From Mendoza we took a bus which crossed ‘the route of the Andes’ to get to Santiago, an amazing way to cross the border and see the Andes! The route is closed in the winter and sometimes even in spring or summer because of the snow so you need to check in advance before travelling. The whole trip takes about 8 hours, taking into account a 1.5 hour stop at the border in the middle of the Andes at an altitude of more than 4000 meters. Amazing views along the way!
We arrived in Santiago in the beginning of the afternoon and decided to stay in Bellavista, a bohemian area baptised as ‘the Latino quarter of Santiago’ by the locals. The colourful streets are full of restaurants and bars, and attract a lot of young people at night. We visited ‘La Chascona’ in the afternoon, Pablo Neruda’s former residency in Santiago, an oasis of art, literature and vegetation in the middle of the city.
The next day we visited the Cerro San Cristobal, a hill/mountain which dominates the city at 880 m altitude and offers amazing views on the city from the top. Its peak served as reference point for travellers on their way to Santiago during the colonial period. Today a massive statue of the Virgin dominates the top.
In the evening, we caught up with friends living in Santiago. It’s always great to hear what your friends have been up to since you last saw them, especially when they are living so far from home.
Overall, we really enjoyed Santiago even if we only stayed a couple of days. It has a definite South American vibe and is very lively! The Chilean accent is not easy to understand though but we will get used to it!
Our favourite picks/tips:
- Bellavista is a very cool area to stay in Santiago. Very lively with many restaurants and bars to choose from.
- Stayed in hostel la Chimba, recommend it!
Next stop: Valparaiso (Chile)