This morning I arrived here in Santiago, Chile, and even though I haven’t seen most of the city, much of it was closed due to today’s primary presidential elections, I am already falling in love with its charm. The people have been lovely, and the Andes, set as a backdrop to the city, make it one of the most beautiful urban places I have been in a long while.
Before arriving, I wasn’t completely sure of my plans for my stay here in Santiago. I usually don’t stay in one place for a long time, so I thought about taking a few days to head to Mendoza, Argentina, which is approximately one hundred twenty miles through the Andes Mountains. The drive there is said to be one of the most beautiful in South America, but it takes about eight hours, and time at the border can take an hour or more. I also thought about flying, and flights are relatively inexpensive, but that doesn’t leave me much time in either place. Plus, the entry fee for Americans is one hundred twenty US dollars, and I just paid one hundred sixty to enter Chile.
That being said, as much as I am longing to get to Argentina and spend time in Mendoza, I think my time would best be spent really getting to know Chile and the areas in and around Santiago. My plans aren’t set it stone yet, but here’s a rough idea of how I plan on spending the next few days.
Casablanca Valley, Valparaíso, and Viña del Mar
About a about a ninety minutes bus ride outside of Santiago, lies these three locations that I am hoping to take a day trip to visit. While I love cities, it’s also nice to see outside the city, and I have heard that these three locations are not to be missed, and I plan on heading to them with Santiago Adventures. The Casablanca Valley region produces some of Chile’s best wines, so I must head there for some tastings. Then I’ll head to Valparaíso, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and then off to Viña del Mar for some coastal relaxation.
Hiking in the Andes
Hiking has been a love of mine for the past year, and with the Andes so close to the city, I’d feel silly leaving Santiago without spending some serious time on the mountains. Flying in today, the Andes were snow covered and beautiful with the sun rising over them. If they are that gorgeous from overhead, I can’t wait to see the beauty that lies within them from on foot.
When I first read about Foto Ruta, I knew I had to take one of their tours. Instead of just exploring a city, Foto Ruta helps you explore with a camera in hand. It seems like such a unique way to see the city that I just had to sign up. I have been meaning to take a photography class, and I am so excited to see what I’ll be able to learn from this experience.
Cerro San Cristóbal
This hill in the city is said to have one of the best views in all of Santiago, and the photos I have looked up definitely prove this. It’s been hard for me to take a photo that captures that beauty of the Andes set behind the city of Santiago, which is why I am thinking a trip to Cerro San Cristóbal is a needed. Plus, a view from above is always the best way to see a city.
Bicycling has become an important part in my life recently, and once I heard of the bike tours in Santiago, I knew it was a way I wanted to explore the city. On Wednesday, I will be taking a market and local life tour with La Bicicleta Verde, and I am really looking forward to seeing the city through their eyes, especially because it focuses on the lives of the locals.
This is what I am thinking of for the next week, but I am still looking to see what else there is and letting plans unfold as they may. I am also looking forward to wandering around the city streets and taking in every single detail of this beautiful South American city.