Beautiful Santiago

Santiago's Central Market

Santiago’s Central Market

Crossing the border between Argentina and Chile was no easy feat as you can imagine. I had to fill out multiple forms, then line up and deliver those forms to the waiting border patrol, along with my passport. At this point I got my embarked stamp and was officially able to leave Argentina. This of course was only half the battle, as I now had to enter into Chile. More form eyeballing and passport checking, and I had my passport stamped with the logo of Chile. By this time the bus had already been loaded up with our baggage, and the only thing left to check was my carry-on luggage, which was loaded up with some different medicines I need to take, all of which took an extra long time for them to go through and make sure there was nothing illegal about them. At last everyone had been checked and we were given the green light to continue on through the border and into Chile, with our destination being the capital of Santiago.

After reaching the bus station in Santiago, I realized I had forgotten to change money and had no Chilean Pesos. Sure enough the first few taxi drivers I called upon to take me to the hotel would not accept my Argentine money, nor my U.S dollars. Finally a driver agreed to take me there for $ 10 U.S, a bit of a rip-off, as I didn’t have far to go, but I didn’t feel like walking with all my luggage, not to mention it was 5am in the morning.

Bellas Artes Museum

Bellas Artes Museum

The first hostel was full, so I was forced to find other, finally I end up in a cozy furnished apartment in Santiago downtown. Santiago seems to be a tourist hotspot, as the hostels are absolutely teeming with travellers. After dumping off my gear, my next order of business was to find an ATM and withdraw some Chilean money. This was not a problem, even on Sunday, as nearly every gas station, corner store and super market has at least one ATM. The only thing I was having trouble finding was a map of the area. I visited 10 different bookstores and kioskos without luck, which was somewhat shocking to me. Again, I think the overabundance of travellers must be straining the map making industry. I found out that the best way to get a map was to go inside a 4 or 5 star hotel and ask for a map….they will give ou one for free

I’ve had a great time exploring Santiago and experiencing life in the Chilean capital. Santiago is a large and very modern city, perhaps the most economically developed in all of South America. I noticed many major American and European corporations have major headquarters here, I even found Kraft mayonaisse in the supermarket!.

Parque Forestal

Parque Forestal

I’ve been to several of the museums in the city, viewing some artifacts and learning about the history of the city and country. There are plenty of museums I’ve yet to visit. Many exhibitions seem to take place all over the city at random as well. There was one devoted to reign of Augusto Pinochet in a nearby park one day which I thought was interesting. I don’t know enough of the country’s history to really know all the details surrounding his rule, or how the people perceived him then or now, but it’s a fascinating subject and time in Chile’s history.

After many days spent in the city exploring, tasting the food and drinking the wine, I’m going to head to Valparaiso for a New Year’s bash. I don’t have any travel plans or accommodations organized yet, but I should be ok.

Lastarria neighborhood

Lastarria neighborhood

After this bash it’s back to Santiago on the 1st of January, and then off to the airport, as my journey in Chile will come to an end. I’ll be heading out for a week or so in Bolivia, and then perhaps some time in Peru. It all depends on how far I can stretch my money. So far I’ve done alright, and have had a great time in South America doing so.