February 17, 2023
On our last day in Santiago, Stephen taught YMHFA and Eli did laundry, but for dinner, we went out to another local restaurant (with a much less pricy menu) that specializes in traditional indigenous recipes, Peumayen. They do a tasting menu as well; for about $40 you can do 20 different tastes in 4 courses in either sea, land, mixed, or vegetarian. The food was much simpler here than at Borago, but we could actually see ourselves recreating some of the dishes we had here if we were staying longer and knew all of the ingredients. We shared a land and a mixed, but probably should have done a land and vegetarian (or sea) as a few of the dishes on the mixed were the same as on the land menu. We were surprised that we liked the blood sausage and tongue, and the corn "casserole" and the desserts were standouts.
February 16, 2023
We had a great day today, but don't have many pictures to show for it. Two of the places we saw, Palacio Cousiño and Pablo Neruda's House (he had 3 in Chile, so this is the second one we saw), don't allow you to take pictures inside. Palacio Cousiño is a neoclassical mansion built in the mid-19th century by an important industrial family in Chile. The first floor was all original, but the second floor was restored after a fire. It would have rivaled any home of the period in Europe for a family of similar stature. The inlaid wood floors, in particular, were spectacular. They have guided tours in English and Spanish (you can't just walk through the house), so you should call to find out times.
We then headed to the Pablo Neruda House, dubbed La Chascona in honor of Neruda's long-term significant other. Very much like his house in Valparaiso, this one was nautically whimsical and filled with all kinds of interesting artifacts. Interestingly, we saw an article in the NY Times this morning citing an official government investigation about Neruda's death that indicated that it was more likely than not that the dictatorship in its first days actually may have murdered Neruda through poisoning, even though Neruda was already dying of cancer.
On our way between the two houses, we stopped by Cerro Santa Lucia, which was closed when we walked by on Monday. It's a really lush park and a great place to beat the afternoon heat. Most of the photos from today are from there.
February 15, 2023
Since Monday was kind of a bust as to sightseeing, we were motivated to see a lot. We started at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights, which chronicles the period of the dictatorship and the resistance. I'm not sure that typically we would use the word "totalitarian" to describe the Latin American dictatorships of this period (we tend to reserve that for how we talk about Communist governments.... which is telling) but the museum paints a vivid picture of how the state worked to crush anyone who could remotely be considered not to be in line with the government..... artists, musicians, students... and the kind of conformity that was expected and how strongly the government censored everything, It was also interesting to note that the junta took over the Centre Gabriel Mistral, which we saw a few days ago, and had been created for artists, and turned it into one of the headquarters buildings. Also very powerful, though, too, were the stories of resistance. Eli remarked and Stephen agreed that the story the museum told about the resistance of women during the dictatorship highlights the transformative role they played in bringing the dictatorship to an end.
It may have been because of summer vacation, but a number of the museums and other buildings we wanted to see were not just closed on Monday, but were showing "temporarily closed" on Google Maps. This included the Museo Artequin and the Museo de Solidaridad Salvador Allende. We walked by these buildings and took pictures. We saw a lot of beautiful old and decripit buildings just waiting for restoration on our walk today. We headed to Barrio Brazil, but there really wasn't much there, and so headed toward Plaza de Armas to check out all the municipal and government buildings around that area. We thought we might skip the Precolombian Museum, but we're glad we didn't. Their collection is pretty extensive, and we saw some styles and examples of art from all over the regions from Mexico to Patagonia that we hadn't ever really seen before in a precolombian collection.
We finished our sightseeing at Londres 38, which was the former headquarters of the Socialist party in Chile, but after the coup, the dictatorship turned it into a detention and torture center. Sixty percent of those detained and executed there were students.
February 14, 2023
Stephen taught YMHFA today, and with the time difference +2 hours from east coast time, it kinda ruins much of our sightseeing day. We did, however, have a special Valentines Day planned for each other. We had dinner at Boragó, one of the top 50 restaurants of the world (per Walter Reed, whoever that is). Unlike Lima, Michelin hasn't rated restaurants here, so we were without our trusty "Bib Gourmand." We don't know if we would trust the other reviews of Walter Reed, but at least with Boragó, we think he hit the mark.
As is true with many of the restaurants in this category, they offer a tasting menu of many small courses focusing on local seasonal ingredients. They offer a wine pairing or a juice pairing; Eli decided to go with the wine, but Stephen had had a running headache most of the day, so he opted for the fruit juice pairing, We had 12 courses in all; the dishes that were sea focused were the most successful. We also loved the first course which was weeds and a flower. The mushroom ice cream was another winner. For $450 for the two of us, it compared favorably in flavors and inventiveness to Amass in Copenhagen, and was about the same price.
February 13, 2023
Literally EVERYTHING in Santiago that any tourist would want to see is CLOSED on Mondays. We thought, then, that we would spend some time in the green spaces of Santiago. Alas, many of the public green spaces are also CLOSED ON MONDAYS!!!! Cerro San Cristobal is open, so we figured we'd head there for the best views around Santiago.
There is a funicular that goes up the hill right from our neighborhood. They also have a teleferico that runs along the spine of the hill and then down toward Barrio Suecia. Since we did a 1,000 ft. elevation climb in our last days in Patagonia, we figured we'd take the funicular up and the teleferico down and be able to check out a different neighborhood in the city on the other end.... Until we found out that while the park is open, the funicular and the teleferico run limited schedule on Mondays (and are closed the first Monday of the month). With not much else available to do, we decided to hoof it up the hill. It's another 1,000 foot climb, although the paths are much more meandering than the straight up climb we did in Patagonia. Eli decided he was done about 2/3rd of the way up the hill and decided to go back to the AirBnB to sit by the pool for a while. Stephen, though, continued to venture up.
You are rewarded with views across the valley that encompasses Santiago. The hill is capped with a statue of the Virgin Mary. It's not as massive as Cristo Redentor in Rio, but the same idea. They've built quite a shrine around the statue, with a small church, a small amphitheater, a pathway with the seven stations of the cross, and religious music playing on a loop.
The walk down the hill was actually very pleasant, and the route Stephen took mimicked the teleferico and brought him down in Barrio Suecia (so glad we didn't waste money on that), the swanky neighborhood of Santiago. Stephen stopped in briefly to the small Sculpture Garden (which was open), then took the Metro back to the AirBnB to meet Eli. We called Eli's Aunt Rita for her birthday, and then napped a little bit. The air-con issue is still making us restless at night.
Eli not happy that we have to walk.
February 12, 2023
We got a late start today. Eli helped Stephen try to deal with the eSIM issue he was having. Apparently if you stay in Chile for longer than 30 days and are not just roaming (which is what Eli's doing with his phone), you have to register your SIM. Airalo just told him this last night, and there is a whole bunch of documentation you need to fill out online (and that needs to be reviewed). We wanted to eventually get to the Mercado Central before it closed at 2pm today, so we hit some sights along the way.
We started at Centre Gabriel Mistral. It has a bunch of galleries and performance spaces, but not much was going on as Chile is in the midst of summer vacation. The building is clad in copper, which gives it an interesting look. One exhibit was kind-of standard contemporary stuff. The style of art and stuffed fabric "sculptures" we felt like we had seen before in London at the ICA. There was another exhibit of a famous Chilean musical artist, but we didn't really understand it.
From there we headed to the Museo de Bellas Artes. It's in a beautiful Beaux Arts building, but the collection is pretty thin. Definitely check out the contemporary sculpture on the 2nd floor. Mostly, though, we took photos of the ornamental decoration on the building. We walked by Cerro Santa Lucia on our way, and we'll definitely have to head back there.
We headed to Mercado Central, which is the central fish market and another late 19th century wrought iron structure. It also has a whole bunch of restaurants and food stalls serving seafood. We were looking for some specific things, though, (no of which is fish) so we headed instead to Mercado Vega Central. This had a wider variety of food stuffs like fruits, vegetables, and meats. We picked up some nice fruit and some interesting looking potatoes (spotted neon yellow and pink) that we'll have to figure out what to do with. We didn't find a couple of things that we were on the hunt for, though: dijon mustard, panko breadcrumbs, and aluminum roasting pans. In between the two markets, there were tons of stalls and street vendors. The most interesting were the ones frying chicken right there on their carts. We didn't venture to get some, but Stephen picked up a papa rellena (stuffed fried potato ball) from a food stall , which he said was "bien rica." Eli didn't try it.
There's great biking infrastructure here, but on Sundays, they block off a number of major thoroughfares for pedestrians and biking. We were sweating through our shirts, though, from the heat.
February 11, 2023
We ended up Ubering in from the airport, which was about 20 bucks. Our flat here is in the middle of Bellavista. This is nightlife central, with tons of bars and restaurants, but the closest real supermarket is a 15-20 minute walk, so we headed out first thing to get groceries as it was already 5pm by the time we got into our place.
We headed out to an area called Patio Bellavista to find "Panko," which is a sushi restaurant, as we were looking for something light for dinner. Panko, though, is co-branded with another restaurant in the patio, so it took us a while to find. In the end, we both ended up ordering from the Peruvian menu, and got ceviche plus a really strong pisco sour. The Patio has tons of restaurants and bars in the one-block section. It's a fun and festive environment. Stephen, though, spent much of dinner in chat support with Airalo, as his eSIM expired after 30 days, and the new one wasn't working.
After the long day of travel, grocery shopping, and the strong drink, as much as we wanted to go out (it will be our only Saturday night in Santiago), we ended up staying in. Santiago is in a valley, but at a much lower elevation than San Pedro de Atacama (only about 1,500 feet), so it is HOT here (high temps are 89-90 degrees F). Our place does have air conditioning, but it's a loft, so our bedroom is on the 2nd floor and the air conditioner is on the first floor. Opening up the windows is not an option as the club noise is loud (even with the windows closed). It's about as active as Wynwood is on a weekend night here. Neither of us got a great night's sleep.