Santiago is a ghost town on New Years Eve.
I took the photo above at rush hour, standing in the middle of a normally busy boulevard. Half the city absconds to Valparaiso for a huge party and fireworks display. Those who remain tend to dine with their families and then gather by the Entel Tower for some more modest fireworks. The only place we could find to eat, other than our hotel (which wanted a ridiculous $120 per person for a buffet, ruthlessly exploiting the lack of alternatives), was a Chinese restaurant downtown called Lung Fung. The place has existed in its underground lair for 40yrs, and the decor is amazing. It isn’t the easiest place to find; it is away as it is in the entryway to an old shopping mall. Once you walk into the mall, though, it is pretty hard to miss the entrance. The decor just gets better and better as you descend into the restaurant.
The view from the next landing:
Everything is carpeted or covered in velvet — including walls, doors, and some ceilings. Those pieces not covered in carpet or velvet are brightly adorned with wood carvings and colorful paintings.
The food was middling, but probably at least as good as what we would have had at our hotel. And the dining experience was way more interesting and entertaining. The taxi ride home continued my fine tradition of finding an aspiring Formula 1 race car driver on New Year’s Eve in South American capitals (see: Buenos Aires, 2007-8). He cranked up a remix of Another Brick in the Wall and hit 80+ mph on the empty boulevards.