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Santiago is shaking things up with a flux of funky new hangouts and downtown facelifts, but its foundation of boho barrios, dive bars and street food remains as solid as ever

If there’s an art to eating a completo hotdog, then I never learnt it. Lashings of mayonnaise end up down my front and, later that day, I discover the dried remains of mashed avocado behind my ear. The vendor, a smiling matron in a striped apron, looks on with an encouraging nod as I polish off Santiago’s beloved street snack. While some might mistake the mind-boggling pile-up of toppings for a sadistic challenge, it’s really an expression of the generous spirit of the people. Santiaguinos are eager to help, to please, to impress, to share — and there’s a real deference towards travellers, who are still a bit of a novelty here. So when I give the hotdog seller a thumbs up, she looks momentarily overcome before scuttling to the next cart to share the good news.

I’ve returned to the Chilean capital — a city I once called home — after a five-year hiatus. Eager to take my taste buds down memory lane, I head to the pretty, boho barrio of Bellavista to snaffle a pumpkin fritter known as a sopapilla with fresh, garlicy pebre sauce of diced onions, tomatoes and coriander. My next stop is a refreshments hut on the ramparts of the leafy Santa Lucía Hill. While I sip my icecold mote con huesillo, I’m rewarded with views across Santiago. It appears unchanged: there are the same glassy skyscrapers, charming colonial pockets and grand historical centre, and the distant diadem of snow-capped Andean peaks just visible through a light smog.

A local playing the saxophone in downtown Santiago
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About National Geographic Traveller (UK)

We grab our binoculars and set out to discover the awe-inspiring wildlife of India, scouting out the likes of Bengal tigers, one-horned rhinos and snow leopards in some of the subcontinent’s most dramatic national parks. Elsewhere, we explore the winelands of southern Australia; cross the frozen frontier of the Antarctic Circle; and spend a long weekend in the city of Leeuwarden. Other highlights this issue include the Faroe Islands, Tel Aviv, Manhattan, Tokyo and Santiago, while our photo story takes in the fresh air and Alpine beauty of Switzerland.