Our first glimpse of Santiago was the breathtaking view of the Andes as we descended into SCL Airport. Not only was this my first time in South America, but it was also my first trip abroad with one of my closet friends so it was super exciting. With an average temperature of 32℃, it was the perfect destination to end 2018 with.
Santiago: where the days are hot and long…
After indulging in honey fried shrimp and fried rice for our first meal, we hopped on the metro to venture into the city centre. Santiago’s transport system is cheap and easy to navigate. A single metro ride is less than £1, taxies are cheap and Uber is widely available (although not quite legal?).
We wandered around the cute and historic Barrio Lastarria, taking lots of photos before visiting Santa Lucia Hill. As always we set the trend by staging an elaborate photo shoot on the steps leading up to the entrance. It wasn’t long before we saw fellow tourists sheepishly try to get in on the action.
I intended on taking pictures in front of the cute yellow building Cerro Santa Lucia is known for. Instead, I found myself climbing steep stairs (in a dress, in the breeze) to a lookout point with great views of the city. I’m still disappointed about not finding the building, but the views were incredible. It’s hard to capture in photos, but mountain range dominated the horizon.
A city best explored by foot
It was just our luck that we hiked Cerro San Cristóbal on the hottest day of the entire trip. An eager American assured us that the ‘yellow trail’ shortcut would take a mere 34 minutes to reach the peak (850m AMSL or 300m above the city). It was almost TWO whole hours later before we arrived at the foot of the Virgin Mary.
Creepy Christmas hymns aside (they were blasting through the speakers) it was worth the long journey to the peak. At the very top, you get undisturbed, panoramic views of the city. I’d recommend walking rather than taking the cable cars for continuous photo ops. To celebrate we tried the local beverage, Mote con Huesillo, a Chilean summer-time drink made of syrup, dried peaches and wheat. It’s incredibly sweet and served with a spoon to scoop up the wheat, I promise you it’s much nicer than it sounds.
We spent the rest of our time exploring Barrio Bellavista, where everything happens, eating food, lots and lots of food. You can’t go wrong with seafood and steak. I ate both almost every day and learnt very quickly that ribeye’s at lunch make you very sleepy!
Of course, no trip to Chile is complete without a wine tour. Initially, I planned to visit the infamous Concha y Toro winery but instead chose to visit Viña Cousiño Macul. Stay tuned for my next post on my first wine tasting experience at one of the oldest wineries in Chile.
Being Black in Santiago
Most Chileans are fair-skinned so it was unsurprising that we got a few stares but for the most part, they were unbothered by our presence and super friendly. I got catcalled a few times, but being with a male friend no doubt saved me from being bothered. I imagine if you’re travelling solo or as a group of women you can expect to hear ‘morena! morena!’ a lot.
Until next time…
I truly enjoyed and loved Santiago. As much as I enjoy solo travel, I loved having a travel buddy to create memories with. It was also great having a dedicated photographer because you can’t always trust strangers with your angles! Overall I would highly recommend Santiago for the food, weather and incredible views; it’s definitely one of my favourite cities to date.