A lot of people that we talked to told us that Santiago should be treated as a transit town, spending 1 night there before moving on to another city. Since we normally like things that others don’t, we booked 2 nights in Santiago.
While it wasn’t the most exciting town from a tourist perspective, we had a great time in Santiago. We didn’t take many photos and after we left, I wish that we had documented it better. We’re working on taking more photos, even in cities that aren’t overly interesting or we don’t love, so we can better show everyone what the city was like.
Instead of a hostel or B&B, we booked our own apartment which allowed us to feel as though we lived in the city, instead of being tourists. Our activities were not overly exciting, but were part of everyday life that we miss on the road, so we thoroughly enjoyed them.
What We Saw & Did in Santiago
Went to a Movie
Andy and I had watched all of the Hunger Games movies together. Since The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, the final movie was out in theaters, we decided to see if watching it in English with Spanish subtitles was an option. It was and we were excited to go to our first movie theater since we left the states.
The movie theater was in the Costanera Center but we had no clue just how crazy the mall was before we arrived. The mall was nearly a city block long and was 6 stories tall. Many of the stores were familiar brands that we have in the US. While we didn’t need to shop, if we needed any clothing, this would be the place to go.
The directory, because it was so big was actually a touch screen that scrolled. Once we found out that the movie theater was located on the top floor, we rode the escalators all the way up. The escalators stopped on the 5th floor which had the largest food court that I have ever seen. There was, no exaggeration, 45 different dining options, everything from Applebee’s to Taco Bell and Domino’s Pizza. I only half joking told Andy that we should have dinner there after the movie since there were so many options.
After walking through the food court, we found the escalator up to the 6th floor where the movie theater was located. We purchased our tickets, selected our seats and went to the theater. The seats were not the best that I have ever had at a movie, but were not nearly as bad as I thought it would be when I initially sat down. The movie was good and surprisingly the Spanish subtitles at the bottom were not bothersome at all.
The next movie on Andy’s list to see is Star Wars: The Force Awakens which he plans to watch in Buenos Aires when we’re there in early January.
Visited Santa Lucia Park
The map of the city showed a very large park on a hill. Since it wasn’t too far from the artisanal market where we planned to look for a keychain to turn Christmas ornament, we decided to check it out.
Entry to the park was free, all we had to do was sign in with our nationality and passport number. As we hiked up to the top of the park, we both commented on how everything was very well maintained. As we walked around the park it reminded me of Central Park in New York, only arguably this park was better since with the hill, you could see an aerial perspective of the city.
Santiago is located in a valley with the Andes mountains around it. Since it is a large city and sitting at the lowest point, there are issues with smog. We had read online to keep our fingers crossed for rain if we wanted to see the city with the mountains in the background. There was no rain when we were there, so the mountains were a bit hidden, but it was still a cool view to see. We snapped a few pictures, some of the only pictures that we took in the city.
Spent Time in Our Apartment
Since we had a private apartment which had everything that we needed, we spent quite a bit of time there, just relaxing.
There was a good grocery store nearby which had tons of different food options. We bought a bunch of groceries, including turkey which we have not been able to find since we left the US. We cooked up a storm, making dinner and even a batch of cookie bars for dessert. Even though dining out can be fun, we have been eating out a lot lately so it felt good to make our own meals.
Our apartment was close to the subway, which was very easy to navigate. We rode the subway to get everywhere we wanted to go. It was inexpensive, only 650 pesos or 93 cents per ride.
We checked out the main touristy area of Plaza del Armas as well as the neighborhood of Bellavista. While everything was nice, there was nothing overly special or different that we hadn’t already seen before.
Purchased Our Bus Tickets to Pucon
We spent quite a bit of time doing this, because the first bus terminal we went to told us they only sold tickets to and from Valparaiso. We had to go to a different bus terminal which happened to be at a stop we had already passed on the metro train. So, we spent a lot of time on the train when we didn’t need to. Once we got to the correct terminal we had a long line to wait on just to purchase our tickets. We had a hard time understanding why there were so many people at the bus terminal in the middle of the day, on a weekday… that’s South America for you.
I don’t know that I would go out of my way to visit Santiago but we did have a great time there. If you do find yourself there, set expectations accordingly. There isn’t a lot to see or do, but if you decide to live like a local, it can be a nice place to recharge your batteries.