There’s nothing like acting on an impulse. Being spontaneous (especially traveling) can be one of the most rewarding things you do, but also a bit scary. Below I chronicle what my friend and I stumbled upon as we took on the beautiful city of Santiago, Chile!
*This article really dives into the details, but to share the experience make sure to check out our vlog on YouTube! (added to bottom of article)
Airbnb. After landing in Santiago, we had an easy time hopping into an Uber and to get to our Airbnb. Located in the historic neighborhood Lastarria, we picked this spot because of it’s location and simplicity. One thing I really loved was that it topped a quaint coffee shop called Wonderland Café. This was AMAZING, because we were able to grab the key from them instead of worrying about scheduling an arrival time. Bonus, they even gave us a discount at the café! (Link to the listing here)
Parque Forestal. We were exhausted from the flight, but after a quick lunch made our way outside. I cannot stress enough how little planning we had done, so we mostly were wandering around. Quickly we found a park full of activity (and on a weekday too!). Couples nuzzled on benches, groups drumming in syncopated rhythm, there even was a pop-up carnival (trampolines and face paint included)! Oh and one other thing, there were dogs EVERYWHERE. Playing with the pups we saw became routine from this point on throughout the trip.
Happy Hour. The area was dense with bars and restaurants, all of which had great deals and were hard to choose from. We settled with outdoor seating at a place with 2 for 1 drinks (score!), and listened to a variety of live musicians as they worked their way down the street. By the end of 4 rounds of drinks (8 total) we racked up a bill of $30 USD. Man is it affordable to have fun here!
El Tunel. To follow our stride, we went to a club I had found in my (brief) research. We got there I’m guessing around the time they opened, because activity was pretty sparse. Pretty quickly however things started to pick up, and the disco ball/lighted floor duo served us well. As we laughingly danced together, locals started to take notice of us. Before we knew it, we had made friends! Everyone was so welcoming, and even told us what to order from the bar-
PISCOLA. This is by far the best thing we found on our trip. Very simply, the drink is a mixture of pisco (amber colored brandy made in the wine regions of Chile) and Coca-Cola. After our first one, we drank nothing but for the remainder of the trip. We even ended up bringing 6 bottles home!
Piscolas at El Tunel (screenshot from vlog)
Street Markets. Upon waking, we walked the opposite direction from our Airbnb to see what we could find. Almost immediately we stumbled upon a street market, full of incredible artwork and fun novelty items. The weather was mild and pleasant, which explained why it seemed everyone wanted to be outside that day!
Baquedano Square. Seated in the middle of a busy intersection lies this square. It’s marked in the center with a statue of General Baquedano, symbolizing Chile’s independence. Behind us was the winding path through Parque Forestal, and to the left, a love-lock bridge over the Mapocho River. Large office buildings cut into the sky in front of us, while the mountains peeked through the absence between. It truly is a space where all elements of Santiago collide.
View from Baquedano Square (check out the mountains in the back!)
Constanera Center Mall. We went looking for a booth to book an excursion, and ended up at the largest mall in South America. An astonishing 6 stories, this mall was filled to the brim with every store imaginable. It took up the majority of our afternoon, mostly because we were determined to explore the circumference of each floor. Afterwards we sat down for a delicious bite at Crepes & Waffles, where we couldn’t help but get both savory and sweet options. Oops!
Costanera Center Mall (screenshot from vlog)
Excursion to Cajón del Maipo and Embalse el Yeso (booked through Turistik). We rose early to make our way to a nearby hotel for pick up. The shuttle made a few more stops collecting travelers, then we made our way outside the city.
San Jose de Maipo. Our first stop was a small town called San Jose de Maipo. Really the intention here was to refresh after a few hours drive and grab a snack, but we had a lot of fun exploring. Once you pushed past the first few tourist shops, the town seemed completely off the grid. I remember thinking, “this place is completely the opposite of New York” as I squatted to pet the nearest friendly pup. It was a brief visit, but certainly memorable. I wonder what it would be like to live in this place.
San Jose de Maipo (screenshot from vlog)
Embalse el Yeso. We finally arrived at our destination (or as close as we could drive), and took a short hike to the Embalse el Yeso. Without a doubt, this is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. The dam creates a reservoir that serves as a major fresh water source for the country. No kidding, I felt like I was standing inside a water bottle label. I mean, look at that view!
Embalse el Yeso
When we finally pried ourselves away, we met back with the group for refreshments. Shortly after we made our way home, admittedly in and out of sleep from the excitement of the day’s activities.
Sarita Colonia. It was our last dinner in Santiago, and we were determined to go out in style. Walking distance from our Airbnb we found this amazing spot. Don’t be thrown off by it’s simple appearance, because the inside is an elaborate explosion of color and festive decor. The same could be said about the food actually! Everything from presentation to quick preparation made this meal unforgettable. Most notable would be when we ordered “The Princess” dessert, when they sprinkled flower petals on the table before the dish arrived!
Dinner + Dessert from Sarita Colonia
Cerro San Cristóbal. What better way to say goodbye to our beloved Santiago than by seeing it from a bird’s eye view? For a small fee we took a cable car up the steep incline, and were stunned by what we found.
View of Santiago from San Cristóbal Hill
Hands down the most gorgeous views of Santiago could be seen from all directions of this place. We stopped for empanadas and a few souvenirs before exploring around. The focal point centered on a statue of the Virgin Mary, and the area surrounding includes an amphitheater and chapel. There was something simultaneously exciting and calming about this place. If anything I wish we could have spent more of our day here, but we had a flight to catch.
Sanguchería Ciudad Vieja. But not before we enjoyed our last piscolas on our way back! This eatery had a perfect terrace for us to toast to our trip and it’s pleasant discoveries. We came with zero expectations, and left with a full heart (and stomach!).
Sanguchería Ciudad Vieja
What did we miss?? With as little planning as we did, I’m sure there was plenty more to see. Share your suggestions in the comments below, and give me reasons to go back! Also check out the vlog below-
Check out Miss All Over the Place’s lifestyle + travel blog here!