Santiago de Chile – December 2009

Alissa and I arrived at the airport in Santiago on the night of December 16th and had a collective grumble with the other COPA passengers as we waited in line to pay the $130 reciprocity fee. A word of warning to Santiago bound travelers: the fee collection booth is easy to miss. It is on the left-hand side preceding the customs line, behind the escalators. If you miss it, you will be sent back from customs and may have to wait in line for up to an hour.

Our first stop was La Casa Roja, our home for the next two evenings. It’s a great place to stay in Santiago and I highly recommend it for young travelers. The casona is beautifully updated and the staff is super helpful – fluent in both English and Spanish. At the hostel the dorm rooms are clean, the kitchen is huge and is equipped with a massive eight burner gas stove, and there is a swim-up bar (what more can you want for $15 a night?). Located in Barrio Brasil, it is within walking distance of the main plaza, numerous restaurants, and cafes. Score.

Our first night in Santiago was rather enjoyable. Alissa and I had a lovely dinner of ceviche and sushi at a restaurant around the corner from La Casa Roja. Afterward we enjoyed a few Pisco Sours – a popular drink in both Peru and Chile. Our night concluded in the La Casa Roja pub along with a dozen or so fellow travelers.

Sarah arrived from Minneapolis the following morning and the three of us spent the day walking around the city, climbing the stairs of Cerro Santa Lucia, shopping for gifts, and discovering the pleasant tastes of the local food. Our lunch was deliciously simple – avocado with a fresh lemon sauce, empanadas de pina, and fresh carrot soup.

First lunch in SantiagoShoppers In Santiago

We spent some of our first day in Santiago looking at churches. I wasn’t thrilled with the cathedral. Note: I’ve been all over western Europe and spent an entire month in Italy looking at churches. I’m not easily impressed. We did find a small and colorful church that I thought was rather quaint. Below is a photo of the Iglesia San Francisco de Borja.

Iglesia San Francisco De Borja

On the single night we spent in Santiago together, the three of us headed to Barrio Bellavista for dinner and dancing. Bellavista came highly recommended by the staff at La Casa Roja. Simply put, it is a bohemian neighborhood with a bustling nightlife. At dinner, Sarah lucked out with a pasta dish, while Alissa and I had some, um, curious ceviche. Although the flavor of this dish was great and the freshness could not be called into question, there was something odd and squid-like about it which I could not swallow. Alissa and I ate what we could and then subsequently split a plate of crab filled ravioli in an ink sauce, which was delightful. Towards the end of our meal there was a power outage on the street, which we happily rode out with a second bottle of vino tinto.

We topped the night (and morning) off in a crowded salsa bar that was hosting a live band. Click here to watch a movie of it! The local patrons seemed thrilled with the music and the salsa dancing was pretty good. By 6am we found ourselves sufficiently intoxicated and giddy. Our flight to Rapa Nui was due to leave at noon and luckily for Sarah and I, Alissa stayed up for the rest of the morning and we caught a quick nap at La Casa Roja. Thanks Alissa!

Live band in Barrio BellavistaSarah, Alissa, and Megan in Barrio Bellavista

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