First impressions of Santiago

As I sit down here in Santiago, Chile to write this post, it occurs to me just how spoiled we are. Our last international trip, 4 days in Bermuda, didn’t even warrant a post. Short version to get you caught up: still loved it, still not cheap, we’ll be returning. Back to the current trip: We’re in Chile!

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This trip did not necessarily get off to the start we had been hoping for. The night before our departure Ella woke up repeatedly in the middle of the night and eventually got sick. I think this was mostly out of excitement to be leaving, but unfortunate nonetheless. By about 4am we had everything cleaned up and were all back to bed but it was a sign of fatigue to come.

Our flight out was a late one. Scheduled to leave at 23:45, we didn’t actually take off until closer to 00:30. Despite trying to convince her otherwise, Ella insisted on watching movies on the plane. She did eventually give up and work through a number of sleeping positions over the course of the 10 hour flight.

Speaking of sleeping on planes, there’s always that one person who feels it necessary to open up the blinds when the sun comes up even though there are some 300+ other people still trying to sleep. This one managed to get Katy right in the face.

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It’s no wonder I can’t sleep on planes with all the light radiating out of Katy’s head.

Complaints aside, and there are a few others I’ll send to Air Canada, we did get through the flight safely and we’re now happily settled in our apartment here in Santiago.

First impressions

Driving in from the airport, the first thing that struck me was the garbage. There is a lot of litter on the side of the highways that I didn’t expect. Between that and the shanty towns, there is a certain similarity in feel to Cape Town and the townships.

What I have read about Santiago says it’s not dangerous, and I believe it, but as you walk around you can feel that this is somewhere that has been dangerous recently. Every store and most apartments have fences or rollaway metal gates.

As usual when one is travelling with Katy, we wasted no time in getting started. Within hours of landing we had dropped our bags at our apartment and were standing at the bottom of the Pio Nono Funicular.

A few tips if you ever find yourself here.

1. Don’t line up in the main line

The line at the bottom for the funicular was crazy, about an hour long. Don’t go on a Saturday afternoon like we did. If you do, don’t wait in line. Walk up to the zoo entrance, pay a few extra dollars to get in, have a look at the animals and make your way to the back of the zoo where you can get tickets and board the same funicular with a 5 minute wait. You’ve also seen some animals with a view and got some exercise.

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2. The view from the top is worth the trip

When you do get to the top, it can be busy with tourists, but that’s what we are so who are we to judge. All in all, it’s a nice place to have a seat and take in the view of Santiago.

3. Don’t get freaked out by the bar scene at the bottom.

The street that leads up the base of the funicular is lined with clubs that look like they’re pretty hoppin’ at 2am. As we were looking for dinner, not a rager, and given that we’re too old for that, have a kid in tow, and quite frankly we were really never that cool anyway, this was a bit disconcerting.

Fortunately, if you walk a few extra blocks there a ‘fortress of middle age’, called Patio Bellavista, where you can find nice family friendly restaurants that aren’t half bad. The restaurant Puerto Belavista had been recommended to us and it didn’t disappoint. They even had an ipad with pictures of the menu for those of us with limited Spanish.

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By this point, Ella and Katy were getting tired and I, having slept very little on the plane was wiped, so it was time to head home and get some much needed sleep.

Tomorrow it’s Santiago by bus and by bike.

 

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