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Published: February 12th 2017
Seen from across the River
Our trip began yesterday morning (Saturday) with the “final packing” of the suitcases. We anticipate that much of the time we will have nice warm weather, but there may also be some cooler days as we explore some of the southernmost locations. This means we had to bring more clothing than usual so we brought a 3rd suitcase. Anyway, we got it all packed and only time will tell whether we actually brought the right things.
We were given a ride to the airport by our friends the Schmalbecks. They picked us up at 10:15 and delivered us to the airport in plenty of time to perform the check-in with United and the TSA activities - HOORAY, we were PRE-Check approved. Our flight didn’t leave until 1:25 so we had time to get some lunch at “Mike Shannon’s at the Airport”. We had booked the flights through the Princess EZ-Air service which was cheaper than normal prices, but not necessarily the most convenient. We flew to George W Bush International Airport in Houston on a small “regional jet” which was pretty cramped. It was certainly a no-frills flight, but we arrived alright. Then we had about 6 hours
View from our window
Part of the Santiago business area
before our connecting flight to Santiago Chile left at 9:35. We have had some pretty stressful airport connects due to tight time constraints, so we were happier to have too much time rather than too little – but 6 hours may have been overdoing it.
Once again we ate an airport meal around dinner time before boarding the overnight flight. This second flight we were on a 767-300 and we had window seats in an exit aisle, so we had more leg-room than any of our previous economy flights – but no more hip-room. Of course there was an upgrade fee for these seats, but it was nice to be able to stretch our legs on this long flight. We did get a little sleep on the flight, particularly since the inflight movie system wasn’t working. They also fed us a dinner and a breakfast on the plane so we weren’t exactly starving when we landed. In all honesty, United probably scores far down the list when comparing airline amenities, but they were the cheapest flight too. Now that we have landed we are happy to report that we did NOT need to open the emergency window
exit – that certainly would have been a “first experience” that we are glad to have avoided.
To give everyone a frame of reference, Santiago is about as far south of the equator as Phoenix is north of it. Actually the high today was around 90 degrees with plenty of sunshine. It is also 3 hours earlier than in St Louis - two time zones to the East plus they are on daylight savings time here. Although the airport did not look particularly large as we landed, there was certainly a lot of walking to get to the immigration area followed by waiting in a long line. Then there was another long walk for the luggage and getting it through the customs inspection. The Princess representative was standing there waiting for us and helped us get a porter to take the luggage to a cab and then the cab was prepaid to take us to the hotel. The drive was a little unnerving. Our cab rides in Rome came to mind. Anyway, we got to the San Cristobal Tower Sheraton Hotel just before noon.
Our understanding from the pre-vacation conversations with Princess was that we would have a tour of the city before we were taken to the hotel. Then we expected Monday to be “free time” with another tour on Tuesday. It turns out that this afternoon and tomorrow are both available for whatever we want and both tours will be on Tuesday. Actually we were pretty tired today and just as glad to be able to get a quick rest in the hotel room, have a lunch in in the hotel and go back to the room to rest this afternoon. We will probably enjoy the city tour better on Tuesday when we can keep our eyes open.
Later in the afternoon David walked over to a shopping center and found an ATM to get some Chilean Pesos. A peso isn’t worth very much which is part of the reason we had a 35,000 peso lunch. Instead of having to charge every meal, souvenir, and what-not to the credit cards, now we have some local currency to spend when it makes more sense. He also found a grocery store in this 6-story shopping center and bought 6 liters of bottled water for our room. The price he paid was 1/10 the price if we had bought that much water from the room service. So we should not dehydrate before we get to the ship on Wednesday. But after all that walking on this very warm sunny day, he drank most of one bottle after he got back to the room.
For dinner we did not feel like trying to find any alternative places in the neighborhood, so we ate in the hotel again. Tonight we had a 40,000 peso dinner with delicious personal pizzas (quite large) and a glass of local San Cristobal Draft Beer and one of Chilean white wine. We met a couple who were on our flight and will be on the cruise, so already we are starting to meet new people. Then we went back to the room and had a quiet evening. It is pretty funny to watch a rerun of an American show (like NCIS) with Spanish soundtracks. I guess this does not sound like we had a terribly exciting day, but we are here in Santiago and ready for great days ahead. If anyone looks at the map, they can point at Santiago Chile and there is where we are tonight.
David took a couple of pictures of our hotel, or from our hotel, but hopefully tomorrow there will be more creative photos. Good night from Santiago Chile.
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