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Back to Santiago

April 17, 2019

I decided to write this series of posts out of the order in which I experienced the places, so this entry takes us back to Santiago after a week in Easter Island.

My boutique  hotel, the Casa Bellavista, could not have been more different from the dreary B&B I stayed in the weekend before. It was strategically located in the midst of the Bellavista barrio, a hip and artsy neighborhood with plenty of restaurants, wine bars, cafés and shops. Patio Bellavista, a covered city block, is chock full of shops and restaurants and is great for nightlife.

The distinguishing feature of the barrio is the abundance of murals painted on storefronts and walls. I guess you could call it graffiti, but it’s so much more, obviously the work of very talented artists.

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Wandering the streets of Bellavista is a treat for the eyes!

My friend Laura, who was on the Easter Island trip and also the expedition to Bali in January, had secured a driver for a day, so Arturo took us to the Underraga Winery in the Maipo Valley, just a short hop south of Santiago. The winery was established in 1885, and we were able to taste sauvignon blanc, carmenere, and a 100% cabernet sauvignon, finishing with a dessert blend of sauvignon blanc and semillon. All yummy! It’s going into fall here, and the grapes have all been harvested, so we got a peek at the process of selecting and destemming.

We wandered through the rustic village of nearby Pomaire, home to many potters — all of whom seemed to make the same thing: ollas in every size imaginable, bean pots, round, square and rectangular baking pans, outdoor flower pots, pitchers and cups. While the town is normally crowded with tourists on weekends, the crafters take Mondays off, so many shops were closed and the town had a sleepy air, with dogs taking their siestas in the street.

A restaurant tried to lure us in with a 10 kilo empanada! I got indigestion just looking at it!

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We wound our way down the coast through the exceptionally lovely community of Santo Domingo Beach, landing at Isla Negra, made famous by Pablo Neruda, who built his favorite house here overlooking the wild, windswept beach. Huge rock formations add interest to the landscape, and one even has a bust of the poet carved on top. The rip tides and huge waves make the area too dangerous to swim, but one can imagine how this untamed place inspired him. This is where he died and is buried. Once again, it being Monday, the house was closed to visitors; on the other hand, there were no hordes of tourists to contend with.

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My final days in Santiago took me by metro to Pueblo los Dominicos, a rustic village at the western edge of the city, with a warren of streets lined with shops selling high-quality handicrafts: hand-knitted shawls and sweaters, jewelry, pottery, paintings — you name it.

That bird you see above is a chicken I named Phyllis Diller, which was pecking around in a cage with a number of other birds (which is why she’s sort of blurry). I saw an amazing variety of colorful chickens during this trip.

One morning I took the funicular up Cerro San Cristóbal, the highest point in Santiago, with its expansive views of the sprawling city, and St. Christopher looking down from the peak. Especially up here you see the smog that bathes the skyline every day (except after heavy rains) and obscures any glimpse of the Andes. Santiago lies in a basin, with the Andes to the east and a coastal mountain range to the west, trapping all the nasty brown air.

These two shots show an unprocessed image right out of the camera (left), and one with dehaze applied during processing (right) . Goes to show you how much more the camera can see than I can with my naked eye — and how thick the smog is.

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I left Santiago and Chile with more to see and more restaurants to try; more day trips, to Valparaiso and back to Isla Negra when Neruda’s house is open; more wineries to visit; and excursions further afield to Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia and the Atacama Desert. For a long thin country — nearly 2700 miles long but, on average, only 110 miles wide — it has remarkable geographic diversity and stunning beauty. I loved it, and want to go back!

3 Comments
  1. The artwork in the barrio is gorgeous! I especially like the woman in the doorway. What an experience and I know these two posts are just the bookends to your destination.

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  2. Cheri Anderson permalink

    Amazing murals! Love Phyllis Diller the chicken! My free day was on a Monday and everything I wanted to do was closed- even the zoo and the funicular! I’m so happy you got to a winery and the coast in Chile! I should have scheduled a few more days to see more. I, like you, would like to go back to explore Atacama and Patagonia. Welcome home!

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  3. Suzy Fisher permalink

    I’ll go back with you!!!

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