With only one day to explore Santiago, Chile, I had toured Santiago by bike in the morning and decided to walk around the area before heading back to the hotel. San Cristobal Hill was on my “to do” list so I wandered through the park toward the funicular to ascend to the top of the hill. You can see the Virgin Mary statue from most parts of the city, as it is the largest statue on the second highest hill in the city.
From the park, I crossed over the road, passing performance artists entertaining the stopped motorists in traffic. Having biked through the university streets earlier in the morning when it was quiet and empty, the city was waking up on this Easter Monday. Walking to the bottom of the hill, there were many people sitting on the walls and lawn near the funicular – it would not open for another thirty minutes so I joined the waiting tourists on the wall with a power bar for a snack. We then lined up to purchase our tickets to the top. I do love funiculars to provide you a great view of the surrounding areas.
Once at the top, there are many steps and steep inclines as you work your way to the top. Along the way, there is an amphitheater for masses/group events, a small statue of Pope John Paul II to commemorate his visit to the city of Santiago, a sanctuary and chapel. All information was listed in Spanish so this was an excellent test of my WorldLens app for Spanish to English – it was so cool to hold over the words engraved to see how they translated. It made the visit more informative – worth the $4.99!
There was also rows of candles with prayers for the Virgin Mary – this was, to me, quite powerful to see so many requests, hopes, dreams cast about with the candles which had burned out (at some point, I would think this is a fire hazard given all of the candles, wind, paper)
I descended back to the street to make my way to the metro and back to the hotel area for lunch. The metro reminded me of the one in Washington, DC – it was easy to use and quick to my El Golf stop. As this was my first metro ride, I was unsure which of the four exits my hotel was located on so, of course, went that way, only to wander aimlessly around the neighborhood.
My wandering (others call it being lost) was quite fruitful as I stumbled upon an art installation on the sidewalk. I loved this and was the only person (tourist) stopping to read the titles and take photos.
By this time, my stomach was grumbling for our lunch (it was not quite used to the concept of late lunch) – luckily, I relied on (ok, hoped this would work) following the business people ahead of me. Business people usually know the best lunch spots so I took a chance that these three had similar tastes to me. I ended up following them to Tiramisu, a pizza restaurant that was on the hotel recommended sheet from the concierge. The menu choices seemed endless, I went with a simple margarita pizza and a glass of wine. My real find here was the dessert – everyone was eating dessert so my eyes were awash in sugar temptation. I would choose the panna cotta from the long list of dessert options (it was a tough decision) and it was amazing!
Figuring I was close to the hotel as this restaurant was on their list, I wandered a bit more only to find out the W Santiago hotel was across the street. The metro stop was as well – had I exited correctly I probably would have missed the street art, the fantastic panna cotta and the walk around the neighborhood. So when you know which exit you should take, try a new exit and wander to see what you find – hopefully it is as visual rewarding and full of sugary dessert.