Most cities have their hidden gems – places that tourists aren’t likely to see but that the locals like to go to, probably to get away from the tourists! I know a lot of tourists come to places to see the main sites, and then once they have seen them, hit a restaurant that has been recommended, and then they are done. They start exploring elsewhere.
That’s what I love about the way I travel. I don’t rush through cities. I want to see what the locals do, so I explore down streets that you don’t see the tourists on. I go into stores or markets that I see the locals going into, and not necessarily the tourists. Today, I found some hidden gems in Antofagasta!!
Shopping for the Fiesta!
One of the big tourist areas here is Arturo Prat Avenida. I have heard the people I have met here simply call it Prat. It is a big shopping street, pedestrian only, where you can see couples dancing to live music during the siesta, or people eating on the patios, or the dogs wandering around hoping for someone to drop some food. I enjoyed walking down this street today – I took my time and even went into some of the stores to see what there was. It is SO nice to be in a country where they have my actual size in clothes. I cannot stress this fact enough! I found an outfit that I think my son would look so handsome in! HAHAHA
Arturo Prat Square
As I strolled around the area, as it was siesta time, it was quite busy and I was watching to see where the locals were walking to. In a non- stalkerish way, I followed some of them into this building, where the aromas coming out of it were mouth-watering!! It was the Mercado Municipalidad. The scents of the numerous restaurants were delicious – meat cooking, chicken grilling, soups boiling – so many choices to make!! After being gently (that’s a nice word – not really what she did lol) encouraged to enter this one restaurant, I was pleasantly surprised by the special of the day. A chicken soup with vegetables and arroz and a chicken entrée, that came with arroz and sliced tomatoes. Absolutely delicious!! What a wonderful surprise for my lunch, and for only 3,000 pesos (under $6 Canadian). It was just the right amount for me.
This was soup!!
After my lunch (which because of the siestas everyone eats around 2pm and then has a late dinner at around 8pm – I cannot eat that late!), I went for a walk back to an area I have been several times already – the pier. But I had noticed every time that I had been there that a lot of people walked down this road and I was curious. So I walked down there today, and discovered a beautiful little alcove with a sandy beach and lots of families and teenagers there. It’s an actual beach to swim in – and they were! I don’t know if I’d be brave enough to swim in it (although it is shallow and, as you can see, protected from the big waves of the ocean).
It is always so much fun to get out of the usual touristy areas and discover where the locals go to eat and relax!!