The Chile Caper: Santiago

“I didn’t know you were going to Chile!”

Well, yeah. We didn’t really either. Like most normal people, we decided to go to Santiago after work on Thursday. The flight was at 8pm on Friday.

It wasn’t a total surprise. We had bantered back and forth about it all week. The topic came up when we snagged a points deal and while completely worth it, it was definitely last minute. As I was driving home, Paul sent me a text. “Yes or no”.

So, Friday evening we were off. And while I can’t reasonably complain about flying in first class, I will say that this flight confirmed why we are Delta loyal. It just blows away the competition for US based airlines. For our first time in American Airlines’s first class, it was horrible. Surly service, just plain bad food, and Paul’s seat was broken and didn’t recline. Not helpful on an overnight flight. Anytime you see AA pop up here again, you can be sure that we must have found a really killer deal. Paul’s note: Based on their customer service afterwards, even then I’m not sure I will fly them. Mistakes happen, the seat broke, but their responses were robotic and a waste of my time. Decidedly not first class.)

But anyway, despite a bad flight, it was still a flight to someplace new and therefore pretty good. We arrive in Chile, exchanged some cash, and then caught a cab to our hotel.

We were staying at the Grand Hyatt Santiago and it did not disappoint.

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The living area of our room. Yup, the “Diplomatic Suite” isn’t too shabby.

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Not mad about a view of the Andes

Check out this time-lapse that Paul filmed from our (rather dirty) view.

My favorite part is how you can see that ridiculously huge statue in the reflection once night hits 🙂

Since it was winter, weather wasn’t perfect that morning. We managed to luck out though and the drizzle stopped shortly after getting to the hotel leaving dreary, but dry skies the rest of the day.

Once we were all settled in, we headed out to the first stop of the day and what I was looking forward to most: La Chascona Casa Museo.

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Pablo Neruda, politician and poet, has three homes throughout Chile, but this one is most interesting because it was originally built for his mistress (later wife), Matilde Urrutia.

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A bizarre home with fun surprises around every corner. LOVE the blue doorknob!

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The home was built to resemble a ship and includes multiple buildings and levels. Normally I balk at an audio tour, but this time the audioplayer was glued to my ear. Neruda was an incredible fascinating guy and he acquired some incredible furniture and decor within in home.

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Photos weren’t allowed in the buildings on the tour which was a major bummer, but my favorite piece was absolutely the original Diego Rivera depicting the two sides of Matilde (the private one of her life with Neruda and the public one where she was known as a singer). There is also a silhouette of Neruda’s face in hidden in the hair which she was famous for (and that the house, Chascona meaning ‘messy hair’, was named after).

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Source: Cascada Travel

Neruda also had multiple bars within his home, including a “summer bar”. Paul and I both agreed that all homes should require a summer bar.

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I didn’t know much about Neruda prior to the visit, but his home was really interesting to see and the audio tour definitely touched on a lot of the political history of Chile. I’d definitely recommend it!

After the museum, we meant to head towards Cerro San Christobal, which is a paved hiking path up a mountain where you can overlook Santiago. We had heard that there had been numerous muggings on the trail lately, however, so we wanted to play it safe and take the funicular up to the top. No such luck, the funicular was mysteriously closed. We stood with the other dozen tourists shrugging our shoulder for a bit before hailing a cab to head to the Plaza de Armas.

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As we arrived, we had some long overdue karma catch up to us. Turns out two of the 10,000 Chilean Pesos that we got from the currency exchange were fake. Thankfully 10,000 Chilean Pesos is only about $20 USD, but still, we had no money to pay the cab as we had already spent the rest on tips and at the museum. Thankfully we had quite possibly the nicest cab driver on the planet. It spoke volumes about the people. He drove us to multiple ATMs while we tried to find one that took American Express and it took us 3 stops before we were able to find one. It was a little anxiety inducing, but thankfully we were able to get some money out and most places did take credit card (just not the cab). So word of advice, do NOT use the AFEX money exchange at the airport. And check all bills you get anywhere else.

After getting our heart rates up, we quickly explored the Plaza de Armas.

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I love the juxtaposition of the Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral (started in 1748) next to the shiny brand new buildings

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The Central Post Office Building. Beautiful!

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One thing that I really loved about Santiago is the color and art that is at every corner. It wasn’t the cleanest place, but it was still absurdly beautiful.

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By now, we were pretty hungry. With about a list of 30 items long that we wanted to try, we headed over to the Mercado Central. The building is basically a giant indoor area filled with a dozen restaurants and even more shops where you can buy fresh fish, wine, souvenirs, and more. It reeks of tourists, but once we sat down it didn’t actually appear to be filled with tourists. We were surrounded by families of all ages, but managed to squeeze into a table at Donde Augusto.

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We started with some Pisco Sours (naturally)… and some bread and salsa.. and a plate of lemons 🙂

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Then we split a few dishes between us:

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Checked machas a la parmesana off our ‘to-eat’ list. Delicious!!!

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Ceviche

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Minced crab. OMG, this was SO good.

After we were done (some wine and more piscos MIGHT have happened), we stopped by a shop near the restaurant and picked up a couple bottles of wine to bring back to the US with us and then headed back to the hotel.

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Perfect view of the Andes right outside the Mercado Central

It was getting late, so we spent the rest of the evening enjoying the view from the hotel lounge over a couple more piscos (when in Chile…!) and then had some fantastic Ginger Piscos at the hotel’s restaurant.

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While we weren’t happy with the actual flight, we have to agree that the timing of the flights was perfect! We had an overnight flight on Sunday evening so we could get to work on Monday morning, but that meant we had all day Sunday to explore! Check back soon for our recap of wine tasting in the Casablanca Valley!

2 Comments

  1. you both are just the coolest for deciding to travel internationally on a whim. i love it. bummer to hear that AA had a crappy first class booooo and i am still in shock that you got fake money from the place at the airport!!! could you have noticed it was counterfeit?

    glad you had a great time! we are headed for our first trip to south america (argentina) in november!

    • Thanks! When we saw it compared to a real 10,000 bill, it was pretty obvious… but having never seen Chilean pesos before I don’t we would have figured it out even if we checked all the bills. I always put pretty decent trust into the airport exchanges!

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