Thursday, February 16, 2012

Santiago de Chile (4)

Santiago also known as Santiago de Chile, is the capital and largest city of Chile, and the center of its largest conurbation (Greater Santiago). It is located in the country's central valley, at an elevation of 520 m (1,706.04 ft) above mean sea level. Whilst in Santiago we stayed in Providencia in the Park Plaza Hotel, close to some good shopping, great restaurants and the metro. The hotel also offer valet parking so you don't need to worry about what to do with your hire car. Chile's steady economic growth has transformed Santiago into one of  Latin America's most modern metropolitan areas, with extensive suburban development, dozens of shopping centers, and impressive high-rise architecture. 

Plaza de Armas
There is a lot to do and see in Santiago, so hop on one of the typical opentop tour buses that you see all round the globe, for a city tour, by far the best way to get around on a lovely hot summer's day. We had a great time doing this during our first visit together to Santiago in 2010.

Perfect weather for a city bus tour

Congreso Nacional

Palacio de la Moneda

La Biblioteca Nacional

Academia des Bellas Artes

View from Cerro San Cristobal

We also visited the Museum of Pre-Colimbine Art which is very interesting and well worth a visit. Whilst enjoying a drink outside the museum we heard a piper playing The Lonely Shepherd . So what! I hear you say. Well for us it's a very special track, it was the music played at our wedding when Susy made her entrance, what were the chances of hearing it in downtown Santiago!

Our next stop was the Santiago home of Pablo Neruda, if you read the previous Post on Valparaiso you'll have seen his house La Sebastiana. His city home is called La ChasconaIn 1953, Pablo Neruda started to build a house in Santiago, for Matilde Urrutia, his secret love in that time.  He called the house “La Chascona” in her honour, that was the nickname he gave her due to her abundant red hair. At that time Neruda was still living with his wife Delia del Carril and it wasn't until February 1955 that he separated from her and moved in with Matilde.

La Chascona

 Within “La Chascona” are kept among other collections, an interesting pinacoteca, with paintings of Chilean and foreign artists from all times.  It also has an African carved wood collection and one furniture and objects from the italian designer Piero Fornasetti, and certainly there are Neruda’s ambient such as dining room with the original chinaware and cutlery.

If you'd like to read some more about Neruda and his amazing life and homes, have a look online at In April 2012, we returned to Chile for what was a really great holiday, what follows is an addition to our original post.

Mercado Central
In 1817, Bernado O'Higgins, the then ruler of Chile ordered the building of a purpose built food, fruit and fish marketplace which lead to the construction of the Mercado Central. The work on the current building started in 1864, including a roof structure manufactured in England in 1872. A drive to exploit the tourist potential of the Mercado has led to a partial loss of its original use. Today you'll find sevarel restaurants in the Market's main hall offering exactly what visitor's want: simple and authentic Chilean dishes with an emphasis on freshness. The stalls around the central hall offer an unrivalled and impressive selection of fruit, vegetables and fish, making this a true "foodie" heaven.

We ate at the Mercado twice during our stay, both times at Augusto's restaurant in the main hall. Without doubt the best known restaurant in the Mercado, the atmosphere is great and the food delicious. My recommendation is a Marisco Empanada to start followed by King Crab Casserole which is full of lovely crab meat. Once you've had your meal, take some time to wander round the market, especially to see an amazing selection of fresh seafood. Some more photos below to show you whats instore for you. One useful tip, try and get there by 1pm as the central hall seems to be full from 1:30pm onwards.

As we aproached the end of our fantastic couple of weeks in Chile, it was time to check out some traditional Chilean Handcraft in the Centro Artesanal Los Dominicos. You'll find this wonderful country style market in Las Condes, located next to the San Vincente Ferrer Church. It is well worth a visit, lots to see in a very relaxed atmosphere with a couple of bars/restaurants to take a break, check out the Pie de Limon, simply gorgeous. Below are some more shots which I hope will show you why this lovely location is well woth a visit.

Our final recommendation from out latest trip to Santiago is to check out the restaurant Como Agua para Chocolate, inspired by the book of the same name the food is great and the restaurant which seems to get full around 9pm has a fantastic atmosphere. Located in the Barrio Bellavista, there are plenty of places to go before or after your meal for a drink or two. Check out Our Favourites section for the website.