Santiago is the capital of Chile. One third of population lives here. It has a similar vibe as the other two capitals we have visited – it feels European, but with less polish and more grit. Of the three, Santiago has the least touristic interest. Downtown is centered on Plaza de Armas, which looks great with its historical buildings and a fountain and palm trees. The rest of downtown has a number of pleasant pedestrianized shopping streets, but is architecturally bland.
The Bellavista neighborhood on the other side of the river is the hip nightlife location, with many restaurants, pubs, boutiques, and small shops. It borders on the San Cristobal park, which rises over 300 meters above the city. There’s a funicular that takes visitors to the top in five minutes. You are supposed to see Santiago in front of the snow-capped peaks of the Andes, but there’s too much smog to see more than a faint outline of the mountains. According to the tourist Info guy in the mobile info booth mounted on a Segway, that’s it for worthwhile tourist sights in Santiago. But I like the place anyway.
There are tons of Farmacias in Santiago. We went into one to buy some lip balm. Turns out it’s just a front for a much larger sex shop.