Observations & Conclusions
Trip Start Feb 03, 2006
22Trip End Feb 24, 2006
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1. Weather: beautiful, clear azure blue skies everyday, save early-morning clouds. Thank God it's a dry heat, otherwise it would be unbearable - Bangkok, anyone?
2. People: Chileans are a very friendly and reliable people, and we felt at ease in their company from the very start. Surprisingly for this advanced society, very few of them spoke any English (even the guy at the Tourist Information Centre didn't speak a word)!! Go figure! As far as looks go the Spanish/Mapuche combination didn't come out so well....
3. Shopping: We have been North, South and Centro and have never visited a country so bereft of anything interesting to buy! Every shop reminded me of the 5-10-15 cent stores we had back in the 1950's! Nothing but junk and trinkets! Pitifully boring!
4. Prices: Everything is relative, but there's often the feeling you're not getting your money's worth. An $80 hotel in Santiago has value, while a $70 hotel in San Pedro is way overpriced.
5. Tours: These get a higher rating - they are well organized, have English-speaking guides, and are reasonably priced.
6. Food: After 1 or 2 Chilean dishes, Caroline & I insisted on "Internationale". Most hotels offered "breakfast", with the same sauce & bread (far from great) as the last hotel! Déjà Vu all over again! Prices resemble those in Montreal. Yet, there were some superb diners at very reasonable prices.
You can find Chileans gobbling down gallons of Coke, beer-sized cream-filled cappuccino's, chocolate-covered ice-cream cones, fried empanada's and heaping servings of any dish ordered!! No wonder the vast majority of the population is overweight.
My biggest disappointment was the lack of seafood; on several occasions I ordered a seafood plate on the menu, only to be told they had none tonight! In general, however, the beef is excellent.
7. Dogs: I've never seen so many stray dogs rampaging around loose. They rarely bark and they don't bother anyone. Where they eat is a mystery to me, but they all look pretty healthy. The Vietnamese would have a field day over here!!!
8. Farmacias: They are everywhere, often 2 or 3 within feet of each other! SalcoBrand and Cruz Verde seem to be the most common, often situated on opposite sides of the same street.
9. Transportation: At a rental cost of some $50/day, we didn't feel a need to rent a car in Chile as both buses and taxis are quite cheap - we spent about $100 for our entire non-air transportation during our 3-week tour.
Overall Rating: 7.5:
Chile loses a few points as a travel destination because:
1. the shopping sucks, what can I say....
2. it is expensive relative to its neighbors
3. most local food is only so-so
4. although it has 4,000 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline, the water is too cold for swimming
Chile does offer, however, many varied sites of interest and a wealth of activities for the nature-bound.
All-in-all, Chile is well worth visiting, and my rating may have gone up a notch had we toured down to Patagonia....