After checking into the hotel, our first goal was to get some cash as we knew we were going to need it for one of the hotels in Puerto Natales and to pay for the Torres del Paine park entry. Every bank we saw in Santiago was boarded up (to protect against protesters), including the outdoor ATMs, and most had only a single door open, usually with visibly armed security person. For some reason my main ATM card refused to work at several of the banks but thankfully my back-up card worked fine and Eric’s Schwab card also worked. Too much drama this year with ATMs!
Unsure about how far to venture from our hotel area due to ongoing protests in the city, we chose a burger place next to hotel, La Burguesía, for lunch. We got there at the tail end of the lunch rush, so our food took awhile to come out but wow – the burgers were GIANT and accompanied by crispy, salty fries. Food was good and our waitress was friendly.
The day was cloudy and gray but the rain stayed away, so we wandered over to the nearby sculpture garden to see the jacaranda trees in bloom. It was reasonably similar to our 2012 visit.
The Costanera Center was still being built on our last visit in 2012, so we walked over to check it out (and try to find another ATM). The main entrance was guarded by police in riot gear, with noticeable security inside too. Despite that, the mall and grocery store were busy.
We were starting to slow down, so we headed back to the hotel for a quick nap, then used our free welcome drink coupons for our first pisco sours of the trip. The bar area is small but there were only two other groups there so it wasn’t crowded.
We stayed near the hotel for dinner as well, opting for Le Bistrot across the street. Everything was excellent. We split a very light sparkling rose (after the waiter vetoed our first choice!) which went especially well with our first courses: Camembert salad for Eric and beef carpaccio for me. Both were surprisingly big, so we were mostly full after this… and then our second courses arrived: a massive omelette for Eric and a huge salmon salad for me. We did our best but neither of us finished our meals. Everything here is well priced (huge portions) and with great service. We would definitely return on a future trip (and perhaps get only one dish each).
After dinner we went back to the room and rested up for our early pickup the next morning.