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Trip Notes: One Day Stopover in Santiago

Trip Notes: One Day Stopover in Santiago

Old Jan 18, 17, 10:15 pm
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Trip Notes: One Day Stopover in Santiago

We recently had a one day (~10 hour) stopover in Santiago, and I'm writing some trip notes for the benefit of others.

We landed internationally at SCL at 9am, and had a connecting domestic flight at 6:30pm. Immigration was routine, and we were in the city by 11am. We had a solid 5-6 hours of seeing Santiago.

TL;DR Version: We found Santiago minimally interesting and didn't think it had much to offer. We don't think there's any reason to plan your trip around visiting Santiago. But if you end up with a stopover at SCL, it's a convenient city to visit and you might as well check it out and form your own opinion.

***

What we did:

- Got dropped off near the Plaza del Armas and had some empanadas and mote con huesillo (a husked wheat and peach juice drink)

- Walked around the Plaza de Armas and the Cathedral de Santiago

- Walked around Mercado Central, and tried the machas a la Parmesana (clam with parmesan cheese) at one of the non-touristy spots outside the market

- Walked around La Vega market

- Walked around Barrio Bellavista

- Stood in line for the funicular to Cerro San Cristobal for a few minutes, and realized we didn't want to stand in a never-ending line to see something not particularly interesting

- Had another couple hours to spare, and randomly walked around the city

General impressions:

- We found Santiago totally unappealing. I'm sure this will offend some folks, but this is just two peoples' opinions who were only there for a day, so take this with a grain of salt.

- Santiago doesn't seem to offer anything that you can't find in any other city in Central or South America. There are plenty of cities in Latin America that have a central plaza, colonial architecture, a big cathedral, fruit markets, a hill with a cross or statue, etc. If you're fairly well traveled (or even if you've traveled just a tiny bit) in Latin America, you probably won't find too much to offer in Santiago.

- The markets were pretty boring. We didn't find any unique fruits/vegetables/fish/food on display, and the people watching wasn't the least bit interesting. We just felt like we were in certain parts of Los Angeles.

- The Barrio Bellavista neighborhood seemed like much ado about nothing. It just seemed like a couple streets of touristy/hipster/upscale bars and restaurants. There were a few cool graffitis, but that's about it.

- Sadly, in our experience, the folks in Santiago were not nice people. In a mere few hours, we had several bad experiences. We're not judging an entire city's population based on a few people, but the people we interacted with gave us a very bad impression of Santiago and I think we had enough of a sample to realize that it just isn't a "chill" city. In contrast, the Chileans in Patagonia (Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales) were really pleasant people.

Some logistical notes:

- Luggage storage at SCL: There's an official luggage storage room on the 1st floor by Gate 1. We paid 4000 CLP each for large carry ons. The room looked safe enough, and nobody stole our laptops and ipads that we left in our carry ons.

- Uber: We didn't have data service on our phones, but we used airport WiFi to order an Uber into the city and used free WiFi in the city to order an Uber back to the airport. It was about 11,000 CLP each way. Prepaid taxis were 18,000, so this was a much better deal. Both Uber drivers were hassle-free.

- LAN VIP Lounge at SCL: The international lounge is closed from 1am to 3am, and, oddly, the sleeping room is closed from 3am to 6am.
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Old Jan 25, 17, 5:59 pm
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Very useful and timely for me. Thanks.
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Old Feb 19, 17, 9:41 am
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I generally find two opinions of Santiago: love it, or meh. Having spent also only one day, I share your sentiment. Based on my conversations with admirers, it seems not to be a city for sightseeing, so those with that goal are disappointed. It seems to be a city of different neighborhoods with character and a sizable hipster scene. So I think those coming to experience the city and have a few days are doing it right.

BTW, the airport bus to semi-downtown is only 1,700 CLP ($2.7 USD). It's convenient enough for walking to Plaza de Armas and Cerro Santa Lucia. It's an enjoyable walk with opportunities to try various street food.
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Old Mar 4, 17, 7:52 pm
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NY Times begs to differ

Graciously, the NY Times has a travel article which highlights 36 hours of things to do in Santiago. I (for one) am definitely going to see the Museo de la Memoria y Derechos Humanos:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/...hile.html?_r=0
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Old Mar 10, 17, 10:36 pm
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I've made 5 or so business trips there, and there's much to uncover if you dig a bit, but of course it's not so easily do-able on a layover.

The Human-rights museum is good to see on a trip of any length even though it's not centrally located (the metro can get you there). It took some 20 years or so after the departure of Pinochet to get it going, but they tried to do it right. If anything, it greatly underplays the U.S. role in that debacle (not wanting to be seen as scapegoating foreigners, which is understandable). It's a bit like seeing Tuol Sleng in Phnom Penh, but with much more multimedia.

The RESTAURANT SCENE can be really tremendous. I always go to Las Gordas Vacas in Barrio Brasil...first-rate for steak-and-wine (or pisco, or beer). There's a popular La Mar (cevicheria) in Vitacura, though that's a little way out. Have not yet been to Astrid y Gaston. Would definitely peruse the Trip Advisor top rankings for that city.

Cerro Santa Lucia is central and not a bad place to climb for something of a view. Go see where Charles Darwin went.

Barrio Lastarria has some decent restaurants like Republica del Pisco and Patagonia and an arty movie theater (saw a Woody Allen movie there). That and the area near Universidad Catolica have lots of antiquey street dealers that are hit-and-miss. I will try to stay in either that barrio or at or near Barrio Paris Londres (old buildings and cobblestone streets)

If there on a Saturday or Sunday and with any inclination to shop, the Persa Bio-Bio is a must (Franklin MRT). Vast like the weekend market in Bangkok, but not quite as hard to walk. Lotsa cheap new stuff, but also lots of old collectibles like records or postcards if that's your thing. Like old Beatle record pressings from all over South America, and once I found a Chilean mono Led Zeppelin II. Also a couple of vendors selling concert DVDs, including some from Chilean festivals that may be hard to find elsewhere. And a street band setting up outside a bar and doing Grand Funk covers. Also some locals oriented cafes con piernas not far away, and some pharmacies that are good for generic prescription drugs with less chance of the "receta" hassle. Chile saves even more money than Thailand on some things.
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Old Mar 11, 17, 5:15 am
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Chile and Pinochet

Originally Posted by RustyC View Post
The Human-rights museum is good to see on a trip of any length even though it's not centrally located (the metro can get you there). It took some 20 years or so after the departure of Pinochet to get it going, but they tried to do it right. If anything, it greatly underplays the U.S. role in that debacle.
I agree with you completely on both points! In fact, after my visit, I asked a staff member why they don't have any of the evidence on display showing that Pinochet was put into power by the CIA? His response? Nixon said it, so that is enough.

Why did it take 20 years? It seems the human rights museum was mandated by one of the two investigations which took place after Pinochet was removed. Remember that Chileans only voted 54 % to restore democracy (presumably the other 46 % wanted Pinochet to stay forever?).

It seemed (to me) there were far more int'ls at the museum than Chileans. A real pity since its clearly meant for them.

I found the museum very hard to find. Hopefully this is not part of Chilean amnesia?
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Old Mar 11, 17, 6:34 am
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Originally Posted by Antonio8069 View Post
I agree with you completely on both points! In fact, after my visit, I asked a staff member why they don't have any of the evidence on display showing that Pinochet was put into power by the CIA? His response? Nixon said it, so that is enough.

Why did it take 20 years? It seems the human rights museum was mandated by one of the two investigations which took place after Pinochet was removed. Remember that Chileans only voted 54 % to restore democracy (presumably the other 46 % wanted Pinochet to stay forever?).

It seemed (to me) there were far more int'ls at the museum than Chileans. A real pity since its clearly meant for them.

I found the museum very hard to find. Hopefully this is not part of Chilean amnesia?
My observations:

More like the majority of Chileans just want to move on as most today were not even born when the the coup or the psychopathic actions of the military government occurred. Not amnesia for their parents and the older folks, as remember it is the Chileans who actually lived it vs. the opinions of outside commentators.

No doubt the CIA helped things along but there were already the elements of a homegrown civil war to work with and the remaining hardcore Pinochet admirers still see him as a super patriotic nationalist that "saved" Chile…and so it goes.
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Old Mar 13, 17, 4:42 pm
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The museum was great and our visit turned in to the inspiration for my daughter's project for her History of the Americas this year in high school.

If you like old trains the outdoor train museum is a very short walk.
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Old May 2, 17, 1:33 pm
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I have 6 days between Santiago and Buenos Aires, how should I arrange?

1 day SCL 5 days BA
1.5 days SCL 4.5 days BA
2 days SCL 4 days BA
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Old May 2, 17, 2:58 pm
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Or another alternative is:
1 day SCL
1 day Viña del Mar and Valparaíso (maybe take in a couple of wineries)
4 days BA
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Old May 2, 17, 3:11 pm
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Originally Posted by FrogProf View Post
Or another alternative is:
1 day SCL
1 day Viña del Mar and Valparaíso (maybe take in a couple of wineries)
4 days BA
The wine tours I found seem to be very expensive
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Old May 2, 17, 4:14 pm
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I don't dislike Santiago, but didn't find it overwhelming intriguing. It's clean and safe and a bit staid, so not as interesting as other South American locales. That said, I think Valparaiso has loads of interest and character, even if it a bit rough around the edges. I do like the views of the Andes from Santiago. If you can swing it, probably 1-2 days max in SCL/Valparaiso - depending on how your flight timings work.
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Old May 14, 17, 2:06 pm
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Don't miss the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino:
http://www.precolombino.cl/en/

Also, the Cerro Santa Lucia. Be sure to sign in when you arrive, and don't let the hustlers scam you. I've even found groups of school kids playing hookey up at the top of the lookout.

If you aren't going to wait in line for the funicular up to the top of the hill where the Cristo statue is located, you can hike up or possibly take a bus or taxi. It's worth it to see the view (if it is a clear day especially).

Valpo/Viña makes for a great day trip. Buses leave all day from the Pajaritos bus station (also a Metro station). If you've never seen sea lions up close, you will be amazed to see them basking on the bases of the piers!
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Old May 14, 17, 6:00 pm
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Do you have many SPG points? If so, plan on spending overnight at Sheraton in Vina. Make that your base, and skip Valpo (the main highlight is Neruda, which you can do in half a day.
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Old Jul 10, 18, 10:06 pm
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I'll be in Chile for a week in August. Heading to Valle Nevado to go snowboarding for 7 days. I can arrange my bus transfer to stop off either at SCL or in Santiago and am debating spending a few days there vs. going right home. The Human Rights Museum and Natural History Museum sound interesting and I'm a bit of a foodie, esp. when it comes to street food. What would you do ? Tack on a few days or come back as part of a larger trip ?
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