17.06.10 – Santiago city

Spent the whole day walking around the city, starting from the quaint neighborhood around the hostel.

Walked past the catholic university of medicine amongst white-coats – trainees perhaps? Grabbed breakfast at one of the small hotdog eateries, which are all over the city. Yes, believe it or not hotdog is quite the standard grab-and-go food. The “completo” version with chucrut (saurcraut) I had and coffee cost CLP$750 (US$1.30). Now, believe it or not, coffee is nescafe in a packet plus hot water! Although I have read that Chile is not known for its coffee, I am still quite amused by the packeted nescafe.

Continued walking until I reached Cerro Santa Lucia, a mound (?) with a viewing spot that used to be the highest look out point in Santiago. Took some photos of the city view, including the thin but very visible blanket of haze/smog with the Andean mountains in the background. Was quite wary at first because there are so few visitors in winter and so early in the morning. But then I saw two teenage girls and then a tour guide with 2 american tourists. Later on, I was told this place really comes alive in the late afternoon.

After I descended back to the morning traffic, I walked in the direction of the museo Bella Artes, which is the museum of fine arts. To be very honest, I was quite disappointed as I expected to see more Chilean art works, but apparently a wing was closed. There was however an interesting black and white photography exhibition, depicting selected moments in Chile’s recent history.

Thereafter walked to the Mercado Central, of which I do not understand the hype in guidebooks: it is clearly a touristic place though it is perhaps the most concentrated area to sample some typical Chilean seafood dishes. Also took a picture of a conger eel, which I had eaten a day before. It certainly does not look like the type of unagi you would see at a japanese restaurant but the grilled one I had was yummy.

Had an empanada, a typical south american street snack. I have been avoiding fried food on my trip thus far, but unfortunately this shop didn’t have baked ones, so I had the fried one instead. The empanada is as much a “street snack” as our curry puff, but the fillings are different, and in this case, it is cheese, or minced beef with egg.

Also had a paila mariscal, essentially a seafood soup/stew. It was hard deciding which restaurant to go to since the Mercado has so many, and eventually decided on one based on a quick glance at the reasonably clean-looking kitchen manned by two ladies in white aprons and hair caps. The price was quite reasonable too for such a touristic place, about US$6 for a steaming hot pot of soup with an overflow of clam, blue mussels (chorito), shrimps (camaron) and fish in what is supposedly conger eel broth. It is also quite large portion and I could only finish half of it partly because I had the empanada before.

Outside the Mercado, spotted a man unloading a big tuna fish. Soon, a crowd gathered. Evidently proud of the stock, he happily paraded the big tuna and wheeled it along the street for all to see when it is obvious that the tuna was destined for one of the fishmongers in the Mercado.

Across the street is a local market for handicraft materials such as thread, bottons, papers and beads. Also came across some very busy dry goods shops and a large empanada shop that was brimming with the lunch crowd.

Then walked to the Plaza de Armas, which I had passed by several times the days before. But this time I had the opportunity to soak in the crowd atmosphere in broad day light. Checked out several buskers: one quartet stationed at the metro exit was particularly popular because of the famous latin american music they were playing.

Then I head off to one of the cafes that is a highlight of Santiago:- see earlier post. (Jenn, it’s not as sleazy as the google search results)

Rounded up the evening with some people watching and going to a hotdog eatery, topping it up with a big glass of fresh strawberry juice.

Goodness, it was really a whole day of eating even though I did walk a lot.

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