Tag Archives: antofagasta

Hidden Gems of Antofagasta

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!!

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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

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Arturo Prat Square

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Awesome outfit!!

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.

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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).

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It is always so much fun to get out of the usual touristy areas and discover where the locals go to eat and relax!!

Antofagasta

I have been in Antofagasta now for a few days, and while I spent the first few days in a hostel in the north end of town, it was just a temporary place.  I am now in the place I wanted to be in, close to the city centre and walking to the pier.  This hostel is pretty awesome – huge common room with a TV.  They serve breakfast in the morning.  And they clean your rooms on a daily basis!!  Not a normal thing for hostels – so a nice pleasant surprise.  Oh – and they have a laundry service here too (thank goodness – I desperately needed to wash my clothes!)

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My initial opinion of Antofagasta was a wary one.  I was quite far from the city centre at first, almost an hour’s walk away.  It was a nice walk but to get there, look around, and then have to walk back (I could have figured out the bus I am sure but never bothered), it made for sore legs and long days.  I am not one for being out at night alone in strange countries, so I made sure I was back in plenty of daylight.  The new place is in a busy area and I don’t mind being out later than I normally would be (like 8pm haha).

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loved this hat!!

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part of a family park beside the ocean

I have chosen to stay for 10 days in Antofagasta – the longest time I’ll be in any city in South America.  If I had known that I would have loved La Serena as much as I did, I would have stayed longer there.  However, I can’t change it now.  I like the vibe of Antofagasta, and I love being down by the pier.  So much to see – the boats, sometimes you can see the head of a sea-lion playing in the ocean, the food stands, the families all going down there to buy fresh fish (but a reminder – they do not fish on Mondays so no fresh fish – don’t buy fish on Mondays!).  It’s a lovely feel to this town and I really like it.

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a rocky day at sea!

The street art and graffiti seen in South America is fascinating and Antofagasta is no different.  They have paintings on the walls that are life-like.  The graffiti is interesting.  And I feel quite safe here, despite the reputation that some port towns here have.

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life-like paintings (and real statues)

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more life-like paintings

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tiled mosaics

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tiled mosaics

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tiled mosaics

I am taking it easy this week, leisurely wandering around, and I will make it out to see the Portada (but must take a cab there, there is no bus and too far to walk!).  There are restaurants I want to try.  I am enjoying the relaxing week I have here.  After this, my time will be shorter in each place I go – so I am taking advantage of the rest.