Day 1 – Santiago Central
We landed in Santiago before dawn and spent a long two hours in the immigration line. It was just after daybreak by the time we haggled a taxi driver down to the price of the bus fare for the six of us, to drive us into the city (sunrise is only at 7:45am) – we were determined to keep within our shoestring budget from the get go!
Not knowing where to go (we really did not have any time to research or plan our time in Santiago), we asked the taxi driver to drop us in the city centre. He suggested the Central Market, and that is where we started our day of exploring the sights of the city.
The old city centre is a bustling place, even early in the morning. Street vendors sell freshly squeezed fruit juices (we saw a few quickly pack up when the authorities arrived), stall owners pack out their wares and commuters fill the walkways. The city is dotted with stand-up coffee bars where tightly clad ladies serve the morning stimulant to their customers. Ours were served with glass of sparkling water on the side.
A marching band was cause of great excitement as we seemed to be just at the right place at the right time for a parade and ceremonial military drill. We explored the tree lined pedestrian malls and ended up having fresh “marguetta’s” for lunch in the Plaza del Armas – a beautiful city square.
After carrying our backpacks through the streets lined with ornate historical buildings for seven hours, we could finally check in at our airbnb apartment. By this time we have started to seriously reconsider the content of our backpacks! We were ready to crash and sleep for a week. Although the apartment was not the best that we’ve been in, it was on the 16th floor of 26 – and from that position we could hear the whole building echo with the cheer of passionate fans living the Chile vs. Argentina football match! What an experience. Sadly Chile was not the victor.
Day 2 – Barrio Yungay
We decided to venture off the beaten tourist circuit and explored Santiago’s Barrio Yungay. We were the only visible tourists in the area during the five hours that we explored the borough. The area is an eclectic mix of dilapidated buildings, street art and surprisingly artistic cafes and eateries. We stumbled across a lively local street market packed with oversized fruit and vegetables. The colour and contrasts make this a charming area. Behind some of the tattered façades are unexpectedly beautiful interiors. People are very friendly and welcoming. We also had our first taste of Chilean empenadas – the local version of a good pie.