We arrived into Santiago by bus from Mendoza in Argentina, a truly stunning journey over the Andes. Arriving at one of the numerous bus stations all close to the centre on a national holiday certainly made finding a taxi difficult but we managed. Santiago has a fantastic metro system and a very efficient bus service and you can buy a card from metro stations or outlets and top it up with cash at the simple machines to cover your travel in the city.
Check out the usual booking sites such as www.booking.com or www.venere.com we stayed at the Hotel Orly, Av Pedro de Valdivia 27, Providencia, it was recommended to us by friends and it was excellent,. We chose one of their apartments across from the main building and they are excellent value and include breakfast in the main hotel. The staff are wonderfully helpful and it is only five minutes from the metro station. It is popular so book in advance at www.orlyhotel.com.
Bocanariz, Jose Victorino Lastarria 276, Barrio Lastarria, this has to be one of the best food and wine experiences I have had. The tapas style menu is good enough reason to go but the 35 wines available by the glass, in two sizes, makes it an even better choice. The dishes come as starters and mains but are designed to share and you can choose, or get help to choose, wines for each course. Fantastic food and wines, great service and reasonable prices made this an evening to remember, booking strongly advised.
El Caramano, Purisma 257, Bellavista, is an old fashioned restaurant on the edge of Bellavista and is famous for it’s traditional Chilean food. There is a huge choice of dishes and very reasonably priced wines, the service was very friendly.
Lomit’s, Av. Providencia 1980, Providencia, this is a real local place, frequented by the residents because of its great value for money, food and old school waiters, a plus is it is open on Sunday and holidays when most places are closed. It specialises in the enormous Chilean sandwiches and does a cracking Pisco Sour.
La Biferia, Pedro de Valdivia 65, Providencia, was recommended by our hotel and is a very smart steak place. Due to the national holiday the restaurant was very quiet when we went but they served excellent quality beef and wine as you would expect.
Mares de Chile, Mercado Central, this was a real find as most of the restaurants in the market seem to be overpriced and part of one big place. This is tiny but good and very reasonably priced. Worth finding !
We were there over a major three day national holiday and most places were shut, there are one or two areas worth mentioning.
Patio Bellavista, in the Bellavista area is a rather touristy shopping area with expensive little boutiques and a number of bars and restaurants. The quality and price varies but it can be nice sitting on a terrace listening to some live music.
In addition there are many bars with outside seating in the nearby streets, most selling very cheap beer. The facilities in some of these bars can be basic.
Lastarria, has a lovely atmosphere and there are a number of nice bars around Calle Jose Victorino, some in little courtyards where there can be two or three different places.
Barrios Brazil, Yungay and Concho y Toro are also supposed to be good for bar life, however be careful at night, due to the holiday it was difficult to see what they were like.
Chile is the world’s ninth largest wine producer, and wines from Chile have long been exported and become popular outside the country. Santiago is surrounded by wine growing areas and many are close enough to the city to be easily reached.
The signature grape is carmenere which disappeared from Europe in the mid 19th century, it produces smooth easy drinking red wines full of berry flavours and is a personal favourite. Much of this is grown in the central valley area around Santiago. There are many other common reds such as cabernet sauvignon and merlot and lovely whites such as sauvignon blanc which comes from the cooler areas of the country.
There are a number of wineries close to the city that can be visited and some including Concho Y Toro, one of the biggest, can be reached by metro although you will need a taxi at the other end but that is easy and cheap.
Exploring the city centre is easy on foot and there are some very impressive buildings to see. Take the time to go up Santa Lucia hill in the city centre either by foot or by the cunningly hidden lift, also take the funicular up Santa Cristobal Hill in Bellavista and see the magnificent views of the Andes.