Throughout our time in Santiago we stayed in really great Airbnbs. We found them to be affordable, convenient, and overall a really wonderful experience. Both in Santiago and in Valparaiso we were able to find apartments with a small kitchen and at least two bed rooms, that made things really easy for us. In Santiago we stayed near the Plaza de Armas and had no problem getting around on foot and by metro.
On our first full day in Santiago we spent the day trekking in Cajon del Maipo in the Andes Mountains. The views were breathtaking and it was so incredible to be from the city to the mountains in a couple of hours. On the way up we stopped at a small local cafe for tea or coffee and scratch made pastries, they also packed us sandwiches and snacks to take for our trek. Once up in the mountains, we trekked for a few hours into the valley, stopping a few times to take it all in.
The trekk was a bit challenging for us, myself in particular, as all but my sister Natalie were a day out from pretty serious food poising (Ill mention that in part 3). I wish I had felt better so I could have been more mindful of the experience, the trek back to the van was really really rough for me, but I’m still so glad that we went. The guides were so incredible and kind, especially when I was feeling terrible on the way back.
After our trek, we headed to some local hot springs to relax our muscles and enjoy the mountain springs. The company set up a lovely buffet of snacks and Chilean wine for us afterwards (though sadly I didn’t partake).On the way back to the city our van got a flat tire going down the mountain, it was a pretty exciting trip back! My words really cannot do the experience justice. Having been on the coast just the day before, it was an incredible contrast.
We all wanted to bring back some special gifts and momentos for our family so after a nice cafe breakfast we headed to Los Dominicos market, to do some shopping. It’s described as a bit touristy, but honestly didn’t feel that way. The prices were a bit higher than some other places but it allowed for really great local and artisan-made goods all in one place, and the space is lovely. We walked around for a few hours, taking our time, and all found some wonderful things. I came home with a knit throw that I cherish, and a small copper ornament for my Christmas ornament collection. Joe still makes use of his knit slippers a year later and I love seeing them for a reminder.
Our final day in Chile we made our way through the Bellavista neighborhood to La Chascona – Pablo Neruda’s House and Museum. We were all blown away by the house and learning about one of Chile’s most famous authors. I cannot recommend this tour enough, it was one of the only times during our trip where we learned a bit of the history of Chile. We all purchased one of his books to enjoy at home. La Chascona is also at the base of Cerro San Cristobal, a very large hill that is a popular local attraction.
It was a really hot Saturday afternoon and we were unprepared for the winding dirt paths up to the top. It takes a good 45 minutes to get all the way up, and is quite steep with over 300 meters of change in elevation. The cable car to the top had recently reopened and there were a lot of people out enjoying the view of the city from the top. The top also includes a large statue of the Virgin Mary and some stands were you can enjoy a cold mote con huesillo, made from dried peaches cooked in sugar and cooked husked wheat. It’s super sweet and well deserved at the hike up Cerro San Cristobal
Our time in Santiago was made extra special as we were able to visit the school where my sister was studying, enjoy a meal with her host mom and host brother, and see some of the places she had been enjoying for the previous five months. Special is really an inadequate way to describe our time in Chile!
Stay tuned for part 3, where I will share about our long weekend on the coast in Valparaiso.