I spent last night at the Radisson Santiago. Oh my God, that place was nice. And don't get me wrong, I know that in the States Radisson's are not the nicest, but internationally they are awesome. This Radisson was recently remodelled in January 2007. It's classified as a 3 star hotel, but it was much closer to 4 stars. My room was gorgeous with a really sleek modern look. The concierge was immensely helpful. The staff were all fluent in at least 3 languages. Upon checking in I received a welcome drink which was excellent. When I got to my room I had a complimentary snack and bottle of water. The bathroom was a large marble tiled affair. The best was when I opened my windows and was presented with a great view of the Andes Mountains. The hotel is located within the World Trade Center and is in easy walking distance to restaurants and is only a block away from a metro stop (Tabalaba). When I woke up and went downstairs for breakfast I was stunned at the quality and quantity of the breakfast selections. There were 10 different meat courses, eggs, hashbrowns, cereal, at least 5 different juices, fruit, and much much more. It was complimentary of course and teh service was excellent. As I was walking out the door the staff asked me if I wanted any help planning out things to do and see. They were very helpful and gave me a map with all of the highlights on it. I didn't just do the things in the guidebook, but instead went to a lot of architecturally unique things just to see them. Places without giftshops, but beautiful art instead.
I went downtown to spend the day sightseeing. Unfortunately, I discovered that on Monday most of the touristy things to do downtown are closed. I think this is because most of the museums and things are open Saturday and Sunday, so Monday is the day that they are closed. In all honesty, I wouldn’t really recommend trying to sightsee in Santiago on Monday through Wednesday. Most of the markets, museums and other sights are open Thursday through Sunday. You could probably see most of the “can’t miss” sights in Santiago in one day. Museums open at 10, so I’d start by seeing some of the cathedrals in the morning, see a few museums in the afternoon and after lunch go up the furnicular to see out over the whole of Santiago. I would then spend the afternoon shopping in the local markets and finish the night off with dinner and dancing.
In the end I spent the afternoon looking at the national cathedral and other Churches and walking around downtown. I took the metro downtown and it was surprisingly easy to navigate despite my lack of proficiency in Spanish. The ride downtown took about 30 minutes by metro and cost 480p ($1.00). The maps made it very easy to figure out where you were going and transferring lines was quick and easy.
In general the city is very safe. It is clean, easy to navigate and non-Spanish speakers can usually find someone to assist them in necessary. I will say that you should hang onto your belongings. When I was shopping in the afternoon I saw a man tackled by the police for attempting to steal from a man. He was arrested by 6 officers, cuffed and searched on the spot.
I did notice that being the only natural blonde woman in the country makes people look twice. As I was walking by I had more than one guy give me the macho South American leer. A couple of guys stopped me and wanted to tell me how beautiful I was. It was a little intimidating, but not in a scary way. I did enjoy the fact that unlike the US where I am curvy, here I am very beautiful. I'm learning to embrace my curves. Next time I think of going on a diet after watching Kiera Knightly movie I'll book a trip to Latin America instead.
When I got back to the hotel I thought about just going to bed. Dinner here starts at 9 to 9:30 at night, which is a little late when you're jet lagged. I'm quite happy to say that I took the concierge's advice and went out to dinner. I went to a small restaurant called Coco Loco off of Vitacura. The food was excellent, cheap and authentic Chilean seafood. I spent less than $10.00 for three courses and it was the best seafood I've had in a long time. Even though it was just me I had no trouble ordering. I was suprised that dinner for 1 took almost 2 hours, but it was like that in Paris as well. The neighborhood near the Radisson is quite safe and well-lit at night so I didn't mind walking back to my hotel at 11:30.
I'll have to post photos later.