Wasn't that a Starbucks?

Trip Start Oct 06, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Chile  ,
Sunday, May 8, 2005

Not that I am getting homesick or anything, but if you want a slice of the so-called "American lifestyle" while out travelling, the trick is to head to a big city (preferably a capital city). Then just ask your way to the posh neighborhood in town. You have to ask your way, as these places are hardly ever mentioned in any backpacker guide books. Every big city down here got one or more of these ritzy areas where the Latin version of Gucci, Prada and Armani all hang out together. Santiago is no exception. It got several fashionable neighborhoods were you find posh restaurants, bars, lounges, clubs, coffee shops, shopping malls, designer boutiques, cinema complexes, rich residential areas and so on, similar to any North American or European capital city. I'm longing for some southwestern cuisine, so I head out to one of the bigger malls and immediately find myself back in the US. They got it all, from TGI Friday's and Tony Roma's to RadioShack and WiFi hooked up Starbucks stores.

I decide I quite like Santiago. I am here with a few backpackers I met at the hostel in Pucon, as well as a young and friendly German Lufthansa pilot. We all stick together for a few days, walking around the city, taking in different sights and vistas, having huge asado/parrilla meals as well as sampling the good, but relatively pricey, nightlife. But I only stay a couple of days. After all the plan is to head over the mountains and towards Buenos Aires. Another capital city. Buenos Aires, a city I know from a previous visit a few years ago. One of my favorite cities in fact, although I still have lots left to see there. So why hang around in Santiago when you can go to much cheaper Buenos Aires, where everything is also much bigger and better (in my opinion at least). There's nothing wrong with Santiago, but when you have to compete against Buenos Aires, almost any city in the world would loose. And I know I am not the only one out there who love Buenos Aires. When I ask other backpackers about their favorite city in Latin America, Buenos Aires is almost always number one. At least one of the top three. I don't know exactly what it is, but it is a special place for sure. Well, I'll stop now as this entry was supposed to be about Santiago and not the Argentine capital.

Next stop is Mendoza, in the Argentine vine district, for a few days, and then it's on to Buenos Aires as I said. Well that's the plan anyway. Hopefully I got some more interesting stuff for you then.
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