4 reasons why is Santiago de Chile a good city to visit
I do love big cities. There is always something to do and you can never get bored. But if I want to live in a big city, I’m not that sure of. If yes, it would have to be my favorite city Barcelona.
Anyway, there are some criteria for me what big cities should have so I can enjoy my stay there.
There are four main things for me why a big city is a good city to visit:
1. when walking at the streets, I need to look at nice buildings, interesting street arts and tall trees – and Santiago has all this. There is street art in most of the town, with the nicest one probably in barrio Bellavista. It is not that much like in Valparaiso for example, but it was really funny to look at all those weird human faces with weird eyes, or 3 eyes. I don’t know where they got that inspiration.
2. good food – I am in love with food being sold at the streets, I so miss it from Mexico and Thailand, especially my fruit! And there is probably no bigger fan of local markets than me, trust me! They always tend up to be my favorite parts of the cities, such as La Boqueria market in Barcelona or El Parral market in Puebla. In Santiago, the Central Market – Mercado Central is for tourists. Expensive, with posh restaurants, very pushy sellers/waiters and somehow losing the nice market atmosphere. But once you cross the river, there are another two markets there which are much better – Tirso de Molina market in a two-storey building and then La Vega Central market.
La Vega became my favorite place in Santiago and all the three days in Santiago I went there for lunch. Any fresh food you need, you can get there! It is huge and with many small restaurants offering the menu of the day up to 3,000 pesos. I always left it satisfied with full stomach, and a lot of bags with fresh fruit and vegetable. Then outside at the streets they even sell clothes and other stuff.
3. parks – if a big city doesn’t have a nice park to hide from the Sun, or for romantic walks, I just feel there is something missing. In Santiago I visited Parque de los Reyes – The Kings’ Park with a quiet lake (obviously also that quiet at night as there were used condoms on the ground, so now you know where to go for pleasure!) The second park I strolled through was Quinta Normal just 10 minutes walking from the place I was staying. I heard before the park was nice, and it was so true!
At the entrance of Quinta Normal you can get some cheap empanadas. Already one good point! There is a building with stunning graffiti, a lake where you can take a boat to paddle around and a huge fountain where children are bathing. It was so funny to look at them, jumping around and enjoying the water. And then their parents dried them up with a towel and changed their clothes! Even many young couples were having fun in the fountain, exchanging so romantic hugs and kisses all wet! Sitting there and observing it all, I remember I wrote into my diary that at that moment I wished I had a boyfriend so we could play children and get wet in the fountain!
4. viewpoints – maybe it is a professional deformation from my previous job of a cabin crew, but I just have to see the city from the above, I always need to get to some viewpoint and spend a couple of minutes just looking around and absorbing the atmosphere of the big city. Santiago has more viewpoints which I really loved about it! First, not far from Plaza de Armas centre and the Cathedral, I walked up to Cerro Santa Lucia which is a small hill where you don’t pay the entrance and you will get some nice views of Santiago as it is more or less in the middle of the town. And I saw fire somewhere in the town from there.
But to get even a better view, you gotta go up Cerro San Cristobal. You can walk it, cycle it or just take a funicular to the top for 2,200 pesos both ways. Or together with the entrance to the ZOO that is half way to the top it is 4,800 pesos (3,000 pesos for the ZOO only and 2,200 pesos for the funicular, so you save up 400 pesos). This is what I did, first walked around the Zoo. It is nothing special, I’ve been to nicest ones, but it has a good view of Santiago and there are penguins if you didn’t visit places such as the Southernmost town in the world Ushuaia, penguins in Punta Tombo or together with the other animals in Peninsula Valdes before, so now you can get a chance to see the penguins here (Humboldt penguins, those in the places in Argentina I mention are Magellanic penguins, very similar.)
Once on top of San Cristobal hill, there are stalls with food and drinks, or you can just enjoy the view or walk more steps to the Sanctuary with the white statue which being higher offers a better view of Santiago.
I am really happy that Santiago de Chile has all 4 things I think big cities should have. Nice streets, good food, lovely parks and great views, what else can you wish for?