Thursday, March 24, 2016

Santiago, Chile: It's Always Sunny in Santiago

I'm taking a moment to announce that in the past year, the ads from this blog have earned me.....$10.  TEN DOLLARS.  Thank you, loyal fans and followers!

Though I pay $10/year for the domain name wangtrain.com.....so I guess thanks to everyone for funding my excellent blog name.

Back to the present, I've now made it to Chile!  A quick little 8-hour bus jaunt over the border (which included a snack! Hooray!), and I arrived in Santiago.

What It's All About:
Santiago is the capital of Chile, and is surrounded on all sides by the Andes. People actually always mention how it's kind of like Buenos Aires, but a little less happening. a little less vibrant, and a little more boring, but I TOTALLY DISAGREE.  I actually LOVED Santiago, quite possibly more than BA - the city felt much, much more manageable, the streets and parks were alive with people and students and couples, and there was this energy that I just loved. Plus things are actually walkable, which gets a triple A+ from me.  The city just feels incredibly livable.

Santiago, look how pretty you are. Also, palm trees are one of their national symbols - so they're everywhere.

There's all these cool neighborhoods and such, my favorite being the trendy section of Bellavista - it's where all the awesome restaurants and bars are, and it's right near a local university, so there are tons of students around. I loved the vibe.

Being framed by the Andes means the city is so pretty!  But the mountains also apparently trap smog and stuff over the city quite frequently. Eh.

Cliffnotes of the Day:
  • The bus ride from Mendoza to Santiago was fairly uneventful, save for the border crossing itself.  Chile's third largest industry is agriculture, so they are insane about what comes through their borders - they actually loaded all our bags off the bus, scanned them one-by-one for any signs of fruits, nuts, veggies, or seeds - then crammed everyone in the bus into a room and held up all bags with suspicious-looking scans to identify the owners. Once owners were identified, customs opened up and carefully went through everything in the bags in front of their owners. All for FRUIT.  It was really crazy.  The entire process took about 2 hours, which is fairly typical. Then they had to reload every single bag back onto the bus, and we were allowed to get back on.


After making it through crazy customs, we had to wind our way down the Andes - how insane is this road?!

  • I made it to my hostel, and spent the next day with a couple of new hostel friends visiting San Cristóbal Hill, a hill that overlooks the city of Santiago. We attempted to hike it, but the paths were closed due to maintenance that day, so we zipped up in the funicular. 

View of Santiago from San Cristóbal

New hostel friends L to R: Jonathan (US), Alex (Aus), and Junior (US)
The Virgin Mary statue at the top of the mountain. Kind of like the poor man's version of Christ the Redeemer in Rio.

  • The next day was St. Patrick's Day, and my awesome hostel hosted a BBQ and pub visit.

Just grillin' on the hostel patio

Our hostel courtyard - felt like a big, happy family

And then off to the local Irish pub. Thank you, kind stranger, for smiling for my photo.

Green beer!  .....is kind of gross

Chilean men playing Irish music, of course

  • The next day, I met up with Nadine (my Swiss friend I've been following around Argentina/Chile, of course!) and we went on a city walking tour together.  Which was great, actually seeing the city 3 days into my stay there. And it was the loveliest day/weather ever.

Colorful houses in the Providencia neighborhood

The main cathedral in the Plaza de Armas, or the main square 

Horse-riding cops and palm trees

Inside the Metropolitan Cathedral

Crazy talk! Chileans are not big coffee drinkers, so to entice customers, coffee shops back in the day used to have their employees dress super scantily to draw in the men.  So there's a street in Santiago where there's tons of coffee shops - and all the employees of each have super risqué uniforms (they really don't do anything but serve coffee, apparently). And at some of them, women can come drink for free.  These shops are called café con piernas, literally "coffee with legs."

La Moneda, or the presidential palace of Santiago. This building was heavily damaged during the military overthrow in 1973 - this is where President Allende refused to step down (but was eventually overthrown/killed anyway).

This is Chilean Wall Street!  They call it "Sanhattan" for short - like Santiago Manhattan! HOME SWEET HOME.

This building in Sanhattan is even named New York!

Here is Nadine! We are sharing a typical Chilean summertime drink, called mote con huesillo - it's basically a peach nectar juice mixed with sugar and wheat.  It tasted pretty ok - kind of like peachy rice.  

Santa Lucia Hill - another pretty hill you can walk up and overlook the city

An adorable road filled with artisans stalls and ice cream stores, or basically heaven.

Nadine and I at Gran Torre Santiago, the tallest building in Latin America (not sure how much that is saying)

Fun Facts of the Day:

  • Similar situation in Buenos Aires, but there are basically amorous couples making out EVERYwhere here - anyplace, anytime.  On the train, in the parks, on the street corners, at 9pm, 2pm, 10am, etc. I've heard it's because the country is super Catholic, and they can't do it at home if they live with their parents. But it definitely takes some getting used to. I do give extra props to the couples making out at 2pm on a packed train on a random Wednesday, though...
  • Santiago also has tons of wineries that you can visit!  None of which I did!  But you should!
  • Street dogs everywhere! And they are super cute and friendly and well-fed looking, which makes me feel better.

The Hotel:
I loved the hostel I stayed in, called Castillo Surfista Hostel.  It's a really small, boutique-y hostel located in a house with an awesome terrace - so everyone you meet really feels like family. And they do fun activities like the St. Patrick's Day BBQ.

But overall, the BEST part and the one reason I really booked the hostel was for THEIR SKATEBOARDING DOG.  Seriously, I was like, "Does this hostel have free breakfast? Are their showers good?? WHO KNOWS, THEIR DOG SKATEBOARDS"!

This is Duke, and here he is skateboarding!  I've been told the video is much cooler than the photo, which you could see IF ONLY BLOGGER WOULD LET ME UPLOAD IT.... worst.


  1. Awesome! you should check out San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. It's SO worth it!!!!

    1. Haha, it's like you read my mind!! Totally worth it!