"Emails about my experiences and impressions" Top 5 Page for this destination Santiago Travelogue by kiwigal_1
Santiago Travel Guide: 950 reviews and 2,200 photos
I have arrived in Chile and spent 12 hours of my first 24 hours here sleeping. That will teach me for burning the candle at both ends before I left NZ!
So, what are my first impressions of Santiago?
There is a cloud of smog hanging over the city making the city look a little brown and dirty. This morning I woke up to beautiful blue skies and vistas of snowcapped Andean mountains as a result of rainfall at 5am. The smog is a big problem here but it clears up whenever it rains - unfortunately they say it doesn't rain enough!
The city looks more modern than I had imagined and there is a lot of construction going on. The area I live in known as "El Golf" (because of the Golf Course nearby) used to be dotted with older houses a lot like Remuera. These are being pulled down to make way for tall apartment blocks. The architectural style is quite nice though so I guess it isn't all bad but it was hard to imagine this happening in Auckland...but maybe this is our future!
My apartment is a very comfortable 2 bedroom apartment on the 11 th floor. It has a balcony that goes right around it. The master bedroom has an ensuite and there is also a guest bathroom. It is fully furnished. The spare bedroom has a single bed in it in case anyone decides they just HAVE to visit me in Chile :)
Wini - the lady that I will work with - has a large family. 5 daughters and 1 son and they all live in an apartment with her and her husband and 2 live in maids. As you might imagine it is a rather large apartment! I have spent most of my time (other than that spent sleeping) with her and her daughters. They have all made me feel very welcome. I had my first experience supermarket shopping. I was so tired and there were so many people it was quite a chore! Supermarket shopping has never been my favourite activity but this was more like a zoo than a supermarket! The reason I am told is because it was the first weekend after pay day. The supermarkets employ a lot of staff who stand in front of different products explaining the benefits of buying one brand of cereal or washing powder over another. It was honestly easier to pretend I didn't speak Spanish than to try and listen to them! Maybe if I was less tired I might have enjoyed the unique experience. I tell you... supermarkets are completely different experiences in every country I have lived in!
I arrived here at midday on Saturday local time and didn't get lunch until 3pm. Dinner was at Wini's house at 10pm!! I was dead on my feet by then. What I am realising though is that people eat pretty late here. Now I am at Wini's house for a 2pm lunch on Sunday :) It is really nice that Wini has so many kids and they are all so lovely! I walk in and feel instantly at home. Whenever we meet I have we kiss each others left cheek and say hi, how are you? I forgot about the cheek kissing thing and kept putting my hand out - particularly to Wini's husband and the girls' boyfriends who were all here for dinner last night!
Today, because the smog has lifted, Wini is going to take me to the hills so that I can get a better idea of the scale of things and then I think we are heading to Parque Arauco mall which is about a 20 minute walk from my apartment.
On Monday night I have been invited to a reception at the New Zealand Ambassador's residence which is somewhere near where I live I am told. That should be interesting... not sure what the protocol is but I am sure I will find out soon enough!
Wow time certainly flies! Work's been keeping me busy which is great cos that's the main reason I'm here. We had the business mission of 18 people over here at the end of June. On that visit we went to the 10th region of Chile to Puerto Montt, Osorno & Valdivia. It was mostly looking at dairy farms in the area but managed to see a few sites also. Unfortunately the Osorno volcano wasn't visible as it was raining and low cloud the whole time we were there. The 10th region is known for its lakes, rivers and volcanoes. I'll be going to Osorno again in a couple of weeks time. I've been fortunate enough to travel to Buenos Aires twice since arriving in Chile. I met a group of kiwis not long after arriving & they organised a group of people from Chile to go over to BA to watch the All Blacks play the Pumas. I quickly booked a flight and accommodation & bought my match tickets and was off with the group! It was a great weekend. Did lots of clothes shopping (cheaper than Chile!) and sightseeing too. The nightlife and atmosphere in BA is very cool. Awesome city. I went again to BA for work the following week so I did a bit more shopping. The shoes in BA are gorgeous but was having trouble finding my size. I bought some cute Tango dance shoes that fit! Tried them out at a Salsa dance club in Santiago and they work a dream. I've been making an effort to meet local people which can be difficult at times but now have a group of friends that I've met mostly through the kiwis. We go to restaurants and drink Pisco Sours, the local drink of choice, and eat yummy food. I'd find it difficult to describe exactly what Chilean food is because Santiago is cosmopolitan enough that many types of food are available. The food is good, which is all that matters really! I've joined a gym but been a bit slack finding time to go. I work until 7 or 8 pm most nights (starting at 9am) & am usually hungry by then and don't end up going. Might need to switch to mornings. It's taking me a little while to adjust to the way people live here. Most people work the hours I work & then meet up with friends for a few drinks and something to eat. It is usual for this to go on until at least 12am which makes it hard to get up sometimes the next day. I'm getting used to getting around Santiago now. The area I live in is really modern & I can walk to work easily. The metro is very safe, clean & frequent so I use that often to go downtown or other places I need to go. There are buses also but it's more difficult to figure out where some of them go so I don't take them very often. A few weekends ago I went to an area called El Cajon del Maipo which is a river valley that cuts through the Andes. We went by car right up into the canyon. There was snow everywhere and had to abandon the car at 1 point and walk the rest of the way. The intention was to walk to this lagoon in the mountains but the officer at the park wouldn't let us go past because of the snow. It was a nice trip though anyway & a really beautiful area. I hear it's nice in summer also so might make another trip there when the snow is gone to go horse riding and rafting. Another weekend I took a bus to the coastal towns of Viña del Mar and Valparaiso just for the day. Viña is like a coastal Santiago but Valparaiso is quite a quaint port city. The houses are all perched on the hills surrounding the bay and there are lots of "asensores" to get to different parts of the hills. The asensores are either elevators that go through tunnels in the rock and up to platforms to connect to houses or they are like cable cars. The town also runs a trolley bus system which adds to the older flavour of the place. The weather was not so nice that day so would like to return when it is summer. Am planning to go up to a local skiifield called Valle Nevado tomorrow and go snowboarding which is something I've been meaning to do since I got here. The winter here has been quite warm which meant the snow didn't fall until well into July. There are 3 skiifields within an hour of Santiago.
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