Exploring Santiago

Santiago Travel Blog

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Old and new, in Santiago

I woke up this morning depressed.

I was dehydrated and hungry, and I had no cash, or a means to get cash.  I dreaded the day ahead of battling banks, ticket offices, airlines, electronics store salesmen, etc to get my trip back in order.  It got worse when I stumbled down to the ¨desayuno¨ that was included with the room cost, only to find a small bowl of corn flakes, warm milk, some kind of watered down pulpy fruit juice, and no coffee.  Well, it might have been there, but I didn´t dare try it.  But ok, I admit, the little packages of yogurt were the silver lining.

After that meager breakfast, I packed up and set out on my errands, and walking tour of Santiago.

Policia choosing an interesting patrol route
  A trip I would take on foot, in the smoggy, crowded, noisy heat of Santiago, over approximately 9 kilometers in 5 hours.  (abt 5 miles for you gringos - and it took my 5 hours because of all the errands I did).

First stop - the bank to try my Amex card for a cash advance, and/or figure out what the hell was wrong with my ATM card.  Well, after trying 2 machines, I concluded my Amex card wasn´t working either.  Great.  I had pulled the address of a Citibank branch off the internet this morning, so I tried to locate that address.  No luck.  Couldn´t find it.  Great.  I finally went into a normal bank to ask ¨donde esta un Citibank?¨.  The woman didn´t know.  I explained to her the problem and she was nice enough to get on the phone and help me out.

Barrio Bellevista in late afternoon
  She asked her supervisor who explained that Banco de Chile was the ¨Citibank¨in Santiago. Or something like that.  And better yet, it was right across the street!  So I walked over there, and before going to the teller or customer service, I tried my card again...this time IT WORKED!!  Cash galore!!  Yay!  GREAT!  (not in the sarcastic way).

Armed with some cash, I immediately headed to a grocery store and picked up a liter of water and an apple.  Both of which I ingested in a nanosecond. 

Feeling almost like a new man, I headed into a nearby electronics store.  WIthin seconds, I had explained (and the salesman delivered) the exact plug adaptor I needed.  And it only cost 50 cents!  Wow!  So much for my theory of them trying to gouge stupid gringos like me on forgotten electronics!

Now that I´d gotten the basics out of the way, I began the 2km walk to the train and bus stations.

Thought this was interesting reflection of old in new.
  Luck continued on my side.  At the train station, I easily booked tickets for my trip south to Talca on Wednesday and Chillan on Friday.  And at the bus station, I was able to buy an overnight ticket on a sleeper bus from Chillan to Puerto Montt for Friday night.  I decided to minimize my time in Chillan (foregoing the open-plaza market Saturday morning) in lieu of possible day trips from Puerto Montt to Frutillar and/or Puerto Varas for lake activities, white water river rafting, and german beer (heavy german influence there, apparently).
Enjoying a beer in Barrio Bellevista. Not sure why the gloomy face - trying to look tough maybe.
   These towns are 10,000 people whereas Chillan is 200,000 people.  Knowing me (and the fact that I´m alone, and feeling it already), I think I´m going to prefer the smaller, quaint towns.

So by midday, I was better nourished, loaded with cash, armed with electronics, ticketed and ready to do my walking tour of Santiago.  I hiked back the 2km from the transportatoin hubs, past my hotel, and headed in the other direction.  Up a hill in the Santa Lucia neighborhood to get a view of the city, through a crowded pedestrian only shopping zone, past the Plaza de Armas and Plaza de Constitucion, through the Bolsa de Commerce section of town (kind of like Wall Street, I think).  By 3pm I was sweaty, starving, and dehydrated again.  I stopped for a phenomenal lunch at Bar Nacional where I had goulash con arroz.  It was rico.  I took a picture of it.  And the staff of older gentlemen in bow ties were quite friendly. 

Then I headed back to my hotel, anxious to get my electronics charging, inventory my cash situation, check email, rest, and prepare for the second half of the day.  Oh, and write this update.

I guess tomorrow I´ll add a bit here about whatever nightlife I find tonight.  Got an early 9am train so can´t party all night....or can I?

UPDATE - for the late afternoon I headed over to Barrio Bellevista - the artsy bohemian neighborhood.  It´s also the location of the famous statue (something-something-Cristobal) overlooking the town.  When I got to the base of the hill, I discovered it was closed due to some kind of strike.  Bummer.  So instead I hung out for a bit on Pio Nono street, which has a lot of pubs and cafes with seating that spills out onto the sidewalk.  Pretty crowded too.  After a huge beer and doing some standard people watching and foot tapping, I went home to change and then headed back out again.  The woman at my hotel said Pio Nono was pretty dangerous, and she suggested a take a cab both directions at night.  Ok so I did.  She hooked me up with Rene Gonzales, a funny little taxi driver who was cranking The Outfield´s "I don´t wanna lose your love" on his stereo.  And signing along!

Back in Barre Bellevista, I had another beer and dinner.  Eventually a young woman Daniela approached me - she´s studying tourism in school here - so we chatted a bit and she took me one street over to Constitucion, which has some nicer pubs and discos.  But since it was Tuesday night, it was pretty dead.  We headed back to Pio Nono to another divey place.  Lots of, um, colorful characters...

By 2am we called Rene and he came to pick me up.  Had to get my sleep before the trip tomorrow to Talca.

Oh, one last thing... I wish I had taken a photo, or better yet, a video, of one of the street performers. It was this young kid with a drum on his back and symbols over his head (connected by a cord attached to his foot).  He´d bang on the drum with sticks in his two hangs, and jump, jiggle, or tap his foot which then clanged the symbols.  He´d add some entertaining choreography too - spinning around, etc.  It was pretty amazing.




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Old and new, in Santiago
Old and new, in Santiago
Policia choosing an interesting pa…
Policia choosing an interesting p…
Barrio Bellevista in late afternoon
Barrio Bellevista in late afternoon
Thought this was interesting refle…
Thought this was interesting refl…
Enjoying a beer in Barrio Bellevis…
Enjoying a beer in Barrio Bellevi…
photo by: Bluetraveler