Day 15: Santiago
Our last day in Chile was nice and relaxing. We slept in and went to breakfast. Today we employed all the secret buffet hacks we learned yesterday, such as where to find the espresso machine (mmm, mochacinos) and how to order salmon eggs Benedict. We also successfully acquired a late checkout, so we leisurely packed up our luggage, watched Stage 8 of the Tour de France, and prepared for an afternoon stroll in Santiago.
We dropped our bags off at reception and embarked on our first quest of the day – to find an authentic empanada. With some internet sleuthing, we found the perfect place to go. Located a couple of blocks southwest of the hotel, off the main street, is a market where locals buy vegetables, fish, and other supplies. Within said market is an empanadas counter.
With a constant line, a cash-only register, and no English spoken, we knew Tanita’s Empanadas was the jackpot. We ordered a pino emanada, a traditional Chilean flavor made of ground meat, onions, black olives, and a hard boiled egg. It was delicious and definitely corrected our “empanaditas” error of yesterday.
After the delicious empanada, we walked a few blocks further west in search of a game store we saw on google maps. Along the way, we passed through a cool mall packed with tiny used book shops (the shops are tiny, not the books). We also saw an incredible number of shops and booths selling vinyl records and cassettes, so if you are trying to fight that new trend of digital music, Santiago has you covered!
We eventually found the game store and the sales guy did an amazing job explaining to us a few different Chilean-designed games (after modestly claiming he knew only a little English). However, without finding a game we really liked – or wanted to translate from Spanish – we moved on to our next mission: finding La BurguesÃƒÂa (the burger place Roberto recommended).
With siesta time approaching, we quickly hoofed our way back northeast towards La BurguesÃƒÂa before they closed at 4PM for the afternoon (to open again later for dinner at 7PM). Larger and more crowded than we expected, a host greeted us and added us to the wait list, explaining that if we made it in, we might need to order quickly so the kitchen could accommodate us. We happily agreed and ended up getting a table in about 10 minutes.
We placed our order and enjoyed the atmosphere of the place. Like us, all the beers were imported, including Goose Island’s 312. Then they started playing Chelsea Dagger on the radio, so we strongly considered just heading down Madison to the Blackhawks game after we finished eating. Speaking of the beers, we did like the amusing 500ml beer glasses that appear comically large, but aren’t much different than a pint.
With a little more time to wander Santiago, we stopped at a street market and almost successfully avoided buying anything. The chocolate-infused tea was too good to pass up. A good way to kill some time, spend some pesos, and come home with a treat.
Santiago does a great job of keeping their streets clean, and in doing so, it really cuts down on our ability to find dropped and discarded coins. Instead, we found other items, such as a series of painted white ants on the ground (which was clearly a marketing ploy). With time on our hands and curiosity peaked, we followed these little insects into a mall and a candy store. Not tempted by the sweets, we continued to explore the mall and window shop the unique stores.
By now, most places were closed, so we made it back to the hotel to retrieve our bags and relax before going to the airport. The front desk called a cab for us and we were back at trusty SCL in no time. It was a good thing we heeded LATAM’s three hour suggestion this time. It took about an hour to get our boarding passes and check our bags, plus another half hour to get through customs and security. While some aspects of flying in Chile are slow, such as people re-packing their entire bedroom closet at the baggage counter, other parts are super efficient, such as the nifty automatic tray collection gizmo at the security line.
At the gate, we ate the extra burger we ordered to go from La BurguesÃƒÂa and discovered it included grilled shrimp and a creamy cheese topping – which was a welcome Chilean preparation surprise (and just as tasty as the bacon and avocado burger we ate earlier)! With our hunger satisfied, we soon passed through the final check points and boarded the plane.
All that’s left is our eight-hour flight to Miami, a two-hour layover, and another three- hour flight back to Chicago. Thanks Chile for an awesome two weeks! We’re already planning how to get back someday (heck, we’ll even save our extra pesos).