Overall we loved Santiago and would definitely return after learning more Spanish! Looking back on our week here, we noticed:
There are stray dogs everywhere. During our first full day, we went jogging in a park where we became concerned about packs of stray dogs patrolling the area. However, they didn't bother us, and mainly chased pigeons, motorbikes and each other. On our guided walking tour of the city, two strays accompanied us on the entire, four-hour tour, thereby keeping our tour pigeon- and motorbike-free. They were super well-behaved! Apparently stray dogs are part of the Santiago community.
While in Chile, we took a side-trip to Valparaiso, a coastal town about 90 minutes outside of Santiago. Valparaiso was supposedly the major seaport between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans until the Panama Canal was built, and is also famous for its colorful houses and street artists. Our tour guide said that homeowners grant permission to artists to paint murals on their houses. Many of the murals have a story or message behind them. (Unfortunately, there is a lot of graffiti and tagging too.)
Nadie habla ingles aqui!!! Other than our self-imposed language barrier, we loved our Santiago trip! There is so much to see and do!
On our first full day in town, we joined a walking tour to see landmarks and learn about Chile's history, including its relatively recent return to democracy after Pinochet abdicated. We didn't realize that September 11 was an historical date for Chile too: it was when former president Salvador Allende died during Pinochet's military coup. (There's still controversy over whether Allende was killed or committed suicide.)