Santiago

I arrived into Santiago just after lunch after an 8hr bus ride from Mendoza. Despite a rather confusing experience crossing the border where I realised that chilean Spanish really is as difficult to understand as people had told me, the journey was stunning. The bus takes you through the Andes and the Cordilleras, which certainly make for an impressive sight. I don’t think I have ever taken so many pictures on a bus journey!
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In Santiago I was lucky enough to be staying with a friend, Rob, I had met in Bolivia. I got a taxi to my friend’s flat and was informed by my very friendly taxi driver that this was a very rich area! After dropping off my bags we went straight out to hike up a hill in the centre of Santiago (the city has lots of random hills in the centre, which afford beautiful views of the city), which we managed to do perfectly in time to have the last sun of the day. Santiago is surrounded by mountains on all sides, most significantly the Cordilleras, which means on a clear day you are guaranteed a very good view!
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Later on we met up with one of Rob’s friends for a night out in Santiago. This was my first experience of a night out in Chile, where you don’t show up to clubs until 1am at the earliest. This makes for a late finish! We had a fun night with lots of piscolas (the local tipple of pisco with coke) and ended up going home early at 3am! The reason for the early finish was that Rob and I were heading to a nearby town called Valparaiso for a day trip on Sunday.
Our plans for an early start did not really materialise, however we managed to make it to Valparaiso by lunchtime which given our hangovers wasn’t too bad really! The city is one of two halves. There is the port area that is not pretty and I’m reliably informed that crime rates here are incredibly high. However, once you get away from this area up the hill it is a very pretty place. Lots of houses are painted an assortment of different colours and there are nice restaurants, boutique shops and much less crime! We had a fun day looking around the town, then headed back to Santiago in the evening.
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My final day in Santiago actually gave me chance to see a bit of the city. It really is a very beautiful place with lots of places that give you wonderful views of the city. Since it is surrounded by mountains it is very sheltered and was very sunny and hot. The other thing I really noticed was quite how organised the city is, I could have been in any European city.
Rob and I managed a quick dinner before I headed for another night bus heading south to the Chilean lakes district.

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