Grab a Coffee and an Eyeful in the City Center’s Striptease Cafes
Ok, so they’re not really striptease coffee bars, but to be honest they don’t feel a million miles away from the concept although there is no alcohol and no stripping involved.
In the center of town around Plaza de Armas, and sprinkled across other destinations in the capital are a number of coffee bars, where the concept seems to be to go and drink a nice cup of fresh Chilean coffee, and watch busty girls dressed in very tight tops and short skirts serve you your coffee.
Whoever came up with this idea is a genius, because how he can get away with this in a modern society is quite surprising, although from what I’ve read so far Chilean culture is quite machoistic, which probably explains why.
When my friend first told me about this idea I thought that he was exaggerating, so after persuading my girlfriend that this was genuinely worth checking out in the name of ‘research’, we headed off into town in search of ‘Café Caribe’ and ‘Café Haiti’.
I wasn’t quite brave enough to go into the first bar that we came across but we jumped into the next ‘Cafe Caribe‘ that we found.
The walls were all covered in mirrors, and the bar was raised off of the floor, so that you place your orders at, well… bust height!
We were served some fairly average coffee by a buxsome lass, who to be fair looked like she wouldn’t take and shit from anyone and was a little on the scary side.
Not surprisingly the clientele of the place was mainly middle aged businessmen in their suits, no doubt heading out for a bit of a lunchtime leer and a macchiato.
The whole experience felt a little ‘stripbarey’ uncomfortable to be honest, but its definitely a unique Chilean experience that’s worth checking out.
How To Get There:
Go to any of the stations around Plaza des Armas, walk a few blocks and you’ll come across one of these places.
Who’s it For?
If you’re a non-judgemental man or woman interested in the sociological side of Chile, then stop by and fill your cup.
See the Streets filled with Art at the Museo del Cielo Abierto
As far as museums go this has to be the top museum that I’ve ever visited, because it was free and outdoors so you didn’t have to suffer the stifled museum air, and was full of awesome works of street art.
The project is based in the San Miguel district of Santiago, which is about a 20 – 30 minute metro ride south of the City. This was a bit of a down-trodden area so the local community decided to do something about this and let their houses be painted by street artists to improve their environment.
Think of a housing estate with about 10 rows of houses, all of which are 2 stories high. After every 10 houses, a street runs through providing a big empty wall on the ends of each terrace of housing. These empty walls were transformed into art canvasses for street artists who have created nearly a hundred unique works of art in this run down estate.
On they day that we visited there was a street market in operation as well, which gave the place even more atmosphere and meant you could snap photos of passers by and action in the market pretending to take snaps of the street art.
I read somewhere on the internet that you only need 45 minutes to visit this place, but if you want to take some pics as well, then allow yourself a good couple of hours as this place is a photographers paradise.
How To Get There
To get there head to Metro Station Departmental and walk about 10 mins until you see the first house on the block.
Who’s it For?
If you’re into street art and like slightly alternative things, then this is a must see attraction for you.
Walking with the Dead in the Cemeterio
We went on a ‘free’ walking tour of Santiago with the group toursfortips.com, which took in a lot of markets in the working class La Chimba neighbourhood and ended up in Santiago’s main cemetery, which is a few stops to the north of the City.
This place is interesting because of the amount of money Chileans are willing to pay to ensure that their loved ones have every chance of success and happiness in the afterlife.
In Chile there’s quite a wide divide between the rich and the poor, which can also be seen in the cemetery.
The ‘poorer’ side of the cemetery are buried in ‘niches’, which are basically slots in a wall that you place the bodies in, rather than being underneath the ground.
You can either rent these niches for $200 a year, or buy outright, which are labelled ‘en perpetuata’ , however considering that the average monthly salary in Chile is just ‘$800’ that’s quite a large amount to pay for your afterlife.
On the other side of the cemetery is where the rich and notaries are buried, including a number of Chilean presidents, and is also the resting place of Chile’s famous socialist President Salvador Allende.
Because Santiago is in an earthquake zone, the option to build really tall mausoleums is out of the question, but instead to show your wealth, the extravagance in decoration of your tomb showed your wealth. This meant you could see shrines with Egyptian themes, Incan temples and lavish carvings.
The other interesting thing in this cemetery is tombs that have been turned into shrines as people have started worshipping them. These ‘animates’, are usually small children or people who died tragically and the belief is that your wish will come true if you give an offering to the dead spirit.
One tomb that we saw was drapped in dolls and teddy bears for a 10 year old girl who had been murdered, but was though to bring good luck to those who asked for help.
How To Get There:
To get there take Linea 2 (the Yellow line) to Cementerios – The entrance to the cemetery is right outside the exit.
Who’s it for:
If you’re interested in politics, history or ghosthunting, then this is right up your street.
Escape the Smog of Santiago and Ride a Bike to a Vineyard
This option isn’t for the budget traveller as it comes with a price tag of $60 per person and you could go and see the wineries cheaper on your own steam if you liked.
However, we wanted to escape the heat of the city and the appeal of riding a bike in the countryside to have a bespoke wine tasting session really sounded appealing.
Getting there was a bit of a pain in the butt as we had to take the metro out of town to La Mercedes and then take an Uber for another 30 mins to
Las Majadas de Pirque but eventually we got to our location where our green bikes were waiting for us.
There were only 4 of us on the tour and we sauntered along the roads by the sides of wineries with the smell of fresh flowers in our nose, and the backdrop of the mountain range in sight.
Every few kilometres the guide would stop and give us a bit of information, and then we arrived at the winery ‘William Fevre’, where we could walk around the vineyards were then given a tour of the winery itself.
The tour culminated in a wine tasting session, under a canopy in a beautiful garden on the estate, where we got to sample a Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec, Carmere and Cabernet Sauvignon, all of which tasted freaking fantastic to me. I’m no wine expert but I could definitely tell it was wine, and I liked it!!!
At the end of the tour, we hopped on the wine bus which took us to the Concha y Toro winery just down the road where we tasted another 3 wines each, for about $10 per person and rounded off an awesome day trip.
How To Get There:
Check out the bicicleta verde website for all the info.
Who’s It For:
As their brochure says this isn’t a tour for wine connoisseurs, cycling fanatics or thrifty people, however, if you’re looking to spend a lazy day getting rosey cheeks on some fantastic Chilean wines, then this is a great choice for you.
Drink and get Drunk with Locals in La Piajera
They’ve been serving drinks in this establishment near the Mercado Central for over 200 years and it’s clientele have never been particularly ‘well heeled’. It’s name ‘The Fleapit’ comes from an ex President who was taken for drinks in this place and gave it the name that it’s never been able, nor wanted to get rid of.
This really is a spit and sawdust dive bar, full of ‘enthusiastic’ local characters. From the outside it just looks like a normal bar (although when we arrived there were 3 characters slouching around outside), and when you enter there’s chaos going on in all corners.
There’s about 3 rooms where you can eat and drink but we just headed for the bar and were soon chatting to a Brazilian family who were waxing lyrical about the place. Apparently the last time they were in here they expanded into a group of about 20 people, none of whom they knew before they walked through the hallowed doors.
One of the main reasons why people come here is to experience the legendary ‘Terramotto’ or ‘Earthquake’ cocktail. Legend has it that this was created after the major earthquake in Santiago and all that was left of the shelves was white wine, ice cream, pisco and grenadine, so why not throw it all together in a glass and then see what happens.
Well, they say that 1 is fine, 2 and you will be a bit wobbly, and after 3 the earth really will be shaking, and they’re right. I was very tempted by a third, but sense prevailed and sent me packing after my second, before the earth had a chance to tremor.
How to Get there:
Head to back streets of the Mercado Central
La Piojera, Aillavilú 1030, Santiago, Chile, +56 2 2698 1682
Who’s it for:
If you want to meet some locals, enjoy a good drink and have an open and embracing attitude then this place will be perfect for you.
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