Thursday was a day on our own to explore Santiago. Our hotel, the Singular Santiago was very centrally located and close to the Plaza de Armas, the historical center of the city. We started out by walking over to the Cerro Santa Lucia which is a hilltop fortress located on the Easter edge of downtown Santiago. It was quite the little oasis in the middle of a bustling city with fountains and gardens cascading down rocky hillsides. We walked up and down a couple of hundred stairs and enjoyed the views as we got oriented to our surroundings. Next we walked over to the Plaza de Armas and took in the large shopping area surrounding the city center. We were both impressed by the cleanliness as well as the level of activity in the area.
Santiago is quite warm at this time of year (the middle of their summer) so we set out in search of something cool to drink. We wondered down to the Mercado Central to see what was going on down there and had many, many invitations to join the local restauranteurs for lunch. We had other plans, so we checked out the massive quantities of fish in the market and moved on to the Bohemian neighborhood of Bellavista.
In Bellavista there is a cute square block of shops and restaurants called the Patio Bellavista. We has lunch at the Backstage Cafe, a place that looked like they had live music in the evenings. After consuming the requisite adult beverages and a hearty lunch, we headed back to the hotel because by this point Stacy’s feet were in revolt.
Karen had given us a recommendation for a restaurant called Miraolas which was supposed to have great seafood. We had the hotel make us a reservation and call us a taxi. What they actually did was call us a car service which was quite expensive. We were a bit miffed. Those of you that have talked to us recently know we are big fans of Uber. On the way to the restaurant (in the car called by the Hotel) I got out my iPhone and fired up the Uber App. Sure enough, there is Uber in Santiago! Needless to say, after a delicious dinner, I called an Uber car to take us back to the hotel. The final score: 14,000 pesos to take us to the restaurant with a car service, 6,600 pesos to go back via a clean Uber car with a very polite young man driving (who offered is water and mints). I love Uber—even in South America!
Friday we further explored Santiago by going up to the top of Cerro San Cristobal in the Parque Metropolitano in the funicular railroad.
The view from this city-center park is fantastic–you can see the entire metropolitan area. Then we went over to the Pre-Colombian Mesuem and looked at some of the exquisite ancient art in the Chilean collection. After that is was time to get back the the hotel for a little cool-off in the rooftop pool before our welcome reception with our Tauck Patagonia Tour.