We landed in Santiago. There was a bus to town right outside the airport that left two minutes after we got on. Amazingly, each person paid for, and got, their own entire seat. It dropped us off at – get this – a metro station. We hopped three stops down the metro, got off, walked a block and found our hotel. We took showers; the water was hot. We went to bed, the sheets were clean and comfortable. We woke up, a simple breakfast was included with our room. We drank fresh juice. We walked outside. People were everywhere beneath tall skyscrapers, what looked like businessmen shuffling between meetings or taking a late morning coffee break, women with an eye toward fashion browsing the shops, students lounging about like students do. It was a bustling downtown. And here’s the other crazy thing, they had legitimate pedestrian only streets. Most of their downtown, save for a few cross-streets, was car-free.
Everywhere we wanted to go, the metro went. The downtown area was a pleasant stroll and fantastic for people watching. There were well designed parks winding through downtown, as well as enclaves of “solitude” as well – as long as you prefer your solitude along side many amorous chileno couples. In short, it was a city that worked.
So the thing we can’t figure out at this point is, do we like Santiago because it is truly a nice city on its own merits, or is it simply so refreshing to have our comforts returned to us after Nicaragua? We’ve spent a few days discussing this without really reaching a conclusion. Of people we’ve talked to, I have to say that I think Santiago and Chile have gotten a bit of a bad rap. I mean, no one says its bad, but its rarely said that its good, especially compared to its neighbors Argentina, Bolivia and Peru. It’s somewhat forgotten in that. But so far, we have found Santiago and Chile most appealing. It’s beautiful in so many different ways, organized and thanks to a resurgent dollar (I know, big shocker there huh), reasonably affordable. With that bit of a teaser, there’s more to come in the next few days.