A lively city like Santiago, Chile has a lot to offer its tourists. In advance of going to Santiago, I read a lot of blogs titled “The must see places to go and things to do”. From museums, monuments and markets, there is plenty to occupy your time. We were fortunate enough to do a walking tour with Strawberry tours, and have the lovely Larisa as our tour guide. She provided us with nuggets of valuable information about how the locals pass their time. So to avoid the throngs of tourists, Ciarán and I decided to take on board Larisa’s advice and do some of the more unusual activities that she recommended. It was exactly what the doctor ordered, so if you too wish to delve into the local culture of Santiago, here is a list of 5 quirky things to do.
1. Enjoy a Mote con huesillo at the top of San Cristóbal hill
After an exhausting climb to the top of San Cristóbal hill, there is nothing better than sipping on a Mote con huesillo. This is a traditional Chilean non-alcoholic drink. It is made with dried peaches, husked wheat and a sugary syrup. The peaches are soaked overnight in the syrup, giving them a deliciously sweet and delicately soft texture. The look of the drink is not the most inviting but you will be pleasantly surprised at how refreshing and invigorating it is. After purchasing in the stalls near the top of the hill, it gives you the perfect opportunity to take a well-deserved break and watch the sun set upon the city.
2. Have a picnic in Santa Lucia hill
Climb to the top of Santa Lucia hill, a 230 foot cerro, located between Alameda del Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins and Santa Lucia Street. It is an urban oasis that offers a magnificent panoramic view of the city, intriguing hidden staircases, marble fountains and a castle which looks out upon the Andes Mountain. It is the perfect location to escape the city centre and cool off in the shade of the marble statues scattered amongst the lofty trees. With benches throughout, it provides an idyllic setting to sit down and eat a picnic amongst the locals while taking in the breath-taking views, all whilst listening to the calming chirping of the birds. However, don’t be too startled and spill your coffee if you are fortunate enough to hear a cannon firing, as this is a regular midweek occurrence at noon.
3.Taste the best Pisco Sours in Nuria Restaurant
Nuria restaurant is located on the busy Av Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins, in the Metropolitan region of Santiago. This is a chaotic establishment, with fast paced waiters who make it evident that tardiness is not accepted. It is most definitely not a place I would suggest you go for a relaxing meal, but it must be said that their food is amazing and their Pisco Sours are even better. After ordering the cocktails with our meals, we were rewarded with what can be described as a mixology masterpiece. They were the most delightfully crisp, fresh tasting Pisco Sours we have had in South America. And let it be known, we have drank ALOT of these concoctions in the last month and have yet to experience anything, even close to being in the same league. Be sure to line your stomach well while in Nuria restaurant as these drinks are strong and will knock you for six other wise.
4.Sip on a Terremoto in La Piocera
When the people of Santiago talk about a Terremoto, they are not referring to the violent shaking of the earth’s crust. Instead they are referring to a “cocktail” made with pineapple ice-cream which is served in a one-litre glass of fermented wine. Terremoto translates to earthquake. It received its name as consumers are often left with very shaky legs after the first round. The second round of this drink is referred to as the Replica, or aftershock, as people often fall to the ground at this stage. Finally, if you are brave enough you can try a third round, this one is referred to as a Tsunami. Enough said! To get a true representation of this drink, it was recommended we try it at La Piocera (The flea house). This bar is off the beaten track and a favourite of the Santiago locals. The bar is only a stone throw from the Presidential palace and is burrowed between an open air market and a strip of bars, it is easily bypassed. If you enter the bar after 9pm, you will be sure to see some sawdust on the ground. A sure sign that their version of this drink is so good, that people have been heroic enough to continue to the third round.
5.Ogle in a Café con piernas – Coffee with legs
If you wake up with a hangover from your Terremoto or Pisco sour from the night previous, a trip to a Café con piernas is exactly what is needed. All of these coffee houses are located within a 5 km radius of the central business district. The concept is easy – decent coffee with voluptuous, attractive, waitresses, in skimpy outfits serving up heightened sexual tension. This revolution began in 1940’s conservative Chile, to aid with destressing the frantic businessman. To this day, the clientele are almost exclusively male, majority with loosened ties and smoking every drag of their cigarette before having to return to the office. An interesting concept indeed.
IF YOU CAN SUGGEST ANY OTHER QUIRKY ACTIVITIES IN SANTIAGO, CHILE BE SURE TO COMMENT BELOW.