To the eternal confusion of every gringo everywhere (please tell me I’m not alone), Spanish-speakers have a tendency to make everything a verb. Exploring a new place as a tourist becomes “turisteando” or “touristing,” sending messages via WhatsApp becomes “whatsappeando,” and searching for things on google becomes “googleando” (where the ending -ando is essentially equivalent to the English -ing). To be fair, verbing nouns is also common in the English language, from the very same act of “googling” to asking someone over to “Netflix and chill” to shouting “BEER ME!” across the room at a frat party. Not that I’ve ever been to such a party, it’s just what I imagine happens. They could ask each other politely for all I know.
Anyways, I spent the past weekend in Santiago and it was my first time really acting like a tourist since I moved to Chile a little over two years ago. My friend Scott from an outreach program at SLAC (not to be confused with Scott the Bot, my coworker on the LSST Camera project, or the two Scotts that I mountain biked with, all of whom also work at SLAC) had a two-day stopover in Santiago before continuing down to Patagonia to do some hiking, so I decided to take advantage of the company and explore some museums and historical sites in Chile’s capital city. Chill weekend, right? 19.5 miles later, my feet would beg to differ.
If we’re being honest, history and art are cool and all but my main motivation for going to Santiago was finding some good Mexican food. It just does not exist in La Serena. Foodies should google better recommendations, but the fajitas and tacos at El Zocalo did not disappoint. Secondary shoutout to the ceviche at Espacio Gárgola and the super crispy skinny sweet potato fries that came on top. But also I’ve gone out to like five restaurants in the last two years so who knows how these two really stack up.
We stayed at an Airbnb in downtown near the Plaza de Armas, and on Saturday we walked around the city loosely following this free online walking tour. Highlights were the cathedral (intricate carvings and pretty stained glass) and the street art in the Bellavista neighborhood near the zoo (here’s a map of the best spots by Santiago Tourist). My favorite museum was the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, which had a fascinating collection of indigenous works from before the Spanish invasion of Chile, everything from woven clothes and hats to intricately carved stone to giant wooden statues to huge knotted strands that was their version of data storage. Being an accountant back in the day would have been tough.
My two hottest tips for a trip to Santiago are pretty cliché, but I suppose that’s why everyone knows about them. Firstly, the skyscraper Sky Costanera is the tallest building in South America, and unlike many other tall buildings it has literally nothing around it even close to the same height. It’s pretty cool to see city blocks and buildings and then just … MOUNTAINS. Right there in your face. The 360 degree view is fully worth the inflated tourist price to get to the upper observation deck, especially at sunset or around Valentine’s day when they decorate with some ridiculously cheesy hearts and flowers.
The second tip is to go to Santiago anytime but summer. We survived the heat by walking on the shady side of the streets and cooling off in museums, but sleeping in a non-air-conditioned apartment was tough and it would have been a little more comfortable walking around during a cooler time of year.
A fun weekend overall, but I’m definitely excited to head back to the mountains later this week!