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 organised 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 to compare Santiago to some cities in the US. Its architecture at times remembered 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 realised 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 Chrysler 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, 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 some time 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 he started to laugh. We had no idea why. He added that we would 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 6 pm 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. I learnt to avoid the subway during the rush hours. Besides some of the passengers had to stay and the platform waiting for the next train as we wouldn’t fit on the first train.
Luckily, the above situations have not affected my ”love” to Santiago.
During one of the trips in Torres del Paine, I met other travellers who weren’t impressed by Santiago at all. The city is very charming, so I couldn´t understand why they didn’t like it. Besides I found it a perfect city to live just after spending just a few days there. Well, it depends on many things. I stayed in a very nice (posh) neighbourhood 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 travellers I met, could only get to know Santiago with smog due to fires on the surrounding hills.
I also met a lovely Chilean family who explained that the neighbourhood 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 as it is such an amazing country.