Wow February 16th was the longest day of my life! Think it lasted 40 hours from start to finish! The flight was eleven hours and I left Auckland at 17:25, I then landed in Santiago at 12:45 on the same day! I slept a bit on the plane though so didn’t feel too bad when I got here. When is stepped out of the airport Chile was a bit chilly! It was raining to, which is apparently rare for this time of year – I was expecting 30 degree sunshine! I didnt do much yesterday afternoon, just chilled out and got my bearings in the local area.
The hostel I’m in is really cool, very social and Ive already met loads of folks (mainly from the USA) – deffo stay here if you come to Santiago. The hostel ran a Chilean wine tasting session last night, which was really cool way to meet folks. There were eight wines to taste and we had sips of each one and gave our thumbs up, not sure, or thumbs down to each. The wines were all reds of varying prices, although the prices were kept from us until the end. I’m not a wine expert so to me most of them tasted good, we were asked to chose our top three though and everyones was different – which is the way it should be apparently, the emphasis was on individual taste. My top choice was a Frontera Cabernet Sauvignon (see if you can get it), which turned out to be one of the cheapest (shows what I know!), but the guy described it as his everyday wine due to its great value! Chilean wine is stronger than the wines from Europe at around 15% apparently, so having drank about three glasses I was feeling a bit pished!
I ended up going to bed at about 2am so it was a long day! I made up for it though with a liein till 11. Feeling a bit groggy (was it jet lag or a hangover?!?!) I awoke to glorious sunshine – todays been a 30 degree day! I decided to clear my head with a walk up to the cities tallest point ‘Cerro San Cristobel’, which is a hill overlooking the city. There is a cable car up there, but thought a bit of excerise would be good – was worth it for the view. Santiago must have one of the best backdrops in the world. It was a bit hazy but you could see the city streching for miles, and the gargantuan snow capped mountains of the Andes in the distance:
I got a bit lost coming down, but that was good for my orientation! I’m staying in the Bellavista district, which is quite cosmopolitan – lots of bars and cafes. The area comes alive when it gets dark around 9pm, people don’t eat here till then and party and the weekends until the early hours – coincidently when I’m here! Lot of similarities with Spain (no surprise), relaxed way of life, quiet in the day busy at night – lots of wine to be drank! Its great being somewhere “a bit different” again! Went to buy some water today, “uno agua, por favour” – the lady then wrote out my order and sent me to another lady at a till who then took my money and sent me back to the original lady with a till receipt to get my water, which seemed a little crazy to me! Also had a “emphada” for lunch – basically a cornish pasty but replace the potato with some beans!
This afternoon I walked to the downtown district, walking through some parks, where lots of locals were relaxing and to the Cerro Santa Lucia, which is a pleasant piece of landscaping. Sort of like a castle it was built in 1541 as a defensive point for the city. Lots of trees and greenery are planted here, and they had a monument to Charles Darwin – who I’ll no doubt be hearing more of in the coming weeks. Heres me at the top of Sanata Lucia.
Learning a bit of Spanish already, my phrasebook is becoming a bit of a bible! Its so much easier to learn when you have to! Ive used “hablo Ingles” (do you speak English) quite a bit, to which most people reply “no” – think I will need to learn fast! People are friendly though and its not an intimidating place, I’m happy walking around on my own. My guidebook does describe Santiago as a good place to get your South American bearings as its one of the least intimidating places! Looking forward to what comes next!
Ive uploaded a few photos here.