Stopover in Santiago


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South America » Chile » Santiago Region » Santiago
September 27th 2013
Published: October 5th 2013
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After an overnight stop in Lima we headed back to the airport for our 8:30 flight from Lima to Santiago. Breakfast was a delicious feast of McDonalds (hmm) before passing through security and settling into the chairs at our gate.

After an uneventful flight (just the way you want them to be!) we arrived in Santiago. We weren’t originally planning on visiting Santiago, however as our original flight home had been cancelled and we’d been moved to the flight the following day we now had a 33hour stop over. On arrival we headed to the information desk for our airline to organise for them to pay the 95USD per person reciprocity fee Australians have to pay to enter the country. After that was taken care of we had to wait for them to fetch our bags which had been checked in all the way from Lima to Australia – if only we’d known it would be possible to check them in the whole way even though there was such a long time in between, we could have packed a change of clothes into our day pack and travelled light! Fortunately it didn’t take too long to retrieve our bags, once we’d picked them up we headed through immigration and out of the airport to find our transfer.

Our transfer was definitely a lot fancier than we were used to – we were picked up by a lady in a brand new minibus which we had all to ourselves. We nice smooth and very quiet ride (I couldn’t talk to our driver much as I didn’t understand her crazy Chilean accent!!) into Santiago city and were dropped off outside our four star hotel in Providencia after about half an hour. After checking in and lounging on the comfortable bed with pillows that didn’t have lumps in them we headed out in search of lunch.

Providencia is a middle to upper-middle class area full of offices, restaurants and shops. We were spoilt for choice for lunch options and decided on sushi at a small Japanese restaurant. Our freshly made sushi arrived and we started eating straight away and were very surprised by the cream cheese we bit into! Neither of us was very keen on the cream cheese, but the rest of the sushi was delicious. After lunch we made our way towards SKM office (my company) in Santiago which was only about 900m from our hotel. Fortunately the lady on reception spoke a little English so we were able to communicate without me having to try to understand the Chilean accent. We said hello to Toby (a Sydney engineer working in Santiago for a few years) and then headed over to the sculpture park on the other side of the ‘river’ (I assume it used to be a natural river, it’s now lined in concrete). After strolling through the park we ended up at a massive shopping centre. The shopping centre was the largest in Santiago but there was another one in Santiago which was the largest South America according to the magazine in our hotel – not sure if they proof read their articles as it doesn’t make sense at all that it could be the largest in Santiago but not also the largest in South America! We wandered around H&M, Zara, Top Shop and various other well-known stores for a while but had to leave before Scott threw himself over the balustrade...

That night we met up with Toby, his girlfriend Pachy and Francisco (another SKM engineer) for dinner. They took us to a different part of Santiago which is more of a student area. Toby had chosen a Chilean restaurant so we could try the local fare. We ordered our meals…and reordered as they had run out of all but one serve of the dish the other four had chosen. We also ordered some pisco sours with lime to top off our Chilean experience. When our food arrived it was absolutely massive – Scott had a creamed corn, meat and vegetable ‘pie’ which was baked in a heavy pot till the top went crispy and I had a very thick chicken soup with corn, rice and vegetables which was kind of similar to the ajiaco we’d tried in Colombia. The food was yummy, but there was so so much of it! We had a great night and said our farewells and got back to our hotel at about midnight.

We had a very lazy start for our final day of our holiday; we slept in and had a leisurely buffet breakfast before setting out towards the Plaza de Armas in the Centro part of Santiago. The Plaza was about 5km walk from our hotel, mostly through the park which runs alongside the river and then along the busy streets. It was quite a nice walk and along the way I bought a dress (and would have bought a few more things if Scott hadn’t looked so impatient!). Plaza de Armas was different to a lot of the other Plaza’s we’d come across in South America – rather than being a big open square, it was more like a park due to the hundreds of Chilean palm trees which provided some nice shade. As usual, the Plaza was surrounded by impressive historical buildings.

We continued our walk, right past the Presidents house (not quite as impressive as the Colombian presidents, but still nice!) and then started to look for somewhere to get our last fix of empanadas before we went back to Australia. We eventually settled on a busy bakery and ordered two empanadas and a chocolate biscuit thing with arequipe sandwiched in the middle. The empanadas weren’t as nice as the Colombian ones we’d fallen in love with unfortunately. The biscuit thing was delicious, but it was far too much arequipe for me! After lunch we started heading back towards our hotel. Along the way we walked past a churros stand so of course we had to buy one! It was horrible – the donut was stale and it was covered in arequipe which I had definitely had enough of for the day…

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at Cerro Santa Lucia, which is a nice park built on top of a rocky hill in the middle of Santiago which has great views over the city. It was pretty warm by the time we’d reached the park and most of the nice shady spots had already been taken by local couples who were definitely not shy about public affection…

After relaxing in our room for a bit we headed back to the shopping centre we’d visited the day before to pick up a few bottles of Chilean wine for friends and family back home. We decided to have an early dinner at a Chinese-Peruvian restaurant on the top floor of the shopping centre while we were there. The food was yummy, but definitely not spicy despite the warning against one of the dishes (3 chillies and a comment saying it was “only for the brave”). We topped dinner off with our final bottle of Inca Kola in South America (double the sugar of a bottle of coke and far more delicious!).

After dinner we headed back to our hotel to pack the red wine into our checked baggage (fortunately this decision didn’t end badly – the bottles survived and we don’t have to wear red wine coloured clothing!), showered and headed off to the airport for the 20ish hour long journey back to Melbourne.

When we were checking in we found out they’d overbooked the flight and the airline was offering 350USD cash (which increased to 700USD as time went on) plus accommodation and transfers in Santiago for those passengers willing to delay their flight by one day. If only Scott didn’t have to work the night we arrived home, we could have made a bit of money (or had one CRAZY day in Santiago!). Fortunately we made it onto the flight although with seats at opposite ends of the plane. Luckily we managed to swap seats once we’d boarded so we could sit together for the long flight home.

Hopefully it won’t be too long till we’re back in South (or Central) America so we can continue exploring the region and I can continue practicing my Spanish!


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