Posted by D, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2007 at 11:41 am
There’s plenty to do all over the place.
I’d suggest a trip up Cerro San Cristobal to check out the surroundings. Be sure to visit the Plaza de Armas and the government buildings in Santiago Centro (Downtown). The history of the construction is the history of the country – Spanish colony, independent republic, dictatorship, and democratic republic once again. There are lots of fascinating old buildings with marvelous architecture sprinkled throughout. You can also check out Quinta Normal toward the western part of town. It’s a grand park with a number of interesting museums.
I’d also recommend a trip to the Cementerio General in the northwest part of town. There’s a monument to the 3,000+ victims of the Pinochet dictatorship – those who were disappeared and executed.
The Metro is clean and efficient (and inexpensive) and can get you within walking distance of most of what you’ll probably want to visit.
If you’ll be spending the entire week in and around Santiago, a trip to see the houses of Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda would be an interesting excursion. One’s in Barrio Bellavista in Santiago, one’s in Valparaíso, and one’s on the coast in Isla Negra. All three are intriguing and beautiful in their own ways. Isla Negra’s got a great restaurant.
The cities of Valparaíso and Viña del Mar are interesting, if you can fit them in.
If you like seafood, Chile is paradise. One of my favorite restaurants is Azul Profundo in Barrio Bellavista. Among the local fare are corvina (Chilean sea bass), reineta (a delicious white fish), and congrio (a tasty kind of eel). Chileans do excellent ceviche (seafood cooked in either lemon or lime juice). The produce is quite good (avocados are especially popular). Chile has also invested significantly in winemaking. In addition to good cabernets and merlots, there are a couple of varieties that aren’t widely known (or widely grown outside of the Southern Cone) but are worth inspection – carmenére and malbec. Both are rich reds. Chile’s national drink is the pisco sour – again, worth the time to try.