|Chile's capital, Santiago,
is a sprawling metropolis of 4.5 million people. Naturally, it has urban
problems similar to that of New York or LA. But it also equals its North
American counterparts in that it has people, places and characteristics
that are unforgettable.
Getting Around: The
Metro -The system is one of the most civilized systems I've ever encountered.
Its runs with frequency (a train about every 2 to 5 minutes), cheap (about
$0.60 US), quiet (rubber wheels), spacious (not many seats but ample standing
room) and employs conductors that don't delight in slamming on their brakes
when traveling at 60 mph. The system is small compared to London or New
York, only about three lines, but very accessible for the tourist who will
spend most of their time in the downtown area. By motorcycle - Not much
different than any big city. But watch the buses! There is an extensive
network of buses that travel at breakneck speeds and have their own lanes.
By taxi - Inexpensive and very accessible from anyplace within the city
The Food: A caveat.
We are on a budget so we are not looking for restaurants that cater to
the tourist spending 2 weeks in the city. We have found some very good
restaurants that are reasonably priced. Liguria in Providencia for Italian
food, El Cuarto Cafe in Ñuñoa for great salads and light
entrees, El Huerto in Providencia for vegetarian dishes and The Coffee
Cup, also in Providencia for panini. The downtown is rife with small restaurants
and stands serving the completo(hot-dog). I really like hot-dogs
but it only took one of these to put me on a different track. Somewhere
underneath the blanket of mayo, mustard and green stuff, there is a hot-dog
of adequate quality. Forget about breakfast. There is only one country
that does breakfast right anyway (do I really need to name it?) Breakfast
is typically a nice baked roll with marmalade with cafe con leche (coffee
with steamed milk). As a visitor I found it is best just to accept that
folks from other countries just don't eat (overeat?) like Americans and
enjoy what they do well. That would be the produce and juices. For a buck
or less you can get a giant glass of fresh melon, berry or peach juice.
The refill may even be free. Whenever I get a little annoyed about the
food I just tell myself - I'm in South America and most likely, you are