Santiago de Chile, Chile, Chapter: 2, I must admit that when they told me that Chile was cold in winter, I thought they were joking, but it does, it is cold. 45° is the average temp, and I just can say one thing: I love it!!
Finally we had cut out monotony, 15 days to be precise. It was really relaxed, so it was about time to say we had changed our lives style, this would become really obvious over the next weeks but for now I will be telling our way of 12 hours of travelling from Panama to Chile and our first 12 hours at Santiago de Chile.
Monday morning, the same day of the flight, we were still donating clothes because not everything entered on the bags (after a few hours we decided to call them Pietro and Wanda like the x-men characters). One never knows what one has until one moves, or you know, until one becomes a nomad and I went out running that morning to give clothes and books.
The 12 hours of flight I can resume them telling that I was more excited than tired, sometimes I could sense some uncertainty because changing our day to day life, but then I remembered everything awesome the future will be and I was fine again. To not get bored waiting, there’s no such thing for us that open an office anywhere, so while we were waiting for our plane at Tocumen’s airport we moved to a coffee store to work and develop our little whale which it was still grabbing form.
The trip Panama-Colombia was really short. The three hours we waited at the Colombian Airport were longer than the flight itself. If I can recommend something is to bring your own food to make the stop in Colombia, because food is expensive.
Our itinerary was just as expected, to arrive at 6am to Chile, to walk all day by Santiago, to leave at night in a bus of 8 hours to Valdivia city to arrive early on tuesday and to get to know it a bit.
Everything was perfect and smooth, but to be honest it was really exhausting, so we thought it could have been easier to get to Santiago and to leave that morning straight to Valdivia.
That tuesday at Santiago I call it “Starbucks Day”, it began at the Airport, when I realized they were pretty jealous with whatever you carry on your bags that is eatable, grains, seeds, honey, others, it’s better to declare you have something like that on your bag, that’s to avoid a fine. This is just to protect the country means.
As reference I will put the dollar price at about 600 Chilean Pesos, this can oscillate according to exchange houses, but it is an average.
Over recommendation of a friend, I exchanged a few dollars for Chilean Pesos at the exchange house of the airport, 20$ to be precise, these will be for getting downtown Santiago on a bus, buses are very easy to get outside the airport, there were 1500 Pesos each and they carry you over the city, we wanted to get to the Alameda terminal.
At the Alameda terminal I looked for a second exchange house, again over my friend recommendation he said it was better rate there than the airport and he was very wrong. I exchanged a few bucks at the terminal and we bought our tickets to Valdivia city for the same day at night, Tickets were cheap, 23600 pesos both of them, the trip will last 8 hours and the bus depart at 10pm.
Something to know about Chile is, if a bus says it will depart at 10pm, the bus will depart at 10pm, and this with every transportation. If it is 9:58 and the bus isn’t there yet, believe me it will be and leave at 10pm, the few times I have took a bus at different opportunities, they all have been very punctual, also I recommend buying tickets with weeks of anticipation so they’ll be cheaper and if you get them on week days you will also get better prices, there is a big quantity of schedules so it’s easily customizable to your travel preference.
With tickets and without sun at 8 in the morning, we just had to get rid of Pietro and Wanda, our backpacks, to walk over Santiago for the rest of the day. At the Alameda terminal is a tiny local to get the luggage in custody all day, is cheap and completely safe.
We took breakfast near the custody local where we leaved the backpacks, a pork and “palta” sandwich or what I know as avocado and a coffee to begin the day. We walked a bit heading east town, to get a WiFi signal that was coming from a mall that wasn’t open yet. With this very little signal I could get in touch with my friend in Chile and we only could talk until he recommended to go visit La Casa de La Moneda. Without a map or a reference of how to get there, we were back to the terminal and went underground to the Metro, there we asked how to get to La Casa de La Moneda which is near the “La Moneda” station, at the same station we purchased a Bip Card and we loaded it with 10000 pesos, it let us travel on the subway both of us.
At “La Moneda” to find the building is really easy, specially when asking. Bad luck for us that day it wasn’t open for tourists, it’s just on weekends, but everything was rewarded with the fact that they were doing the guard change, so we could appreciate the whole show.
After the guard change, and after taking lots of pictures of buildings and structures, we walked a bit more and we saw our first Starbucks of the day, the one at Agustinas Bandera, until that time I didn’t knew the franchise was in Chile, and I never have been at one so I had a lot of curiosity.
The main reason to get inside and grab a cup of coffee at a well known franchise in a country I have never been to, just had an objective, there’s WiFi. The coffee was really cheap, not my favorite, but it’s a great place to sit down and work and chat.
As a newbie in Chile with the local money, it was obvious that I had to make quite a show paying, counting coins and of course asking the value of them, they had to enable the other checkout to attend customers.
A very important detail about Chile that I didn’t knew until I got there, to move my laptop on the table, to connect the charger on it and after look for the outlet on the wall: realize that outlets are L kind, something I wasn’t really prepared.
After a while my friend found us at this Starbucks and guide us a bit around town. He was redeemed with the exchange rate by taking me to three different exchange houses nearby the Starbucks, one next to another, the three of them competing over the best price, and where I was able to buy Pesos at a better rate, so this will be your perfect spot to exchange your dollars at Santiago de Chile and is nearby La Casa De La Moneda.
Next step already with local currency at the pockets, was to take the subway and get to the mall.
From line 1 we arrived to the Tobalaba station, inside of it we found a stand from Virgin Mobile, where whit 2000 pesos you can buy a chip for your cell phone within 5 minutes, and with their plans called bags plos 5000 pesos, you can make a simple and guided call where you’ll find 500mb of data at month, pretty useful.
Outside the station by a few meters walking we found the Costanera Center mall. We didn’t explore it, we didn’t want it, but we could get adapters for outlets with 3000 pesos at a local store there.
By destiny, we had to make a conference call on Skype the next hour and we had to find a place to settle our base, at this point my friend already had departer over his adventure to find a new portable and I had remembered that when we enter the mall I had seen an Starbucks and it seems like the only logical place to this kind of things.
So again a Starbucks and this time I had some of their food and was able to use their outlets.
Skype meeting was over and there were still several hours before leaving to Valdivia, so the only thing to do was to walk or to see Santiago a little more.
Outside the Starbucks was a stand with lots of bicycles, there are several in the city and for a mensual subscription or with a few dollars for some days, you can use these bicycles from any of the stands they have and you just must leave it at another at a different side of town. The story is we wanted to rent ones, I especially felt frustrated for seeing people at bikes all over town and I felt it was so great to do it, but for price reasons and the time we would be at Santiago it wasn’t convenient to rent them, so we walked for a while the Vitacura avenue until we got to the Salvador subway station.
The road was pretty, we saw different places great and hidden. Obviously we were the tourist taking pictures every two steps, to any tree or any building.
Extremely tired and with a few hours left to leave to Valdivia, we needed a place to be half dead on a chair and to work a little to kill time, so the first place obviously that came to our minds was the first Starbucks we went. Just a little we were there until it became 8 o’clock at night and we leave to the terminal.
Subway lead us to the Alameda terminal again, we meet our backpacks Pietro and Wanda, and everything felt like if we were out of track a bit just to come back to the point where the story continues.
Of Santiago I can say, it is a cultural city, full of great people of every kind and with a whole book of things to discover.
At this point I realize that picking Chile as our first country was very right, but we still have several weeks to be here and many cities to meet.