Santiago de Chile

Trip Start Feb 15, 2008
Trip End May 31, 2008

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Flag of Chile  ,
Wednesday, March 19, 2008

As I was attempting to board my connecting flight to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, I found out the hard way that Australians need a visa to enter Brazil. My four hour stopover in Santiago de Chile had now become a four day stop so I decided to make the most of it and see all that Santiago de Chile had to offer while my luggage spent four days in Rio without me. I found accommodation in a nice hostel near the city centre on the internet before leaving the airport then took the bus into the city. The money here takes a bit of getting used to; there are roughly 420 Chilean Pesos to the US dollar so you start getting big numbers when it comes to paying for something. For example one night's accommodation cost me 25000, the bus from the airport to the city cost 2500 and a basic meal out costs around 6000.

Santiago, Chile's capital city, is so different from Lima that someone travelling between the two cities as I had may find it difficult to believe that they are on the same continent. Santiago is a modern city with a population of 6.3 million. It has a clean fast and frequent underground metro rail system consisting of 5 comprehensive lines that you can ride for only 380 pesos, less than a dollar. The city features modern buildings and the outskirts of the city are serviced by a network of modern motorways.

Santiago is normally either cloudy or sitting in a haze of smog thanks to a local climate condition known as thermal inversion; a meteorological phenomenon whereby a stable layer of warm air holds colder air close to the ground causing high levels of smog and air pollution to be trapped and concentrated within the central valley during winter months. Therefore the surrounding snow capped mountains are rarely visible from the city.

The following day I took a trip over to the historic port district of Valparaiso which is a must for anyone visiting the area. Getting to Valparaiso from Santiago is an easy two hour ride by coach and services depart regularly from the regional bus terminal which is located two blocks down from the rail terminal. On reaching Valparaiso there are a number of ascensores (cable cars) that can be ridden up to one of the many vantage points on the surrounding cliffs. These cable cars are rickety and a little bumpy though are great fun to ride and form an important part in Valparaiso's history with the oldest one dating back to 1883. A trip on an ascensore is inexpensive at 250 - 400 pesos a ride. From the top you can wander through the historic streets and alleyways. Also worth a visit when over this way is the popular holiday district of Vina Del Mar. You can access this area easily from Valparaiso by using the very convenient and scenic Valparaiso Metro.

The following day I took a trip on the open top tourist bus which is a bit pricey for what it offers at 25 US dollars. Whilst on this bus I was interviewed by a local news crew who were running a story on the cost of living in Santiago and were looking for the opinion of tourists on the cost of accommodation, transport and other services. Another worthwhile trip is to take a ride on the Santiago funicular which ascends to Santiago's premier vantage point, San Cristobal, and connects to a Teleférico (suspended cable car). There is also a zoo on the hill which can be accessed via the funicular.

Once I had made my visit to the LAN Chile airline office to reschedule my ticket and completed the above mentioned tourist options, I utilised my remaining time in the Chilean capital by wandering the city, visiting the cinemas and enjoying the local cafes.
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Alvaro on

Brad! Hola!!

Faltan las fotos del sur de Chile!

Puerto Varas
Puerto Montt
Torres del Paine

(I am Alvaro, the teacher of Osorno)

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