We made our way to Chile a few days ago via an Andesamar six hour bus trip from Mendoza, another incredible bus ride, through the Andes this time. Half way into the trip we left the border of Argentina and found ourselves at Chile immigration a couple of km’s down the road. Everything was really well organized and the Andesmar staff shuffled us off the bus, through immigration, through customs and then back onto the bus again all in about ½ an hour. Chile, like New Zealand is very protective over it’s agricultural industry, we had to declare any food and then all passengers had to line up at long tables and watch whilst our luggage was taken off the bus by staff, put through the x-ray machine and then popped back onto the bus again.
We arrived on the 30th of April at about 4pm and quickly grabbed a look around the city as the 1st of May was a public holiday for the majority of the continent and everything would be closed. We were really impressed by the city and ended up having Mexican for dinner, the most unspicy Mexican we have ever eaten. Chile does not equal chili, remember that guys – luckily we were prepared for the lack of spice, but oh we miss it. Locals don’t even seem to eat black pepper, let alone anything hot!!
The 1st of May found us cooped up at the hostel as although it is a public holiday the locals like to celebrate by marching, chanting and basically being a nuisance on the streets, so we stayed clear of this. We did head out for dinner at one of the few places nearby still open, the chicken had run out so we both had the typical Chilean dish Lomo a lo pobre, which is meat, fries, fried onion and two fried eggs – protein overload.
Our last day in Santiago was great, the city is really, really cool and easy to walk around – one of the American’s at the hostel even compared it to New York!!! We took a funicular up the largest peak in the city, San Cristóbal Hill for only AU$4 each return and had another Chilean delicacy at a local place Golinda, Porotos con longaniza which is beans with mashed corn, pumpkin, basil and red pepper with a giant pork sausage plonked on the top – it was delicious. Both were in an area called Bellavista which was a great suburb (barrio) to explore, there were so many bars and restaurants that we are sure the place must go off in the evening.
The next stop was the fruit markets which were definitely one of the best I have been to in the world, the prices were ridiculously cheap, they were basically giving away pomegranates, blueberries, raspberries, quince, figs all those usually pricey fruits and we even saw feijoas.
We only had two actual days in Santiago but we totally loved it, and agreed it’s a place you could definitely come back to.