Santiago, Chile: Home of Culture and Street Art
I got lucky people. I somehow got a round trip ticket from Washington, DC to Santiago, Chile for $188. I never thought to visit Chile, but when you see a deal like that you have to grab it and go. Boy, am I glad I went. Chile is an amazing country. The media portrays South America as a third world country and completely poor. Well, I am here to tell you they are wrong. Completely wrong. Santiago has poor areas like big cities do, but it has more than that. Santiago has culture, and it amazes me how it is rarely talked about or even visited. Santiago has almost as many free museums as Washington, DC. The metro system is fast and clean. I have had to wait longer in DC for trains than I did in Santiago. Street food was everywhere. As long as you ignore the guy picking up the fallen kebob and putting it back on the grill then you will do just fine. People are very polite. I didn't have to worry about catcalling or men trying to talk to me. I felt very safe wandering street at all times. As I always tell people who worry about my safety when I travel alone. I am a black female in America, I think worse things are happening to people who look like me in America than abroad. While in Chile I visited Santiago, Valparaiso, and Vina Del Mar, and they were amazing cities- cities you need to visit ASAP. They should be on your bucket list. In this blog, you will read about Santiago, what to see, how to get around. The link to the blog about Valparaiso and Vina Del Mar is right here. You shouldn't visit Santiago without leaving at least a day for Valparaiso. It is an easy hour and 20 min bus ride each way costing about $5-$6 one way. It is easy as the bus only stops in Valparaiso so no confusion as to where to get off.
Santiago was full of surprises and gave me a view of South America I will not soon forget. I titled this blog "Home of the Culture and Street Art because I have never been to a city that that equal amounts of both. In reality, I should have said it was the home of culture, street art, and hustle because Santiago residents hustle everything. They hustle such an amazing variety of food- from sushi (yes sushi), sandwiches, fajitas, cookies, and empanadas. But the hustle isn't in just the food. The hustle is in the red light acts like the juggler and the clown, to the variety of music being played on corners. At the Baquedano metro stop, you will get above ground and find music on each corner. One corner will have a kids' heavy metal band, next corner will have a guitarist, the next corner a person with bagpipes and his drummer, and then lastly a band with clarinets, flutes, and two people playing metal washboards. I could go on about the different street sellers of clothing shoes, razors, herbs, nuts, fruit, and so on. They are out there hustling to make money and I respect it. I mentioned street art in the title because the amount of street art amazed me. I couldn't walk around without taking numerous pictures like street art,street art, and more street art. If you want to see more please check out my Instagram page-jenfry13. I bombarded the page and my friends with continual pictures of the street art. This street art wasn't just graffiti and bubble letters. It was more. These pictures told stories, the make you stop and gasp. If you have even a slight interest in street art this will blow your mind.
Now on to the culture part of Santiago. Santiago had almost as many free museums as Washington, DC. They aren't as big and don't have vast collections, but they do have well put together and thought out collections. The museums have collections by Chilean artists, South American artists, and American artists. They paint a picture of Chile that I know I didn't think about. It is a picture of the how truly artistic Chile and South America are. To get an idea of the culture within Santiago, below are a list of the free and paid museums, as well as different tourist attractions you will want to go to.
Some of the Santiago Museums:
Museum of Memory and Human Rights: Free open 10-6 daily. This museum is amazing as it explains both human rights violations worldwide as well as the human rights violations within Chile during General Pinochet from 1973-1990. It is vast. Most of the exhibits are in English and Spanish, but I suggest you pay the 2,000 pesos to get the handheld device which explains all the artifacts. It is absolutely worth it!! Also, they have a free baggage holder area.
Museum of Natural History: Free; open 10-530pm. This is a smaller natural history museum. It is one floor, with few exhibits. Even though it is small, it is worth going because it shows animals exclusive to South America and it is across the street from the Museum of Memory and Human Rights.
Museo Museum de Bellas Artes: Free; open 10-645pm. This museum has some nice ancient artifacts in it. Worth going because there is no cost to it and you get to learn about Chilean history
MAC, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo: Free; open 10-645pm. This museum is attached the Bellas Artes museum. It is more contemporary and up to date. Worth going as you get two museums in at the same time. It has a really cool wooden amry tank.
National Museum of Fine Arts: 600 pesos; open 10-650pm. This museum it two floors and worth the entrance fee. It has a variety of rooms that have a wide array of good art within it.
Museo Chileno de Art Precolombino: 4500 pesos; open 10-6pm. This is a museum if you like old artifacts. It has a few floors. If you don't like old shit then don't go. Go waste your pesos on churros.
Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende: 1000 pesos; open 10-6pm. Museum named after an old president but not about him. Has great art displaces within the museum. When I went in May 2017 there was an amazing LGBT display throughout the top floor with movies playing. It is in a weird location, as it is next to a university and not close to anything else, but so worth going.
Pablo Neruda Museum: 7000 pesos; open 10-6pm. If you are a Pablo Neruda fan then you definitely need to see this museum. I, however, am not, and did not want to spend the money to see a museum on a person I didn't know anything about.
There are great places for the normal tourist attractions. A few of them are:
Sky Costanera- This is a great sightseeing attraction as you go to the top of the mall to see all of Santiago. It is located on -1 floor of the mall. It is $15 American or 10k Chilean pesos
San Cristobal- Easy walk from Sky Costanera. Cheap to go to the top, about 2500 pesos during weekdays and 3500 on weekends. I enjoyed it because you get to take a cable car all the way to the top. You get great views and an enjoyable calming cable ride up. You can go up with your bike and ride down, walk or run down, or take the cable car down like I did. All ways are good.
Patio Bellavista- this is not a tourist attraction, but an area of great restaurants. Some of them have wifi and some don't. This was a nice place to enjoy a great meal and a very calming vibe. All the restaurants had outdoor seating and the weather was amazing. Outside of the Patio Bellavista, it was city hustle and bustle, but inside it was nice and quiet. Also, there is a Starbucks with wifi if you buy something as the password is on the receipt. (Once you log in once it saves the password so if you hypothetically went back it would connect again.)
So you want to get around Chile? Lucky for you, they have great city transportation that is fast and cheap. Here are your options:
Uber is available, but I didn't use them as the public transportation is great.
Bus: You can use the bus as well. It reaches more locations and is cheaper. A bus ride is like 30-40 pesos which are less than 10 cents. A steal of a deal I tell you!! I will tell you the amazement you will have at people who jump the turnstile and others who just blatantly don't pay. It knocks my socks off watching it happen. Know that you cannot fill your BIP Card up at the bus stops you have to go to a Metro stop or the BIP Card locations in the city.
Metro: The metro is great. It is cheap and fast. You have to buy a BIP card for the metro. You can buy it at the metro station from 1000k, or at the 1-2 city locations in downtown Santiago. I would just buy it at the metro station because you also need it for the bus. The metro is relatively cheap. They have three different prices. Between $640-740 pesos which we pay $1-$1.20 or so. You use your card on the front end, not the back end which is amazing because they charge you for rides, not distance. I have attached a map for you. Save it in your phone because it will become your bible. Be prepared that during rush hour you are in there like sardines, you will have to elbow yourself in or out of the metro cars.
While at Patio Bellavista mentioned above I had some great meals at great prices.
Barrica 94: Very upscale restaurant with lower scale pricing. I had a steak and risotto and it was nicely prepared and cooked. The ambiance was nice and quite relaxing.
Puerto Bellavista: Is mainly a seafood spot, but since I don't eat seafood I had to find something else to eat so I could use their WIFI. Well, I did, and it was amazing. I had their gnocchi with cheese and vegetables and DAMN was that dish amazing and sinful. I don't know what type of cheese they used in it but it melted in your mouth. It was so good I had to pop 2 lactose pills just in case.
MIST Ice Cream: I wish I went multiple times. This ice cream is handmade in front of you then flattened out and made into mini rolls. Wow. They have a bunch of different flavors they can make you AND they have a lactose free base so people like me can enjoy it without worrying about where the nearest bathroom is. It is fun to watch them make it, but even better to eat.
I love churros and my favorite place to eat every day was Churro Mania. It was a dream. They have churros drizzled with everything from vanilla, caramel, and chocolate. Go and keep going every day you are there.
My trip to Santiago was amazing. I had a great time seeing a country I never thought I would go to. This country was a great start to my Latin vacation. I plan on going to South America more because this glimpse has shown me that the countries south of the equator have so much to give.
Don't forget to use this link if you want to see what Valparaiso and Vina Del Mar are like.
Below are a few more pictures of gorgeous street art! Enjoy