Santiago de Chile is a huge city, situated at the bottom of the Andes. I was told it was 45 kilometers from one end to the other, but it looks a lot larger. The total area is 140 square Kilometers. Driving through this city is something you have to learn bit by bit. There are no signposts to speak of and it's all one direction only traffic. So, when you have found your destination somewhere, don't think you can return the same way. A good map is essential. Let me give you a sound advice: use the underground railway. It is, like in most big cities that have one, the best way to travel. Get to the nearest station and start from there. Buy yourself a good map from the city centre and take out a day or three to discover all there is to see, like the postoffice, the presidential palace, etc. The people are very hospitable and make you feel really at home. If you want to avoid the extreme hot period, go there in autumn, winter or beginning of spring. The temperatures are then in the neighbourhood of 20 degrees. Remember! You are below the equator and that means that everything is the other way around from above that line! Spring starts on September 23 and summer starts on December 21st! Even the sun travels along the sky from right to left! I was there in the end of October and the skiing pistes were just closed. The snow however up there was still perfect. Although it was very high up (I was scared stiff going up, as my taxidriver had no qualms driving at 50-60 k/h), which resulted in gasps for more air which at that height ( approximately 3500 meters) was obviously very rarified, when I tried to negotiate a stairs to a restaurant later on, I could see myself skiing there. What I saw of it: huge hotels seemingly hanging on the cliffwalls, above extreme depths, modern lifts and other equipment, a very good restaurant, snackbars with magnificent terrasses, shops, etc. Only an hour's drive away, maybe 1.5 hours from Santiago! With a bit of luck, you'll see Condors flying overhead, which really thrilled me. These birds are so rare! And I saw at least five on that trip! In case you want to get information about Santiago and surroundings, there's a very small tourist office on the hill Cerro Santa Lucia, a hill right in the middle of Santiago. Mind you, the office is difficult to find and it's 3 feet wide and possibly 9 feet long! And no-one speaks English or any other language but Spanish. No, I suggest you go to the Sernatur National Tourism Board on the Avenda Providencia. It's between the underground stations Manuel Montt and Pedro de Valdivia, on the corner of Sta. Beatriz. They speak perfect English there, know what they are talking about and they take all the time to inform you very well, while they supply you with maps and folders about everything, free of charge. I highly recommend a visit there!
Santiago has a staggering 5.5 million inhabitants.
- Voltage: 230 V, 50 Hz. Bring a universal adaptor!
- Money: Pesos. All credit cards are excepted.
- Call to Holland: 0031 -
- Time compared to GMT:-4 (Mid December - end March.
There are many possibilities, but the easiest way is the Underground railway. For a meagre 2000 pesos you can travel the whole length and back again. It follows the Avenda Providentia and the Alamelia-Bernardo O'Higgins and has stations all over the center of Santiago. Of course there are buses and taxi's, but why bother when you can use this great means of transport? If your staying out of the centre of Santiago, grab a Taxi Colectivo to the nearest station. These are taxis that travel on set routes and you share it with others, but it's cheap. They are recognisable by the large illuminated roof sign. It's a fixed fare, no haggling!
- Activities and tips.
Museums (8), shopping, etc. There's so much to do and see. But don't hire a car to do that. Santiago is huge and riddled with one-way streets. There are no signposts to be found, so you need a very detailed roadmap to get to where you want, and even if you've got a good memory, you'll need that map again to get back out! It's hairraising, honestly! But the sights to see are there. Many. Start off with the Parque Metropolitano. There are certain days and times, that you can drive a car there right to the top. It's worth it, as the views of the city are breathtaking. Don't forget your camera! The photo on the top of this page was taken there! If you don't drive yourself up, take the small touristic chain-train to the top of the Pio Nono and there enjoy the views and the Cumbre Santuary, with it's huge statue of Mary. The Pope visited there in the past and the altar is still there. Oh yes, you can of course get souvenirs there, and eat in the Cumbre restaurant. In the city climb the Cerro Santa Lucia. From the top of that hill there are also magnificent views of the city and the Parque Metropolitano. It's located in the centre of Santiago. And of course, stroll to the Plaza de Armas and visit there the Cathedral of Santiago, the Municipality of Santiago, the Central Postoffice and have a rest on one of the terrasses there. Yes, visit the Plaza de la Moneda with Allende's Palace. You can walk right through the palace, but only in one direction. Taking photo's is allowed, but you may have to show your bags and the contents. Another "must" is the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombine. Here you will find art from pre-Columbian civilizations, a magnificent collection. Thousands of years old. Oh yes, before I forget, there's a little snackbar downstairs in the entrance square. Cheap and reasonably good. There are famous restaurants, Puruvian, Chilean, Argentinian, but yes, also Japanese and Chinese restaurants. But there's one you must visit if you can get the chance: Los Adobes de Argomedo. It's a restaurant-nightclub with traditional folkloric dance and music (there's a good chance you get invited by the dancers to participate: they come to your table and take you to the dancefloor!) and great food, at a reasonable price, say around US$ 25 per person, including the wine. Do make a reservation. The phone number is 222-2104. The address: Argomedo 411, and the nearest Metro station: Santa Isabel. Take the time to make some trips too. A trip to Isla Negra via the small town of Pomaire is worth it if you want to get some real folk art. The whole village is one big pottery. Isla Negra, of course is know for the house of Pablo Neruda, the Nobel Price winner. A very excentric man, but when you have seen his house, you will like the guy, I'm sure. He also had a house in Santiago, which is also worth looking at. The coast there is breathtaking. And make a trip to Valparaiso, a little north of Isla Negro. The bay there is famous for it's beauty and I would recommend a round trip with one of the boats there. You'll have to wear a life jacket, but that's supplied! Very near there is the beach resort Vina del Mar with it's wide, beautiful beaches. The roads, by the way, from Santiago to Isla Negra and Valparaiso are magnificent highways, little traffic and they pass through beautiful landscapes. And don't forget to make a car trip along the Cajon del Maipo. The Maipo is a river that cuts right through high mountainous landscape with magnificent views. And if you're in reasonable shape: climb to the Cascada de las Animas. A wonderful waterfall. You can get access through the gate in the restaurant there. Oh yes, eat there if you have the time. The food is excellent!
Info from Lonely Planet
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Copyright © 1998-2010 Luuk Francken
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Created: January 2, 2003. Updated: januari 24 2010