Top 8 Surprising Reasons Why Santiago, Chile Should Be Your Post Pandemic Destination – South Pacific Ocean 2

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Port of Valparaiso, Chile

Located 120 km northwest of Santiago by road, the Port of Valparaiso is one of South Pacific‘s most important seaports. You know in the 19th century this port was a major stop over for ships sailing between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans through the Straits of Magellan, that was before the construction of the Panama Canal. In these modern times, Port of Valparaiso is the main container and passenger port of Chile, transferring 10 million tons of goods annually and serves about 50 cruises and 150,000 passengers.

Sheltered by a man-made breakwater, the Port of Valparaiso handles containers and breakbulk cargo. This is the nearest port to the Los Libertados Pass, the main access through the mighty Andes mountain ranges to Argentina. Most of Chile‘s imports enter through this port and an oil refinery is at nearby Concon along the entrance of Aconcagua River. While Chile‘s exports are limited, however, Valparaiso port plays a significant role in the country’s maritime communications.

An Overview on Santiago:

Lying on the canalized Mapocho River with a view to the mighty Andes peaks, Santiago is Chile‘s capital. Founded as Santiago del Nuevo Extremo ( Santiago of the New Frontier) by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia in 1541, the area was first inhabited by Picunche Indians. Although the Spaniards were met by a strong resistance from the natives who nearly destroyed the town, Santiago grew rapidly in the 1600s. However, a strong earthquake flattened the place in 1647 and in February 12, 1817, Jose de San Martin and Bernardo O’Higgins led a resistance army to victory against the Spanish invaders that resulted to the independence of Chile.

Economic growth continued throughout the Republican period and after the railways arrived in 1857, Santiago was already a modern and wealthy city. By 1940, about a million immigrants from Spain and Italy packed the city and the Pan American Highway has been extended to the city in the 1960s. But as with the other Latin American countries, Chile suffered poverty that led to political instability ousting then President Salvador Allende by a coup d’ etat led by General Pinochet in 1973.

Plaza de las Armas, main square in Santiago, Chile.

In those times, Santiago was the scene of horrific crimes against anti-Pinochet regime and Chile began to look West for allies opening ties with Thatcher’s Britain and Reagan’s USA during the 1980s. In 1985, another massive earthquake hit the city once again that destroyed major historical buildings in the downtown area. Today, Santiago is an ultra modern city leading one of Latin America‘s most prosperous countries.

Map showing Santiago, Chile.

This seafarer from Barrio Santiago, Solsona, Ilocos Norte in the Philippines has been to Santiago in Chile while his ship M/T Knock Dun was on docked at Valparaiso Port in April of 1997. Though this is the biggest city in Chile, it has a relaxed ambience and a thriving metropolis dotted with museums, art galleries, theaters, fine dining restaurants, bustling markets and grand architectures. A city with a dramatic setting, let me give to you top 8 surprising reasons why Santiago, Chile should be your post pandemic destination.

1. One of the safest cities in South America and a champion for vaccination against COVID-19.

If you are looking for a sheltered place to travel, Santiago ranks in the top 25 cities in the world for safety. And Chile is a world champion for vaccination against COVID-19. As of this month, June 2021, more than half of its population were already fully vaccinated which is a great news to tourism, thus making it a “safe” destination as well. This Latin American city hopes to be the first to go back to the “old” normal soon…. a surprising reason why Santiago, Chile should be your post pandemic destination.

2. It offers a dramatic setting with the snow-capped Andes on one side and the Pacific Ocean at the other one.

A borough encircled by the snow-capped Andes mountain ranges and the Pacific Ocean, this city has the most unique location in Latin America…a surprising reason why Santiago, Chile should be your post pandemic destination. And to get an extent of just how incredible the backdrop is, take a funicular (a cable car on a mountainside) up to Cerro San Cristobal (San Cristobal Hill) or Cerro Santa Lucia for the best views of the city. From there, you will be rewarded of a spectacular scenery of glittering glass skycrapers, historic buildings and the alpine Andes peaks everywhere.

Cerro Santa Lucia (Santa Lucia Hill) is the origin of Santiago, Chile, here Pedro de Valdivia camped on December 13, 1540 before he discovered the city in January 1541.

3. One of the very few cities in the world where you can ski and surf in just one day.

Valle Nevado in the Andes, Chile’s premier ski resort.

Why visit Santiago? Well, if you want to ski and surf on the same day, then this is the place to be…a surprising reason why Santiago, Chile should be your post pandemic destination. Surfers know Santiago for the staggering surfing destination that it is, while skiers and snowboarders flock to Valle Nevado for its ski runs. If you practice both sports, this city is a must-see destination is you want to surf and ski on the same day.

4. Absolutely a city with a street food scene to die for.

“Completos” sandwich in Santiago.

Some say that to measure the grandness of a city is through its music and art scene, its cultural diversity and fabulous squares. And one indicator for its street culture is the food scene and of which this city is no exception…a surprising reason why Santiago, Chile should be your post pandemic destination. Some of the popular street foods here are completos (frankfurter sausage in a bun which is loaded with chopped tomatoes, mashed lemony avocado and mayonnaise); sopaipilla (fried sweet potato and flour dough topped with dulce de leche); churros, empanadas de pino; mote con huesillo ( a beverage made from wheat, dried peaches and cinnamon), among others.

5. Home of the “terramoto”, a drink which its name means earthquake.

In a country that has been devastated by earthquakes several times, there indeed is a good reason for this cocktail’s name – terramoto. It means earthquake in Spanish, this Chilean drink will make your legs feel shaky once you have the initial shot. A mix of fermented white wine and ice cream for sure you can hardly feel the alcohol in it, but wait, don’t underestimate its effect especially with the next round called “Replica” or aftershock. Terramoto, a refreshing drink which is incredibly delicious but gives you a degree of how wobbly you can be after consuming the beverage…a surprising reason why Santiago, Chile should be your post pandemic destination.

6. A metropolis of barrios, each with a distinctive style.

Barrio Bellavista in Santiago, Chile.

Dynamic and cosmopolitan Santiago shines through its contrasting quarters. By the west of the city center were 3 of the city’s once wealthiest neighborhoods – Brasil, Concha y Tora and Yungay; they fell into decline once but were revitalized. Barrio Bellavista, another famous district is home to Chile‘s finest street art and food scene where the hippest bars are located. Cultured and unpredictable, a city of villages each with a unique flavor and tune and a surprising reason why Santiago. Chile should be your post pandemic destination.

7. A world record holder in the Guinness list of a tree with 5 different fruits.

The “fruit salad” tree in Santiago, Chile.

In Lo Barrechea region, Santiago, a farmer by the name of Luis H. Carrasco E. grafted a prune tree that produced 5 different kinds of fruits- apricot, cherry, nectarine, plum and peach. Known as the fruit salad tree, his invention is found in his backyard at an upscale neighborhood by the foothills of Andes mountains. This tree with the most different fruit and in the list of Guinness Book of Records is a surprising reason why Santiago, Chile should be your post pandemic destination.

8. The nearest access to Valparaiso, Chile’s 2nd biggest city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The port city of Valparaiso (or Valley of Paradise) near Santiago, Chile.

A change of stride from Santiago, Valparaiso (where the port is located) is famous for its row upon row of brightly painted 19th century mansions clinging to the hills and overlooking the harbor. This is also the birthplace of Australia’s 3rd Prime Minister, Chris Watson. Valparaiso‘s charm is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and hailed as the Jewel of the Pacific. Also a thriving hub of music and art, Valparaiso is just 1 1/2 hour ride away from Santiago and a surprising reason why Santiago, Chile should be your post pandemic destination.

Streets in Valparaiso.

Santiago indeed is an incredible South American city to visit, one of those places that has a little of something for everyone. A kind of city where wearing face masks and face shields as well as social distancing and antigen tests are no longer the “new normal.” Say “si poh” to exploring Santiago de Chile as your post COVID-19 destination and you will not be disappointed. Think of New York City but with a Spanish vibe. Te tinca?

Reference: Wikipedia