With just under three weeks to go until Foto Ruta touches down in Santiago Chile for the very first time (9th December – sign up here!), Foto Ruta thinks it might be about time to introduce its brand new team member and Santiago partner, Cat of Eye Spy Cat and get her to give us the low-down on the city she has made her home and soon to be Foto Ruta homeSantiago!!
My first day in the city I took my camera with me and took 3 photographs if that. Not a good start. I´m not going to lie, Santiago was not my favorite place in the world when I first moved here. It didn´t grab me in the way that New York or Vancover did. It took me a while to warm up to it, to “get” it. I thought it was too big, too crowded, too noisy. And yes, it still is all of those things but once you understand Santiago and you know the best places to go, where in the city to experience real Chile or where to top up on foreign culture, where to have a Sunday afternoon wonder, grab an exhibit- it becomes a whole different experience. Santiago has that fabulous ability of maintaining a huge cosmopolitan vibe, whilst still having undiscovered corners and areas where you can feel like you are in Buenos Aires, Paris, London…
Now I love it. After 8 months I am well and truly charmed. My camera, bicycle and I are always finding new streets, areas, bars and restaurants, galleries… so many untaken photographs! I recommend however long you are here, get out and explore what Santiago has to offer. Here are a few of my top tips for things to do in Santiago!
A little bit of a bubble off of Santiago´s main strip, Alameda. (The street that changes name to Providencia, Apoquindo and Liber Bernardo O´Higgins throughout the city…) Located behind a fabulous art spot called GAM (Gabriela Mistral) it is a street filled with restaurants, cafes, cobbled streets, musicians and fabulous antique stalls. You could easily feel as if you were anywhere in Europe or Buenos Aires!
A little more grungy, out of the way of the cities hustle and bustle, no skyscrapers to be be found here. Just lots of street art, abandoned buildings and lovely bars and cafes, all set around a fabulous plaza. Some great live music to be found in the evenings, especially in Galpon Victor Jara…
A great place to cycle or walk your way around, a tree lined park, surrounded by cafes, sushi places, ice cream spots and all with a fabulous cafe in the middle, Cafe Literario. Also perfect for an afternoon nap in the sun.
Head to Londres y Paris, the perfect step back in time with cobbled streets, fabulous architecture and you´ll probably also find a fashion shoot or movie being filmed.
Conchay y Toro
More of the step back in time Santiago, fabulous architecture and cobbled streets situated around a beautiful plaza, hard to believe all the hustle and bustle is only a few blocks away.
My Must Do’s
Lunch at La Jardin
A fabulous pop-up art restaurant with a great week time special, Francisco Bilbao 497 (and Avenida Italia)
Hike to the top of San Cristobal
No need to take the funicular! A great wholesome 45 minute (ish) hike with a great view of Santiago as a reward (if a further reward is needed, at the bottom of the hill, the street Pio Nono provides lots of cheap beers and food options…)
There is lots and lots of fabulous world class street art in Santiago, visit Bellavista (adventure to a few blocks West of the main Pio Nono strip) and around Santa Isabel (a few blocks South of Alameda) for the best stuff.
The less touristy option than Mercado Central, this is where the Chilenos buy their fruit and veg. Just remember to watch your bags and that unfortunately photography isn´t always welcome.
Throughout Santiago there is an abundance of fabulous sculptures and installations, some permanent and some just for a few days… Definitely check out El Parque de las Esculturas for a sure fire option (near the Mapocho river and Los Leones), Las Condes also always has lots in the street along with Parque Forestal near the Museo de Bellas Artes.
My top tips for making the most of Santiago:
-Always check notice boards and posters. They are nearly always super up to date and found all over the city, cafes, bars libraries and bus stops included.
-Don´t be overwhelmed by the size, the central metro stops are on the whole located quite close together and it is more than possible to walk between for example Central and Providencia. It´s even easier with a bike, either to buy, check out mercadolibre.cl or to rent www.labicicletaverde.com.
– Check out Santiago alternative culture and events at Revolver, the online magazine…. santiagomagazine.cl
– On the whole you should feel very safe in Santiago, obviously like in any city you need to take care, in certain areas more than others, but on the whole it is OK to be out late at night, as long as you are not alone (Females will get more attention than males, like in most of the world!)
– A last note… try and speak Spanish as much as you can, it really is appreciated here as on the whole out of the touristy areas (which there aren´t many of in Santiago) English isn´t understood. Even just trying goes a long way.
Now to get out and enjoy in Santiago!
Cat of EyeSpyCat
Cat has been living, adventuring and photographing her way around the world since 2004. Working as a travel/fashion/ events/ bands/etc photographer (a few stints in bars, festivals and as a sand sculptor´s assistant aside) She has exhibited her work in London, Vancouver and Santiago, and has been published in The Guardian (UK), Metro and Dose newspapers (Canada) and featured on the National Geographic website.
She is living in Santiago for the foreseeable future and is very excited to be involved with Foto Ruta (foto-ruta.com) and looks forward to seeing you on an event!