Thursday, December 15, 2011


Last weekend, we returned from a two week visit to everyone's favorite skinny country, Chile. Really, flying over it, you can see the ocean out one window, and the Andes out the other. And that's it; it is all Argentina from there.

We'll focus on Santiago for this post. But first, a little information about getting there. Because we used miles to get our tickets this past summer, we had a pretty wacky flight routing: San Francisco -> Toronto -> Santiago, making for seventeen hours in the air total. This makes for a good time to catch up on movies. And by the way, Air Canada has good equipment and service these days, so check them out. Too bad they fly through Toronto airport, which tries to foil this good experience at every turn. Anyhow, as an American, landing in Santiago means $140 before customs will let you out of the airport. This fee covers the life of your passport. Bionica's passport expires in three months. Oh well. Fifteen minutes later via taxi, and you are in Santiago.

                                                                                                                                                      Santiago is modern. If you are expecting to get there and find what most Americans think a South American city looks like, go back to the airport and fly to La Paz. Apparently, the city has really boomed over the past fifteen to twenty years, which means a glass highrise sits next to a 200 year old church. We had three days in the city, and tried to find some diversity. If you want boutiques and all general things foo foo, there are neighborhoods for that. If you want to just eat street food and find sidewalk vendors selling whatever fell off a truck, there are neighborhoods for that too. We tended to gravitate towards the latter. But whatever you choose, the Metro rail network can get you there pretty quickly, so don't bother to rent a car. One thing: you can get away with English in many major cities in the world, but not so much in Santiago. Practice your Spanish.


We saw many of the sights, like the Plaza de Armas (the original 'town square' from the city founded in 1541) and La Moneta (the presidential building). In addition to being the current executive office and residence, La Moneta is also where Pinochet carried out his military coup and overthrew Allende. A brutal regime followed. This was only 38 years ago, and is more evidence how far Santiago, and Chile, have come in a short amount of time.

Although we did not come to Chile specifically to see the cities, we enjoyed our time there. Beautiful weather (90 F / 32C everyday), incredibly friendly people and surprises around every corner.