Oh, Santiago. A place you need to really stay just for 3-4 nights but we ended up staying a week. We arrived at one of the few bus terminals around 7pm and walked a little over a mile to an area where we saw a lot of hostels downtown on hostelworld. We decided to scope out a few different places and pick the cheapest hostel but my phone died after we arrived to the first one that cost $12 USD per night with no breakfast and just stayed there. Easy to make a decision when you are tired and too lazy to go anywhere else.
Being in the center of the city there was nothing vibrant about it. We walked around for maybe 3 hours after getting settled in the hostel and it was just another downtown in a major city to me. Matt was a big fan of the street food on the main street of Av Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins where we ate questionable meat served on a stick for $2 USD. We decided with our first night there we would go out for a traditional Chilean dinner called Chorrillana for $10 dinner split between the both of us. It is basically a pile of fries with different sausages, meat and chicken with 1-2 fried eggs on top and when we were finished eating it I instantly wanted to fall asleep from being so full. After just one night in this area I knew it was time to go explore a suburb outside the city center. The place was called Parron de Colores Hostel ($25 USD a night for a private room) that was in the suburb of Ñuñoa which was easy to get to from the subway/metro which reminded me of the subway system in New York City, just way cleaner! We ended up having to take one bus and metro ride from downtown to get there but luckily I have the best public transportation app called Moovit that saved us on getting around. This app is an GPS that directs where the bus and metro stations are and when exactly when to get on and off of them, it works perfectly every time we have used it. It took 50 minutes from downtown but once we arrived to the area we knew we made the right choice.
We spent our second day walking around our new neighborhood and checking out the garages in people's homes that were converted into fruit stalls that we bought some goods from and of course had to try one of the many sushi restaurants around the Ñuñoa area. The only question I have about the sushi here is, why is there so much cream cheese in every roll? I mean they are good none the less but still that was new for me. I have been having a sweet tooth badly lately and this city is full of bakeries. I have learned many of the pastries look better than they taste but still always seem to find my way into buying something.
Since we started to figure out the metro system pretty fast we decided that evening to head to the district of Bella Vista to have a drink and see some of the street art the neighborhood is known for. We went to the first bar for the sole reason that we saw alot of people there and had a liter of beer each for around $6 total. After an hour we wanted to see what another bar in this area would be like and man the bar scene here is insane! We wandered into one bar that had two levels and 100’s of young 20 year olds all dressed up to the nine.. We sat down right in the middle of the room with tables and chairs full of people surrounding us and had another 2 liters of beer each. With the loud music and beer I was a bit thrown back by everyone smoking cigarettes around me. I was even more surprised when I realized people were also smoking a ton of weed all around because it is illegal in this country! The scene was wild and if you are wanting to come to this city to party definitely check the Bella Vista neighborhood. Make sure while in this borough to make your way up to the huge park called Cerro San Cristóbal where I took the tram up and Matt walked up the steep hill and we met at the top. You can buy some knick knacks and snacks to enjoy while embracing the city life below. There are roads for walkers, runners, bikers and dogs galore all around this park that you can spend hours of the day walking around.
The next day it was off to see another part of the town and usually our favorite in every city, the Mercado Central. We were ready for the fruit and vegetable stands and cheap eats but instead this Mercado was full of expensive restaurants! Obviously out of our budget we wandered two blocks away to the Vega Central and we finally found lunch! Everything from fruit to vegetables to smoothies to snacks were all served downstairs of this huge warehouse and restaurants all lined up upstairs. But, instead of eating at a proper restaurant, we ate in front of the building from a man cooking rice and chicken out of a grocery cart for 1,500 pesos ($2.50 USD). Street food is always something we sought out for to try real authentic (And cheap) cooking and this meal was the best street food we have had in all of Chile. Afterwards, we strolled around the market and outside vendors and bought some groceries to cook back at our hostel that evening. Take your time in this city and really take advantage of the public transportation this city offers. There are many different boroughs including the main Plaza De Armas that will fill up your days. Make sure to bring the best walking shoes, they will be used a lot here. After a week it was time to start our first workaway in Valparaiso, Chile!
5) Rainbow Mountain, Cusco, Sacred Valley
6) Machu Pichu
1) Copacabana and Isla Del Sol
2) La Paz
1) San Pedro De Atacama
4) La Serena
5) Puerto Iquazu
6) Buenos Aires