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November 9th 2015
Published: November 12th 2015
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Santiago is the Capital city of Chile and feels so much like a classic "western" city that I almost forgot I was in south America! It's a large city with a mix of old colonial buildings some in better repair than others & modern apartment blocks & high rise buildings. The city has been hit badly by earthquakes in the past but I after the huge earthquake that hit Chile in 2010 (8.9 on the Richter scale) they are pretty well prepared for any earthquake & the small ones barely even register with them.

How I got there: I got a transfer from San Pedro to Calama Airport for 10,000 Pesos & a flight from Calama to Santiago landing at approx. 8:30pm.

I got a taxi from the airport to my hostel which cost 21,000 Pesos. A bit steep but it was late & I couldn't get the lady at the counter to understand my attempts at Spanish so I ended up with the tourist taxi. Now having been through Ecuador, Peru & Bolivia & knowing their reputations for crazy drivers I will tell you that the taxi ride into Santiago was the one where I most feared for my life! Not helped by another taxi very very nearly side swiping as, I was glad of actually having a functioning seatbelt for once!

So after a spending the entire morning trying to re-pack my suitcase forgetting the whole no liquids in hand luggage thing I had to empty my rucksack & even leave a part bottle of sun cream behind in order to fit everything into my suitcase. Then having a rather hair-raising taxi ride I was so glad to finally get to the hostel at about 9:30, checking in & then pretty much crashing out a short time later.

Where I stayed: Hostal Providencia on Vicuna Mackena. A 6 bed female only dorm cost 10,000 Pesos a night. There were plenty of lockers, beds & pillows were comfy but there was no ladder up to the top bunk which was a little bit annoying as it resulted in a scramble every time I went to bed. Plenty of bathrooms, Wifi was generally good - managed to skype mum & dad & had my video running. Also included a good breakfast of bread, jams, coffee, juice, eggs (cook you own) & fruit.

Day 1: After a late breakfast and chilling out in the hostel I got talking to a girl in my dorm called Laura (from Ireland) & we both realised we wanted to do a wine tour so we went & booked 1 for that afternoon - starting as I meant to go on I thought 😉 . So at about 1 we got picked up at our hostel to head to the Santa Rita vineyard, picking up another 3 people on the way (who were a bit of wine snobs I think). We arrived at the vineyard & had about 10mins before the tour started so had a walk around in the sunshine before our guide came to start the tour. I found the tour really interesting from the different grapes, fermentation and bottling, seeing the private collection and learning about the origins of their signature 120 wine. This signifies how the 1st owner of the house kept 120 soldiers in her basement to recover when at war with the Spanish. I can also now say I been to a Cider makers, a Brewery & a Winery being made, just a whisky distillery left to do I think! Haha.

After the tour we got to the important part the tasting 😉 we tasted 3 wines there Sauvignon blanc, a Cabernet Sauvignon reserve and a Carmenere gran reserve. The carmenere wine is special because it is a French variety that is extinct in France but had luckily been transported to Chile before the Grape Blight of the 1800s hit France. It was re-discovered by "accident" as the Chilean vineyards that had it thought it was a different kind of grape until someone basically told them otherwise.

Back at the hostel we decided we may be a little tipsy so headed out to grab some dinner at a very traditional pizza restaurant (I have found so many here!) haha. It was pretty cheap (for Chile) & nice so happy times. On returning to the hostel we found that our free wine had been delivered yay! Although they had only given us the 1 bottle because we'd booked at the same time cheapskates. We aren't meant to have alcohol in the hostel so we had to go upstairs and attempt to open the bottle with a tiny multi-tool corkscrew.. after breaking the cork in half with the 1st pull we managed to get the other half out well enough so it was some sneaky dorm drinking!

Day 2: Time to check out the city! I had planned on going & getting lost by myself but I met Laura downstairs & she planned to head to Santa Lucia hill & offered me to join so we went for a walk together. We went up the hill to get some views over the city & then wandered around random streets before I had to head back to sort my laundry & Laura had to head to a different hostel to start a 3 week tour to Torres del Paine.

At the hostel they had a Pasta & Wine night for 4000 pesos so I signed up as there were a few names down already & it meant I wouldn't be eating alone at least. Turns out it was a good decision as I met with a few people & we all headed out on the organised bar crawl afterwards (10,000 pesos) at the 1st bar we got wristbands and free beer for 1 hour (it was pretty bad bear but it was free!). We got a free shot at the next 3 bars included in the price as well & entry into a club at the end. It was a really good night, getting back at about 4:30am, & testament to the fact that whenever you travel you'll meet new people & become friends in minutes. It's kind of a necessity thing so that you're not alone all the time!

Day 3: Got to admit I woke up hungover today & absolutely shattered so I had a day of uploading photos & cracking on with this blog. I only ventured out of the hostel to get food & went for the lazy option of staying in the hostel for dinner as they were once again offering food for the evening activity. So I had all you can eat Chorripans (basically a Chilean hot dog) for 4000 pesos. Then it was early to bed.

Day 4: So after my slightly wasted day yesterday it was time to check out & move on from Santiago. The only decision was where?

So after packing up my stuff, I headed to the bus station using Santiagos metro system 660 Pesos for 1-way at normal time, decided on Pucon on the way there & bought a bus ticket from Pullman Bus for 12,000 Pesos leaving at 21:45 that night.

On the way back I stopped halfway back on the metro to walk around an area of the city I hadn't seen as I made my way back to the hostel. I stopped for food & wifi as the hostels hadn't been working well that morning scouted out a few hostels in Pucon & wrote down some addresses before heading back to the hostel. Here I once again wrote my blog (I was way behind once I got to Chile!), looked up what to do in Pucon & chatted to people I'd met over the last couple of days before it was time to make my way to the bus station with all my luggage.

I got on the bus ok, resigned myself to sitting next to a "larger" man & settled myself in for another night bus.

Pucon here I come!


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