SA 25: Santiago and Barrio Belavista

So in spite of an awesome meal that involved steak, steak and more steak, I am somewhat more lucid than I was yesterday after the aborted Valparaiso post. 

Before I post anything about today, I have to give you a bit of information about a Chilean staple: DoggiS.

DoggiS is a fast food chain that we’ve seen littered around Santiago.  In fact, on the first night, the lady at the hotel recommended Doggis as a good fast food option.  It’s like a Mcdonalds in that everything comes with fries, a soft drink or various forms of combos.  The mains, however, are all hot dogs.  Cheese dogs, guacamole dogs, “Completo” dogs – there’s about ten different varieties.  Plus, they’ll actually cut up your hot dog and put various dips around it in a box so you can eat it with a fork while on the go.  Very popular, always a crowd.  So how did it stack up?

Well, I’ll say this: Everything is good about DoggiS EXCEPT the actual hot dog itself.  The toppings and bun are fine but the hot dog tastes like your standard hockey arena meat, except not as cooked.  Somehow I can’t see it breaking in to North America.  Too bad, because I like the concept.

Today we had another good walk around this city, this time to Barrio Bellavista, which is known as the trendy, alternative type community around Santiago.  There were some similarities between Bellavista and Valparaiso, in that there is some definite edge to both neighbourhoods and the houses are all graffitied and coloured up.  Bellavista reminded me a bit of the Annex in Toronto, tinged with a bit of Kensington when you got to some of the street shops.  Made for a fun walk around.

Other highlight of the day was Cerro San Cristobal, another one of Santiago’s many hills.  There’s a funicular up to the top, which is really the most convenient way up, as the other way is a winding road (literally, a road) that takes you up.

Once you get there, there’s the token South American “Religious Figure On A Hill” (the Virgin Mary, in this case), a garden, a few terraces that serve as Miradors and a GREAT view of the…  smog.  Yeah, you can see the mountains and city and all the major stuff, but also the smog.  It’s odd, because Santiago doesn’t seem smoggy from the ground, but looking at this picture, you’d get a completely different idea.  Maybe my lungs are just stronger after two weeks of high altitude and the pollution of La Paz.

So after stopping at an art gallery/cafe where I consoled a horse having a cup of Nescafe (because there is NO reason so much instant coffee should be served in South America), we made the long walk back to the Centro.  We wandered past Plaza del Armas with a blue background today, went through a couple of the malls, stopped back at the hotel for a rest and then went out for some AMAZING parrilladas (hunks of grilled meat) at a restaurant called El Novillero.  Seriously, steak cooked before you get to the table, charcoal hot plate there, potatoes, sides, awesome dessert… and the steak, again, was ridiculous!  Good way to end off Santiago.

So Santiago comes to a close and, with it, our time on the mainland.  I like this city, could see myself staying in it for a while but it’s not as high on the sights as other cities we’ve been to.  Good – and necessary – stop before our flight tomorrow.

We’ve already printed off our boarding passes and checked in online.  Tomorrow, we fly to Easter Island.  Internet there is slow and expensive, so there might not be any posts until we get back but, rest assured, there will be pictures of giant heads.

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