What do you do when you have just 24 hours in a city? You make the most of it.
We arrived into Santiago on the bus at about 630 pm. Our flights back to the US were the next evening, unfortunately. We would have loved more time to explore this vibrant city.
It was my first time in Santiago and I really had no preconceived ideas of the city. I guess I may have expected something along the lines of Buenos Aires, but it was quite different.
The hotel where we stayed, Le Reve, (an oasis and I highly recommend it) is just two blocks from an underground station. In Buenos Aires, the underground was not air-conditioned and a bit old. We were surprised to find a very modern underground, new cars, beautifully constructed and decorated stops, and it was air-conditioned. We took the underground to the historic district.
There is a large pedestrian area in Santiago, which we walked on our way to the plaza. The main plaza, Plaza de Armas, was under construction, so we could only walk the perimeter. We stopped into the Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago, (built 1748 to 1800) and passed the Museo de Santiago exterior. That street was also under construction and the museum blocked. Santiago appeared to be a city under a lot of construction with many projects and workers. We also saw city workers painting over graffiti, and police officers on horseback.
Our first priority for our one day in Santiago (besides getting a feel for the city) was to tour the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art. It is just one block off the Plaza de Armas.
It is a beautiful museum, where they allow photos with no flash in many of the rooms (but not all). It is well conceived and has beautiful pieces. The museum was the highlight of our day in Santiago.
The museum is divided into cultural areas, including Mesoamerica, Caribbean, Amazonian, Central Andes, and Southern Andes. This Mayan stela is in the Mesoamerica section.
From the museum website:
This large stela, originally located in one of the main Aguateca plazas, in the southern lowlands of Yucatan, commemorates a military victory of this city’s ruler. The triumphant figure grasps a shield decorated with the image of one of the war patrons, the Jaguar God of the Underworld. The two prisoners with their feet tied have been stripped of their ornaments.
(As much as I miss my Nikon, I do have to give credit to the quality of photos that the iPhone took in low light. All the museum pictures were taken on my iPhone).
We did a lot of walking, found many green spaces in the city, large parks with fountains, and nice neighborhoods. The prices for everything from food to subway fares were equivalent to the prices in the US, and much more expensive than Argentina. We stopped into the Iglesia San Francisco, the oldest church in Santiago, located right downtown.
Of course we found an arts and crafts market. And of course I bought some earrings!
Our last vacation dinner was at a well known vegetarian restaurant, El Huerto, only one block from our hotel. http://www.elhuerto.cl/
I definitely want to go back and see more of Santiago and Chile.