I recently returned from a 5 week trip to Santiago, Chile. While there I was able to experience different aspects of life in Chile from skiing in the Andes to riding the subway (called metro in Chile) to hanging out and enjoying dinner with new friends.
|Gran Torre at Costanera Center is the tallest building in South America and the second tallest building in the southern hemisphere.|
The People of Chile
I have to say Chile was not at all what I expected it to be and though I have only been back home a few days I can say I miss Chile. However, what I miss most of all are the people there. The people of Chile are warm and friendly. While I was there I was welcomed like one of their family from the moment I arrived and have formed bonds with friends I hope to see another day. I was invited into homes to take part in traditional Chilean bbq, invited to dinners where we dined on Chilean parrilla (mixed meat asado), and even taken around to see parts of the city I would have otherwise missed while there. Words cannot express the warmth and care I received during my visit and I will always keep the people of Chile close to my heart, as I am forever changed from my experience there.
The City of Santiago
Santiago is a bustling metropolis with a European flair. The city is experiencing growth on an exponential scale with many tower cranes dotting the landscape. What I noticed right away was the varying architecture style that adds a unique style to the city’s skyline. The city also incorporates a vast subway system known as the Metro de Santiago. It is very efficient and costs between $1 and $1.20 US (depending on the time of day) for a one way ticket. I found the Metro to be a very easy and safe way to get around town and explore. Like anywhere nowadays I was told to look out for pick pockets on the subway and especially the buses, but I did not see nor experience any of this during my time. In Santiago there are several tours you can take, including guided bus and winery tours. There are day trips to Valparaiso and ski trips to the Andes.
Las Condes is one of the burroughs of Santiago’s east side. It is considered the upper class area of Santiago. This is also where my hotel was located. There you will find many shopping centers and good restaurants. The Parque Arauco is a large three story indoor/outdoor mall featuring such high end brands as Luis Vuitton, Aldo, Burberry, and Mont Blanc. There is even a Nikon store there.
Farther east of Parque Arauco and at the end of the red metro line is the Los Dominicos station. A short walk beyond the station you will find a church called Parroquia, or church of San Vicente Ferrer. Next to that is Los Dominicos Handicraft Village, where you can purchase hand made items ranging from small inexpensive trinkets to expensive works of art. Many of the items here are made from materials mined in and around Chile including copper (cobre) and lapis lazuli (a deep blue semi precious stone that can be polished and made into jewelry and other art work).
The Andes, a mountain range that extends from the tip of Argentina in the south and Venezuela in the north, is the the longest continental mountain ranges in the world and runs the full length of Chile. There is a great ski area just 34 miles away from downtown Santiago called Valle Nevado. Starting at 9,400′ (2865 m) the slopes at Valle Nevado top out at just over 12,000ft (3657m). During summer in the northern hemisphere you can come to Chile and ski from July to September. I was able to ski in mid September at a time when the temperatures were near 90 degrees at home in the states.
Valparaíso and Viña del Mar
Although I did not visit either of these two towns on my recent trip I am told that Valparaíso is called little San Francisco and Viña del Mar is similar to Miami. Both cities sit on the Pacific coast and are located about 75 miles west of Santiago.
As you can see there is a lot to see and do in and around Santiago Chile, I hope you will one day get to visit this amazing place and I would highly recommend Chile as a vacation destination.
To see more pictures from Santiago click here