We arrived in Santiago early, around 7.30am. On Kate and Michael's recommendation we decided to stay in an Airbnb apartment owned by Pato. We dropped off our bags and went out for breakfast, after a long overnight journey we were famished. After some walking we found Wonderland; a quaint looking place with Alice in Wonderland inspired decorations and a delicious sounding menu. A British guy greeted us and told us that we could have scrambled eggs with baked beans, we were sold. Along with our beans and eggs we had home-made muffins, freshly squeezed orange juice and builders brew tea. After our epic breakfast we went for a walk to the park; it was a beautifully sunny and hot day. We decided to go to Palais de Belles Artes to see what art what was on display. After a wander around the exhibits I found the most interesting thing to be the ships mast and sails in the main foyer, little fans created a wind so that it looked like the sails were on the high seas.
We left the museum and sat in the park under the shade of a tree before walking to Cerro Santa Lucia. After walking up some steps we found ourselves at the top of the hill with amazing panoramic views all around. It felt like a complete oasis from the bustling city below, even the air felt cleaner and cooler. We ventured up and down stairways, through narrow rock and past decorative fountains. There were trees providing shade, pretty flowers and cacti. We had a refreshing drink from a vendor before walking to the apartment via the supermarket. We met Pato our host and his beautiful golden retriever Oliver. It was after hearing about Oliver from Kate and Michael that we decided we really wanted to stay. Our room wasn't quite ready so we found a bar around the corner to while away some time.
The next morning we FaceTimed with Craig's family who were having an early Christmas gathering, it was so wonderful to see everyone and especially speak to Craig's nephews Alfie and Aidan who we miss very much. Pato took us to the market he visits for fresh fruit and vegetables every Sunday. We strolled the few blocks to the market and enjoyed walking among the crowds seeing everything that was on offer. With Pato's help as our Spanish is not up to scratch we bought lots of fresh produce to take home, plenty of fruits for breakfast and vegetables for dinners too. On the return home we tried a local type of fast food called sopapilla which is a fried pumpkin bread, it was very tasty and also very cheap. After preparing a fresh fruit salad for lunch we ventured out to Centro Gabriela Mistral an impressive creative hub to check out the architecture and then walked to Museo de Artes Visuales. The gallery contained some very interesting things although the bottom floor was closed off and I couldn't help but think that the best stuff was down there; from the balcony I could see art containing maps and painterly goodness.
We caught the excellent metro to the Costanera centre and took the elevator to the top of the tower where we were rewarded with views over the entire city and to the Andes beyond. Once back at ground level we went searching through the countless shops to find a gopro stand which we had misplaced earlier in the trip and we treated ourselves to a Cinnabon purely because they feature on The Secret Life of Walter Mitty; one of our favourite films.
The next day on Pato's recommendation we went to the Yungay district to see the street art and more dilapidated side of the city. It didn't feel like the safest of areas so after taking some snaps of the graffiti we started walking to a metro stop. Before leaving the area we spotted a sign advertising vegan food so we went to take a closer look. We found a vegan shop full to bursting with ethical products including vegan completos a type of hot dog with avocado that our friends Sarah and Lee had tasted when they were in Santiago. We pulled up a stool and gorged on completos, delicious juice and vegan dessert. As vegetarians we sometimes miss out on local food experiences as they often feature meat, it was so lovely to be able to encounter something authentically 'Chilean' but with a veggie friendly twist.
After our amazing lunch we went to Cerro San Cristobal. Unfortunately the cable car was not running and the funicular railway was broken so we took a minibus to the top. Again we had wonderful views of the city but could also enjoy the quiet gardens and shady spots to people watch while sipping on cold sparkling drinks. From the bottom of the hill we walked to Plaza de Armas which is Santiago's most famous square. The square was full of interesting characters and is shaded by tall palm trees. We went inside Catedral Metropolitana which was beautiful, stained glass windows created rainbow light and displays of bright fresh lillies left a sweet aroma.
On our final full day in the city we decided to make it a quiet one, we enjoyed a day in the apartment and in the afternoon we went back to the Costanera centre to watch Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them with the biggest bucket of popcorn imaginable. The next day we packed our things and gave Pato a farewell hug, we went to Wonderland for another filling breakfast before heading to the bus station to leave the city for Valparaiso. Our time in Santiago had been fantastic, probably because we were staying with a local who was happy to share his favourite parts of the city with us. Each day was spent doing exactly what we wanted and miraculously despite all the foodie treats we still managed to come in under budget.
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