After a siesta in room, we headed back out to see one of Santiago’s iconic sights—Cerro San Cristobal and the statue of the Virgen de la Inmaculada Concepcion. It just did not seem like a good idea to travel the great distance to Santiago with much more ground to
cover ahead and then not visit the hill named after the patron saint of travel safety. So despite our life long commitment to bad ideas, we couldn’t miss one Santiago’s main attractions.
Before going to Cerro San Cristobal, we decided to eat. Having just eaten at the Mercado Vega Chica, we were hardly hungry, but we couldn’t pass on Fuente Alemana (210 Pedro de Valdivia), a noted sandwich place very near The Orly, our hotel in Providencia.
Situated on the edge of a residential neighborhood, Fuente Alemana looks from the outside more like a small town’s newspaper office than a restaurant. For a moment as we walked to its entrance, we thought that the restaurant with its draperies drawn might be closed. Inside, the restaurant only has bar stool style seating with seats lining counters along the walls and overlooking the sparkling stainless steel of the kitchen. The staff’s white uniforms and hairnets gave the interior a 50’s era dinner appearance.
To characterize the food at Fuente Alemana as sandwiches is misleading from the North American or European standard. Yes, the main event is wedged between two slices of a bread-like substance, technically fulfilling the sandwich criteria. However, the meats, cheeses, avocados, and tomatoes overflow the bun out onto the plate making it an impossibly messy proposition to eat with your hands. When the food came to us, I stared at it plaintively trying to figure out how to lift the overstuffed sandwich and get a significant portion of it into my mouth. Eventually, I gave up and used a knife and a fork. A sideways glance revealed that this was the technique used by the all the other diners. In the operational sense, these were not what the Earl of Sandwich had in mind.
Taste-wise, the sandwiches at Fuente Alemana were most analogous to Mexican tortas that you can find in the States. The ingredients on the Lomito included luxurious shredded, slow cooked pork loin, a tomato paste-like condiment, mayonnaise, and the ubiquitous avocado that you seem to find on nearly every plate in Santiago. Mustard and hot sauce in bottles on the counter let you spice the sandwich to your particular taste. Overall, it was a filling, comfort food experience.
The meal cost us about 8000 pesos (around $13 USD) for two sandwiches, a large beer, and a Coke. We’d definitely seek it out if we were back in Santiago. Also on the same street in Providencia was another stylish sandwich place, Domino’s, which seemed to have similar offerings as Fuente Alemana. We’d have to check this one out as well to see whether the offerings conform to the Earl of Sandwich’s design standard.
Filled to overfull, we rolled to the Metro and took the train to the Baquedano stop. Out onto the surface streets, we walked along Pio Nono through Bario Bellavista to the funicular, which took us up Cerro San Cristobal. Santiago’s icon, the 14 m high, pure white statue of the Virgen de la Inmaculada Concepcion crowns the hill. The overlook areas on Cerro San Cristobal offer views of the sprawl of urban Santiago. Nearby, the modern buildings rise along the river. In the distance, suburbs barely visible under the smog haze lap up onto the bone-dry sides of the surrounding mountains.
We had purchased a one-way or solo ticket at the funicular base that allowed us to continue on to Cerro San Cristobal’s teleferico or aerial tramway. The top of the teleferico is a short walk from the top of the funicular and continues the transit of the spine of the hill, dropping its passengers at the base at the far
end of the hill. After scrapping through the tree top limbs on the way down in the tramway’s brightly colored, bulbous pods, we exited on to Avenue Pedro de Valdiva, the road that our Hotel is on. With a short walk back across the river after a detour at the sculpture park and we were back at the room.
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