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Published: August 10th 2017
This area was so different from my usual hotels. My building was on the right.
I arrived in Santiago in the dark. The taxi was overpriced and that makes me cranky. I smoothed my own feathers, not liking the persona of the grumpy old woman tourist. I forced myself to chat amicably with the taxi driver, and when we arrived at the hotel I allowed the driver to carry my bags into the hotel, which I do myself, all the time. The driver stood in the lobby waiting for a tip and all I had was a fifteen dollar bill in local currency, forcing me to hand it to him. It left a really bad taste in my mouth. Not an auspicious beginning to my stay.
I am ashamed to say I had no expectations for Chile. Santiago was simply the point of embarkation to my next dive destination…Easter Island. On the other hand I had scheduled a week in Chile. If I hadn’t run into a wall with my plans perhaps I would have used my time more wisely. My overall memories of Santiago are pleasant however. My hotel was clean and comfortable, located in a high rise surrounded by other high rises. The buildings surrounded a small plaza
VIEW FROM MY ROOM
Air quality was poor, urban but also there were fires to the south. It made the sky look interesting.
which felt safe and cozy.
I checked into my room which had none of the amenities I had expected from the description on hotels.com, but the bed was comfortable and I was grateful to sleep without a high-altitude headache. Breakfast the next morning was varied and filling. There was a market close by in the lower level, under the plaza. On the other side of the plaza was a Starbucks! What a pleasant surprise. I am not even a coffee drinker, but I find the coffee shop a haven when traveling. I rarely go to one in the U.S. (except, of course, in airports). Internationally they are familiar, and the food doesn’t seem as expensive in a foreign country. I slept three nights in Starbucks in Kung Ming airport, and more than once I have had breakfast there. They also take credit cards, which can be a big help when I don’t have local currency. The city seemed very cosmopolitan. Yet in the evening vendors spread their wares on blankets on the wide sidewalks and wrangled profitable sales from corporate employees on their way home from a busy day at work.
CONFUSION AND FRUSTRATION
The confusion and
RQ 1 - FIRST HOTEL
Very nice hotel and a good location, but just an ordinary room with a bed and a TV.
frustration was due to two things. First there are three RQ Hotels in Santiago in a three block area (I did not know this). The first hotel I booked was not the one I was looking for, but it was comfortable. On the eve of the third day I went back on line and booked three more days. I was up late looking for tickets to Easter Island so the next morning I slept in. I was awakened by a knock on the door. It was a security guard saying it was past check out time. I told him I had booked three more days. He rudely told me I had to move; my reservation was for another hotel. I quickly packed and took my luggage down to the front desk. The woman behind the desk explained that there was another hotel with the same name, and it was just around the corner, but still in the mall. So I wheeled my luggage to said hotel and who should be there, but the rude man who had awakened me that morning. He sneered and said my reservation was for their other location two blocks away. I was furious, but a
RQ 2 - WRONG HOTEL
As the woman at the desk said, this hotel was still in the plaza, but it wasn't my reservation.
kind young man behind the desk said he would take me there and help me with my luggage. The third hotel was not well marked and I probably would still be looking for it if I hadn’t had help.
This had not been a good start to my day. Then I opened the door to my room at the new location and discovered it was the one I had originally wanted, with a bedroom, a sitting room and a small kitchenette. Every day my breakfast was delivered on a tray and I could make tea in my room. I settled in, then walked back to the plaza and Starbucks. I ordered a Chai tea and nougat berry pie – comfort food. While I watched the shoppers I wrote a blog on my computer; then I had a manicure. Life was looking up.
The second frustration was…there were no tickets to Easter Island. It was the 24th
of January and I couldn’t find an airline ticket until March15th. I searched long and hard, as did Michael and several tour agencies. This was much too long a delay for me since I had planned for only seven days in Chile
RQ 3 - MY SECOND HOTEL
No sign, I was glad I had a guide. It was great, really it was a small housekeeping unit with kitchenette, sitting room and bedroom.
and seven at Easter Island. Then I wanted to be home for some skiing with my grandchildren.
I hated to give up my dream to dive Easter Island but I knew it would have to be postponed. Now how could I tweak my itinerary into something exciting I could look forward to? Where could I go that would change my loss, not diving Easter Island, into a win? I thought about going to the Atacama Desert but I didn’t want to deal with high altitude again. I regularly get emails from a dive resort I stayed at on my first trip to Lembeh Strait, Indonesia, ten years ago. The diving there is world class and it was exciting to imagine diving there again. Time was running out so it didn’t take long for me to decide this would be my new destination. I changed my return ticket and extended my trip by a few days. I found a different resort in North Sulawesi on Lembeh Strait and booked eight nights, seven days of diving. Then I bought my airline tickets. Releasing my disappointment about Easter Island, I was looking forward to Indonesia and I could now focus on having
A home away from home. I could get comfort foods, use the internet and watch the people passing by.
some fun in Santiago.
I wanted to do something new. I decided to go to a movie. The Cinema was in a huge mall downtown. The front desk told me to take the subway to the big mall complex, so I braved my fears and hopped on. It was a piece of cake, so easy, and so fast. I thought “Why don’t we have subways in Seattle?” and “I could have seen so much more of Santiago if I had discovered the subway sooner.”
When I came out on the street above the subway, I found it full of small booths and vendors selling local crafts. Looking up the street I saw the mall…what a contrast, the old world and the modern world. The mall was so big I arrived five minutes late to the box office, so I had to see a different movie, “La La Land.” It was just so-so. I ate at Applebee’s, then took the subway back to my hotel. My flight the next day was late at night so I had plenty of time to go to the cinema again the next morning. I saw “Passengers.” It was worth the second trip.
I wasn't used to subways, but it was a great way to get around.
Santiago was interesting for me since I am a country girl and this was the “big city.” It was fun to look at the shops in the mall and search the local vendors' wares for a bargain. But looking back on my visit I am embarrassed by my lack of preparation for Chile, the country. For the future I vow to do my homework, read about the country I am going to and which sites might interest me. When I get to the country I will contact a tourist agency and arrange a full day tour, letting them show me what they feel is special about their country. After almost a month of no diving I was antsy to get back in the water and it diverted my attention to the future, instead of being “in the present.” I didn’t use my time wisely. Sorry, Santiago.
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