Saturday, 22 February 2014

Santiago, Chile: Welcome to South America

After a 12.5 hour flight I had actually travelled back in time to Santiago, due to the time difference and not a new futuristic aircraft. Once I passed customs I squeezed through a mob of a thousand taxi drivers all wanting a fare, the bus is the backpacker option. I soon arrived in the city, this time I had CS host lined up for 4 nights, a much better start then Paris. I experienced the kindless of Chile immediately, I asked a local for directions and instead he walked me over 1km to the office of tourism. I grabbed a map and took a nap in the park before heading off to meet my host... Santiago parks are full of couples making out so not the funnest place to sleep.

Santiago is a major city with over 7 million inhabitants. The entire city can be seen by eye from a mountain in the centre of the city. All the buildings stop at the bases of different mountains which surround the entire city. Seeing nature end the limit of a city truely is a beautiful sight. The city is a mix of old (not Europe old) and very modern architecture, including the tallest building in South America. If you've been to Europe the architecture won't impress you but the people will. Metro, bus, bike and the shoelace express are the modes of transport... Drivers are also extremely courteous to pedestrians but super aggressive towards other drivers.

It was finally time to meet my host, Francisco. He had an apartement in Providencia, the centre of the new city. He is an ex-vegan that attends yoga class every night of the week, possibly the most chilled out person I've ever met. Our nights mainly involved cooking and watching Game of Thrones over dinner.

Since Francisco worked during the day and went to yoga straight after work I would do my own think and return at 9 or 10pm. I spent my first couple of days exploring the city.

The tallest building in Latin America

The beautiful river
On one of my days of touring I met up with a French girl, Esther, to walk around, have lunch, drink beer, hike and drink more beer. I also tried to typical Chilean foods/drinks; Cazuela (stew) and Mote con Huesillos (a drink of wheat and peaches).

Esther pouring the beers

The centre market

On my last day in Santiago I enrolled in a Language school in the beach town of Viña del Mar. I said farewell to my host and headed to the bus station.

Next stop Viña Del Mar.

Lessons Learnt:
Frenchies are everywhere.
Most large cities have a similar feel.
South America is more developed than I expected.
Couchsurfing works in South America.

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