo midway up the hill you could stop at, but we opted to go straight up.
It wasn’t until we were riding up the funicular that I realized how much taller San Cristobal was compared to Santa Lucia! The funicular brings you to a nice plaza surrounded by trees where you can get this view:
…and if one is up for it, you can also further climb up the hill via a set of steps to the left of the funicular leading to multiple memorials, sanctuaries for prayer (including a chapel), the real summit of the hill (with even more epic views) and the famous statue of the Virgin Mary (Virgen de la Inmaculada Concepción).
Finally, when you reach the top, you will be greeted by this site:
and these views 🙂
One thing we noticed was that EVERY snack stand seemed to be advertising mote con huesillos, so C decided to be brave and get some to try. Turns out mote con huesillos is a very popular summertime Chilean drink, consisting of a sweet clear nectar like liquid made with dried peaches (huesillo) cooked in sugar, water and cinnamon, and then once cooled mixed with fresh cooked husked wheat (mote) (thanks Wikipedia!). Not the most intuitive combination of ingredients I would have thought of, but it was interestingly tasty!
After Cerro San Cristobal, we explore Patio Bellavista a bit more for souvenirs and bought some gifts for back home. On the way out, we encountered another mini souvenir market outside. Tip: for those interested in cheap souvenirs, particularly lapis lazuli, the prices here are MUCH cheaper than the ones on the Patio. To be fair, can’t say the quality is on the same par, but its nice to have options, isn’t it?
We then checked out Parque Forestal…
and found ourselves passing through the neighborhood of Lastarria, another artsy district of Santiago, where our dinner destination (as recommended by Pedro), was located.
We finished off the day with dinner at Liguria, a fun, vibrantly decorated place recommended to us by Pedro and known for its decor and traditional Chilean menu!
in the spirit of Chilean cuisine, we ordered three seafood dishes as recommended by Pedro
and finished off with dessert
And thus ends Santiago day 3! New Years Eve tomorrow!