La Rana in Santiago


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 proper.
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 not.

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