Parts of the capital city seem European with the grand architecture reminiscent of Paris. Our first night was diagonally across from the Fine Arts Museum and a small park. Hotel Altiplanico Bellas Artes is a minimalist efficient place to stay. Large rooms, lovely varied breakfast buffet, and professional desk clerks made for a comfortable stay. Of interest, the bedroom was open, spacious, with a sink and bathtub out in the open. Behind a door is the toilet tucked into a corner with a open shower area at the other end. Really cool was the large square rain shower head which I only noticed while looking up as I washed my hair. I pulled a knob to activate it and was blanketed in a warm comforting rain enveloping my entire back. Heavenly.
After a large repast in the morning we walked around a few blocks to take in the sun and sights.
We were back at the hotel just before nine to complete paperwork on the car rental, a luxurious, to us, BMW series 1 delivered personally by Christopher. Then it was time to try to find a SIM card and actually get some data time that would last longer than a few minutes. Oh, my gosh, what an inefficient system. One can buy a card but to get more data one has to go to stores, only certain grocery stores we found out later, to add money. One only hopes that the internet data are sufficient to get you by for what you need….such as using Waze to get out of the city and on to the next one. 150mb seemed rather meager. It did get us on the road and to the BnB fortunately.
I was really interested and frustrated in dealing with locals in that their Spanish, which I was later assured by a bilingual young woman is truly Spanish, has very different sounds which made me think of Portuguese. Strange. Google enlightened me with all the clipped endings and an exchange of the sound of ch and sh with later of a lower class if replacing the former. Saying “shocolate” would horrify an upper crust person. http://www.spanish.cl/chilean-spanish-pronunciation.htm
Upon returning from the coast two days later we nighted in the Eurotel Providencia, very much a residential/commercial area. It reminded me of the expensive parts of Lima. For my sixty-fourth birthday we enjoyed a dinner at a French restaurant, Le Bistrot, and yes, there is a final t! My onion tart and green salad were pretty good. To celebrate my cumpleaños we each ordered a chocolate volcano with caramel lava, cream with a dab of raspberry sauce, and vanilla ice cream. Although not as intense as Phillipe Capel’s it was still a tasty choice.
Traffic is thick there though drivers are courteous and give the right of way to pedestrians. It was a bit tricky to get back to the autopista to make our way to the airport and we never did find a gas station to refill the tank before returning the car.
Upon the return from Patagonia we spent one more night in Santiago. The owner of Patio Yungay took us on a quick tour to show us the available restaurants and give us a bit of history. Even a high catwalk was included! The neighborhood was older than the others with many building from the earlier 20’s being renovated for residences. There is more graffiti here and funky restaurants in old houses and a retro barbershop.