Santiago and Valparaiso 1-8 Feb 2006
Santiago Travel Blog› entry 3 of 63 › view all entries
First impressions of Chile on arrival were that the Chilaens really need to work on their public image. Santiago is an amazing city in some areas but the route from the domestic airport to central Santiago takes you through the dingiest neighbourhoods in the city.
I arrived in Bario (Neighbourhood) Brasil because according to the lonely planet it's the hip part of town. I wandered the streets for a while to find a hostel with a bed available and bumped into a pair of US students who laughed at me when I told them I was travelling South America by myself and don't speak a word of Spanish. My plan of learning the lingo from my phrase book on the flight from Sydney hadn't quite worked out.
So I had a week in Santiago and after recovering from the jet lag and the first night of sampling the local drink, pisco sour, I wasn't quite sure what to do.
Despite all the stray dogs and the limited cuisine, Bario Brasil was a pretty rad area. There was a little bar on Av Brasil that played all the music I liked in the early 90s (The Smiths, New Order, The Cure, The Pixies, Depeche Mode etc) so I spent a few nights there with the hostel crew. As a side note, it turns out that most of South America seems to be stuck in an 80s/90s time warp with music... and they have an unnatural obsession with U2.
I took a couple of day trips with a Swede from the hostel, Patrick. We went to Valparaiso (on the coast) for a day and wished we'd brought our bags and stayed longer. We also hired a car and drove up to the Andes ski resorts about 45 minutes from Santiago. The place was deserted apart form the workers but by the look of the slopes it will be phenomenal in winter. The one draw back is the hazy air... i'm assuming from all the smog in Santiago.