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Santiago Highlights

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Several of you have asked for Santiago recs - I have now been there four times, each for a about a week. I would not recommend either of my hotels (too businessy), but here is a list of a few of my faves. Bottom line: a very manageable city, parts are colonial, colorful and photogenic, others are full of malls & highrises. All in all, ideal for long stays, but not super "magical."

Tours:
- Free Walking Tour (with significant political and cultural insights) - do this on the first day to orient yourself - their site is currently down but here is the info on TA: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g294305-d2012772-Reviews-Free_Walking_Tour_of_Santiago-Santiago_Santiago_Metropolitan_Region.html
- Day trip to Valparaiso***MUST-DO, one of my favorite Latin American cities. I went with friends, but you should get there however you can. La Sebastiana, one of Neruda's homes, is unforgettable.
- Uncorked Wine Tour - Just did this a few days ago, an absolute highlight of all my time in Chile. A splurge, but a stellar day trip to the Colchagua Valley for tours/tasting at a perfect selection of three very different wineries, ranging from cutting edge to homey to traditional hacienda. A well-organized, exclusive experience (in a Mercedes van), with stunning scenery, a great meal and a knowledgable guide.
- Concha y Toro - If you can't do a proper wine tour, this is an easy half-day. We had a VIP tasting organized by friends, ask your hotel if it's possible to set this up.

Museums:
- La Chascona - another Pablo Neruda house (best street art is nearby in Bellavista)
- Museo de Artes Visuales - small, cool collection in Lastarria, boho chic neighborhood
- Museo de la Memoria - http://www.museodelamemoria.cl/

- Restaurants:
- Astrid y Gaston (pricey, formal, best in Santiago)
- La Mar (same owners, yummy ceviche)
- La Jardin (cheap, cool, fun, everything is recycled)
- Sur Patagonia (lively sidewalk microbrewery cafe in Lastarria, order the trout)

Shopping:
- Los Dominicos - handicraft village, touristy, but some interesting leather and jewelry
- Vitacura - upscale shops and some cool galleries

Happy to answer questions!

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