|Cerro Santa Lucia Park Entrance|
Like a Wild West wagon train forming a circle at night time, the snow-capped Andes Mountains form a natural circle around the city of Santiago, Chile. Nestled in these peaks the city has a metro population of just over 7 million people and is situated just a short one hour drive to the Pacific Ocean coastal towns of Valparaiso and Vina del Mar. The Republic of Chile is a long, narrow strip of coastal land wedged between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean---rather like a large snake--- which has some of the most beautiful beaches in South America and the capital city of Santiago is very gay-friendly.
During the past decade homophobia has all but vanished in Chile and same-sex relations have been legal since 1998. Currently the Congress of Chile is considering a law allowing civil unions between same-sex couples and several notable media celebrities have come out and declared their support for gay rights. This has led to an increase in the number of gay businesses especially in Santiago.
The urban renewal of Santiago is obvious as magnificent new office towers rise above beautiful centuries old estates and Spanish colonial architecture. The CTC Telecommunications Tower is literally the world's largest cell phone and dominates the Santiago skyline contrasting the nearby Bellavista neighbourhood with narrow streets and artsy boutiques of the city's bohemian quarter. This is a very clean, safe city and affords many enjoyable walks in the different tourist and residential neighborhoods or expansive public parks.
|Where Old Meets New!|
Any visit to Santiago should commence by riding the funicular to see the Statue of the Virgin atop the hill of Cerro San Cristobal and observe the city below. Many of the gay discos and bars are located in the Barrio Bellavista at the foot of Cerro San Cristobal. The nearest Metro station is Baquedano in Plaza Italia from where you cross Avenue Providencia and then over the Rio Mapocho bridge placing you in the Barrio. Local restaurants, colorful cafes, bars and night clubs can all be found here and it is one of the most fun communities in Santiago for both straight and gay visitors alike---it's no gay ghetto, but rather a truly integrated district. The other concentration of gay bars can be found in the downtown area a short walk from the beautiful park Cerro Santa Lucia and close to the pedestrian shopping streets. Recommended by some local residents for late night clubbing the Bokhara, Bunker, and Fausto are worthy of visits. The clubs don't usually get going until about 1:30AM and then the party can last until dawn.
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