What I was not expecting from Chile is that I would fall so in love with its capital – Santiago. I’m not sure what impressed me so much. Maybe how the tidy and organized the city is, maybe the lack of all day long traffic jam on the streets which is so common in most Latin American capitals.
I would dare comparing Santiago to some cities in the US. Its architecture at times rememebred me Boston. And when I was having a drink in the rooftop bars of some of the hotels I felt like I was looking at the city lights at night of New York. Santiago even has a building with a roof similar to Chrysler building in NY (a bit smaller, there is a picture of it in the gallery). I only realized it when I saw it from the same rooftop bar at night when the lights illuminated it. I saw it also from the street during the day but I would never thought of comparing it to Chrystler Building.
I loved walking on the streets of Santiago and watching the surrounding mountains which upper parts were covered with snow. In Santiago, compared to my Bogota, I felt much safer. However in the city center I felt a bit unsecure but I was avoiding empty streets and not wearing the camera around my neck.
What I wasn’t expecting either was, that a random person I asked for a direction would point the direction with her finger, without even looking at us. Another tourist who saw the whole situation, told us how to get to Saint Lucia hill, adding that after sometime we should ask again in order not to get lost. When we asked another person to make sure that it was the right way, the guy looked at us and asked: ‘’do you want to go there walking?’’ And started to laugh. We had no idea why. He added that we will not get there walking . As it turned out we were just 10 minutes away walking or one metro stop. This is what we have expected to hear from him instead of a stupid laugh.
On the next day I had to take the metro and as it was 6Pm and it was the rush hour I had to queue to go through the gates with my ticket. It took me about 3 minutes queueing to get to the gate. And it turned out, that the gate was only for monthly cards and with my one way ticket I was not able to go through. I had to find another gate. The lady behind me got quite nervous because of my problems with the ticket. I couldn´t believe that nobody was willing to help me, that nobody was bothered to tell me where to go, especially that it was not indicated which gate would accept my one-way ticket. Finally I found a gate that would accept the ticket and went to take the metro.
Luckily, the above situations have not affected my ”love” to Sa similar to these 3 described above I will stop here.
During one of the trips in Torres del Paine I met other travelers who weren’t impressed by Santiago at all. The city is very pleasant so I couldn´t understand why they didn’t like it. Well, it depends on many things. I stayed in a very nice (posh) neighborhood of Santiago while they stayed in another, not as attractive neighborhood. Secondly, on my first day it was raining cats and dogs. Maybe this is why the next days I had great weather, blue skies, plenty of sunshine and excellent visibility. The travelers I met, could only get to know Santiago with smog due to fires on the surrounding hills.
I also met a nice Chilean family who explained that the neighborhood where our hotel was, is called Sanhattan due to its resemblance to Manhattan in New York – wide and long streets with skyscrapers, cafes, bars and restaurant. I finally got an explanation why at the beginning I couldn´t stop comparing Santiago to New York especially while watching it from the rooftop restaurants.
Maybe it was just the wrong time or I kept bumping on the wrong people but I would definitely love to visit Chile again and give ourselves another chance as it is such an amazing country.